A staph infection in your dog or cat, thank goodness, is usually nothing to worry about — particularly if you get in to see your veterinarian as soon as you notice something is wrong.
Bacteria of the genus Staphylococcus are what we call “ubiquitous.” In other words, staph is a very common bacteria that normally lives everywhere — in the environment, on the skin, and in the noses and mouths of our pets.
High-risk Scenarios for Staphylococcal Infections in Pets
Typically, a staph infection in your dog or cat is not troublesome. PHEW! That being said, staph infections are able to take advantage of certain situations and an infection can develop.This can make staphylococcus an “opportunistic pathogen.” It is most likely to take advantage of:
- Really young or senior pets: Puppies and kitties do no have a fully built immune system that is working at 100%. Because staph infections are ubiquitous and opportunistic, they can take advantage of an immature or less-capable immune system.
- Pets with underlying skin allergies: These pets can have irritated or abraded skin from licking, chewing, or rubbing the itchy area. While intact, healthy skin normally has staph on it, the skin prevents infection. Loss of that normalcy due to allergies, itching, and irritation makes for a situation that staph can take advantage of, creating a dermatitis or skin infection.
- Sick pets: When our pets are ill, their immune system is often not functioning at 100%. With some illnesses, we use medications that can also lower a pet’s immunity. The sickness or medications can give staph an opportunity to cause an infection.
Signs and Symptoms of an Infection
When staph causes an infection, we can see many different symptoms, which largely depends on which part of the body this opportunistic invader is invading. Symptoms can be classified into two main categories, namely “systemic” (affecting the whole body) or “specific.” Systemic signs of a staph infection can include:
- Acting in pain, uncomfortable, or restless
- Loss of interest in food and/or water
- Low energy, lethargy, or hiding
These systemic symptoms are similar for nearly all infections. More specific symptoms of a staph infection might include:
- Dermatitis: Red, oozing, moist skin that is painful and very irritated
- Skin abscess formation: Soft swelling and large volumes of discharge
- Respiratory infections: Sneezing, runny eyes, coughing, runny snotty nose
In addition, approximately 8 to 10% of all urinary tract infections in pets are caused by “Staph.” Signs of a urinary tract infection include:
- Increased urination
- Bloody urine
- Pain during urinating
See Your Veterinarian!
The most important thing to remember: if your pet is acting ill, see your veterinarian. As a responsible pet owner, it is wise to develop a relationship with a veterinarian you know and trust. That way, at the first sign of trouble you can get our pet treatment.
Source: Trupanion.com / Denise Petryk, DVM