An Introduction to Canine Staph Infection

Canine staph infection (staphylococcal bacterial infection) is among the most common skin disorders afflicting dogs. Here is some important basic information about this problem:

Causes of Staph Infection

Staph bacteria can be found on the skin of almost all dogs and it usually causes no health problems. However, staph bacteria are opportunistic infectious agents. This means that staph infections are triggered by other medical problems.

The trigger is typically an allergic reaction or some similar inflammation which allows the staph bacteria to burrow down into open pores. Allergic reactions to fertilizer, grass seeds or pollen can trigger staph infection. Any allergy which inflames your dog's skin or makes him scratch can trigger the infection. Staph can infect your dog by entering a cut or an open sore. It can also enter the ears and cause infection there. In rare cases, some dogs are allergic to the staph bacteria itself and that reaction triggers the infection.


  • Rashes may appear on the dog's head or feet.
  • Hard, crusty lesions may form in the abdominal area.
  • Sudden, rapidly progressing Alopecia, (hair loss) may occur.
  • Blisters filled with blood or pus may appear.
  • Keep an eye on any symptoms associated with allergies, such as itching.


The vet will want to do thorough allergy testing and a complete health history. The vet will also carry out a close examination of your dog's whole body, with special attention to any lesions. The purpose here is to find a possible triggering cause for the infection. Complete blood counts may be indicated, along with skin scraping. Skin biopsy and removal and testing of intact pustules are common procedures. Your vet will give you a definitive diagnosis after reviewing results from these and other tests.


The most common measure is to treat the dog with a prescribed oral antibiotic medication for up to six weeks. Medicines to stimulate the dog's immune system are also prescribed for long term treatment. During this period you can also bathe your dog with an antibiotic shampoo prescribed by your vet. You may be instructed to remove hair in and around inflamed areas, or places where lesions have formed on your dog. Creams or ointments can be prescribed to treat these areas.

Bandage any scratches or open wounds you find on your dog during the treatment process. Change the bandages regularly, because staph bacteria can enter these openings and cause the infection to reoccur.

Bathe your dog often during the treatment process.

Isolate your dog from other animals while it is in treatment for canine staph infection. Sanitize your dog's living area while it is in treatment and keep this area clean. The most common cause of recurring staph infection is neglect in hygiene from pet owners.