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Recognizing Canine Skin Infections

Updated on September 29, 2009

Skin infections are one of the most common conditions treated by veterinarians. A number of skin conditions that affect dogs are contagious to humans so it is important that they be identified and treated quickly. Your dog's skin is vulnerable to many infections from bacteria, fungi, and various viruses. Although it does a good job protecting him and keeping his temperature constant, your dog is still constantly exposed to the elements.

Skin infections are usually easy to spot. The skin will appear red and may itch. You may see sore spots and even a loss of hair. Although it is easy to tell if your dog has a skin infection, it isn't always as easy to determine what kind of infection it is. This may take a trip to the vet.

Bacterial Infections

Most skin infections are caused by a bacterium known as staphylococci. Staph living on the skin usually doesn't cause any problem at all. However, when the immune system becomes weaker than usual, staph can suddenly thrive, causing itching and sometimes sores. There are a lot of different bacterial infections but one of the easiest to treat is the skin-fold infection.

Skin-Fold Infections

Bacteria will thrive when there is a lot of dirt or oil next to the skin or when friction allows it to colonize. This usually takes place in areas of loose skin.

Chinese shar-peis are bread to have large folds of loose, floppy skin. Pugs and bulldogs have deep folds in their faces. Although these dogs are cute to look at, this crinkly appearance attracts more than smiles. Bacteria thrive in the warm moist areas inside these folds making these cuties prone to skin infections.

Treatment

Dry between the folds. Add some powder to absorb excess moisture and to minimize the friction and irritation. Some vets recommend cornstarch or medicated powder like Gold Bond or Desenex. Scented talc is not recommended because the chemicals may cause irritation.

Fungal Infection

The most common fungal infection in dogs is ringworm. Ringworm can be transmitted by cats, rodents, or even moist soil. Many skin irritations can resemble ringworm so if you suspect your dog has it you need to take a trip to the vet.

Treatment

Trim the hair surrounding the patch. This makes it harder for the infection to spread because this fungus thrives on the hair itself. Your vet will probably treat the ringworm with an antifungal cream or ointment. For more serious cases your dog may need a dip or even an oral medication. Ringworm takes about 6 to 8 weeks to treat.

If your dog has ringworm, it is very important to do a thorough house cleaning. The fungus that caused ringworm is very hardy and can thrive for up to a year on carpet, furniture or under baseboards. Be sure to dispose of any hair you have trimmed from your dog. Vacuum at least twice a week while treating your dog. Wash your dog's bedding, rugs, and anything he comes into contact with in very hot water (140 degrees F to kill fungus), detergent, and a mild bleach solution once a week during treatment and for several weeks after your dog's treatment has ended.

Parasites

Skin infections caused by parasites, such as fleas and skin mites, are very common. Most dogs, at some point in their lives, will get skin mites, which cause mange. There are three types of mange: Demodectic, scabies (can be passed to humans) and walking dandruff. All of these can make your dog pretty miserable.

Demodectic mange

Puppies usually contact this type of mange while nursing. It doesn't cause much disturbance until weather conditions become warm and moist. The mites then may multiply and cause inflamed skin. There may be some hair loss from the face and front legs. In puppies that are healthy, demodectic mange may go away by itself, but in ones with weaker immune systems, it may take long-term drug therapy.

Scabies

Scabies appear on a dog's elbows and ears. This type of mange, sometimes called "mad itch", is very intense irritation and itching. Scabies is contagious to humans so it is very important that you wash your hands after any contact with your dog. Your vet will probably treat your dog with a dip and have you treat any other pets in your house also.

Walking Dandruff

This kind of mite is mildly itchy and easily treated with a common flea medication. It is easy to detect. It can make skin flakes on your dog's skin appear to move because it multiplies so quickly and in such large numbers. You may not need to make a trip to the vet with this one. If you look at your dog's skin through a magnifying glass and it appears that the skin is moving, it's walking dandruff. Regular flea shampoo will not kill walking dandruff mites. Bathe your dog once a week for 3 to 6 weeks to make sure all the mites are gone.

It is possible that scabies or walking dandruff may go away on their own. If any symptoms persist, see your vet.

Coping With Discomfort

Soothe the itch by bathing your dog in cool water and an oatmeal shampoo which can be purchased at most stores that sell pet supplies. Excessive itching can cause other infections. If your dog has an intense itch, you may want to put a stretch baby suit on him to protect his skin from his scratching claws. A T-shirt is good for larger dogs. Regular house cleaning and vacuuming is necessary to remove any living mites.

Disclaimer: The information on this Hub page does not constitute medical, legal, commercial, product, and/or service advice or endorsement of any vendor, supplier and/or brand, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the author. Listing of an entity or service on this Hub page is not a warranty of the quality or efficacy of the products or services furnished by any entity. The author is not directly compensated by any entity other than the advertising placement services shown on this page.

Comments

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    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I guess if it's stuffed into a pillow case it's a pillow.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      8 years ago from Toronto

      I need a very large pillow to hold my extremely heavy head, as it's filled with rocks. :)

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Your pillow weighed 9 pounds?

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      8 years ago from Toronto

      A horse and a flea and three blind mice

      Sat on a curbstone shooting dice

      The horse he slipped and fell on the flea

      "Whoops," said the flea, "There's a horse on me!"

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Silly and foolish all day long,

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy.

      Way down South where bananas grow

      A flea stepped on an elephant's toe

      The elephant cried, with tears in his eyes

      "Why don't you pick on someone your own size?"

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Silly and foolish all day long,

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy.

      Way up North where there's ice and snow

      There lived a penguin and his name was Joe

      He got so tired of black and white

      He wore pink slacks to the dance last night!

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Silly and foolish all day long,

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy.

      Eli, Eli had some socks

      A dollar a pair and a nickel a box

      The more you wear 'em the better they get

      And you put 'em in the water and they don't get wet!

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Silly and foolish all day long,

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy.

      Called myself on the telephone

      Just to hear that golden tone

      Asked myself out for a date

      Said be ready 'bout half-past eight!

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Silly and foolish all day long,

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy.

      Took myself to the picture show

      Sat myself on the very last row

      Wrapped my arms around my waist

      Got so fresh I slapped my face!

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Silly and foolish all day long,

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy.

      There was an old doctor and his name was Peck.

      Fell down the well and broke his neck

      Served him right, he was doing wrong.

      Should have tended to the sick, and let the well alone.

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?

      Silly and foolish all day long,

      Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy.

      Late last night, I had a real strange dream,

      Ate a nine-pound marshmallow my mom gave me,

      When I woke up, I knew somethin' was wrong,

      I looked around and saw my pillow was gone...

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      I think that was a preexisting condition.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      8 years ago from Toronto

      Hey, I'm an animal and I was harmed! I've been psychologically scarred for life! Whiiiiinneeeeeyyyyyyy! :)

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      No animals were harmed in this exchange.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      8 years ago from Toronto

      Hit him in the head with a brick. He'll pass out quickly! :)

      (Note: No intent to truly harm an animal...)

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      lol. My horse isn't sleepy yet.

    • Hal Licino profile imageAUTHOR

      Hal Licino 

      8 years ago from Toronto

      No prob! First we'll give you a horse tranquillizer, then... :)

    • nicomp profile image

      nicomp really 

      8 years ago from Ohio, USA

      Wow. You're a vet toooo? I have this bumpy rash on my foot....

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