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Fungal Skin Infections in Dogs

Fungal and bacterial skin infections in dogs can cause red, itchy, inflamed skin leading your pup to feel uncomfortable and irritable. In today's blog, our Orange Park vets explain yeast and staph infections in dogs and discuss symptoms, causes and treatments.

Common Skin Infections in Dogs

Your dog may experience itching and discomfort if the skin on its body becomes dry, flaky, crusty, or infected with bacteria or fungi. Along with persistent yeast dermatitis or staph infections, other issues include inflammation, redness, and odor. Although skin issues in dogs are fairly common, they can be a sign of more serious health problems that need medical attention.

Yeast Dermatitis (Malassezia Dermatitis)

Yeast dermatitis (Malassezia dermatitis) is an extremely common cause of skin disease in dogs. While the fungus Malassezia pachydermatis is naturally found on the skin of healthy dogs, if it grows excessively, it can lead to skin inflammation (dermatitis).

Staphylococcal Infection (Staph Infection)

Staph infections are the most typical type of bacterial skin infection seen in dogs (Staphylococcal infection). Since the bacterium Staphylococcus sp., which causes this skin infection, can spread from humans to dogs, early diagnosis and good hygiene are of utmost importance in treating this skin infection.

A staph infection can impact your dog’s skin or upper respiratory tract and is typically treated using oral antibiotics such as cephalexin, erythromycin, or clindamycin. Antibiotic ointments and shampoos may also be prescribed to help your dog's skin feel more comfortable.

Signs That Your Dog May Have a Bacterial or Fungal Skin Infection

Fungal Infection (Yeast Dermatitis)

Dogs suffering from a fungal skin infection will typically show one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Thickened skin (“elephant skin”)
  • Flaky, crusty, or scaly skin
  • Redness and itchiness
  • Musty odor
  • Recurring or chronic ear infections
  • Hyperpigmentation

Staph Infection

If your dog has a staph infection you may notice one or more of these symptoms: 

  • Excessive itching, licking, or chewing
  • Eye, ear, skin, or respiratory system infections
  • Patchy fur with peeling, crusty skin, or moist skin
  • Inflamed or red skin
  • Pain
  • Pus-filled sores on the skin

Causes of Bacterial & Fungal Skin Infections in Dogs

Your dog's skin is naturally home to numerous bacteria and fungi, but they are managed by the immune system and do not usually pose a threat. Bacterial and fungal infections can, however, arise if the state of the skin changes or the immune system is weakened.

Immune deficiencies or an increase in oils produced on the skin are common causes of yeast infections in dogs. Although yeast infections are not contagious, they can recur or become chronic unless the underlying skin condition or allergy is treated.

Your pup's skin can become irritated and uncomfortable due to a staph infection, leading to excessive scratching, chewing, or licking. If your canine companion has an allergy to medications, food or environmental factors, or fleas, you may start to notice these behaviors.

Some chronic debilitating diseases, allergies, fungal infections of the blood, and other secondary infections may result in staph infections. Although any age or breed of dog can be afflicted, older dogs are more susceptible due to their weakened immune systems

There are a number of breeds that show a predisposition to skin infections including:

  • Lhasa Apso
  • Dachshund
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Australian Terrier
  • Chihuahua
  • Poodle
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Maltese Terrier
  • Basset hound
  • Silky Terrier

Diagnosis of Fungal Dermatitis in Dogs

Our Orange Park vets at Animal Friends Dermatologytreat a wide range of skin, eye, ear, and nail conditions in pets. We use several techniques to collect samples and diagnose skin infections in dogs.

Yeast infections can be diagnosed through impression smears, skin biopsy, skin scraping, acetate tape preparations, or cotton swab samples.

Your dog will require a thorough physical examination to identify a staph infection. Your veterinarian may also conduct a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis in addition to carefully reviewing your pet's medical history and asking questions about when you first noticed symptoms.

Skin tests may also be required to find out whether the inflammation is caused by immune-related issues or an allergic reaction to something. A skin biopsy may be necessary, during which your veterinarian will swab the skin to determine which antibiotic should be used to treat the condition.

At our in-house lab, we can perform tests and get results quickly with our advanced imaging and testing equipment.

Treatment For Dogs With Fungal Dermatitis & Staph Infections

Depending on the severity of your dog's condition, treatment options for yeast dermatitis infection may include oral, topical, or a combination of both treatments. These drugs must be taken for a long time, but they are very effective (often several months). These medications may have liver-related side effects, which call for close monitoring and frequent blood tests.

Staph infections in dogs are typically treated with oral antibiotics. Antibacterial shampoo or topical ointments can also be used for these types of skin conditions. Depending on the severity of the infection, treatment may take several weeks before you will begin seeing an improvement in the condition of your dog's skin.

Because staph infections can be passed between dogs and from dogs to humans, extra care should be taken when handling and treating your dog.

Discuss any supplements or medications your dog is currently taking with your veterinarian so they can choose the best treatment for your pet’s skin problem while helping to reduce the risk of interactions between drugs.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog being tormented by itchy, irritated skin? Contact our Orange Park vets today to book an examination for your dog.

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