Edited by Andrew Hillier, BVSc, MACVSc, DACVD
Dermatology & Otic Diseases
Acute moist dermatitis, also referred to as hot spots or pyotraumatic dermatitis, is a skin condition characterized by localized, moist, erythematous areas. It is one of the most common presenting signs associated with canine skin disorders. Clinically the lesions appear to arise secondary to self-induced trauma. However, as extreme self-trauma in some dogs will not create a hot spot, while in others, minimal self-trauma can result in severe lesions, it seems apparent that other factors also contribute to the development of hot spots. It is important to be able to distinguish between pyotraumatic dermatitis and pyotraumatic folliculitis. In pyotraumatic dermatitis, the role of bacteria is unclear. If present, the bacterial infection is superficial, often considered to play a secondary role and usually controlled with topical therapy. In contrast, pyotraumatic folliculitis is caused initially by a bacterial skin infection that progresses. The clinician has to examine the lesion carefully to look for "satellite" lesions of papules or crusts (indicating Staphylococcal folliculitis), often only seen when the surrounding apparently normal area is shaved, to determine that the dog has pyotraumatic folliculitis.
To prevent pests like fleas and ticks, consider using an oral or topical medication for your dog. The preventative products, when kept up, should keep your dog from getting into trouble with fleas and ticks.
If your dog or cat is developing frequent ear or skin problems then a work-up should be performed to find out the underlying cause. If you are able to identify the primary cause of the infections, it is much easier to prevent them from recurring.
If you believe that your pet is suffering from a skin condition that is causing discomfort, have your family veterinarian contact GCVS right away. Our dermatology team can diagnose your pet’s skin condition and provide treatment that can give your pet relief from the pain, inflammation, and itchiness caused by skin problems. To set up an appointment, call 713-693-1111. GCVS is located in Houston, Texas.
Pyoderma may manifest in numerous ways. Some dogs have symptoms all over their body, while others have a limited infection in just one area. Places where the skin overlaps are commonly infected, including the armpits, groin, facial folds, and between the toes. Sometimes itching occurs, but not always.
The overarching symptoms to watch out for include:
Breeds with skin folds such as bulldogs and pugs are particularly vulnerable to pyoderma, but it can affect dogs of all ages, sizes, and breeds. Still, underlying factors are usually to blame. These may include:
Your dog needs adequate nutrition to maintain healthy skin. When an animal’s body detects malnutrition, it sends all available resources to the vital organs, leaving the skin and fur to deteriorate. Feeding your dog a healthy, vet-approved diet is often an effective way to prevent and treat pyoderma.
Your dog could also be allergic to any ingredient in her food. To confirm or rule this out, your vet may recommend a hydrolyzed dog food or one with novel protein to see if the skin condition improves. Along with changing your dog’s diet, your vet may also prescribe food allergy medications or blood testing to determine what your dog is allergic to.
If your dog has another underlying health problem that makes her more susceptible to pyoderma, such as a hormonal or autoimmune disorder, it may be beneficial to select food formulated for dogs with sensitive skin. Your vet can help you choose a product that meets the needs of your four-legged friend.
Antibiotics and antibacterial shampoos or sprays are the most common treatment options for pyoderma in dogs. After resolving the existing bacterial infection, the final step is to address any related underlying conditions so it doesn’t return.
If you have noticed signs of pyoderma or other skin infections in dogs, Reed Animal Hospital can help. We’ll diagnose the condition and treat it promptly with your pet’s best interests in mind. Our goal is to have your pet feeling normal again as soon as possible! To schedule an appointment, please call us in Campbell, CA at 408-369-1788 or in Saratoga, CA at 408-647-2906. You can also contact us online.
