Medically Reviewed by Taylor Froiland, PharmD, RPh
Written by Adam McCown, PharmD
You’ve most likely heard of a staph infection before. That because they’re fairly common in humans, with over 119,000 cases in the United States in 2017. What’s more is that these infections can also be very dangerous in humans, with 20,000 of those 119,000 cases ending fatally.
People often contract staph infections from hospital stays, when they place medical devices into their bodies regularly, when they inject drugs regularly, or when people come into close contact with someone who has staph.
Staph Infections in Dogs
Staph infection in dogs is caused by the same Staphylococcus bacteria that causes the disease in humans. The main difference between staph infection in dogs and staph infections in humans is that the specific strain of the bacteria found in humans is most often staphylococcus aureus, or staph infection found in the bloodstream. The most common strain of staph infection found in dogs, on the other hand, is staphylococcal dermatitis or a staph skin infection.
That latter type of bacteria is found naturally on the skin of both dogs and humans. The important thing, however, is that it remains dormant as long as the skin is healthy. On the other hand, if the skin becomes irritated or injured, the bacteria can invade the area, enter the wound, and an infection can develop. It’s also possible that staph infections develop in a dog’s upper respiratory tract.
In addition to staphylococcal dermatitis, there are many other strains of the bacteria that are found in both dogs and humans. Many of these are harmless, while some only cause infections in certain situations. For example, staphylococcal pseudintermedius can occupy your dog without any symptoms, but if your dog’s immune system weakens or is compromised for any reason, staph will take the opportunity to spread and proliferate. This will result in an infection that will require treatment.
Causes of Staph in Dogs
Like we mentioned, the most common form of staph infection in dogs is caused by the staphylococcal dermatitis strain of staph bacteria. Because it often already exists on your dog’s skin, if they are overly licking, scratching, or chewing on any part of their body, it can lead to an infection. This is because this behavior irritates and inflames the skin, making it susceptible to the bacteria.
This also means that if your dog has fleas, allergies to certain foods, or medications that make them excessively itchy, it can make contracting staph infection more likely. The basic thing to know about this type of staph infection in dogs is that if they have healthy skin, then the strain will stay fairly dormant and not cause them any problems. It’s only when their skin becomes irritated or your dog has an injury that this bacteria becomes more active and can lead to a dangerous infection.
Other forms of staph infections can take hold in your dog in similar ways to how they can infect you. In other words, your dog can contract the infection by coming into contact with bacteria on other dogs, on surfaces, or even on you. And if your dog is very young or is older, is sick, or has a weak immune system for any reason, then the chances that they will catch a strain of staph infection increases.
Symptoms of Staph Infection in Dogs
Like with any infection, disease, or illness in your dog, it’s important to be aware of the common signs and symptoms it will create. This is especially important because dogs will often try to hide symptoms or act like there is nothing wrong when, if fact, they are in pain or not feeling well.
So be on the lookout and take your dog in to see the vet if they are exhibiting these common signs of a staph infection:
· Loss of appetite
· Skin abscesses
· Infections of the eyes, skin, ears, eyes or respiratory system
· Inflammation marked by pus filled lesions
For some dogs, other common indicators can include wound infections, toxic shock syndrome, abscesses on the skin or mouth, and arthritis.
Treatment of Canine Staph Infection
Because staph infection in dogs, like in humans, is caused by bacteria, the most common treatment prescribed by veterinarians is antibiotics. For skin infections, a topical antibiotic cream may be prescribed. In some cases, your vet may also prescribe oral antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading to internal organs. It’s critical that you follow your vet’s instructions for treating staph infection in your dog, as if it is treated improperly or not at all, it can become very dangerous and potentially fatal. Express Veterinary Pharmacy offers Amoxicillin and Clavulanate Potassium Tablets and many other treatments for staph infections via the web.