Treating Open Sores on Dogs

Sores on dogs can occur for a number of reasons. Some dog skin lesions occur as a result of disease or skin conditions. Others occur due to parasites and infections. Here's what you should know about open sores on dogs, their causes, and their treatment.

Causes of Skin Lesions and Open Sores on Dogs

There are a number of factors that can contribute to open sores and lesions on your dog's skin. Dermatological conditions are a common cause of skin lesions, but they can also occur as a result of serious internal illness, such as tumors or diseases of major organs like the liver. Autoimmune conditions like lupus can also cause open sores to appear on your dog.

Bacterial and fungal infections are often responsible for open sores on dog skin. Parasitic infestation can cause lesions and sores to appear on your dog. Draining sores that never heal could be the result of a more serious bacterial or fungal infection, or they may even be a symptom of cancer. If your dog suffers from itchy skin due to allergies or parasites, sores could even be self inflicted.

Diagnosing Open Sores and Lesions on Dogs

Because there are so many causes of open sores on dogs, your vet will need a complete medical history and a thorough physical exam to diagnose the cause of your dog's skin sores.

Your vet may ask a lot of questions about your dog's symptoms, when and how they first appeared and how the symptoms have worsened or improved over time. Your vet may ask about your dog's history of travel and contact with other animals. If your dog has received any prior treatment for his open sores, tell your vet about this treatment and how your dog responded to it. Make sure you answer all of your vet's questions in as much detail as possible.

Don't forget to tell your vet about any medications your dog might be taking, since his skin sores could occur as a drug reaction even if he's been on the medication for a long time already.

Your vet may take samples of your dog's skin and of any discharge from the sores, for examination in the lab. Your vet may even need to remove tissue in order to perform a biopsy of your dog's skin.

Treating Open Sores and Lesions on Dogs

Treatment for your dog's skin sores will vary depending on the cause of your dog's lesions. If your dog's sores are the result of bacterial or fungal infection, he'll need antibiotics or anti-fungal medication. He may need topical medications or need to be bathed in medicated shampoo, especially if he's suffering from parasitic infestation. If your dog's sores are the result of a major internal illness, he'll need treatment for that underlying condition.

You may need to administer medication to your dog for as long as four months. Follow your vet's instructions carefully and keep your dog's skin as clean and dry as possible. Don't allow your dog to swim, as it places him at risk for infection. Make sure to ask your vet if the skin infection is contagious to humans or other animals.