Before pets develop pyoderma, another problem usually exists. Flea infestations, allergies, hypothyroidism, or some other circumstance may have damaged their skin. The skin is itchy or painful, so your dog or cat responds with a lot of scratching, rubbing, biting, or licking around the area. These actions cause pyoderma. You may have missed the signs of the underlying condition, but you’re unlikely to miss the telltale symptoms of the skin infection that follows once your pet has caused more irritation. In addition to the initial scratching, you may now notice pustules, crusted skin, lesions, bald patches, and dried discharge.
At this point, your cat or dog has pyoderma on top of whatever health problem caused the skin discomfort in the first place. Depending on how advanced the pyoderma is and the location of the problem, symptoms can be fairly minor or serious.
Pyoderma is classified according to how deep your pet’s skin lesions are. Those that just break the epidermis are the most minor. Known as surface pyoderma, this condition usually appears as red, inflamed patches of skin. One example of surface pyoderma is a condition known as hot spots; hot spots are swollen patches of skin that are warm to the touch and painful for pets. Rare in cats and more common in dogs, hot spots exude pus and sometimes give off a foul odor. Skin folds and wrinkles where moisture builds up are also areas where surface pyoderma is common.
When an infection reaches the level of your pet’s hair follicles, it’s known as superficial pyoderma. Redness, papules, and pustules develop on the hair follicles. Scabbed-over circular lesions may appear. These most often develop in your pet’s armpit, groin area, and abdomen. There may also be hair loss may that results in a pet looking “moth eaten.”
Cellulitis and abscesses are examples of the most serious type of pyoderma, deep pyoderma, which can develop if minor wounds are not cared for properly. With cellulitis, pets will feel pain if the infected area is touched. The site of the infection will be warm to the touch and firm. You may also see red streaks on the skin as the infection spreads. An abscess is a pocket of pus. Pimples, pustules, and boils are types of abscesses. These, too, will be painful and warm, but an abscess will feel like a fluid ball under the skin. Deep pyoderma infections must be treated properly in order to avoid more serious complications.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.