Your Holistic Go-To for Pyoderma in Dogs

Your Holistic Go-To for Pyoderma in Dogs

  • Kirsten Thornhill - 24.05.2021

The main reason paw parents bring their pets into the vet? Pyoderma. Pyoderma can be defined as a bacterial infection of the skin. It’s a very common condition amongst dogs and cats. Nonetheless, it doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable for your fur baby. 

Remember the first time you made eye contact with your dog? You knew he or she was the one you’d love forever! I think all of us can attest to wanting a long, healthy life for our animals. Unfortunately, there is a laundry list of diseases, infections, and conditions that dogs can encounter. Sadly, most affect the internal systems. 



With any illness or ailment, early detection is crucial to the shortest possible road to recovery. Fortunately, skin infections, like pyoderma, are fairly easy to spot early on. 

In today’s article, we’ll talk about everything you need to know about pyoderma in canines. 

Let’s jump to it!

What is Pyoderma?

Pyoderma is a bacterial infection located in the skin. This skin infection is incredibly common amongst dogs and cats. Let’s talk bacteria. There is “good” bacteria that exists on healthy canine skin. However, certain factors or environmental triggers can cause this population to reach unhealthy levels of bacteria, leading to potential infection. 



Pyoderma can affect any and all dogs, regardless of breed, age, or condition. But, there are a few breeds of dogs that are genetically or physically more susceptible for contracting pyoderma. For instance, pit bulls, pit bull mixes, and American cocker spaniels are more likely to contract this skin infection.  Dogs breeds with skin folds such as French bulldogs, English bulldogs, shar-peis, and Boston terriers are also predisposed. 

The 3 Types of Pyoderma

There are three different levels of canine pyoderma. The levels of pyoderma parallel with the depth of the skin affected. They are as follows:

1. Surfaced Pyoderma

This level means that the unsavory bacteria has not yet broken past the top layer of skin. 

2. Superficial Pyoderma

This level affects the superficial epidermal layer of the skin and the hair follicles, just under the top surface layer. This is the most commonly seen type of pyoderma. 

3. Deep Pyoderma

This level affects the roots of hair follicles. This is, by far, one of the hardest levels to get rid of. 

What Causes Canine Pyoderma?

Before you can accurately treat pyoderma, it’s important to know exactly what caused it. As we previously mentioned above, pyoderma results from the overpopulation of skin bacteria. This overpopulation response is a result of various factors including:



  • Allergies (food, environmental, etc.)
  • Weakened immune system as a result of medication, liver disease, thyroid disease, ace, or cancer 
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Breakage or damage of the skin
  • Warm and moist environments

Any of the above causes may break down the skin’s natural defense team. Bacteria may have the opportunity to multiple to unhealthy levels, rapidly. When this defense team goes down, other organisms may “move in” on your dog’s skin. Your dog can contract a fungal or yeast infection, plus their current pyoderma skin infection. 

What are the Symptoms of Pyoderma?

With numerous skin infections affecting canines, it’s important that you can know and identify the symptoms of pyoderma. While many skin infections have similar symptoms, like itchiness, redness, and irritation, pyoderma is uniquely characterized by pus-filled blisters. 

Often referred to as pustules, these pus-filled blisters resemble adolescent pimples. In addition to pustules, there are numerous pyoderma symptoms to keep an eye out for, such as:

  • Redness
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Crusty, flaky, or scaly skin
  • Hair loss
  • Oozing sores
  • Swollen skin
  • Sensitive to touch


If your puppers is experiencing any of the above symptoms, a trip to the veterinarian may be in your near future. Luckily, pyoderma is not contagious to other doggos or humans! Woo. 

How to Diagnose Pyoderma

If you suspect that your dog may have pyoderma, there are a number of tests your vet can do to prove your theory true. Proper diagnosis is the key player to making the most effective treatment plan. 


A) Allergy Testing

Allergies can be a cause of skin infections. If this happens to be your dog’s case, it’s a simple road to healing! Certain blood and skin tests can identify what allergens may be affecting your dog. 

