Can Dogs Get a Staph Infection from Humans?

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Staphylococcus is a contagious bacterial disease. But rather than bite our tongues trying to pronounce its medical name, we commonly refer to this disease as ‘staph infection’. Staph infections are painful and agitating, but can also be dangerous.

Once infected, potentially deadly bacteria can travel from a festering wound to the bloodstream, joints, or bones. Severe cases of staph infection can lead to amputation. With such threatening prospects, an owner may worry if their beloved animal could gain staph infection from them.

Can Dogs Get a Staph Infection from Humans?

YES!

Because we are in a different species than canine, it’s not common for our dogs to be at risk of developing the same health conditions we may suffer from. However, it can and does occur.

Regarding staph infection, studies and individual cases have shown that dogs can get staph infections from humans and vice versa. Typically, these cases involve a lot of carelessness on behalf of both the dog and the infected human, with lack of hygiene and/or disregard of staph’s contagious properties.

Does My Dog Have a Staph Infection?

Other than your dog, you will be the first to notice that something isn’t quite right with your furry family member. Your distressed pet will exhibit some signs of having staph infection.

  • Skin inflammation

  • Hair loss

  • Pustules

  • Uncontrollable itching (dogs will exhibit this by scratching, licking, and biting at their skin)

  • Lack of appetite

  • Fever

  • Other infections caused by spreading of staph bacteria

Staph can be gained from other dogs as well as humans, whether that’s you, a neighbor, dog groomer, or any other “carrier” they encounter. There are a few other ways staph can develop, however, including:

  • Medical equipment, particularly needles, that aren’t properly sterilized

  • Staph bacteria enter the body by way of a wound caused by persistent itching from fleas, ticks or allergies

  • A weak immune system causes more susceptibility to staph

Proper diagnosis for your pet is always best received from a veterinarian. At the vet’s office, one or more of the following may be requested to determine if staph is present:

  • Physical examination

  • Urinalysis

  • Blood work

  • Review of medical history

  • Skin biopsy

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Staph Infection?

After a visit to the veterinarian, you and your dog have a lot of healing to do in order to get rid of staph infection. Luckily for both of you, treatment is relatively easy when staph is caught in a non-critical stage.

Your dog will be prescribed an antibacterial medication. In some cases, you may be advised to utilize a topical cream and/or wash for the infection site. It is possible for you to develop staph from your infected pet. No matter how adorable they may appear to touch, use caution when touching, especially when washing the infection site or applying medicine topically.

Serious cases of staph include internal infection. This is when the bacteria from the skin travels through the wound and affects internal organs, causing tissue damage, inflammation, and swelling. Treatment for an internal staph infection may involve surgery and overnight stays with veterinary staff supervising the healing process.

Additionally, if the infection was brought on by persistent itching, talk to your veterinarian about allergens. Treating your dog’s itchiness is a key preventative measure against any future run-ins with staph.

The recovery period depends on individual cases. If your dog is suffering from a small patch of staph and you’re already taking steps to treat the infection, you should see recovery within 7 to 10 days. However, more severe cases of staph infection may need as long as a month to completely clear up.

To learn more about treatment options and recovery, review Staph Infection in Dogs .

How is a Staph Infection Similar in Dogs and Humans?

There are several commonalities when comparing canine and human staph infection cases, including:

  • The bacteria responsible for staph infection lives on both dog and human skin without causing harm.

  • For both dogs and humans, staph infection is gained by lack of sanitation from needles, bacteria entering a break in the skin, and by interacting with a carrier.

  • Staph shows itself as inflamed, red skin with pustules on both dogs and humans.

How is a Staph Infection Different in Dogs and Humans?

As with most diseases, there are different strands of what we know as staph infection. A key contrast between canine and human staph infection are the strands. The staph infection we are more familiar with is MRSA, or Staphylococcus aureus, whereas the strand commonly occurring in cats and dogs is MRSP, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudointermedius.

Case Study

After falling victim to staph infection, you carry about your business as usual. A topical ointment from your doctor helps relieve itch and contains an effective antibacterial and the infection should clear up within a week or two.

Your dog and best friend of fourteen years is an old, sweet-tempered golden retriever with a gray face. For years and years, you and Gracie have shared a bed. Not knowing your infection could affect Gracie’s older, weaker immune system or that staph is transferable between humans and dogs, you continue to pet and play and live with Gracie as you always have.

However, in a week’s time, despite your infection beginning to clear up, you discover an odd rash on Gracie’s belly. It continues to grow, becoming more inflamed, more irritable to her, and oddly similar in appearance to your own.