Impetigo in Dogs

Impetigo is a bacterial skin condition that crops up primarily in young dogs, generally puppies under one year of age.

Impetigo in Dogs

Impetigo consists of many small puss-filled bumps called pustules. These bumps show up on the abdomens and groins of young dogs and may be mistaken for acne at first. Impetigo pustules are very easy to rupture, and are more painful when they do. After bursting, they ooze and crust over, and cause significant discomfort and pain. At this stage, the impetigo is also very contagious, so any puppy or dog with it should be kept away from others until it clears up.

Is Impetigo Fatal?

Impetigo is not fatal except in extremely rare cases, and only if the infection is widely spread. But most impetigo either clears up on its own, or dissipates with treatment. Be sure your puppy isn't chewing or licking at the pustules; this can cause it to spread and will irritate the infected area greatly. Consider keeping an e-collar or "no-bite" collar on your puppy until the impetigo is taken care of to avoid this problem. 

Treatment for Impetigo

Before anything else, ensure your puppy's living area is sanitary and is not the cause of the initial infection. 

A medicated shampoo can be used. Get one with benzoyl peroxide and bathe your puppy with it two times a week for 2 to 3 weeks. Always be sure to follow directions on the bottle. Keep shampoo away from your dog's eyes, ears, nose and mouth. If necessary, gently place cotton balls into his ears to keep them from becoming irritated by shampoo or water getting in there during bath time. 

If the impetigo is not a mild enough case to clear up with only the use of topical treatments, you may need to obtain a round of oral antibiotics or topical antibiotics (such as Panalog) from your vet to handle the infection. 

You can also try hydrogen peroxide, benzoyl peroxide or chlorhexidine and apply it to the infected area twice a day. Impetigo is caused by the staphylococcal bacteria, which things like hydrogen peroxide are effective at killing. Always take care when cleaning impetigo infected areas. It is very uncomfortable and painful for your dog, and scrubbing can lead to unnecessary bleeding. 

Some owners also suggest, in addition to antibiotics, feeding your dog sparing amounts of plain, unsweetened yogurt, as it helps to destroy bad bacteria and promotes the growth of healthy bacteria. Especially with puppies involved, you should talk this over with your vet to determine how much your dog should be fed.

Impetigo is entirely and completely curable. Only in rare cases will some dogs have impetigo into their adulthood. Impetigo can be very persistent, but keep to your treatment regimen, and he'll start showing signs of improvement before long.