Did you know that bacteria are normal residents on the surface of the skin and in the hair follicle of dogs?

Usually, dogs with normal, healthy skin and immune responses are able to control this bacteria and prevent them from overgrowing and establishing infection on the skin and in the hair follicle. However, sometimes triggers like allergic skin disease, hormonal diseases, parasitic diseases, and fungal diseases can cause secondary bacterial skin infections.

Allergic skin disease is the most common trigger for secondary bacterial infections in dogs and can include hypersensitivity to environmental allergens, food proteins, or parasites. These triggers can be accompanied by defective barriers of the outer layers of the skin that allow for bacteria to cross this protective barrier and cause infection. 

Bacterial skin infections can actually look quite different in dogs with various coat types. Classic bacterial infections are characterised by lesions in the active inflammatory phase. However, as the infection progresses lesions can expand and rupture, resulting in crusting, hair loss and epidermal collarettes. Scaling and hyperpigmentation may occur as the infection moves across the trunk. Sometimes, bacterial infections can be non-inflammatory and only result in scaling and/or a waxy, greasy discharge on the surface of the skin. 

In cases of allergies, simply managing secondary bacterial infections with oral and topical antimicrobial therapies can reduce the overall levels of itching and allow for therapy for allergic skin disease to be more effective in managing the primary disorder.  

If you notice your pet has been scratching more frequently or seems “itchier” than usual, book an appointment for an evaluation here.