B) Tape Prep or Skin Scrape

The proactive paw parents may be interested to know that you can collect skin samples for easy testing at home. By simply placing a strip of tape (scotch tape works) gently against your dog’s skin to collect any infected cells. You can also lightly scrape the surface of the affect area and collect a sample. Skin scraping may be a more effective way if you suspect mites or fleas are also a potential culprit. 

C) Blood Testing and Biopsy

A blood sample may help shed some light on any internal issues that may be occurring from the dermal infection. For instance, thyroid disease can cause skin issues. This does often require your dog to be sedated to some extent, ensuring that fido is in no pain and so they can surgically remove a small piece of skin for testing too. 

D) Fungal or Bacterial Culture

Fungal infections, like ringworm, can be tested easily from hair taken from the infected area. Pyoderma may require just a simple swab of the infected skin cells. Many vets may use the test results to determine which antibiotic is most appropriate for treatment. 

How to Treat Canine Pyoderma

Once you and your vet have determined and confirmed that your dog has pyoderma, what’s next? How do you treat it? Taking into account that canine pyoderma is commonly seen in veterinarian offices, there are a wide array of treatment approaches. 


Clavamox is a broad-spectrum antibiotic used to fend off bacterial infections. Paw parents can choose between Clavamox oral drops or pills. Keep in mind, it is penicillin based, so dogs with a history of allergies should proceed with caution. 

It is important to note that Clavamox is only prescribed for bacterial infections and is not effective in treating fungal or viral infections. Since pyoderma is often followed by other infections, this may mean that your dog may need another prescription. Mixing medications may make potential side effects worse. 

Clavamox Adverse Effects

It is absolutely essential to thoroughly discuss the administration of any and all new medications with your vet prior to giving to them to your fur baby. Be sure to keep record of your dog’s drug and medical history. 

In the instance of Clavamox, potential side effects may include:

  • Changes in heart rate
  • Changes in respiratory rate
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea


Simplicef is only available by prescription and is an oral antibiotic commonly used to treat bacterial infections. It is an FDA approved, one a day pill, that can be taken with or without food. Simplicef is a popular medication because it can sometimes treat skin infections almost instantly, well, possibly in just one dose. 

Simplicef Adverse Effects

Simplicef has the risk of adverse effects and warnings. Dogs with a history of seizures should not take this medication. Common side effects of SImplicef may include diarrhea, nause, or yeast infections. Many dogs have been known to get allergic reactions when taking Simplicef. Signs of an allergic reaction may include:

  • Swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising

Holistic Options for Pyoderma

Here at Petly CBD, we believe in holistic approaches to overall dog wellness. Fortunately enough, we live in a flourishing time of homeopathic medicine and natural options. 

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar may help you treat your dog’s skin infection. Simply mix a 50/50 water to apple cider vinegar solution and apply the mixture on the affected areas with a clean cotton ball. If you’d like more information on apple cider vinegar, click here.

A Healthy Diet

While there are a number of allergens that may affect dogs, food allergies may be the hidden culprit. Dogs can suddenly develop an allergy to a food they have been eating for years! Thus, it’s important to switch up your dog’s protein source every few months or so. Remember, you must gradually change out the old food and supplement in the new food over time. Low and slow is key here.



Finding the appropriate dietary balance for your dog can be difficult, but your vet is here to help! Talk with your vet to determine the healthiest balance of nutrients, personalized for your dog. 

Pyoderma in Canines: Final Thoughts

It’s never easy seeing your beloved, four-legged friend in pain. With pyoderma it’s nearly impossible to not see the physical and mental toll it takes on your puppers. With pustules, irritated skins, and excruciating lesions, any good paw parent would want quick and effective relief for their doggo. 

While there are prescription oral antibiotics available one is often not enough to help skin infections. This leaves pet owners with numerous prescriptions and more than plenty potential side effects. 

Fortunately, there are options. Whichever wellness path you chose, make sure to do your homework, trust your veterinarian, and administer medications appropriately. 


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