When we’re sick, all we want to do is curl up in bed and relax. It’s always a bonus when there’s something warm and fluffy to cuddle, too. That’s where our beloved animal friends come in handy. Many dog-owners swear their pet can even detect that they’re not feeling well and intentionally, faithfully follow them around the house and snooze with them for support.
We love our pets as much as they love us, which means we may wonder from time to time, if our illnesses could affect them.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes fever and sore throat. It’s also contagious, which may cause us to worry if the four-legged members of our family could contract the illness from us. While, technically, yes, a dog can develop strep from an infected human, it is rare.
Most veterinarians won’t deter you from accepting those warm cuddles from your dog while you’re sick as you are likely not infectious to them.
Pathogens for strep throat are species-particular. This means that strep that affects us (Group A Streptococcus) is different from the strand that affects dogs (Group G Streptococcus). However, there have been a small number of reported cases of human-to-dog and dog-to-human contagion.
You may be surprised to learn that what ails you during a bout with strep throat isn’t too dissimilar from what your pets may experience. Keep this in mind when observing symptoms.
■ Swollen, sore throat
■ Coughing, hacking
■ Lack of appetite
Strep throat pathogens spread through even the most minor means of contact. If you ride an elevator to get to work, you may catch something after someone coughs or sneezes.
For dogs, strep can be contracted from sharing the same feeding or watering stations. Outbreaks in dog shelters or kennels are the perfect example of how bacteria spreads quickly and easily if not quarantined.
The symptoms of strep throat may have overlap with other maladies, especially tonsillitis. To ensure your pet gets the best care, seeing a veterinarian is always recommended. Their expertise will help you properly diagnose any illness your pet may be suffering from.
At the vet’s office, medical history and a physical examination of your pet will take place. The veterinarian may request a urinalysis or test a swab from the inside of your dog’s cheek.If what you assumed to be strep throat turned out to be canine tonsillitis, review Tonsillectomy in Dogs to familiarize yourself with possible next steps in treatment.
Most cases of strep throat will subside with enough rest and hydration, but more severe cases (illness lasting longer than a week, or recurring) require a veterinarian’s attention.
To treat your dog’s strep throat, be sure to practice any combination of these tactics:
■ Keep your pet hydrated by being more attentive of their water bowl and encouraging their drinking habits.
■ Keep your pet well-rested by discouraging frequent or strenuous activity.
■ Administer antibiotics and anti-inflammatory as prescribed by a veterinarian to help with swelling, discomfort, and healing.
Proper care will have your dog back to their happy, tail-wagging selves within a week or two. If symptoms progress despite treatment, call or visit your veterinarian immediately.
To learn more about the pathogens that cause canine strep throat, review Streptococcus Infection in Dogs.
The commonalities between canine and human strep throat are relatively apparent, including:
■ Similar symptoms
■ Similar recovery time
■ Contagious bacterial disease
There are two main differences between canine and human strep throat, including:
■ Strep throat that affects dogs is a bacterial strand called Streptococcus canis (Group G), whereas the human pathogen is called Streptococcus pyogenes (Group A).
■ Strep throat is potentially more fatal in dogs than in humans, especially if untreated.
A small family of four owns two dogs. One late fall, they all begin falling ill. One by one they gain strep throat and despite medication and rest, some family members find they can’t shake the symptoms.
After several visits to the family doctor and pediatrician, the family is given the advice to test their two dogs for strep throat. One dog is shown to be infected.
While the results don’t show the original source of the illness, the family believes treating the pet will heal their bout of strep throat. Within two weeks, the household is back to normal, happy and healthy.
It would seem their pet’s sickness was the reason for absolution of strep throat. Incidentally, the bacteria responsible for strep throat is also responsible for other common illnesses in dogs, such as arthritis and urinary tract infections.
It’s more likely that the family had not fallen ill due to their sick pet, and more likely that an outside source affected the family with the two dogs acting as independent variables.