If your dog's skin smells rancid, she may be in need of more than a simple grooming. Bacterial skin infections, or pyoderma, can cause crusty, weeping, red pustules to form beneath the fur on the surface of your dog's skin. These epidermal collarettes are circular lesions that, while secondary to the infection, can be a clue that your dog is in need of medical attention.
Your veterinarian will most likely treat your dog's bacterial infection with an oral antibiotic. The most common type of bacteria responsible for skin infections in dogs is Staphylococcus intermedius, which responds well to a wide variety of antibiotic medications. If your dog's infection appears to be severe, or the lesions are deeply embedded in his skin, your vet may take a skin scraping of the lesion for examination under a microscope, or may grow a live culture to test for antibiotic sensitivity. Non-staphylococcal bactera can be resistant to typical antibiotics and may require multiple doses or a stronger medication. In rare cases, severe skin infections can become fatal -- so it's imperative to proactively treat the underlying cause of your dog's epidermal collarettes. Antibiotic treatments can last between three and eight weeks, depending on the type and severity of epidural infection.
Treat your dog's epidermal collarettes topically by removing foreign bodies, pus, flaky scabs or crusting skin from the area around the wound. Use a prescription antibacterial shampoo to clean your dog's skin and fur. Towel-dry your dog thoroughly to prevent any remaining bacteria from proliferating in the moisture of your pet's fur. Use a topical prescription or an over-the-counter antibacterial ointment or cream to treat each pustule or abscess. Cover your pet with a clean, soft shirt to prevent licking.
When bacterial skin infections create epidural collarettes, there is always an underlying cause. Common triggers for itching that can lead to infected skin lesions include flea or mite infestation, parasites, allergies and autoimmune disorders. While parasitic insects may be easily visible to the naked eye, your vet may wish to examine stool, urine or blood samples if she suspects the infection may have other medical causes.
If your pet is suffering from epidural collarettes, grooming may be uncomfortable or even dangerous until his wounds have healed. Crusted patches of skin can be sensitive and may bleed easily when a metal grooming brush scrapes against them. Perfumed or other non-antibacterial shampoos can dry out your dog's skin, contribute to an allergic reaction, or lead to further irritation. Ask your veterinarian how best to groom your pet while his wounds are healing. If your dog has a scheduled surgery or medical procedure, you may need to delay it until the underlying infection that caused his skin lesion is fully treated.
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