By Dr. Karen Burgess

What is pyoderma?
Pyoderma is another way of saying bacterial skin infection. Skin has bacteria present naturally, but when allowed to overgrow skin infection develops.

What causes pyoderma?
Pyoderma is an overgrowth or invasion of the hair follicle with bacteria. Typically pyoderma is secondary to some other cause. Examples include allergic skin disease (atopy), food allergy, matted hair, self-trauma, and underlying metabolic disease (hypothyroidism, Cushing’s).

What are the signs of pyoderma?
Superficial pyoderma affecting only the outer skin layers often appears as red bumpy areas that have crusts present. Hair loss or rough hair in the area may also be present. Deeper pyoderma can cause significant hairloss and open wound like lesions. In either case pets are often itchy and may paw or lick excessively at effected areas.

How is pyoderma diagnosed?
Visualization of lesions, history, and cytology of affected sites looking for bacteria are all involved in the diagnosis of pyoderma. In severe or chronic cases additional testing to rule out underlying medical conditions may be indicated.

How is pyoderma treated?
Mild localized cases of pyoderma can often be treated with medicated sprays or shampoos. More severe instances often require oral antibiotics until well beyond resolution of lesions. An Elizabethean collar is often essential in treatment to prevent pets from further self mutilation while medications are taking effect. Treatment of underlying medical conditions (ex. allergies, parasites) that predispose to pyoderma is also necessary.