Cellulitis in dogs is an inflammation which involves the deep layers of the dogs skin. What causes cellulitis? It is caused by deep cuts, scratches, puncture wounds, bites and lacerations of the skin which lets bacteria set in. If proper care is taken in the first few hours, infection can be avoided in most fresh wounds. Cellulitis and abscess of the leg are common in both dogs and cats.
Cellulitis symptoms are pain or tenderness to pressure, firmness, warmth, and a change in color. You may see red streaks in the skin and be able to feel enlarged lumpy glands in the groin, neck or armpits. As the infection spreads out from the wound into the sub-dermal lymphatic system.
A localized pocket of pus beneath the surface of the skin is a skin abscess on a dog. Boils pustules, pimples and furuncles are examples. The symptoms are the same as cellulitis except that the dog abscess is fluctuant or it feels like fluid under pressure.
If hot packs are applied to an area of cellulitis, moisture and heat assist the natural defenses of the body to surround the infection and make it come to a head. The skin that covers the top of the abscess thins out and ruptures, which allows the pus to drain form the wound. Then the pocket is able to heal from below.
Boils, pimples, pustules, furuncles and other small abscesses which do not drain may need to be lanced with a sterile needle. The cavity will need to be flushed with a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution to keep it open and draining until it heals from below.
How to treat cellulitis? Antibiotics are used in the treatment of wound infections, abscesses, and cellulitis infection. Most bacterial skin infections respond well to Penicillin, Erythromycin and Keflex, but cultures may be indicated to select the drug of choice. Infections of the skin can be dangerous if not taken care of promptly.
Foreign bodies such as splinters beneath the skin must be removed with tweezers as they are a continuous source of infection.