Pet owners often disregard illnesses and conditions that are usually associated with humankind, mainly focussing on vaccinating and preventing against common canine ailments such as rabies, parvovirus (parvo), distemper, Bordetella, and leptospirosis, to name just a few.
However, just as people can fall ill with cancer, hepatitis, Lyme disease, giardia, parainfluenza, and even arthritis, so can our beloved pets. So to address the question, “can dogs get impetigo?” Absolutely. In fact, impetigo in dogs is more common than you’d initially imagine, just has another appellation—pyoderma.
What Is Impetigo?
Impetigo, by definition, is a bacterial infection that presents itself in the form of pimply or blistery sores that erupt, drip, and scab over, ensuingly encasing the pus in a crusty coating.
In people and animals alike, the copiously existing staph bacteria thrive on our skin, coats, fur, feathers, shells, and whatnot. Should an open wound break open our or their protective layer, staph will eagerly make its way in to fester, grow, and bother.
There are approximately 30 strains of staph out there—Staphylococcus aureus causes impetigo in mankind, but Staphylococcus intermedius is responsible for canine impetigo and a myriad of other skin troubles.
In humans, the impetigo types are nonbullous, bullous, and ecthyma. It’s different for dogs, though. There are also three main types of canine impetigo, but they’re called surface pyoderma, superficial bacterial folliculitis, and deep pyoderma, all with varying levels of severity.
Is Impetigo in Dogs Common?
Because a dog’s skin serves as a host for a vast array of microorganisms and germs, skin conditions almost habitually manifest in dogs. Impetigo is no exception to that rule. There are over 150 different skin disorders that dogs can have—some of which are community acquired and some that are hereditary or autoimmune disorders, some curable, and some irrecoverable.
Despite its abundance, canine impetigo does not fit into any of those grim groupings. It’s a very amenable, untroublesome diagnosis to manage as long as it’s caught early on—diligence and vigilance are key.
What About Puppy Impetigo?
Actually, similar to how impetigo most frequently affects youngsters, puppy impetigo is found far more often than impetigo in aged hounds (but the latter is possible). Pup impetigo is also named juvenile pustular dermatitis or puppy pyoderma.
Like infants and toddlers, puppies have overly sensitive or hypersensitive skin that’s not yet been exposed to the harsh elements of the world. The hairless and scarcely haired zones of young, puerile canines (like the irresistible, squeezable, adorable, impossibly soft puppy belly) are at an increased risk for irritation.
How Can Dogs Get Impetigo?
Dogs both old and young can acquire impetigo by simply having a traumatized bit of skin that’s been broken open ever so slightly. It’s in these cracks that the overzealous staph pathogen gains entry to their system. Dogs will not contract impetigo from other pups, and it’s of very low probability that it’s passed between humans and mutts.
The occurrence of impetigo is inherently natural, and in some ways, unavoidable. You can’t wrap your doggie in bubble wrap before letting him or her out in the backyard, inevitably skin problems will arise at some point during the course of their lives. Weakened immunity is also a contributing factor.
Staph infections are typically contagious, but canine impetigo is slow spreading. Concerned you’ll contract impetigo from your pooch? Fret not, it’s unlikely, especially if you practice good hygiene.
Signs & Symptoms of Impetigo in Puppies and Dogs
To determine whether or not your dog had developed impetigo, there are some classic signs and symptoms to look out for:
- Pimples, red bumps, or acne in rash configuration
- Accelerated loss of hair
- A sudden drop in weight
- Inflamed, blotchy areas of skin
- Scaly, crusty sores
- Blisters full of fluid or pus
- Depressive behaviors
Our pets have clever methods of letting us know they’re suffering. If your dog’s demeanor has shifted from once playful and excited to dreary and lazy, you’re sure to find something wrong.
Does it Itch for Dogs?
Nonstop scratching is one of the telltale signs of impetigo. Of course, there are many reasons for a dog to be scratching—fleas, ticks, contact dermatitis, allergies (seasonal, environmental, or nutritional), mites, et cetera—so do investigate the source of their itchiness.
Impetigo is characteristically itchy, for any being that it attacks. If your dog is excessively scratching or even biting and licking their impetigo, it might be time for the cone of shame. Unfortunately, such behavior can induce spreading of the infection.
Impetigo Treatment for Dogs
While impetigo can recede on its own accord after it has run its course, treating it upon initial discovery diminishes the opportunity for future complications. Pay a visit to your veterinarian whenever you’re suspicious of sickness.
Normal impetigo treatment for dogs usually includes a shampooing regimen. The antibacterial medicated shampoo should contain chlorhexidine, benzoyl peroxide, or ethyl lactate (miconazole is unnecessary). Washing should be executed thrice weekly, at minimum, until the infection vanishes.
If your dog’s skin is unresponsive to this treatment method, return to the vet for antibiotic therapy, either topical or systemic.
Check on your pet’s overall condition routinely. Comb their hair and inspect the skin closely. Impetigo is not the only malady that can plague your babe.
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