How Do I Know If My Dog Has A Staph Infection?

Staphylococcus, commonly known as staph, is a group of bacteria widely known for its impact on human health. However, less discussed is its prevalence in our canine companions. Staph infections in dogs are not only common but also a cause for concern among pet owners.

These bacteria, often harmless residents of the skin and mucous membranes, can turn into opportunistic pathogens under certain conditions, leading to infections that can range from mild skin issues to more severe internal problems.

Recognizing the symptoms of a staph infection in dogs is crucial for timely and effective treatment. Early detection not only ensures a quicker recovery for your furry friend but also prevents the spread and escalation of the infection.


In this article, we aim to provide comprehensive insights into the signs and treatments of staph infections in dogs.

Understanding Staph Infections in Dogs

What is a Staph Infection?

A staph infection in dogs occurs when the Staphylococcus bacteria, often a normal part of the skin’s flora, invade and cause an infection. This can happen when the skin is compromised due to cuts, allergies, or other conditions that weaken the skin’s defenses.

Unlike in humans, where staph infections are often associated with hospital stays and medical procedures, in dogs, these infections are usually associated with skin problems.

How it Affects Dogs

In dogs, staph infections primarily present as skin issues. The most common manifestation is pyoderma, which literally means “pus in the skin“.

This can include symptoms like redness, itchiness, sores, and hair loss. In some cases, especially when left untreated, the infection can go deeper, causing more severe systemic issues.

Types of Staph Bacteria in Dogs


The most common type of staph bacteria in dogs is Staphylococcus pseudintermedius. This bacterium is specifically adapted to dogs, which means it rarely causes problems in humans but is a common culprit behind canine skin infections.

Another type occasionally seen in dogs is Staphylococcus aureus, which is more commonly associated with human infections but can cross over to dogs.

Understanding these types helps in identifying the right treatment approach, as different types may respond differently to various antibiotics.

Common Symptoms of Staph Infection in Dogs

Staph infections in dogs often present with a range of symptoms that are primarily skin-related. It is essential for pet owners to be familiar with these signs to ensure early detection and treatment.


Skin Irritation and Redness (Dermatitis and Erythema):

One of the initial indicators of a staph infection is apparent skin discomfort and redness, termed dermatitis and erythema.

This inflammation is usually more pronounced in less furry regions, where the skin is more exposed. It could appear as patches of red, irritated skin, signaling the onset of infection.

Sores and Pustules (Abscesses and Pyoderma):

Progressing from mere irritation, the infection may lead to the formation of sores or pustules. These small, elevated lesions filled with pus, also known as abscesses or pyoderma, are significant signs of bacterial invasion. Their presence often confirms an active infection needing attention.

Fur Loss (Alopecia):

As the infection aggravates, you might notice bald patches, known as alopecia, in the affected area. This fur loss is typically a result of the dog’s incessant scratching or as a direct impact of the infection degrading the skin’s health.

Itching and Scratching (Pruritus):

A hallmark of discomfort in dogs, incessant itching and scratching, termed pruritus, is common in staph-infected areas.

This compulsive behavior not only indicates discomfort but also risks exacerbating the skin’s condition by introducing new wounds or spreading the infection.

Lethargy and Reduced Appetite (Malaise and Anorexia):

In more advanced or severe cases, a dog may display systemic symptoms like lethargy (malaise) and reduced appetite (anorexia).

These signs point towards the infection taking a toll on the dog’s overall health, indicating the need for immediate veterinary intervention.

Diagnosis and Treatment



Diagnosing a staph infection typically involves a few key steps:

  • Clinical Examination: A vet will start with a thorough physical examination of the affected areas.
  • Skin Scraping Test: This test involves collecting skin cells to be examined under a microscope.
  • Culture Test: A sample from the infected area may be cultured to identify the specific type of bacteria present.


Treatment usually involves a combination of the following:

Home Care and Management

Managing a staph infection at home is crucial for recovery. Here are some tips:

  • Hygiene: Regularly clean and disinfect the dog’s living area.
  • Nutrition: Provide a balanced diet to boost the dog’s immune system.
  • Regular Baths: Use medicated shampoos as prescribed by the vet.
  • Avoid Irritants: Keep your dog away from potential allergens or irritants that may exacerbate the condition.

Prevention Strategies


Preventing staph infections involves several proactive steps:

  • Regular Veterinary Check-Ups: Routine check-ups can catch potential issues early.
  • Good Hygiene Practices: Regular grooming and bathing can prevent the buildup of bacteria.
  • Healthy Diet and Exercise: A healthy lifestyle is key to a strong immune system.

When to See a Vet

Knowing when to seek veterinary attention is vital. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above or if your dog’s condition seems to worsen, it’s time to visit the vet.

Early intervention can make a significant difference in treatment outcomes, so it’s important not to delay seeking professional medical advice.


What Causes Staph Infections in Dogs?

Staph infections in dogs are primarily caused by the bacterium Staphylococcus pseudintermedius. These bacteria are part of the normal flora of a dog’s skin but can cause an infection if the skin is damaged or the immune system is compromised.

Factors like allergies, injuries, or underlying health issues can increase the risk of a staph infection.

Can Staph Infections in Dogs be Prevented?

While it’s not always possible to completely prevent staph infections, certain measures can significantly reduce the risk.

Maintaining good hygiene, regular grooming, and ensuring a healthy diet for your dog strengthens their immune system.

Also, promptly addressing any skin issues or injuries can prevent infections from developing.

Are Certain Breeds More Prone to Staph Infections?

Some dog breeds with specific skin types or genetic predispositions may be more susceptible to staph infections.

Breeds with dense fur, deep skin folds, or those prone to allergies and dermatitis can have a higher risk. However, staph infections can occur in any breed.

Can Humans Contract Staph Infections from Dogs?

While it is relatively rare, humans can contract certain types of staph infections from dogs, especially if they have an open wound or a compromised immune system.

The bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, in particular, can be transmitted between dogs and humans.

How Long Does it Take for a Dog to Recover from a Staph Infection?

The recovery time can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the overall health of the dog. Generally, with proper treatment, dogs can show improvement within a few days to a week.

However, the entire course of antibiotics should be completed to ensure full recovery and prevent recurrence.


In conclusion, understanding staph infections in dogs is crucial for every pet owner. From recognizing the common symptoms like skin irritation, sores, and fur loss, to understanding the treatment and prevention strategies, being informed is key.

Early detection and professional veterinary care are vital in effectively managing staph infections.

By maintaining good hygiene practices, a healthy diet, and regular vet check-ups, the risk of such infections can be significantly reduced.

As pet owners, our proactive and vigilant approach towards our dogs’ health can ensure their well-being and happiness. Remember, a healthy pet is a happy pet!

Doctor Xeeshan

Doctor Xeeshan

I am Doctor Xeeshan, located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. In this blog, I am providing authentic information about dog breeds, diseases, medications, etc.

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