Disclaimer: Before you read this post, I want to let you know that I am not a veterinarian. I hope my posts give you some good information, but always bring your dog to a licensed veterinarian. Also, there could be links to affiliates on this page.
What Will I Learn About Dog Pyoderma?
In the short time it will take you to read this post you will learn a variety of things, including:
- A quick way for the average person to spot pyoderma
- Short lesson in how pyoderma develops and where it shows up on the dog’s body
- A quick background on the studies being conducted on laser therapy.
- New clinical trials that your dog might qualify for
Dog Pyoderma usually has an instigator somewhere!
I’ve written a few other posts related to dog allergies and dermatitis and the big take-away I’ve learned is that these primary conditions can cause enough trauma to the skin to allow staph bacteria entry. The more an area hurts or itches, the more your dog is going to lick it. You might even see your dog digging at spots with his teeth, which only makes it worse.
Other events that compromise the dog’s skin leaving it vulnerable to staph include:
- bite wounds,
- bug bites
- contact with chemicals
- flea allergy
- other allergens including food
Also, your dog might have another underlying disease that would cause a general suppression of the immune system. These disease might include cancer or thyroid disease, for example.
Okay, so explain how pyoderma happens in the first place?
As you may have read in my other posts, fleas, ticks, thyroid disease, various hormonal imbalances, certain medications and yeast skin infections can all be harbingers to the development of a dog pyoderma.
Parasites, for example, cause extreme itch. Your dog licks and digs at the spot with his tongue and paws. The constant irritation and saliva eventually cause an opening of the skin where staph bacteria take hold.
At this point, staph bacteria (Staphylococcus pseudintermedius) multiply and kill portions of skin leaving the immune system function cut off. This means that white blood cells that the body normally disburses to heal injuries can’t do its job. This further compromises the dog’s immune system leading to a vicious cycle. Veterinarians report that dog pyoderma is a disgusting condition that is very hard to treat. Staphylococcal antibiotic resistance is a possibility.
Clinical signs include:
- small blisters (look like pimples) – known as pustules
- small inflammed bumps and lumps that spread out and have no pus inside
- bits of dead skin cells that look like crust
- open sores
- hair loss
Making the Right Diagnosis
In order to make an accurate diagnosis of pyoderma, he/she will typically do the following:
- Skin scraping.
- Fungal culture to rule-out deep fungal infection.
- Skin cytology
- Bacterial culture
- Skin biopsy to rule out other disease
Signs and symptoms of dog pyoderma can occur anywhere on the skin, but are most often found on the trunk of the body in places where there is less fur.
The Risk of Recurring Dog Pyoderma
- Antibiotic Resistence
- Further decrease in immune function
Watch the short video below. Yes, it’s designed for veterinarian professionals, but it’s interesting how they can use focused laser therapy to blast tumors away!
Is Low Level Laser Therapy the NEW Antibiotic?
Focused ultrasound using low level laser therapy is not designed to take the place of current medication/treatment options. Research is currently underway to determine just how effective this new therapy will be on dogs. In addition, the successful use on dogs could mean a whole new treatment for ourselves. Imagine being able to dissolve a tumor without invasive surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation.
Dog Pyoderma is considered a difficult skin infection for a few reasons:
- the immune system quickly comes compromised
- one a dog has pyoderma once, there’s a good chance it will come back
- antibiotic resistance occurs.
If your dog is diagnosed with pyoderma for the first time, he/she may recommend antibiotics combined with medicated baths. Before that recommendation, however, the doctor will want to look for fleas, ticks, worms and other pathogens through the various tests mentioned above. These conditions are known as “flare factors” as they relate to the development of dog pyoderma.
Low Level Laser Therapy for Dog Pyoderma
I urge you to watch the youtube video above, if you haven’t already. Learn about focused ultrasound and how it works on tumors. The veterinarian goes into detail about the use of low level laser therapy for the treatment of pyoderma in dogs. He’s a fast-talker and I think its meant for veterinarian professionals, but if I could understand the gist of it…I know you can too. It’s fascinating.
You won’t find laser therapy for dog pyoderma in every veterinarian clinic. It’s expensive to train a person to use it and expensive to purchase. For that reason, small, rural clinics (for example) may opt out. However, the clinic might be able to offer a referral to a qualified technician.
Some ways that laser therapy has been used in dogs include:
- back pain
- pulled muscles
- inflammatory skin infections
- ear infections
- anal gland abscess
- to aid in healing post-operatively
I've tried to explain to the dog that scratching your allergy-ridden skin on grass may be counterproductive and sadly ironic. pic.twitter.com/l6Ly6R5IeU
— secretdonkey (@secretdonkey) January 26, 2017
Will Laser Therapy Hurt my Dog?
No, low level laser therapy is pain-free and has been shown to actually be relaxing for dogs.
Here’s how it works:
These “cold” lasers penetrate into the tissue where it stimulates nerve regeneration, muscle relaxation, and immune system response. As a result, the low level laser therapy reduces any pain or inflammation, while speeding up the healing process.
— Newport Beach Vet (@NewportVet) September 23, 2016
Costs for a single treatment can range from $35 and up. The number of treatments needed to aid dog pyoderma will depend on how advanced the skin infection is and how well the dog is treating to other interventions like antibiotic use or medicated baths.
If you think low level laser therapy might be a good option for your dog, don’t be afraid to ask. Your veterinarian might be able to recommend or provide a good practitioner who is experienced in treating canine disorders. From what I understand, pyoderma can be a real pain-in-the-behind to treat. By keeping ahead of fleas and ticks, and providing monthly topical anti parasite medications, your dog might escape unscathed from this smelly skin condition.
In addition to what you’ve just read, I wanted to offer you a more comprehensive look at what low laser light therapy is all about. Click HERE to read what the veterinarian manual has to say about the topic.
At the end of the day, we all want healthy and happy dogs. To recap: It’s vital to follow at-home administration of medications to your dog as prescribed by the veterinarian. Please don’t introduce other treatments (homeopathic, natural, organic, or otherwise) before speaking to the veterinarian. Even those products are described as natural doesn’t meant there are no side-effects or complications with other drugs.
As your dog receives antibiotics, he/she might seem better after just a few days to a week. Keep administering those meds! Early discontinuation will bring back any bacteria that hadn’t been fully eradicated. And you know what happens then? It starts all over again.
For more information on skin disorders in dogs, check out my post on the 19 Essential Facts About Treating Demodectic Mange.
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