The bacterial and fungal microbiome of the skin of healthy dogs and dogs with atopic dermatitis and the impact of topical antimicrobial therapy, an exploratory study

Vet Microbiol. 2019 Feb:229:90-99. doi: 10.1016/j.vetmic.2018.12.022. Epub 2018 Dec 21.


Canine atopic dermatitis is a genetically predisposed inflammatory and pruritic allergic skin disease that is often complicated by (secondary) bacterial and fungal (yeast) infections. High-throughput DNA sequencing was used to characterize the composition of the microbiome (bacteria and fungi) inhabiting specific sites of skin in healthy dogs and dogs with atopic dermatitis (AD) before and after topical antimicrobial treatment. Skin microbiome samples were collected from six healthy control dogs and three dogs spontaneously affected by AD by swabbing at (non-) predilection sites before, during and after treatment. Bacteria and fungi were profiled by Illumina sequencing of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene of bacteria (16S) and the internally transcribed spacer of the ribosomal gene cassette in fungi (ITS). The total cohort of dogs showed a high diversity of microbes on skin with a strong individual variability of both 16S and ITS profiles. The genera of Staphylococcus and Porphyromonas were dominantly present both on atopic and healthy skin and across all skin sites studied. In addition, bacterial and fungal alpha diversity were similar at the different skin sites. The topical antimicrobial treatment increased the diversity of bacterial and fungal compositions in course of time on both AD and healthy skin.

Keywords: 16S; ITS; atopic dermatitis; canine; microbiome composition; topical treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer / genetics
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / microbiology
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / microbiology*
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Male
  • RNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Skin / microbiology*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal Spacer
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S