Dermatological conditions are the most commonly reported problem in veterinary clinics worldwide. This is understandable since the skin is the largest organ in the pet’s body. It serves as the animal’s first line of defense against environmental hazards and different harmful organisms. In pets, skin infections can occur either as a primary condition or secondary to an underlying health problem. Whichever the case is, proper identification and diagnosis are essential to effectively treat skin infection in pets. Keep reading to learn more!
Symptoms of Skin Infection in Pets
Clinical signs associated with a skin infection in pets can vary depending on the specific cause, but early manifestations of infection can be similar regardless of the cause. If your pet is excessively itchy, flakey, scaly, crusty or has lumps or scabs on its skin, it needs help!
Generalized redness and skin inflammation can also be observed in pets with skin infections. Untreated and severe cases will eventually emit a pungent or foul odor, and infections can even be fatal to highly susceptible and immunocompromised animals.
Types of Skin Infection
Skin infection in pets can be generally classified into two types: bacterial and fungal. Several bacterial and fungal species can invade and penetrate the skin barrier and cause infection in pets. Inflammation and breaks on the skin barrier can increase the risk of these microorganisms taking over, leading to an infection.
It’s important to determine what type of skin infection an affected animal has because the treatment for each type is different. Medications that can control and eliminate bacterial organisms will have no effect against fungal infections, and likewise, anti-fungal medications are ineffective against bacterial skin infections. Proper identification and diagnosis are important to have a specific and targeted treatment for your pet’s skin infection.
The best way to diagnose skin infection is by examining samples taken from the skin. Skin scrapings and cytology can help determine whether a skin infection is bacterial or fungal in nature. Identification of specific bacterial or fungal causes may involve culturing and isolating the organisms taken from skin samples.
Most bacterial skin infections respond well to antibacterial medications. Localized and solitary bacterial infections can easily be treated with topical medications such as antibacterial creams and ointments. A more generalized infection will often need systemic antibacterial therapy for treatment.
Similarly, fungal infections are mostly treated with topical medications such as ointments or medicated shampoos, depending on how widespread the lesions are. Systemic antifungal medications are usually only prescribed in severe cases of fungal skin infections because of their potential liver and kidney side effects.
If you pet shows any of the symptoms listed above, make an appointment so we can get the problem under control before it becomes more costly and difficult to eliminate.