Skin conditions can be difficult to diagnose
Think back to when you had poison ivy, a case of hives or an itchy mosquito bite. You probably couldn't sleep well and had trouble concentrating because of the itching and discomfort. Unpleasant, right? When your pet has a skin problem, it's even worse because your pet cannot communicate its discomfort other than scratching, itching, rubbing or being irritable. Your dog or cat is stuck feeling miserable until you take action. Because diverse skin problems can often look similar, an accurate diagnosis is critical to an effective treatment. As a pet parent you will want to pay attention to the signs of skin disease and schedule time to see us at A Pet's Place.
Signs of a possible skin problem
If your pet has a skin problem there will be signs, often times, more than one. These signs are important clues. Here's what you should watch for:
A little chewing once in a while is fine a lot of chewing is not. Chewing is one way pets react to itchy skin. Their teeth answer the need to scratch, at least for awhile.
Chewing can be serious because it can damage skin, creating an entry point for infection from bacteria, yeast, or fungus that live on the skin. This invasion can allow the infection to move into other areas of the body. When you notice your pet chewing, observe the time of day, the environment, recent food or contact. Note all the details you can. This will be helpful information to determine the underlying cause.
Discharge is a fluid that seeps from a sore, wound or ears. It may be clear, pink, red, brown, grayish or green. Regardless of color, discharge is almost always an indicator of infection and your pet should be seen by a vet. Caught early, an infection is often easy to treat. Delayed treatment, however, can result in complications.
Discoloration of Hair/Skin
Changes in the color of the skin or haircoat or coat texture can be a sign of different skin problems (bacterial yeast infections, allergies or hormonal disorder). Your pet's food, too, can impact the skin and coat. If the texture or the color of your pet's skin is changed, or if there are changes in its coat, it's important to make an appointment to see us at A Pet's Place.
Flaky dry skin can result from chronic persistent scratching, not rinsing the shampoo completely. an infection, or many other possible conditions.
If your pet shows other signs of discomfort alongside flaky skin, it is important to seek a veterinarian's advice to identify and treat the underlying cause.
Fleas are a very common problem here in Pinellas County, Florida. Even the cleanest homes can have fleas. If you're bothered by fleas, then you know how your pet feels. Fleas are an irritant to your pet, and in most cases a flea infestation will result in a secondary skin problem such as allergic dermatitis and infections.
Signs of flea allergic dermatitis may be frequent licking, scratching, rubbing, hot spots and/or scabs, particularly in the rump area. Even if you don't see a flea on your pet, look closely for flea droppings or eggs in your dog or cat's coat. We have a machine where we can vacuum your pet's fur and catch the eggs and flea dirt in a filter. Many people understand that when you are allergic one flea can seem like a hundred. Your pet invisions them crawling al over their body driving themselves crazy. I will recommend treating your pet with Comfortis, Cheristin, or Bravecto. In addition I recommend that you treat your home and your yard for flea infestations.
HairlossPets shed. The hair on your jacket, the dust bunnies under the sofa and the occasional pet hair in the food are a fact of life for most pet owners. And, for many pets, the shedding may change with the season. It's important to keep an eye on your pet's shedding because unusual shedding can be a sign of something more serious.
Does your pet have bald areas (patchy areas of hair loss) where there is no hair? Just as hair loss in people can reflect stress, poor nutrition or illness, it can reflect similar situations in pets. For example, patchy hair loss can be a sign of infection. If your pet is displaying these signs, it's important to make an appointment to see your veterinarian to determine the cause.
Pets groom themselves. Licking can be normal, but excessive licking to the point of redness, hair loss or other abnormalities can be a problem. Licking, like scratching, can be a sign for a wide variety of skin problems. Licking the paws may be a sign of a yeast infection or allergies. Licking the rear area may be a sign of flea allergy dermatitis or that the anal glands are infected. And, licking a specific spot can be a sign of a hot spot or infection.
In some cases, licking can create a skin condition. Acral lick dermatitis in dogs is the thickening of the skin caused by constant licking of an area, most often the front of the lower legs.
