Pets can suffer from irritating and uncomfortable skin conditions, just as humans do. And just like humans, pet skin conditions can range from mild and temporary to serious and even life-threatening. It is always best to have your veterinarian examine and diagnose a pet’s skin issues, but it can be helpful to know what you may be dealing with.

Pet Skin Problems

One of the most common pet skin problems is a bacterial skin infection. This is largely due to the fact that there are many types of bacteria that normally reside on a pet’s skin. When this bacteria is given an opportunity to over-expand through any manner of health conditions, including a flea infestation, an open wound, an allergic reaction, or some similar condition, it creates an infection that is clearly visible on the skin. These infections can become incredibly painful if left untreated, and treatment must be aggressive in order to conclusively resolve the infection. Following are five signs a pet is suffering a bacterial skin infection:

  1. Pustules on the skin that resemble pimples.
  2. Itchy, dry and flaky patches of skin.
  3. Loss of hair, especially in clearly defined sections of the skin.
  4. Blood or pus seeping from the skin.
  5. Skin that is swollen or ulcerated.

In many cases, bacterial skin infections also carry with them a foul odor. A simple bacterial skin infection normally occurs once and resolves with appropriate treatment. A complex bacterial skin condition is one that continues to occur. In some cases, a pet is suffering from a health condition that predisposes them to recurring bacterial skin conditions and they must take prescribed medication or even make dietary changes in order to cope with this. These infections can occur in one specific area of the body or be more widespread, and they can be superficial on the epidermis or deep into the dermis.

The cause for your pet’s bacterial skin condition may be difficult to determine, which is why your veterinarian will need to perform a complete physical examination and may choose to perform blood and urine tests, as well as a skin scraping. A skin scraping can help the veterinarian to determine exactly what kinds of bacteria are present, while blood and urine tests can help the veterinarian to determine the cause of a bacterial skin infection. They can also be useful in determining the best treatment options. Some possible causes include a flea infection, an allergic reaction, a fungal or yeast infection, a wound, any broken skin caused by excessive scratching, poor grooming, an endocrine imbalance that results in reduced lymphocytes, and a hereditary condition.

In most cases, a bacterial skin infection can be successfully treated with oral antibiotics, topical sprays, and special shampoos. Antibiotic treatments often take anywhere from three to six weeks to complete, and they must be fully completed in order to eradicate all infectious bacteria and prevent any antibiotic resistance from developing. Additionally, the underlying cause for the infection will need to be addressed in order to prevent the infection from recurring at the conclusion of the treatment. This may include a type of medication for any health conditions or diseases, a dietary change for any food allergies, or a course of treatment for fleas, parasites or fungal infections. Your veterinarian may also recommend frequent bathing and grooming, as well as regular bedding changes and cleaning.

Keep in mind that while bacterial skin infections are not normally life-threatening, they can be incredibly uncomfortable and even painful. Make sure your pet receives the care and relief he needs, and contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet is suffering from a bacterial skin infection.