How To Treat Impetigo In Dogs: What You Need To Know

Impetigo is a common infection among puppies, though adult canines aren’t invincible to the condition. While it’s not life-threatening, knowing how to treat impetigo in dogs will save your pet from discomfort. Also, it will prevent further skin irritations that could cause secondary infections.

In this post, we discuss how dogs get impetigo, how it’s treated, and what you can do to protect your pet from this health problem.

What is impetigo in dogs?

how to treat impetigo in dogs

Canine impetigo or pyoderma is caused by the overproduction of the Staphylococcus bacteria. Take note that this bacteria is naturally present on a dog’s skin. However, if it experiences an overgrowth, the bacteria will trigger the formation of skin pustules.

With this, impetigo is also called Staph infection. It’s rarely a life-threatening condition, but it still requires treatment to prevent skin infections from taking over.

Most of the time, impetigo is seen in puppies, specifically on the tender skin on their bellies. It’s also commonly found on a pup’s groin and armpit areas.

Dogs at any age can develop impetigo. However, since puppies are yet to develop their immune system, they are at a higher risk of encountering this problem.

In adult dogs, impetigo is often triggered by hormonal imbalances and a weakened immune system. This is why you should know how to boost your dog’s immunity to reduce its risk of developing this skin infection.

Take note that humans can’t contract impetigo from dogs and vice versa. If you have impetigo, you have another human to blame. Human impetigo is contagious, canine impetigo isn’t.

Nevertheless, the most common causes of impetigo in dogs are fleas, mange, food allergy, insect bite, and urine scalding. A weakened endocrine system could also be the culprit.

Signs that your dog has impetigo

Impetigo is easy to dismiss as a simple rash. Still, you should look for the following symptoms:

  • Pus-filled blisters
  • Rashes or acne on the affected area
  • Hair loss on the affected area
  • Skin infections
  • Crusting and scaling
  • Weight loss

Take note that impetigo has three types: surface pyoderma, superficial bacterial folliculitis, and deep pyoderma. The last type causes the worst irritation as the infection reaches far deep into tissue layers.

How to treat impetigo in dogs

Canine impetigo can be managed at home after consulting with your dog’s veterinarian. Most of the time, the following is the ideal course of treatment:

1. Providing medicated baths

To combat the itching and inflammation, veterinarians will prescribe a medicated shampoo for your dog. This has an active ingredient like ethyl lactate, chlorhexidine, or benzoyl peroxide. It helps neutralize the bacteria causing impetigo.

You can purchase medicated dog shampoo over-the-counter. Still, it’s best to consult your dog’s veterinarian before using one. This way, you won’t risk making your dog’s condition worse.

Most cases of mild impetigo will go away on their own with minimal to no treatment. If the vet deems the irritation minor, he or she may not prescribe other treatments aside from medicated baths.

2. Applying topical ointments

Topical corticosteroids are an effective solution to ease itching brought by impetigo. Ointments containing polymyxin and mupirocin are also effective solutions.

Like medicated shampoos, you should seek the vet’s opinion about the right ointment to use on your dog’s rashes. And if your dog’s impetigo gets worse with the ointment, you should stop using it and call the vet immediately.

3. Administering antibiotics

In cases of impetigo where topical solutions aren’t enough, the vet may prescribe antibiotics. Your dog may need to take this for up to 8 weeks or until the irritation clears up.

However, if your dog’s bacterial infection is already resistant to antibiotics, the vet may prescribe a stronger dose in more than one round.

As with humans, you should never give antibiotics to your dog without the prescription of a professional. Haphazard use of antibiotics will lead to tolerance, which means your dog will no longer be responsive to future antibiotic treatments.

How to protect your dog against impetigo

The true cause of impetigo isn’t fully known aside from the fact that it’s triggered by bacteria overproduction. Still, you can do the following to protect your dog from the condition:

  • Clean your dog’s items. It’s important to keep all your dog’s belongings clean at all times. This way, your dog’s skin won’t be exposed to irritants as well as parasites that may trigger impetigo. Make sure that you wash your dog’s bed, toys, bowls, and other items used regularly.
  • Update your dog’s flea prevention. Since impetigo can also be triggered by a flea infestation, you should always keep your dog’s flea prevention up to date. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Seresto, Frontline, and other brands. As long as you follow the prescribed application, your dog will be safe.
  • Keep your puppy indoors. If your puppy is yet to receive flea preventives and core vaccinations, you should avoid bringing them outdoors. This is because your pup’s immune system is still weak and at high risk of acquiring impetigo.
  • Keep your dog clean. Aside from cleaning your home and your dog’s stuff, you should also groom your pet properly. This way, the bacteria on its skin won’t overproduce. Make sure that you use shampoo formulated for dogs.
  • Treat your dog’s wounds right away. Open wounds are sitting ducks when it comes to infections. So if your pet has an open wound, always clean it and keep it covered.
  • Consult the vet. If you’re worried that your dog is susceptible to impetigo, you should consult the vet. The veterinarian can provide advice about how to keep your dog safe from this problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is impetigo contagious to dogs?

A: Canine impetigo isn’t contagious and pups rarely pass it to other dogs. Also, this condition is often minor and can be treated at home using topical solutions. For worst cases, antibiotic prescriptions for your dog might be needed.

Q: Can I treat my dog’s impetigo at home?

A: Yes, you can treat your dog’s impetigo at home using the solutions the vet prescribed. Most of the time, you’ll only need a medicated dog shampoo and ointments to help with the itching. In a few days, your pup’s condition will improve.

Q: Does impetigo itch or burn?

A: Impetigo is often itchy, but it doesn’t cause a burning or painful sensation on your dog’s skin. However, your dog may scratch and chew the affected area incessantly, which can lead to painful infections later on.

Q: What does impetigo in dogs look like?

A: Canine impetigo causes small pustules or bumps filled with pus. It will also create redness around the affected area of your dog’s skin. Over time, canine impetigo will also lead to hair loss where the pustules are located. It’s also extremely itchy for canines.

Final words

Knowing how to treat impetigo in dogs will save the pooch from the itchiness and discomfort of the condition. Also, it will prevent secondary skin infection from occurring in case the pustules get infected.

Overall, impetigo isn’t life-threatening and can be managed at home. Just make sure that you consult your dog’s veterinarian before using any topical solution. Also, you should seek a vet prescription in case your dog needs antibiotics.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!

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