By Dr. Becker
Today I'm here with my model , Rosco, a Boston terrier who is one of my pack. He's going to help me demonstrate how to deal with minor skin abrasions, cuts, infections and hot spots.
Rosco swims in a small body of water in front of our house. It's a pond in the spring, and more like a swamp during the summer months.
Rosco swims and splashes around out there every day during warm weather, and as a result, he gets an impressive collection of bacteria on his skin.
When Regular Bathing Isn't Enough
Even though Rosco and our other dogs get regular baths, all of them still wind up with localized skin infections on their bellies. It happens every summer without fail. I don't panic about it, but I do know I need to address the situation as soon as I see it or the bacteria will continue to spread.
If a localized skin infection is left untreated, your dog could wind up on antibiotics, which is something we want to avoid.
I've never had to resort to antibiotics to treat my dogs' bacterial skin infections, because I do two things as soon as I notice a problem:
- Clean the skin and keep it clean
- Disinfect the area regularly to stay ahead of the infection
Rosco's Bumpy Belly
Rosco and our other dogs started getting these acne-like bumps on their bellies a couple weeks ago.
What's interesting about these infections is one pimple will appear while another is healing. There's a cycle of eruption and healing – as one pimple is erupting, another is slowly disappearing.
You can think of these bumps as similar to human acne. It's not a life-threatening condition, but if you don't address and control it, it can get much worse and may ultimately require medication.
As you can see when I stand Rosco up here that his infection is on his sternum. We can see healing eruptions, and we can also see a few lesions below those. They're not bothering Rosco, but they bother me because I don't want them to spread.
So, it's time for another treatment.
Treating with Povidone Iodine
For skin infections like Rosco's, and also hot spots, minor abrasions, and any other skin problem that either is infected or could become infected, we want to disinfect with a gentle solution.
The solution I'm about to use will take care of staph, yeast, and pretty much any common bacteria, but doesn't sting or irritate the dog's skin at all. And it's safe if dogs lick the area after cleaning.
It's povidone iodine, and I use it here at Natural Pet and also at home. You can buy it at any pharmacy.
For the purpose of disinfecting skin, you want to dilute the povidone iodine until it's the color of iced-tea. I'll pour a little of the iodine in a dish and add some warm water to dilute it.
The Disinfecting Process
Now I take a clean washcloth and soak it in the diluted povidone iodine solution.
My helper is going to hold Rosco up so I can access his belly and disinfect his sores. I'm just wiping the iodine-soaked washcloth over his sores, which removes the bacteria around the eruptions.
All animals, including humans, have normal levels of flora (bacteria) on the skin, as does Rosco. The goal isn't to rub the skin raw of all bacteria, but just gently disinfect the whole belly, paying special attention to the areas where there are lesions and eruptions that could evolve into a more serious, secondary skin infection.
Now I'll rinse out the washcloth, do one more swipe across Rosco's tummy, and pat him dry.
The great thing about povidone iodine is it's completely harmless if ingested. So Rosco can lick his belly with no problem.
I recommend you do this disinfecting process twice a day if your dog has a minor skin infection or other problem. It has effectively resolved all the skin infections my dogs have acquired and prevented the need for antibiotics.