Surface wounds are fairly common in pets, but they can become problematic if they become infected and are left untreated.
While most irritations can often be treated with ointments and creams, an abscess can form if an irritation worsens or if bacteria invades the skin. An abscess can also occur when an animal becomes infected from a variety of injuries, and can be found on virtually any part of a dog’s body.
The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.
Symptoms and Types
Pasteurella multocida is the most common bacteria to cause skin infections. Another cause of skin irritation in dogs is the Staphylococcus intermedius, which can usually be treated with topical ointments. However, if either of these bacteria make their way deep into the skin, infection becomes a serious problem. A painful abscess will form in response to the bacterial invasion if the wound is left untreated.
Your veterinarian will take a swab test of the infected area to determine the strain of bacteria present. In addition, a standard blood test will be performed to see if the infection has migrated to the bloodstream. Once a proper diagnosis is made, the veterinarian will prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.
Initially, most skin issues can be treated with topical solutions and ointments, but when the issue becomes more serious, such as when the bacteria has gone deep into the tissue, or has infected the blood, alternative treatment options will be considered. Your dog will need to be taken to the veterinarian so that the wound can be properly cleansed, drained, and flushed. This will prevent deeper infection and complications. Your veterinarian will also prescribe antibiotics to control the bacteria. If the abscess is serious or deep in the skin, clindamycin may be recommended as a more aggressive mode of treatment.
Living and Management
If your dog has cuts or wounds, first evaluate whether they are deep or superficial. If they are superficial, there are several pet formulated over-the-counter anti-bacterial ointments that can be used to help reduce the likelihood of an infection. There are also some dips and shampoos that can treat your dog's entire skin surface. If you take your dog to the veterinarian and a course of antibiotics is prescribed, make sure that you complete the entire course of the prescription to prevent the bacteria from returning.