Alarm bells may ring in our heads when we hear the word “bacteria”, although not all bacteria can cause harm. In fact, just like how some bacteria may be beneficial to us humans, bacteria can also be beneficial for dogs and their gut health. However, when a dog gets sick or suffers from an injury, some bacteria can indeed cause harm.

An example of this is Staphylococcus (staph) infections, a bacterial problem involving the skin (the effects of which may range from mild to severe). Let us get to know more about the infection and how best to treat it.

Stop Googling - Ask a Real Vet


  1. What is a Staph Infection in Dogs
  2. What Does a Staph Infection Look Like on a Dog
  3. How Do Dogs Get Staph Infections
  4. How to Treat Staph Infection in Dogs
  5. FAQs
  6. Conclusion

What is a Staph Infection in Dogs

“Can dogs get staph infections?” You might ask. The fact is, staph infections can affect both humans and animals, including dogs. But to understand staph infections in dogs, let us first talk about the bacteria that can cause it.

Staph infections result from an excess growth of the bacteria known as Staphylococcus on the skin’s surface. But is having such bacteria in their body automatically a bad thing? The fact is, dogs normally have trace amounts of this bacteria in their body without causing harm.

According to Dr. Brian Collins, DVM, and a senior lecturer at Cornell University’s College of Medicine, “many species of bacteria make up the group, or genus, known as Staphylococcus.”

They often live in the dog’s mucous membranes along their nose, eyes, mouth, and genitals without causing any problem. However, when there is damage to the skin’s barrier or when a dog has a weak immune system, an overgrowth of the bacteria may occur, leading to a staph infection. This often manifests in red, itchy, and inflamed skin that can range from mild to severe.

In a healthy dog, staph infections are rare except in some cases when they have a wound on their skin. Meanwhile, puppies and senior dogs are more susceptible to staph infections due to their vulnerable immune systems. So are those with pre-existing conditions affecting the barrier of the skin such as food or environmental allergies, ectoparasites (fleas or demodex), and hypothyroidism.

Mild staph infections usually heal with minimal treatment. On the other hand, severe cases may be life-threatening and considered as a medical emergency

What Does a Staph Infection Look Like on a Dog

Dog staph infection symptoms include the following:

Superficial staph infections

  • Itchiness (which can result in licking, biting, scratching, or chewing)
  • Skin redness
  • Rashes
  • Loss of hair
  • Crusting of skin
  • Skin moistness

Deep staph infections
Apart from the superficial symptoms above, they may get additional symptoms such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Skin can be sensitive to the touch
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Oozing wounds

In order to detect symptoms of health issues that your dog may become vulnerable to such as staph infections, a good pet camera such as the Petcube Cam can definitely help. With features such as a sharp 1080p full HD video live streaming, 110-degree wide angle view for full-room coverage, and 8x digital zoom, you’ll be able to monitor your dog for any symptoms that are out of the ordinary. If so, you would be able to address any issues early on.

How Do Dogs Get Staph Infections

Conditions that cause your dog to scratch, lick, and chew on their skin can result in staph infections, but it can also be caused by other issues.

Below are possible causes of staph infection in dogs:

  • Contact allergies
  • Fleas
  • Environmental Allergies
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sarcoptic mange (scabies)
  • Demodectic mange (demodex)
  • Matted coat
  • Urine scalding
  • Open wound
  • Obesity
  • Skin folds
  • Hooded vulva
  • Corkscrew tails

All dogs, no matter their age or breed, can get staph infections. However, some breeds as well as dogs that are immunocompromised are more prone to developing the infection. They include:

  1. Dog breeds that have folds on their skin
  • English Bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • French Bulldogs
  • Shar-pei
  1. Dog breeds that are more susceptible to environmental allergies
  • French Bulldogs
  • Pit bull Terriers
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • English Bulldogs
  • Boxers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  1. Immunocompromised dogs
  • Puppies less than 1 year old
  • Senior dogs
  • Those with underlying conditions such as immune-mediated diseases and cancer

Monitoring your dog is essential to make sure that they are doing okay and to determine if they are exhibiting any symptoms that may point to conditions such as staph infections. Having a good pet tracker such as the Petcube GPS tracker may come in handy when it comes to monitoring your dog. With it, not only can you keep track of their location, it can also help monitor your dog’s health and fitness.

How to Treat Staph Infection in Dogs

Dog staph infection treatment would depend on the location of the infection, how severe it is, the symptoms your dog is exhibiting, how well you administer treatment, as well as your dog’s tolerance to the prescribed treatment.


Oftentimes, topical treatment is the first that your dog’s vet will prescribe if your dog has a staph infection. Such treatments may include:

  • Medicated antibacterial shampoo / wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Antibacterial spray / mousse


Oral antibiotics may be prescribed in the following cases:

  • If your dog’s staph infection isn’t responding to topical treatment
  • If the infection is severe
  • If the location of the infection is somewhere that would be difficult to treat using topical methods


Dog staph infection treatments often also include anti-itch treatment to avoid aggravating the infection due to your dog scratching / biting / licking.

When treating staph infection in dogs, note that it is important to consult with your vet as to which treatment would be best for your dog’s specific case.

Severe cases of staph infection is a medical emergency. Because such pet emergencies may come unexpectedly, having the support and assurance that you need is important. Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund may definitely help in cases of pet emergencies. With an annual subscription, the emergency fund offers $3,000 for pet emergencies for upto 6 pets. They take care of paying the clinic as well so you won’t have to worry about shelling out money while attending to your pet.

At the same time, you get access to a 24/7 online vet service, allowing you to consult with certified vets anytime and anywhere, especially for emergency triage and first aid guidance. While we hope our pets don’t get into emergencies, it’s better to be ready in the event that it does happen.


What are the symptoms of early stage dog skin staph infection?

Among the common early stage signs are flaky or crusty skin, itchiness / redness of skin, thickened skin, a musty odor, and hyperpigmentation.

Can a staph infection kill a dog?

If left untreated, severe infections may lead to sepsis and death. It is therefore important to treat staph infection to address the issue and prevent complications.

Can you get staph from a dog?

Dog staph infections are rarely contagious. The risk is even lower when good hygiene (especially hand-washing) is practiced. It is, however, possible in some rare cases.


Staph infection in dogs is the overgrowth of the staphylococcus bacteria that affects the skin. It may cause discomfort, and in some cases become severe. Early diagnosis and proper treatment may help in addressing the issue with success before it can get worse.

Was this article helpful?

Help us make our articles even better

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback