My Puppy Has Lots of Red Bumps: Is it Pyoderma?

pyoderma puppy

The skin of your puppy is likely to feel soft and silky to the touch. It also tends to be very sensitive. It’s not uncommon for the skin to develop a condition we call puppy pyoderma. 

Common symptoms of puppy pyoderma include small lesions and reddish bumps. You might be more likely to see them on parts of the body where there’s less hair. This tends to be in the groin area or on their bellies.

Read on to find out more about what to do if you think your new arrival has it. 

Puppy Pyoderma Explained

The symptoms of puppy pyoderma can be similar to those caused by other infections. It’s therefore important to get a proper diagnosis and the right kind of treatment. 

Puppy pyoderma, also known as impetigo in a puppy, happens when bacteria on the skin that are usually harmless lead to an infection. This may occur when areas with less hair become irritated by environmental factors. 

Unlike adult dog skin infections, only puppies tend to get it. The reason is that the immune system of a puppy isn’t as strong as that of a healthy adult. Adult (and especially senior) dogs with compromised immune systems can, however, get very similar infections.

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The Makeup of a Dog’s Skin

Dogs are at greater risk of pyoderma due to particular features of their skin. For instance, the outer barrier of a dog’s skin is thinner and has a higher pH compared to lots of other animals. This makes it relatively easy for regular bacteria living on the skin to grow too much and for other bacteria to infect them.

Any damage to a puppy’s normal skin barrier will predispose it to pyoderma. You’ll often see scrapes in puppies who scratch and lick their skin a lot. 

Puppies typically develop this infection in thin-haired areas such as the groin. Ticks, fleas, fungal skin infections, thyroid disease, hormonal imbalances, and even certain kinds of medications can increase the likelihood of your puppy developing pyoderma.


Your vet will typically prescribe a topical antiseptic product for you to rub into the affected area in mild cases. They may also recommend a topical antibiotic ointment. In more serious cases, puppies may need oral antibiotics too. Puppy pyoderma usually gets better without causing secondary infections or other issues.

You can help mitigate the risk of your puppy getting it by ensuring skin, particularly in exposed areas, is always as clean as possible. The use of a parasite-prevention product may also reduce the risk of irritated skin. 

Regular grooming as well as routine vaccinations and wellness examinations are also key to keeping your puppy in good overall health. 

Kinds of Pyoderma in Dogs

Puppies quickly grow into young dogs so it’s worth taking a look at some of the common types of pyoderma, also known as impetigo in dogs, that your pet could go on to experience relatively quickly. Surface pyoderma causes issues to the outer skin layer. You might notice pink, irritated skin along with hair loss. 

Surface pyoderma includes:

  • Pyotraumatic dermatitis, known as hot spots: develops fast and is very itchy
  • Intertrigo: infection of skin folds, a common condition in short-muzzled breeds
  • Bacterial overgrowth syndrome: skin gets greasy, itchy, and smelly

Superficial pyoderma affects the outer skin layers as well as parts of the hair follicles. You may notice bumps, hair loss, circular crusts, and redness. Superficial pyoderma can include puppy pyoderma or impetigo (see above) along with the following:

Superficial Bacterial Folliculitis (SBF) and Superficial Spreading Pyoderma 

In these cases, a dog’s coat may develop a “moth-eaten” appearance because of substantial hair loss. SBF can occur in all breeds but Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Australian Shepherds can suffer serious redness and irritation.

Mucocutaneous Pyoderma

This kind of pyoderma causes too much mucus in the skin. The nose, lips, skin around the vulva, anus, and eyes become affected most often. Poodles, German Shepherds, and Bichon Frisés may have a predisposition to this type of infection.

Deep pyoderma goes on to cause issues in the lower skin layers. This can happen if skin follicles rupture and when superficial pyoderma gets left untreated. You’re likely to see crusting, swelling, redness, and hair loss. Deep pyoderma includes:

  • Furunculosis: commonly seen between a dog’s toes
  • Acne: more common among young dogs due to inflammation of hair follicles 
  • German Shepherd deep pyoderma on the groin, outer thighs, and trunk
  • Lick granuloma: a skin lesion due to licking the top surface of the lower legs
  • Callus pyoderma: thickened, dark skin over infected pressure points 

Symptoms of Pyoderma in Dogs

Pyoderma is typically a secondary skin infection to another illness or condition. It may happen due to complications from a flea infestation, parasite, or skin allergy for example.

Red and itchy skin is the most common symptom in dogs with pyoderma. Sometimes, dogs will develop flaky skin, crusting, hair loss, and lesions. When dogs bite at their skin and scratch a lot you may notice pus and sores.

When your dog or puppy experiences itchy skin for a few weeks, their skin is likely to become thicker and darker. Dogs with deep pyoderma may display the following symptoms:

  • Swelling and signs of pain
  • Reduce energy levels, loss of appetite, and trembling 
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lemonade logo $100,000 $10 90% $100-500 View
animalia logo $25,000 $20 90% $200 View
petassure logo $10,000 $15 90% $250 View
trupanion logo $25,000 $30 90% $0-1500 View
pumpkin logo $20,000 $20 90% $100-500 View

What Is the Prognosis for My Puppy’s Condition?

The outlook for puppies with uncomplicated pyoderma is very good. Most cases tend to clear up with antibiotics and topical therapies.

Chronic cases may involve additional testing to work out if there is an underlying issue making a contribution to the bacterial skin infection. Routine bathing with a medicated shampoo recommended by your vet can minimize the recurrence of pyoderma or impetigo.

Get in Touch With a Vet Today

Treatment for pyoderma in puppies or impetigo in dogs should happen as quickly as possible. Like other skin conditions, they can get worse and more uncomfortable for your dog or puppy the longer you leave them. 
If you see any unusual red lumps or bumps, particularly in areas of your puppy where there’s less hair, why not book a timeslot with one of our team today?

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