Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
How to Treat Pyoderma in Dogs
The best treatment for your dog's skin infection (pyoderma) is to find out what is going on and get rid of the infection with antibiotics. To do that, you need to take them to your veterinarian, who may have an idea what bacteria is causing the problem. They may also ask you to do a culture and antibiotic sensitivity test. This test is especially important for dogs that have had this condition come and go before.
(Culture and sensitivity tests take days for results, so your vet will put your dog on an antibiotic in the meantime. There is also a new test that can diagnose the bacteria more quickly based on DNA, but even if effective, it does not tell you which antibiotic will work best.)
At-Home Treatment for Mild Pyoderma in Dogs
If the infection is still mild and you cannot take your dog to the veterinarian, there are several things you can do at home. Some of them are effective at times.
Wash Your Dog With Antibacterial Shampoo
Shampoo your dog well to remove all of the crusty skin and any pus on the surface. Several shampoos that you can make at home, like colloidal oatmeal, can help by making your dog scratch less.
The best thing you can do, however, is purchase an antibacterial shampoo with chlorhexidine, available on Amazon or in many pet shops. When you apply it, leave it on for at least 10 minutes. Be sure to set a timer because that is a long time to sit around the bathroom with a wet dog.
Give Your Dog an Antihistamine
Dogs with pyoderma do itch and scratch, either from a primary disease like an allergy or secondary to the infection in the skin. Antihistamines do not work in all dogs, but if you can find one that works for your dog they will feel more comfortable, scratch and damage the skin less and heal faster as a result. Here is an article on which antihistamines you can use and their proper doses.
Apply Coconut Oil
It has not been studied for all types of bacteria, but from the research that has been done so far, we have learned that coconut oil is effective as a natural antibiotic. (1, 2).
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In cases of mild pyoderma, the oil can be applied to the inflamed areas after bathing and can have some positive effects. Do not apply to any areas where the skin is already broken and there is a pus discharge.
Give Your Dog Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Although much of the newer research does not back this up, omega-3s do have an effect on both infection and wound healing, so are indicated in pyoderma. (3) I would not want to rely on this product alone to heal my dog's pyoderma, though, so it should only be used alongside the other methods above.
Be Wary of Homeopathic Treatments for Pyoderma
Other herbal treatments like tea tree oil might be effective, and I have heard of one shampoo that combines tea tree oil and green or black tea, which contains tannins. Essential oils have been shown to help, but only when applied directly to the skin, which is toxic.
Other treatments like apple cider vinegar have not been shown to help much except against yeast, and CBD oil is not proven to help. Homeopathic remedies that claim to treat pyoderma are placebos only and will not help your dog's skin heal.
Deep Pyoderma Can Be Fatal
If your dog develops deep pyoderma, the infection can travel through the body and damage other organs. The dog might eventually die from this infection. If you can, take care of the problem early on by seeing your local veterinarian.
- Shilling M, Matt L, Rubin E, Visitacion MP, Haller NA, Grey SF, Woolverton CJ. Antimicrobial effects of virgin coconut oil and its medium-chain fatty acids on Clostridium difficile. J Med Food. 2013 Dec;16(12):1079-85. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24328700/
- Peedikayil FC, Remy V, John S, Chandru TP, Sreenivasan P, Bijapur GA. Comparison of antibacterial efficacy of coconut oil and chlorhexidine on Streptococcus mutans: An in vivo study. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 2016 Sep-Oct;6(5):447-452. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5109859/
- Alexander JW, Supp DM. Role of Arginine and Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Wound Healing and Infection. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2014 Nov 1;3(11):682-690. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4217020/
This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Dr Mark