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. Between Rosco and the other members of our pack, I deal with a lot of minor skin abrasions, cuts, infections and hot spots.
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 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.
Rosco’s current infection is on his sternum. There are healing eruptions as well as a few lesions. 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 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 both at my animal hospital 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. Pour a little of the iodine in a dish and add some warm water to dilute it.
The Disinfecting Process
Take a clean washcloth and soak it in the diluted povidone iodine solution.
Wipe the iodine-soaked washcloth over the sores, which removes the bacteria around the eruptions.
All animals, including humans, have normal levels of flora (bacteria) on the skin. The goal isn’t to rub the skin raw of all bacteria, but just gently disinfect the whole area, paying special attention to any lesions or eruptions that could evolve into a more serious, secondary skin infection.
Next rinse out the washcloth, do one more swipe across the areas you disinfected, and pat your dog dry.
The great thing about povidone iodine is it’s completely harmless if ingested.
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.