Dogs can be curious creatures. You will often find them exploring their surroundings with their nose, chasing scents, and running about. This increases the chances of dogs getting hurt, slipping, scratched, and bruised.
If these wounds and scrapes are not taken care of, your beloved pet may develop an infection. The symptoms may include skin irritation, itching, redness, blisters, and discharge.
One such infection we will be exploring today is the staph infection. The infection is caused by a bacteria group called Staphylococcus.
It is often a secondary infection caused by underlying conditions like wounds, poor hygiene, or allergies. For minor cases, you can try dog staph infection home remedies like essential oils or medicated shampoos with povidone-iodine.
If the dog’s condition worsens and you see signs like fever, please speak to the vet soon.
The article will go through a staph infection, its symptoms, causes, home remedies, the treatment offered by the vet, and prevention techniques.
- What Do Staph Infections Mean?
- What Signs Do Dogs with Staph Infections Show?
- What Causes Staph Infections in Dogs?
- What Are Some Dog Staph Infection Home Remedies?
- When Should You See the Vet?
- How Do the Vet Treat Staph Infections in Dogs?
- How to Prevent Dog Staph Infections?
What Do Staph Infections Mean?
Your dog’s body already has bacteria, parasites, and other organisms. Even humans have such microorganisms on their skin and living in their bodies. When the balance of such microorganisms is maintained, they can be beneficial.
These bacteria usually reside in the nose, gums, inner cheeks, and genital areas. A puppy might get these bacteria from their mothers at birth. Or they can pick them up from their immediate environment.
A staph infection, interestingly, is not solely caused due to the presence of Staphylococcus on the dog’s skin. As long as the dog’s skin is healthy, the bacteria is not a cause for concern.
The problem starts when the dog’s skin is irritated due to an underlying medical issue. The irritated and damaged skin barrier creates an ideal environment for the bacteria to multiply quickly.
What Signs Do Dogs with Staph Infections Show?
The signs of staph infections can differ depending on the affected area. The degree of infection can also vary.
For example, if the infection is limited to the upper layers of the skin, it is a superficial infection. However, if the infection has spread to the deeper skin layers and organs, it is a deeper staph infection that requires vet care.
In case of superficial infection, the chest and abdomen are usually affected. You may notice signs like:
- Hair loss around the skin lesion
If the infection has spread deep, the dog may show signs like:
- Loss of appetite
If the pet is excessively licking or scratching at an area, investigate the cause. In some cases of mild infection, the symptoms may not be readily visible, especially if your dog has a thick fur coat. Underneath all that fur, its skin might be irritated.
What Causes Staph Infections in Dogs?
As mentioned above, the bacteria that causes staph infection live on the dog’s skin. These bacteria are also known as ‘opportunistic pathogens.‘
When the dog’s skin is healthy, and its immune system is strong, the bacteria cannot do any harm. But as the dog’s skin gets irritated, it creates the ideal environment for the bacteria to thrive.
The dog’s skin can get irritated due to excessive licking, scratching, or chewing. Such behavior is often a result of issues like:
- Poor hygiene
- Hormone issues
- Other infections
- Underlying medical issues
So, staph infection is a type of secondary infection. It occurs when the dog’s skin or immune system is already affected by another health condition.
The infection can occur in all dogs of all ages. But senior dogs can be prone to the condition because of their weakened immune system.
Also, dog breeds with skin folds have a higher chance of developing staph infections. These dog breeds include English Bulldogs, Basset Hound, Bloodhounds, and Pugs.
What Are Some Dog Staph Infection Home Remedies?
Home remedies may work on minor cases of superficial staph infection. However, in some cases, it may not fight off bacteria but provide some relief to your pet.
If the dog is vomiting or has a fever along with skin irritation, then it would be best to contact the vet at the earliest.
Here are some remedies that may work for dog staph infection.
1. Using Povidone-Iodine
There are dog-safe shampoos available in the market that contain povidone-iodine. It is a potent ingredient that works well as an antiseptic. The ingredient has a broad antimicrobial spectrum. It may help treat and prevent the spread of opportunistic pathogens.
You can bathe the dog with shampoos that contain povidone-iodine.
You can also use betadine, a popular over-the-counter antiseptic against several skin microorganisms. Betadine comes in dark brown. Dilute the solution with water until it turns the color of an iced tea.
Use the diluted solution to wipe down the affected area gently. You can use the solution two times a day. Povidone-iodine is dog-safe. Even if the dog licks the solution-applied area, it will not get sick.
2. Oregano Oil
Oregano oil is claimed to be a natural antibiotic. In addition, it is said to have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties.
You may know oregano as the herb used in Italian food. But in case of staph infection, it is the pure form of oil extracted using steam distillation you should be looking for.
The herb contains several compounds that help it work as an antibiotic. For example, carvacrol is an abundant phenol type found in oregano. It may help stop the growth of different bacteria.
Thymol may help support the immune system, and rosmarinic acid can protect against free radical damage.
Oregano oil on its own is too potent. It would be best to dilute it with carrier oil before using it as a topical. For example, you can mix 2 to 3 drops of oregano oil with a teaspoon of almond oil and then apply the mixture to the dog’s affected area.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar may be a part of your healthy routine, but did you know it may also be used as a natural canine antibiotic?
