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 reactions may mimic skin infections as well. Observe your pet’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:
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.