• Bacteria icon indicating that Lavengel kills and prevents bacterial infections in the skin

Pyoderma: Pimples, Pustules, Impetigo + Bacterial Skin Infections in Dogs

Remember, we always recommend consulting with your vet for any of your dog's health concerns.

Pyoderma infection in burn wound of dog with black fur

What is Pyoderma?

The term pyoderma means "pus in the skin." It is predominantly caused by bacterial infection, though inflammation, allergies, or cancer are other possible contributing factors.

Pyoderma can be considered "superficial" - affecting only the top layer of skin - or "deep" - affecting deeper layers of tissue. In young puppies, pyoderma may also be called impetigo, or juvenile pustular dermatitis, resembling acne-like pimples that commonly appear on the belly, armpits, and groin.

Drawing of basset hound dressed as Sherlock Holmes with magnifying glass in mouth

Key Identifiers of Pyoderma

  • Excessive scaling and flaky skin
  • Red pustules, acne, or pimples filled with white pus
  • Swelling, blisters, redness, and scabs
  • Blood and pus may be present
  • Bald patches
  • Welts around hairs
  • Itching, pain, and sensitivity
Drawing of Staphylococcus bacteria arranged in a hexagon containing the letter S

What Causes Pyoderma?

The vast majority of pyoderma cases are caused by bacteria called Staphylococcus pseudintermedius, which naturally dwells on canine skin. Like most opportunistic bacteria, 'Staph pseudi' is not inherently harmful until it can take advantage of a breach in the skin, set up a colony, and multiply - hence the term "opportunistic."

Canine pyoderma is often a secondary effect to skin damage. A breach in the skin can be caused by cuts, scrapes, or licking and scratching at itchy skin affected by parasites, allergies, or poor grooming.

Drawing of direct-front view of chihuahua looking through pair of binoculars

Where Does Pyoderma Typically Occur?

Like an itch or wound, bacterial infections of the skin can happen anywhere on a dog's body. That said, there are certain areas that bacteria are more prone to dwell.

Warm, moist, and protected areas such as wrinkles and skin folds, armpits, feet (especially between toes), groin, or under the tail make for ideal locations for bacteria to thrive. Breeds with loose skin and skin folds are at a higher risk of developing a bacterial infection, as the constant rubbing of skin disrupts the epidermal barrier and maintains a warm environment that microbes love.

Closeup of bulldog paw with bacterial pyoderma infection and redness between toes

How Is Pyoderma Treated?

Medicated shampoos, ointments, soaks, and antiseptic washes are common. Antibiotics - both oral and topical - are typically reserved for serious cases, as antibiotic resistance could be a big concern, especially for dogs with recurrent cases.

A very viable ointment option is Lavengel®. Lavengel® has a U.S. patent for its ability to inhibit and counter Staphylococcus bacteria - both S. aureus in humans and S. pseudintermedius in dogs. Even their methicillin-resistant "superbug" forms (MRSA and MRSP) and their biofilms are highly susceptible to Lavengel®.

Lavengel® can not only help stop the infection, but also relieve sting and irritation that bacterial infections bring. And, because it's made with safe ingredients, it could be used in conjunction with other antibiotics. In fact, the dog paw in this section's photo was affected with pyoderma, and Lavengel® was able to help clear it.

Drawing of Labrador Retriever wearing medieval knight helmet brandishing shield with crossed-out bacteria on it

Pyoderma Prevention + Infection Protection

Bacteria do not hesitate to invade damaged skin. Thus, it's always a good idea to treat your dog's wounds quickly and keep an eye out for excessive licking, chewing, and scratching at a single area. Here are some other things you can do:

  • Keep some Lavengel® on hand (obviously).
  • Keep your dog's fur brushed and well-groomed.
  • When giving a bath, don't forget to wash those pits, ears, under the tail, and between toes.
  • Keep your dog's bedding and dishes clean.
  • Make sure collars and harnesses aren’t too tight and allow appropriate air flow.
  • Keep them on a flea prevention medicine, even during the cold months.
  • If your dog has seasonal or environmental allergies, see your vet about an oral antihistamine regimen.
  • Disallow them from agitating a specific spot; this may require booties, or an Elizabethan collar (cone).

Pyoderma vs Lavengel®

You can see the full write-up of these and other testimonials on our Stories page.

  • Before and after images of infection in burn wound of black dog clearing after Lavengel treatment
  • Before and after images of Lavengel healing redness and infection between toes of English Bulldog