Puppy Pyoderma

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Puppy Pyoderma (Pyo = Pus, Derma = Skin) is a skin infection caused by Staphylococcus intermedius that typically occurs on the hairless parts (like the lower tummy).  Blue was diagnosed with puppy acne gone wrong.  He had huge bumps and welts on his belly.  We couldn’t figure out what it could be (fleas, bee stings, ant bites?) and when it didn’t clear up in a couple days, we took him to the veterinarian. Our vet called it puppy acne (because it looks a human teen’s acne break out) and told me it had blossomed into a staph infection and prescribed several weeks worth of antibiotics.   When I came home to research “puppy acne” and “staph infections” I immediately clicked off the Internet, because there is a lot of scary information out there. I’m going to share a few puppy facts…

  1. Staph resides all around us, but this doesn’t mean that we’re minutes away from contracting the flesh eating virus.
  2. Puppy Pyoderma isn’t fatal and is usually treated with oral medications.
  3. Typically it’s not transferable from dog to dog – Sydney and Rodrigo remained Puppy Pyoderma free.
  4. It’s not a dangerous staph infection; this isn’t the same as the MRSA virus.

Facts about staph infections…

How Did Blue Contract Puppy Pyoderma?

We’re not sure.  When a dog’s skin is cut or wounded (he likes to crawl over our fence when we come home) there is an increased risk of infection.

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What are Symptoms of Puppy Pyoderma?

Itchiness, pustules, crusted skin, small / raised welts, loss of hair, and dried discharge in affected areas.
The infection can occur on the superficial layers of the dogs skin and if there’s a deep wound it can occur in the deep layers (deep pyoderma).

How was the Puppy Pyoderma Diagnosed?

Our veterinarian examined Blue and diagnosed him on the spot; he sees it all the time in puppies, and he prescribed several weeks of antibiotics.  It’s important that all of the pills are taken or the pyoderma will return, bigger and badder than ever.

What we learned about Puppy Pyoderma…

  1. Can appear like it’s not a big deal.  In our experience, it didn’t seem to bother our puppy too much.  He did lick the area, but wasn’t obsessive about it and it didn’t stop him from being his usual playful self.
  2. Not contagious.  The Pyoderma didn’t spread to our other dogs, but we were sure to wash our hands regularly just in case.
  3. It is pertinent that our puppy take the full dosage of medication as prescribed.  The Puppy Pyoderma clears up pretty quickly, within a day or so, but that doesn’t mean the staph infection is gone.  Like I mentioned before, if dog parents don’t complete the prescription as instructed, the Puppy Pyoderma will return, possibly bigger and badder than before.  I didn’t give Blue his entire prescription and when it returned (a few weeks later) it did bother him, although it didn’t look as bad as the first time around.
  4. Aloe can provide relief.  We use Aloe Vera Skin Gel to cool our dogs’ tummies – it’s a nice relief, but does not cure Puppy Pyoderma.  We purchase a brand from GNC that is 99% Aloe, isn’t tested on animals, and is safe on our dogs.
  5. This cannot be treated at home.  I Google home remedies and found several sites, but many still encouraged  a veterinarian visit.  A staph infection is no joke and it’s simply not worth it to risk your dog’s health should it get out of control.  Having seen how quickly it can seem to clear up, I would be concerned about a home remedy giving me false home, not realizing that the staph infection may be growing stronger, but unseen.

The cost of treating Puppy Pyoderma… If I had given Blue his entire dosage as prescribed, the treatment would have cost less than $60 (exam + prescription).  Because I didn’t, it cost us more than $200.  An expensive lesson for us and for Blue.


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