Question: How Can I Help My Dog Recover from Chronic Staph Infections?
My 7 yr old mixed-breed dog seems to frequently get staph infections under his nose and on the right side of his neck. He's been treated for these infections in the past, but they seem to keep coming back, no matter what. Is there any way to stop them?
Answer by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM
The answer is, yes, there is a way to stop these infections from coming back, and it all starts with understanding why they are occurring in the first place. Staph infections are typically caused by a bacterial infection involving the Staphylococcus bacteria. The fact that this dog has recurring infections, even if he is being treated with antibiotics, implies that the dog is suffering from an underlying immune disease that is creating a serious problem with his immunity.
It's the loss of immune function that allows these infections to come back, so the solution lies in ensuring that the dog's immune system is fully intact and capable of dealing with infections. This is a condition that is very difficult to achieve – even with veterinary treatment. But the best thing you can do is to have your dog's immune system tested and his immune status fully analyzed. The dog should be tested for both his cell-mediated and his humoral immunity. The results of the testing will indicate whether the dog has a functional immune system and whether he has impaired immunity.
Dogs can harbor the same bacteria that cause skin infections in humans, but weather, breed, age and overall health play a large role in the appearance and frequency of infections.
MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) is a type of Staph infection. The infection has become resistant to many antibiotics, including the one used most often against it, methicillin. MRSA is usually spread when an uninfected person touches an infected surface, such as a locker room bench, or shared utensils. It can also be transmitted through contact sports like wrestling, or working out with a partner.
A red, swollen, and itchy skin condition on your dog is a sign of a bacterial infection. If you notice such symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately before it spreads to the rest of the body and becomes life-threatening.
For minor bacterial skin infections, your vet might prescribe a topical ointment. It can cure the infection quickly and prevent it from spreading. For recurring skin staph infections, the vet would have to prescribe an oral antibiotic.