Common Skin Problems in Puppies
Puppies are more vulnerable to skin infections than older dogs. Owners must be able to spot the early signs of skin infections on their puppy so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment are key for a speedy recovery for your puppy.
Puppies are very susceptible to fungal infections on their skin, the most common being ringworm. Ringworm is not a worm at all, it gets it’s name from the circular patches of pink on the puppies coat and hair loss. Ringworm is contagious to other dogs, cats and humans. When handling a puppy with ringworm it is recommended to use latex gloves and afterwords sterilize your skin, floors and bedding with a bleach solution (1 cup bleach to 2 gallons of water).
Symptoms include skin bumps or lesions, itching of the affected area, and round pink areas of hair loss. Treatment usually includes bathing for 12 weeks with anti-fungal shampoo, anti-fungal topical cream and oral medication (commonly Terbinafine).
Yeasts are the spore-like forms of fungi: Malassezia dermatitis is a fungal infection of the skin. Yeast infections are very itchy, crusty, and smelly. It can start with a rash on your puppy, but you will see that the skin becomes thicker and takes on an “elephant” skin appearance. The itch becomes extreme and the odor worsens. Parts of the body or the entire body can be affected.
Yeast are normal and happily live in balance on the skin and in the ears of your puppy. For a yeast infection to occur, conditions on the skin surface change to favor the proliferation of the yeasts. Yeasts in small numbers are harmless, however when the yeasts are present in larger numbers, infection will result.
Treatment can be topical, oral, or both. For localized small areas of infection, a topical treatment works best. Oral medication is better for larger areas. If the infection is recurrent or if you want to supplement oral medication, then a combination of topical and oral treatment can be used.
Puppies have a higher risk of developing a bacterial infection when they have a fungal infection or an endocrine disease such as hyperthyroidism, or if they have allergies to fleas, food ingredients, or parasites.
Impetigo is a mild surface skin infection that can occur in puppies under 1 year of age. It presents with pus-filled blisters on the hairless parts of the abdomen or on the groin. The blisters rupture, leaving thin brown crusts. Puppies housed in unsanitary quarters are most likely to be infected by this.
Treatment is usually a topical therapy involving bathing the puppy with a benzoyl peroxide shampoo (such as Pyoben or OxyDex) twice per week for two to three weeks. Unsanitary areas where your puppy lives must be cleaned and sanitized.
Mange is a skin disease caused by tiny mites. Some mange mites are normally found your dog’s skin and hair follicles, while others are not. All mites can cause mild to severe skin infections if their numbers grow and become out of balance.
Localized mange occurs when mites proliferate in a few small and confined areas. You will see isolated bald patches that are scaly, usually on your puppy’s face. Localized mange is a common ailment for puppies. Approximately 90% of localized mange cases will resolve by itself with no treatment.
Generalized mange, however, affects larger areas or even the puppies entire body. Secondary bacterial infections cause very itchy and smelly skin conditions on your puppy. This form of mange could also be a sign of a compromised immune system, hereditary problem, endocrine problem or other underlying health problem. Treatment depends on the age at which the puppy developed the disease.
Your vet may prescribe anti-parasitic medications, as well as medication to help relieve the itching, inflammation and secondary skin infections and accompany mange. Plan on 4-6 weeks of treatment.
For all types of skin infections it is recommended to take your puppy to your vet for a proper diagnosis.