If your pet is compulsively licking a specific area, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Make an appointment to see us at A Pet's Place of Clearwater.
Matted hair can be an important indicator of a skin condition.
Healthy cats groom themselves, so when there is a matted coat on a cat it may be a sign of something more serious.
Dogs on the other hand are more likely to have matted hair, especially if they have medium or long hair. The clumping and pulling of the hair can be painful to your pet.
Grooming is about more than your pet looking great. If your pet's fur becomes matted, it creates a dark, warm, moist environment ripe for bacterial, yeast and fungal infections. Often, when severely matted hair is removed by a veterinarian or groomer it will reveal skin conditions developing underneath. Matted hair also can occur when dogs are licking or chewing hot spots.
Small pus-filled bumps on a dog or cat's skin are called 'pustules.' Larger pus-filled bumps are called abscesses. When they open they become lesions. The most common cause is a skin infection and the most common bacteria is Staphylococcus spp. ("Staph.") See Dr Cowden to determine the cause and recommended treatment.
Signs of skin rash in your pet may include red spots, patches, "pimples," hair loss or crusty patches on the skin. As a result, your pet may also scratch, lick, or bite the area with the rash. A rash can be a sign of skin parasites (fleas or mites), a fungal infection, bacterial or yeast infection or an allergic disease.
If your pet has a rash, call us to schedule an appointment.
Red ears are most often a sign of an ear infection or allergies. Infections may be caused by parasites such as ear mites. Other culprits are yeast or bacterial infections.
Some pets are more likely to experience ear infections, such as dogs with floppy ears.
If your pet has red ears, check for an unpleasant smell and observe if your pet shakes its
head or scratches at the ears more often than usual. Not only are ear infections uncomfortable and painful for your pet, untreated they can occasionally result in permanent hearing loss.
When your pet has signs of an ear infection it's important to get medical help.
Redness can occur anywhere on your pet, but it is most noticeable on the belly and areas that have less hair. Redness can result from a host of causes. For example, contact with an allergen such as grass or overexposure to sun, similar to a sunburn, can cause redness and should not be alarming. However, redness also can reflect something more complex happening in your pet's body such as an immune disorder or an infection or mange.
If you see redness in your pet's skin watch closely for other signs and monitor the red area. If the redness continues or worsens, consider a consultation with us.
Some pets just like to rub, but excessive rubbing can be a sign of a skin condition. Rubbing is often a pet's response to an itch or discomfort. Rubbing of the ears for example, may be a sign of an ear infection or ear mites, and excessive rubbing can cause damage to the skin and haircoat.
If your pet is rubbing more than usual, look for other signs such as scratching, licking and chewing. Observe your pet's energy level, behavior and eating.
If rubbing presents itself with other signs or if it persists, make an appointment to us to determine the underlying cause.
It's hard to be a proud pet parent when your dog or cat is scooting its rear across your carpet. While scooting is uncommon in cats, it's a telling sign that there may be a problem with the anal sacs or an irritation by your pet's bottom. Other signs are biting or licking at the anal area.
Under normal circumstances the anal sac emits a substance when your pet does his business. Anal sacs can stop working properly and the substance in the sac becomes impacted inside. most of the time there is an infection in the gland that has caused the fluid to become caseous like cottage cheese so that it can not drain. This is more common in smaller dogs but can happen in all dogs and cats. When anal sacs become impacted they need to be expressed (emptied) by a veterinarian. If they are not addressed they will rupture through the skin next to the bottom creating a nasty wound.
Scooting may also indicate allergies or GI issues. Make an appointment to see me as it is relatively simple to address early, where as later requires surgery.
Anal sac infections
Why does your pet scratch? The same reason as you - because it itches. The source of the itch could be a parasite, an allergy or some type of infection. While it may not seem like a critical health problem, it's important to pay attention when your pet scratches. Persistent scratching can damage the skin and lead to infections, which are much more serious and expensive to treat.