One of the main compounds in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid. The compound can kill bacteria and or prevent their multiplication.
Vinegar has a long history of being used for cleaning wounds, disinfecting, and treating ear infections, among others.
Do not apply apple cider vinegar directly on your dog’s skin. Instead, use a spray bottle and mix equal parts vinegar and water. Then, if your dog has itchy skin, redness, and rashes, you can spray the solution on the affected area.
4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is said to have antimicrobial properties. This is because the oil includes fatty acids like lauric acid, myristic acid, caprylic acid, and palmitic acid, among others. These acids may potentially prevent the growth of several microorganisms.
If your dog has dry skin, rashes, hot spots, or mild irritation, you can massage a bit of coconut oil on the affected area.
The oil may also help deal with skin inflammation. A study was conducted wherein virgin coconut oil was applied to the inflamed ears of rats. The oil seemed to show anti-inflammatory properties and also helped relieve pain.
5. Oatmeal Bath
Firstly, an oatmeal bath is not a dog staph infection home remedy cure. However, it can soothe the dog’s skin, provide it with some relief, and reduce excessive licking and scratching.
Oatmeal has anti-inflammatory properties. When used in baths, it may help develop a protective barrier on the skin, which keeps the moisture locked in. This helps prevent dryness and reduce itchiness.
To prepare the oatmeal bath, start with grinding unflavored oats. The powder should be fine enough to absorb water.
You can test this by mixing one tablespoon of oats powder into a glass of warm water. If the solution turns milky, you are good to go. If not, try grinding the powder more finely.
Fill the tub with warm water and mix the oats powder. Place the dog inside the tub. Start pouring the solution on its body. You can gently massage the affected areas. After letting your dog soak in for about 10 minutes, rinse the solution with warm water. Last, pat dry the dog with a towel.
When Should You See the Vet?
The home remedies mentioned above may help relieve some staph infection symptoms. And it may work if the infection is at the superficial stage.
If the infection has started affecting the dog’s diet and routine and you see signs like fever or wound festering, you should see the vet.
You will be asked about changes to the dog’s routine or diet to narrow the allergen list. Medical history can also provide insight into the pet’s health.
The vet will physically examine the pet and may take samples for bacterial culture or skin cytology. As staph infections are typically secondary, diagnosing the underlying health issue is essential. The secondary infection will probably recur if the health issue is left untreated.
For this reason, the vet may get blood work and urine tests.
How Do the Vet Treat Staph Infections in Dogs?
Depending on the diagnosis, the vet will start the dog on an antiseptic or antibiotic treatment.
In case of superficial staph infection, the vet may recommend using medicated shampoos, sprays, and topicals.
In case it is a deep staph infection, the vet will put the dog on treatment with antibiotics. This may include oral antibiotics and injections along with creams.
Depending on the degree of infection, the antibiotic treatment may have to be followed for three to six weeks.
You must strictly follow the treatment plan involving medications and topical application according to the vet’s directions. Do not discontinue the treatment because your dog’s skin looks better.
The vet will reexamine the dog and decide if you should continue the treatment or if the condition has been cured.
The underlying condition must also be treated. If not, then the cycle of itching and scratching will repeat. And irritated skin can again make way for staph infection.
How to Prevent Dog Staph Infections?
Staph infections are common in the canine world. They are treatable, but the treatment period can often be long. And if you do not diligently follow the plan, the infection can reoccur, resulting in an even longer treatment period.
So, it would be best if you tried to prevent staph infections for the sake of the dog’s health and yourselves. Here are some prevention tips that may help.
- Maintain a bathing routine according to the breed and activity level of the dog. The frequency of the bathing can range anywhere from once a week to once every 4 to 6 weeks. For long-coated breeds, ensure they are well-maintained in-between baths.
- If your dog has had a fun-filled day playing in the mud, rolling around in the sand, or swimming, then bathe it. In these scenarios, microorganisms will make themselves home on the dog’s body if not cleaned immediately.
- If your dog has skin folds, ensure to wipe down the folds daily or at least once in two days with warm water.
- Apart from fleas and ticks, making life difficult for dogs can pose serious health concerns. Ensure you keep up with flea and tick medicine to keep skin irritation and infections at bay.
- If your dog is allergic, then make sure you do your best to keep it away from allergens. For example, if your dog is allergic to chicken or gluten, read through the dog’s food ingredients or seek recommendations from the vet.
- Keep up with routine vet visits. This will help to catch any underlying health issues at the earliest.
The bacteria Staphylococcus causes staph infection. This bacteria can be found on your dog’s skin but won’t cause any harm if it is balanced.
Your dog’s skin can get irritated due to injury, allergies, hormonal issues, or poor hygiene standards. Irritated skin can cause the bacteria to multiply, grow out of balance, and result in a secondary infection.
Suppose you are looking for dog staph infection home remedies. In that case, you can try medicated shampoos and solutions containing povidone-iodine, oregano oil, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, or oatmeal baths. These remedies are not cures but can help manage the symptoms of the infection.
Please see a vet if the dog shows vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, or fever. More profound cases of staph infection require antibiotic treatments.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.