Skin Infections - West Park Animal Hospital | Veterinary Care in Westchase, Tampa, FL

Skin Infections

Your Pet’s Skin

When your pet has a skin problem, one of the first things you might notice is that they have a new unpleasant odor. This strange smell is often the result of a skin infection caused by bacteria yeast or ringworm. In fact, these microscopic invaders are such a common problem in patients that see our veterinarians for skin problems that many times we can recognize them immediately. These infections can be the primary problem, but more often, are secondary to other conditions such as allergies, mites or hormone imbalances.  We know that you want your pet to feel better as soon as possible and that often involves treating the secondary skin infection at the same time as the other skin diseases. There are several types of infections that your pet might have.

Yeast

Yeast is especially common in Florida because of our warm, moist environment. Skin or ear infections caused by yeast will often have a very distinctive smell.  Some people describe it as pizza dough or Frito smell. Over time, these infections can also change the appearance of our pet’s skin and nails, causing dark pigmentation and thickening of the skin and turning nails brown and sometimes brittle.  These infections tend to be quite itchy, creating a lot of discomfort for your pet.  Our veterinarians can do a quick check when your pet is here to look for the yeast under a microscope, and guide you on the best treatments from special shampoos to oral medications for your pet.

Bacteria

You’ve probably heard of a Staph. infection in people, but did you know that it can happen in dogs and cats too? While our pets usually get a different species of the Staph. bacteria (Staphylococcus pseudintermedius) than us (Staphylococcus aureus), they can experience many of the same clinical signs that we would expect in people. Staph is certainly the most common type of bacteria that we see in veterinary medicine, but other types such as Pseudomonas are also possible. Just like with yeast, our veterinarians can do a quick test in our hospital to see if bacteria are present. When they hear that their dog or cat has a bacterial skin infection, many of our clients ask if their pet will require oral antibiotics. While these medications can be required, we try to find alternative treatments when possible. Our veterinarians frequently use only topical medications when treating bacterial infections because they are often more effective and less likely to cause problems related to bacterial resistance.

Ringworm (Dermatophytes)

Just hearing the word ringworm tends to make people want to itch.  Similar to Athlete’s Foot and other fungal infections, ringworm can be quite uncomfortable and quite contagious.   There are 3 main species of ringworm that affect dogs and cats, and the most common routes of transmission are directly from animal to animal and from exposure to affected soil.  Once exposed to ringworm, your pet may develop an active infection within just a few hours.  Alternatively, there are some pets that become exposed to ringworm, do not develop any signs themselves, but can act as carriers to infect other pets or people in the household with ringworm spores.  The veterinarians at West Park Animal Hospital can guide you in choosing the right tests to diagnose ringworm and with developing a treatment plan for your pet and home environment to get the ringworm under control.