Symptoms of Staph Infection in Dogs

A staph infection in dogs are bacteria-based dermal conditions that can affect almost any dog. Known formerly as staphylococcal bacterial infections, these skin disorders can produce a range of symptoms that may vary in their severity. For many dogs, staph infections often create noticeable discomfort and irritation. Seeing an animal endure the effects of this problem can be distressing for almost any owner.

Many forms of staph infection may be easily treated with prescription medication. One of the most important steps of treating this skin condition is knowing how to identify its symptoms. Here is a description of some of the most common signs of canine staph infection.

Causes of a Dog Staph Infection

Staph infections are caused by Staphylococcus aureus, one of the most common bacteria found on the skin of people, dogs and other animals. Generally, these organisms exist without causing great harm or injury to their hosts. However, certain circumstances, such as food and environmental allergies, parasite bites or injuries, may weaken a dog's immune system and create a hospitable environment for the bacteria to thrive. As the population of Staphylococcus bacteria multiply, a staph infection may develop in the unsuspecting animal.

Common Symptoms of Staph Infections in Dogs

Staph infections can vary from mild to severe cases. Less severe instances of staph infection can cause problems like:

  • Skin growths, sometimes crusty in appearance, often found along the belly region.
  • Pyoderma—a secondary infection marked by dry, flaky skin and rounded lesions.
  • Moderate itchiness, often evidenced by repeated scratching, biting or rubbing the irritated skin.

In more advanced cases of canine staph infection, an affected animal may exhibit more severe symptoms. Among the most frequently observed are:

  • Intensely red, sore, scaly or ulcerated skin
  • Rapid hair loss detected on the affected area
  • Staph hypersensitivity, a rare disease caused by an allergic reaction to the staph bacteria, may cause pustules or fluid-filled blisters
  • Severe itching resulting in increasingly irritated or broken skin, which may leading to secondary infections like staph dermatitis

Although considerably rare, serious complications related to staph infections have been reported in some dogs. Deep skin infections, known as cellulitis, may develop from secondary infection of broken skin caused by the excessive scratching triggered by a staph infection. Initially, cellulitis may cause skin to become inflamed, red and irritated. Fever, chills and swollen lymph nodes may then follow. As it spreads through a dog's leg's, the condition may also lead to painful sores and a harmful breakdown of skin cells. In order to avoid serious complications from staph infections, owners should consider seeking immediate medical attention for a dog showing signs of cellulitis or other possible staph-related skin conditions.

As one of the most prevelant organisms found on canine and human skin, Staphylococcus aureus bacteria often live for years without causing infections or complications. But when the conditions are right, staph infections can develop in almost any dog. Symptoms like irritated, itchy, red and sore skin may create discomfort in an affected animal. However, knowing how to identify sigsn of canine staph infection may lead to early detection and prescribed treatments of antibiotic medicines, or recommended dietary or environmental changes.