It's pretty common to notice your dog scratching at himself from time to time. After all, scratching helps your dog to get rid of dead hair and skin, and it makes him feel good, too. But if your dog starts to scratch himself excessively, he may be developing a staph infection. Staph infections can range from mild to much more severe, so it's vital to get veterinary help right away to get the infection under control.
Causes of dog staph infections
According to Diamondback Drugs, staph infections in dogs are most commonly caused when a dog licks, scratches or chews on any part of his body excessively. At this point, the skin becomes irritated. Staph infections are most common in dogs who have allergies or fleas, which can prompt excessive scratching.
Scratching or irritating the skin isn't the only cause of staph infections, though. Bacterial or fungal infections in the blood can prompt these infections, as can chronic diseases. Any breed and any age of dog can get a staph infection, though older dogs are more susceptible to developing these infections because of their weaker immune systems.
Canna-Pet notes that a staph infection is caused by Staphylococcus bacteria. While the infection isn't contagious, it is possible for the bacteria to spread from dog to dog, and from humans to dogs. The bacteria don't typically spread from dogs to people, but if you're treating a dog with a staph infection, be sure to wash your hands very thoroughly every time after touching your dog.
Identifying a staph infection
Staph infections in dogs can cause many different symptoms. PetMD states that staph infections often result in fever, pain, loss of appetite, and itching. Your dog's eyes, skin, ears, or respiratory system may become infected, and she may develop skin abscesses. Additionally, you may notice pus-filled lesions developing on your dog.
To diagnose a staph infection, your vet will run a complete blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Skin testing is also necessary to determine if allergies or another immune-related issue is causing the problem.
Dog staph infection antibiotics
According to Canna-Pet, dog staph infections are always treated with antibiotics. Your vet may prescribe an oral antibiotic, a topical antibiotic, or even a combination of both. It is essential that you follow your vet's dosage instructions exactly, and give your dog the entire course of the antibiotics, even if your dog seems to be feeling better.
For dogs who have more extensive infections, or infections causing complications, your vet may take additional treatment measures. Sometimes surgery may be necessary, or your vet may place stents to drain fluid and relieve swelling. In severe cases, if the tissue is dead or dying, your vet may need to remove that tissue to promote healing of the healthy tissue.
Dog bacterial skin infection home remedies, such as oregano oil for dogs, are generally not recommended. It is best to get ahead of the infection with antibiotics and professional veterinary treatment.
Treating the environment
In addition to treating your dog's staph infection with antibiotics, you'll need to treat the environment, too. PetMD recommends that you throw away any materials or objects that are possibly contaminated. This means that any blankets or towels your dog has been using could be contaminated, and your dog's toys and dishes should be disinfected.
Additionally, you will need to cleanse the wounds or the affected areas of your dog's skin. Your vet can recommend an appropriate ointment and cleanser to use for this purpose. Always wear gloves when treating these infected areas.
If your dog's staph infection does not clear up or gets worse, take your dog back to the vet. Treating staph infections can take some time, and your vet may need to adjust the antibiotics.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.