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MRSA Infection in Dogs

If your dog gets a staph infection, it can be scary and frustrating, but don’t worry. There is an easy fix.
Buzzle Staff
Does your dog keep licking a certain spot, making it look red and patchy and gross? Your furry friend may have a staph infection. There is only one way to diagnose a staph infection, though, and that is to take your dog to a veterinarian. If you suspect that your dog has a staph infection, you should bring it to the vet immediately for a check-up.
What is a staph infection?
Staph infections are one of the most common infections dogs can get. The bacteria on their skin naturally contains the Staphylococcus bacteria that can cause such an infection, and when they get a cut or scrape - as they are known to do - and lick it, they can easily transfer the bacteria into the cut and create a staph infection. Usually, it takes the form of a red rash that can spread and irritate your dog. Since the bacteria is naturally found on your dog’s skin, you cannot usually prevent it. Just keep an eye out for it and catch it early.
How do I know if my dog has a staph infection?
The first visible sign of a staph infection will probably be a red rash that your dog keeps licking. Other symptoms can include persistent itching, loss of appetite, fever, pain, and infections in other places such as the eyes, ears, or elsewhere on the skin. The best way to find out if your dog has a staph infection is to take it to the vet, who will draw blood and test the skin. Only your vet can diagnose a staph infection correctly and give you the prescription you need to treat it, so if you suspect your dog is infected, take a trip to the vet right away.
How do I treat a staph infection?
When we think of staph infections in humans, we often think of MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) or other, very harmful and persistent infections. This is not the case with dogs, however. Dogs get this skin irritation quite frequently, and so it is easily treatable. Your vet will probably give you an antibiotic to kill off some of the bacteria and speed up healing. The vet may also give you a topical cream to ease the skin irritation and make your dog more comfortable.
Give the antibiotic as directed, and apply the skin cream as directed. When you put the cream on the skin, however, you may need to keep your dog from licking the area. You can do this with an Elizabethan collar, on an E-collar, that you attach around your dog’s neck and that protrudes over the snout to keep the dog from licking itself. You can also tie an old t-shirt around the area with the cream on it until it has been absorbed into the skin.
Are they dangerous? Contagious?
As stated before, if you catch it early, staph infections are usually not dangerous to dogs. However, as soon as you see signs or symptoms, take your dog to the vet because you don’t want it to get any worse. If it does get worse, it can be a serious problem, so don’t try to treat it yourself. Trust a trained professional. Staph infections are usually secondary to some type of allergy that your dog may have, and, therefore, are not contagious to humans. Because all dogs have the bacteria on their skin that causes staph infections, the infection itself is not usually contagious to other dogs, so if your puppy has a furry friend, it should be fine.