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Staph Infection in Dogs: Symptoms Checklist

Dealing with Canine Staph Infection

Are you worried that your dog might have a staph infection? This guide will help you learn more about staphylococcus infections, including the warning signs and symptoms to watch for.

The most-common type of staph infection seen in dogs is staphylococcal dermatitis, a bacterial skin infection that can cause the skin to become red and inflamed. This type of bacteria lives naturally on the skin of dogs and humans, where it stays dormant as long as the skin is healthy. However, should the skin become irritated or injured, the bacteria can invade the area and an infection can develop. Staph infections also can develop in a dog's upper respiratory tract.

Common Causes of Staph Infections in Dogs

A staph infection can develop whenever a dog excessively licks, scratches, or chews a part of his body to the point that the skin becomes irritated. For this reason, staph infections commonly occur in dogs who have fleas or t have allergies to certain foods, medications, or environmental factors.

Other causes may include bacterial or fungal infections of the blood, a chronic debilitating disease, allergies, and other secondary infections. Staph infections can occur in any breed or age of dog, but older dogs are more susceptible to them due to their weaker immune systems.

Signs and Symptoms of Staph Infection in Dogs

There are several signs that your dog may show if he is suffering from a staph infection. Here is a checklist that you can use to monitor your dog so your veterinarian will have the most comprehensive information available when treating him.

  • Patchy fur loss with moist skin, crusting and peeling of skin
  • Red and inflamed skin
  • Pain
  • Excessive itching, chewing, or licking
  • Pus-filled lesions on the skin
  • Infections of the eyes, skin, ears, or respiratory system

Diagnosis of Staph Infection

Once you've reviewed the list, print it out and take it to your veterinarian so you can discuss your dog's health. Your veterinarian may perform a complete physical examination of your pet, including a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and a complete blood count, as well as a careful review of your pet's medical history and a timeline of the onset of symptoms.

Your veterinarian also may conduct skin tests to help determine if an allergic reaction or other immune-related issues are causing the inflammation. In some situations, a skin biopsy may be needed, where your veterinarian will take a skin swab to determine which antibiotic will work best.

Staph Infection Treatment

Treatment for a staph infection typically involves an oral antibiotic medication. If the staph infection is on the dog's skin, then your veterinarian also may prescribe a topical ointment or an antibacterial shampoo. It may take several weeks of treatment before the infection is under control. Staphylococcus infections also can be passed from dog to dog and from dog to humans, so care must be used when handling and treating your dog.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian about any medications or supplements your dog is currently taking so she can make the best treatment decision for your pet's unique case and help reduce the risk of a potential drug interaction.

About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of expertise include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.