Skin infections in pets

    Treating Skin Infections in Pets: At-Home Care and When to See the Vet

    Our furry companions can occasionally develop skin irritations, rashes, and infections that require treatment. Catching and addressing skin issues promptly improves comfort and prevents worsening. This guide covers caring for skin infections in both cats and dogs at home, as well as knowing when veterinary assistance is vital.

    Symptoms of a Skin Infection:

    Common signs of a bacterial or fungal skin infection include:

    • Redness, bumps, pustules, scabbing, scaling, crusting on the skin
    • Itchiness and scratching at the affected area
    • Hair loss or thinning fur
    • Odour or pus from the skin
    • Aggressive licking, chewing or rubbing against objects
    • Patterns like spots or patches on the belly/armpits/paws

    Viral infections can also cause sores, scabs, and itchy skin. Allergic reactionsย may mimic skin infections as well. Observe your petโ€™s behaviour in addition to physical symptoms to identify the issue.

    Immediate At-Home Care:

    While waiting for a veterinary appointment:

    • Gently wash the area with a mild antiseptic cleanser and pat dry
    • Apply a cold compress for 10-15 minutes to soothe inflammation and itching
    • Try a hydrocortisone spray or antihistamine for allergic reactions
    • Trim fur around hot spots for better air access
    • Put an Elizabethan collar on to stop licking and chewing
    • Ensure fresh, clean water is readily available to stay hydrated

    Avoid trying to drain, lance, or bandage skin sores at home. This can worsen infection risk. Instead, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

    Long-Term At-Home Treatment:ย 

    Depending on diagnosis, vets often prescribe:

    • Antibiotics for bacterial infections
    • Antifungal medication for fungal/yeast infections
    • Anti-itch drugs for allergies
    • Medicated baths/shampoos for hot spots
    • Steroid creams for inflammation and itching

    Follow all medication directions. Allow 6-8 weeks for skin to fully heal after infections clear. Practice good hygiene and flea control going forward.

    Emergency Care for Skin Irritants

    If your pet got into a toxic irritant like petrol/kerosene, paint, or harsh chemicals:

    • Wear gloves to protect yourself when handling the pet
    • Quickly dilute and rinse the skin using dish soap or a pet-safe detergent if allowed based on irritant type
    • Avoid letting your pet self-lick the area as it can cause internal exposure
    • Get emergency veterinary care right away for decontamination, medication, and observation
    • Be prepared to provide details about the exposure source, timing, and symptoms

    With prompt treatment guided by veterinary expertise, most skin conditions and irritations can be managed successfully. Pay attention for any signs of infection and take same-day action when needed to keep your pet's skin healthy long-term.

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    By Dr. Shashank Jupaka


    Driven by a lifelong love for animals, Dr. Shashank pursued a PhD in Veterinary Health. He firmly believes that every animal, regardless of size, deserves unparalleled love and care. He speaks English, Telugu, and Hindi, specialising in dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, and tortoise.

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