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Bacterial & Fungal Skin Infections in Dogs

Bacterial & Fungal Skin Infections in Dogs

Your dog’s red, itchy and inflamed skin may be due to a bacterial or fungal skin infection.  Today, our Baltimore vets share insights into these infections and discuss symptoms, causes and symptoms.

Bacterial & Fungal Skin Infections in Dogs

Is your dog feeling itchy, or does his skin appear flaky, moist or crusty? He may have a bacterial or fungal infection. You may also notice, odor, inflammation or redness. Yeast dermatitis or staph infection can bring these symptoms, along with recurring health issues.

It’s fairly common for dogs to experience skin problems, which can also be indicative of underlying health issues. In this post, our Baltimore vets share some tips about what you can do if your dog’s scratching, licking and other symptoms are leaving you both uncomfortable.

Yeast Dermatitis

Also known as Malassezia dermatitis, yeast dermatitis is an extremely common cause of skin disease for many dogs. Though the skin normally has a fungus called Malassezia pachydermatis, it can grow out of control and lead to inflammation (dermatitis).

Staphylococcal Infection (staph infection)

Caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus sp., staph infection is the most common bacterial skin infection found in dogs. It’s a zoonotic risk, which means dogs and humans can transmit the infection between one another.

This makes good hygiene and early detection and treatment essential to prevention - and minimizing damage if the infection does happen.

Staph infection may affect a dog’s skin or upper respiratory tract, and can be treated with oral antibiotics such as clindamycin, cephalexin or erythromycin. Your vet may also recommend antibiotic ointments and shampoos.

Symptoms of Fungal & Bacterial Skin Infection in Dogs

These are common signs of both fungal and staph infection in dogs. 

Fungal Infection (Yeast Dermatitis)

Common clinical symptoms of yeast dermatitis include:

  • Recurring or chronic ear infections (otitis externa)
  • Itchiness and redness
  • Musty odor
  • “Elephant skin” or thickened skin
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Crusty, scaly or flaky skin

Staph Infection

Common clinical symptoms of staph infection include:

  • Pain
  • Red or inflamed skin
  • Pus-filled lesions on the skin
  • Excessive licking, itching or chewing
  • Patchy fur with peeling, moist or crusty skin
  • Systemic infections in the ears, eyes, skin or respiratory system

Causes of Bacterial & Fungal Skin Infections in Dogs

The immune system typically controls the many fungi and bacteria that live on the skin, so they do not cause issues under normal circumstances. But skin conditions may change or the immune system may become suppressed, leading to fungal or bacterial infections.

Two common causes for yeast infections include deficiencies in the immune system or a buildup of oil on the skin. While yeast infections are not contagious, they will often return unless the underlying allergy or skin condition is corrected.

Certain breeds may be genetically susceptible to yeast infections, such as the Chihuahua, Lhasa Apso, Silky Terrier, Basset Hound, Australian Terrier, Cocker Spaniel, West Highland White Terrier, Maltese Terrier, Shetland Sheepdog, Poodle, and Dachshund.

When a dog excessively licks, chews or scratches his skin, the skin can become irritated, kicking off a vicious cycle. These behaviors may begin to appear if your dog is allergic to something in the environment, food or medication, or fleas.

Staph infections may also be caused by secondary infections, such as chronic debilitating diseases, fungal infections in the blood or allergies. Dogs of any breed or age can be afflicted, but older and senior dogs will be more vulnerable due to their weaker immune systems.

Diagnosis of Fungal Dermatitis & Bacterial Skin Infections in Dogs

As mentioned above, it can be challenging to isolate the cause of infection and which specific condition your dog may be suffering from when it comes to bacterial and fungal skin infections.

At Falls Road Animal Hospital, we use advanced diagnostic tools and run tests in our in-house lab, so we can offer fast testing and precise diagnoses for your pet’s medical issues. This saves precious time in our efforts to effectively and efficiently treat your pet’s condition, and bring much-needed relief from his symptoms.

If the cause of infection is a food allergy, this can lead your dog to lick, chew and scratch as his skin - behaviors that can propagate the problem.

Our vets can offer knowledgeable expertise in pet nutrition based on years of experience with numerous dog breeds. We can help diagnose your pet’s condition and discover your pet’s nutritional needs together, then provide a medically supervised, veterinarian-approved nutrition plan to help them stay healthy.

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 showing signs of a bacterial or fungal skin infection? Contact our Baltimore vets at Falls Road Animal Hospital right away to schedule an appointment for testing.

Caring for Pets in Baltimore

Falls Road Animal Hospital accepts new clients to our specialty services and 24/7 emergency services.

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Contact (410) 825-9100