Impetigo in dogs

Bacterial skin infections are prevalent in animals, especially dogs since bacteria are naturally present everywhere in the environment and on the skin.

Impetigo in dogs, which is also known as puppy impetigo, puppy pyoderma, juvenile pustular dermatitis, is a common bacterial skin infection in puppies under one year of age.

If you are also wondering what is impetigo? OR What are the causes of impetigo? OR What are the signs and symptoms of impetigo? Or how is impetigo diagnosed? Or what is the treatment of impetigo, then read this article.

What is impetigo?

Impetigo in dogs is a non-follicular, non-contagious subcorneal pustular condition. If your puppy has blisters and a crusty lesion with a rash and no other symptoms, your beloved dog is more likely to experience impetigo.

This condition generally occurs when puppies are hypersensitive, kept in unhygienic or health conditions that cause an imbalance in the immune or endocrine system.

When this condition is seen in an older dog, then it is known as bullous impetigo, it is mainly due to a hormonal imbalance such as hyperadrenocorticism or hypothyroidism.

What are the causes of impetigo?

Impetigo in dogs is an infectious disease, but the exact cause is still unknown. Many predisposing factors can cause impetigo in puppies. The most specific cause is mainly staphylococcus bacteria. That is why, at some point, impetigo is also known as a staph infection.

Staphylococci are present everywhere and have many strains. These strains can affect both humans and animals and can pass from one to the other. The familiar strains involved in impetigo are:

  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Staphylococcus intermedius
  • Atypical Staphylococcus aureus

Here are some predisposing factors that can cause impetigo in puppies, such as:

  • Ectoparasites (Fleas, Mange, Insect bite)
  • Internal parasitism
  • Compromised immune system
  • Weakened endocrine system
  • Unhygienic environment
  • Poor nutrition
  • Food allergy
  • Viral infection (such as canine distemper)
  • Urine scalding

What are the signs and symptoms of impetigo in dogs?

Impetigo usually begins in puppies from an itchy red rash on the hairless area of ​​the body, such as the inguinal and axillary regions. These red rashes turn into pus-filled pouches and other circular areas of crust and scaly skin form as the pustules rupture.

Here are some common signs and symptoms of impetigo to look for in your puppies, such as:

  • Red rash or Areas of acne
  • Excessive licking, biting and scratching on the affected area
  • Skin infections
  • Pus filled blisters
  • Small patches of inflamed skin
  • Crust and scales
  • Hair loss
  • Weight loss
  • Depression

Types of impetigo

There are three types of impetigo in puppies based on severity and affected area, such as:

  • Superficial pyoderma (mild, and affects the upper layer of the skin that has hair)
  • Superficial bacterial folliculitis (affects the skin fold and the areas of the skin where there are hairs)
  • Deep pyoderma (affects the deepest layers of tissue, but starts from the top layer of skin)

How is impetigo diagnosed?

Impetigo in dogs can be diagnosed in different ways. First of all, you will notice the signs and symptoms of impetigo in your puppy and consult your vet.

Your vet will ask you the full history and try to look for predisposing factors like poor hygiene and the environment, poor nutrition, etc.

After the history, a vet may perform a physical exam to closely observe the lesion. Your vet may take a skin sample for a cytological examination to confirm. Since the bacteria causing this condition are resistant to different antibiotics, sometimes your vet recommends culture and sensitivity tests.

This entire procedure will help your vet diagnose impetigo, but if the outcomes of the medication are not good, your vet may recommend a histopathological examination.

What is the treatment of impetigo?

Impetigo in dogs can resolve on its own without any treatment, but the vet generally recommends antibiotics to prevent the spread and speed recovery time.

If a quick response is not taken, it can lead to the spread of infection to other areas, deep tissue infection, hair loss, and even weight loss in puppies. The underlying factors must also be removed for a quick recovery.

Medication against impetigo can be in the form of shampoos, topical antibiotic ointment, and sometimes oral antibiotics.  The results of the treatment are excellent. The dog generally recovers after treatment, and mortality is low.


Impetigo is a common bacterial infection in puppies. Different predisposing factors that can break the integrity of the skin can increase the chances of impetigo in the dog. The good news is that it can be treated. You should contact your vet if you notice any symptoms of impetigo in the dog.

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