Head shaking is a natural behavior for pets excessive head shaking isn't. If your pet is behaving like a bobble head, it's time to investigate. Some signs that you might notice include:
Redness of the ears or other signs of infection
Other signs of infection on the pet's skin
An odor to your pet's ears and/or haircoat
If the head shaking persists, make an appointment to help determine the underlying cause.
If you detect a change in your pet's odor, it may be a sign of infection. When your pet has a bacterial or yeast infection, it can generate an unpleasant smell.
Once you determine that your pet's foul smell is not related to rolling in something stinky or playing in the garbage, it's time for a visit. Infections are easier to treat when they are addressed early, before other complications arise.
Anal sac infections
Sores or hot spots
Sores can have many different causes and can result from a combination of conditions. When your pet has a sore, you may not know if it resulted from a misadventure in the yard or a skin disease. Regardless, sores are open and therefore pose a high risk for infection which can spread rapidly. That's why it's important to treat your pet early if your pet has sores.
Insect bites are the most common cause of skin disease in pets.
Your pet's endocrine system (including hormones) is made up of a collection of glands located throughout the body. The job of these glands (endocrine glands) is to generate hormones and deliver them to the various organs and systems throughout the body.
When your cat or dog's hormone and endocrine system malfunctions, it may generate a level of hormones that is too high or too low. Consequently, a wide range of serious conditions can develop. The most common hormonal imbalances that can affect the skin are thyroid and cortisone.
Signs of endocrine disorders:
A change in the color of the skin
Thinning of the skin
Urinating in the house
Types of treatment:
Systemic therapies for endocrine disorders
Systemic antibiotics for secondary bacterial infections
Environmental allergies, what's also called atopic dermatitis, are non-food or non-flea related allergies. For dogs and cats, they can include dust, pollen, grass, mold, mildew, human hair and tobacco.
While allergies can cause a response in your pet's body, such as sneezing, they more commonly cause problems with your pet's skin. If your pet is scratching excessively, chewing, rubbing or licking itself, it may be an environmental allergy.
With the signs of environmental allergies being similar to other skin health problems, it's important to work to rule out other causes. A skin scraping will help the veterinarian eliminate parasites such as mange as a cause. A skin sample will identify bacteria or yeast as a cause or complicating factor. It is important to keep the bacterial and yeast infections under control as they can make the condition worse
Once it is confirmed as an environmental allergy, your veterinarian may perform a test to determine the relevant allergens.
Signs of environmental allergies:
Excessive licking or chewing
Red ears or hot ears
Rubbing face on carpet or furniture
Discolored Hair on the Abdomen or Feet
Topical therapy (baths, wipes)
Omega 3, 6, & 9 Fatty Acid Supplements
Immune modulating agents (hyposensitization shots, immune suppressants)
Dogs and cats can have food allergies just like people, but their reactions may be different. Other pets may respond by chewing, scratching or rubbing, resulting in secondary infections from bacteria, yeast, or fungus. Food allergies may also result in hair loss. Food allergies in some pets can cause vomiting and diarrhea.
Share what you know regarding diet, activity, medical history and environment us.
I may recommend a strict dietary protocol to help determine which foods your pet is allergic to. It may take several weeks and careful attention to detail, but it's just as important as any prescribed medication. Or we may perform a simple blood test to determine what foods to avoid.
Vomiting and or Diarrhea
Chewing at the bottom or feet
Yeast are a normal inhabitant of the skin and ears in low numbers. Occasionally, they can overgrow and cause infection.
Fungal infections can occur anywhere in the body. Some are contagious, such as ringworm. They often look like other bacterial or yeast infections, but your veterinarian is most qualified to determine the correct diagnosis.
It's important to identify a fungus early because standard antibiotics that work on bacterial infections are not effective against fungi. It's best to treat early and aggressively with an accurate diagnosis.
Sores or hot spots
Antibiotics (systemic, topical)
Shampoos and rinses