What Is Canine Pyoderma?

Check your dog's skin weekly for signs of infection or injury.
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Your poor pooch can’t stop scratching, he’s got red spots on his skin, and he’s beginning to lose hair. Those symptoms could indicate that he’s got pyoderma, a type of skin infection caused by bacteria. Only your vet can tell for sure, so be sure to make an appointment if you notice these symptoms.


Take a close look at those blemishes on your dog’s skin. Pyoderma produces pus-filled spots that look a lot like pimples. Some of the pimples might look crusty or scaly and your dog’s skin in that area could be dry and flaky. The pimples can break open and ooze their contents. In that case you might notice an unpleasant odor. The pyoderma rash also can interfere with hair growth in the affected area. In fact, hair loss might be the first clue that something’s wrong with your pet.


Pyoderma starts when a tiny break develops in your dog’s skin, which allows bacteria to enter. Breaks can occur when your dog scratches his skin or constantly licks one spot, or can happen if your dog has any type of bite or burn, or a skin condition like mange or ringworm. Certain health conditions can increase your dog’s chances of developing pyoderma, including flea allergies, parasitic infections, immune system conditions, food allergies, thyroid disease, fungal infections and hormonal imbalance.

Risk Factors

The petMD website notes that German shepherds with short coats, breeds with pressure calluses and skin folds, and dogs who have a type of bacteria called Staphylococcus intermedius are more likely to develop pyoderma. Skin folds trap moisture, which can irritate and break down the skin, while pressure calluses can weaken the skin and allow bacteria to enter. Puppies are particularly susceptible to developing pyoderma. Until their hair grows in fully, their delicate skin has less protection from bumps and bites.


After your vet determines that your dog’s rash is caused by pyoderma, he’ll prescribe an antibiotic to kill the bacteria causing the rash. Your dog will probably need to use the antibiotic for at least two weeks, but might need to continue using it for as long as six weeks if his case is particularly stubborn. Your vet may prescribe either an oral antibiotic or a topical antibiotic that you apply directly to your dog’s skin. If your dog has a disease or health condition that might have contributed to the rash, your veterinarian will recommend an appropriate treatment to control the underlying condition.