Diagnosing Staph Infection in Dogs

Staph infection in dogs is a canine skin disease in which staphylococcus bacteria infect your dog's skin. These bacteria occur normally on the skin, but if your dog's immune system becomes compromised, the bacteria can grow out of control, causing a painful infection. Allergies, stress and long term poor health are some factors that can contribute to canine staph infection.

Causes and Symptoms of Canine Staph Infection

Dogs with allergies are especially prone to canine staph infection. Dietary imbalance, stress, systemic disorders like hypothryoidism and a long history of health problems are all risk factors for staph infection in dogs.

If your dog develops a staph infection, the area will become red, inflamed and ulcerated. Staph infections usually thrive on the torso, and your dog may experience a profusion of ulcers on the abdominal region. As the disease progresses he may develop a skin rash, especially on the nose, feet and chin.

Severe staph infections cause the skin to develop blisters, which may contain blood or pus. Scaly, discolored spots will appear on the dog's skin. Your dog's hair will fall out and he may become lethargic.

Diagnosing Canine Staph Infection

Your vet will need your dog's complete medical history, if possible, to check for any history of skin infections or frequent health problems. He will investigate your dog's rashes, ulcers and lesions during a complete physical exam, and he may take skin scrapings and blood samples. If your vet suspects allergies, he may perform allergy tests. Your vet should be able to diagnose staph infection by looking at your dog's white blood cell count and examining skin scrapings under a microscope. Your vet will also perform a bacterial culture of the skin to confirm the presence of staph bacteria.

Treating Canine Staph Infection

Your vet will recommend shaving any hair in the affected area before you apply any ointments for the treatment of staph infection in dogs. Ointments can help relieve the symptoms of staph skin infection. Your vet will prescribe oral antibiotics for the treatment of the infection itself.

While your dog is undergoing treatment for staph skin infection, keep him clean by bathing him regularly with an antibiotic dog shampoo, such as one that contains benzoyl peroxide. Oozing wounds, scratches and blisters should be kept bandaged during the recovery process.

Keep your dog's bed and living areas clean and disinfected. Veterinarians don't think that staph infections of the skin are highly contagious to other animals or humans, but it's a good idea to limit your dog's contact with other animals while he recovers from staph infections. Wash your hands and change clothes before and after handling your sick dog. Remember, even if you're not vulnerable to infection with staph bacteria, your dog could develop secondary infections if he comes into contact with other bacteria found on your clothes or hands.

Complete treatment of staph infections in dogs may take from three to six weeks.