We all know dogs like to play, they can get wound up and even become rambunctious. This type of behavior can lead to injuries, like scrapes, cuts, and even lacerations. If a wound festers, it puts the dog at risk of developing bacteria or a staph infection. Luckily there are plenty of preventative measures you can take to avoid this. If your dog does happen to get a staph infection it is best to go to the vet but there are some home remedies that can help too. To help us better understand the problem let’s take a look at how staph occurs and how to identify it.
What is a Staph Infection?
The Staphylococcus bacteria is the cause of staph infections developing in dogs. It appears when there is a skin infection due to an irritation or wound. Staph infections can affect any part of a dog’s body. The parasite can be transferred from a host to another dog, cat, and in some cases, humans. Staph infections can be found in dogs of any age or breed.
There are several types of staph infections that affect dogs, but most develop as skin infections. The majority of bacteria from the Staphylococcus genus are normal inhabitants that live on the skin and in the upper respiratory tract of a dog. Normally they never cause any harm to the dog. However, if the dog experiences an injury or already has underlying illnesses or allergies, healthy bacteria can turn into a threat.
When part of the skin becomes wounded or cracked, the circulation can weaken. When this happens, chances of the immune system being affected also increase, allowing the staph bacteria to infect the skin.
A staph infection should never be left untreated as it can spread to internal organs and cause severe issues and, in some instances, death. Addressing staph can be simple if it is treated and cared for properly.
Areas of Staph Infections in Dogs
The most common staph infection type in dogs is staphylococcal dermatitis. This kind of bacterial infection causes a dog’s skin to swell and become red. The bacteria already live on a dog’s skin and remain dormant unless the skin becomes unhealthy or irritated. When this happens, an infection is more prone to develop.
Staph infections in dogs can affect several different areas of their body. At times they can be tricky to notice, especially if a dog has a furry coat. There are a few things you can look out for, such as excessive scratching in one specific area or discomfort in your dog. In most cases, signs of infection can be easily identified. Symptoms that your dog has a staph infected area can include:
- Red lesions
- Blisters that are filled with pus
- Scabs that surround the lesions
Without proper care or attention, a staph infection can develop in a dog’s upper respiratory tract or in the internal organs causing more harm.
What Causes Staph?
Staph infections begin when bacteria enters a wound. Excessive licking, scratching, and chewing are the top contenders that create cuts and irritated skin. When the skin suffers irritation, it introduces an ideal state that allows Staphylococcus to develop into a more severe problem. For those reasons, staph infections are more commonly seen in dogs who have fleas, dermatitis, or underlying allergies.
Some conditions that might make it easier for staph to take place are:
- Skin irritations
- Underlying illness
- Underlying allergies
- Diseases that weaken the immune system
- Poor hygiene
- Bacterial or fungal infections
In other cases, dogs that are exposed to contaminated or toxic substances that enter through the eyes, mouth or nose are also at risk of getting a staph infection. A dog that comes in contact with unsterilized surgical equipment may also be at risk. Basically, anything that causes your dog’s immune system to work harder to fight off the bacteria will create an ideal space for the spread of staph.
Symptoms of Staph Infection in Dogs
The symptoms of staph infections in dogs can vary, depending on the severity and location of the affected area. Typical symptoms will be the most noticeable near the wound. Although, the bacteria can still spread the other parts of a dog’s body. If your dog has a staph infection, they might appear lethargic, experience a loss of appetite, and become feverish.
If staph has infected the internal organs, there will be more signs of sickness that include:
- Hair loss
- Loss of appetite
If staph has infected the skin, symptoms usually include:
- Sensitive skin
- Skin abscess
Regardless of the type of staph infection, if it remains untreated, it can lead to more serious issues like blood poisoning and even death! If you think your dog might have a staph infection, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Prevention of Dog Staph Infections
Taking steps to prevent a dog from getting a staph infection can be extremely helpful in avoiding the nasty symptoms. The importance of good hygiene isn’t just for humans, it extends to pets as well. Ensuring your dog has good hygiene can help prevent an infection from developing.
If your dog was around a bacteria-filled place, like a hospital or veterinary office, washing their paws and belongings can help keep bacteria at bay. Maintaining a clean environment for your dog is optimal for their health. Their bedding and chew toys should also be washed regularly.
Keeping up with your dog’s flea medicine may be another critical factor that can help prevent skin irritation. Not only is a pet free of fleas healthier and happier, but they are also less at risk for causing open wounds that invite staph infection.
Dogs with allergies should be put on allergy medication right away. Allergy treatments help prevent infection by controlling how inflamed the skin gets and restoring the innate immune system. It also helps reduce any unwanted itchiness.
Being proactive when it comes to your dog’s health can only be beneficial to their overall wellness. Always feed your dog healthy snacks and nutritious dog food ingredients. Regular physical activity is essential too. Remember, a pet that leads a healthy and thriving life is less at risk of hosting a staph infection. If your dog does happen to get an infection, there are some things you can do to help.
Home Remedies for Dog Staph Infections
Depending on the severity, staph infection home remedies may work best. Other times, a quick visit to the vet is necessary.
Many times, a veterinarian will prescribe a topical antibiotic that can be applied directly to the affected area. Still, the most common staph infection treatment is an oral antibiotic. If the infection is on the skin, a vet might also prescribe antibacterial shampoo. It might take weeks of consistent treatment before you see results.
In addition to treating your dog’s staph infection with antibiotics, there are few home remedies for dog staph infections you can try. Bathing your dog daily with a povidone-iodine wash is a safe and effective method of treating minor staph infections. This wash has been used by pet owners who have successfully rid their dogs of bacteria, causing harmful viruses.
Combining prescribed medicine with the right at-home treatments can help speed up your dog’s recovery. Aside from a povidone-iodine wash, bathing your dog in cold water can help soothe their itchiness. If your dog doesn’t seem to mind, putting a damp T-shirt on them after their bath can help keep their skin cold longer.
Remember to keep your dog’s wounds and infected skin clean. If your vet prescribed a cleansing ointment, make sure to apply that with gloves to reduce the risk of transferring the infection. If they prescribe antibiotics, make sure your dog takes them all.
Treating your dog is only half the work in ridding them of infection. Keeping your dog’s environment clean is an important step that can be easily overlooked. It’s usually recommended to throw away any objects contaminated by the dog, which includes towels, toys, blankets, and even bowls. If you can thoroughly wash and disinfect it, it might be ok to keep.
If there is another dog with a skin infection or open wound, it’s best to keep your dog away from them. Keeping your dog from coming in contact with infected dogs or areas is crucial in avoiding the spread of staph.
You should monitor any scratches or lacerations your dog has until they heal properly. Look out for any discharge, inflammation, itchiness or redness. Keep your dogs from gnawing on or licking any wounds.
When the right amount of staph infection home remedy procedures and medical treatments are combined, a dog may heal from an infection much faster. If a staph infection gets worse or is taking too long to go away, it’s best to take your dog back to the vet. To reduce the risk of an unwanted drug reaction, let your veterinarian know if your dog is taking any supplements or is undergoing any at-home treatments.
Keep in mind, staph infections can be tedious and take a while to heal. Monitoring your dog’s progress can ensure they are on the right track to recovery. Keeping a log might also prove useful if you need to return to the vet or another infection occurs.