Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by the Group A Streptococcus, also called Streptococcus pyogenes. These organisms can enter the body through a cut on the skin or through the throat.
People of all ages can suffer from this, although young children are an easy target for this kind of infection because their immune system is not yet equipped to deal very well with strep. The adults and elderlies with a weakened immune system are also more prone to it.
Are dogs susceptible to this kind of illness as much as humans? Keep reading for more information regarding strep throats and its effects on canines.
Can Dogs Get Strep Throats?
According to “The Dog’s Owners Home Veterinary Handbook,” dogs can get a mild or unapparent sore throat from a human suffering from strep throat. This is a highly contagious disease that can spread from one organism to another through direct or indirect contact.
When a dog has a sore throat (due to strep), he will show it by gagging as if something is stuck in his throat. You will also notice that he has been trying to swallow but finds it quite painful to do so.
Strep throat can be transmitted through a close contact with the carrier of the bacteria but it is unlikely that it comes from Fido. There are actually conflicting opinions regarding this matter.
Can a dog that tested positive for strep transfer the infection to his owners? There is no evidence that proves dogs can transfer it to humans. Still, experts believe we should not disregard that possibility.
Dogs may also be carriers but it is very rare for them to be the source of this infection. The Aurora Animal Hospital stressed the fact that it is unusual for dogs to pass a strep to a human. Once they harbored the bacteria from a human, it may become a source of infection for people.
What’s for sure is that pets can also be carriers of streptococcus and they mostly get it from their owners or from their family members. Humans are the principal carriers of strep. People can get it when a sick person spreads the airborne droplets through sneezing and coughing.
When your pet is coughing and gagging or has been drooling too much, he might be suffering from a bacterial infection or a sore throat. Better check with your vet because a sore throat can be because of strep or a symptom of an underlying problem in the respiratory tract or in the sinuses.
Like in the case of people, puppies are more prone to a strep throat than adult dogs because their immune systems are not yet completely developed. Senior dogs can also become an easy target to this bacterial infection when their immune systems have weakened.
Symptoms of Strep Throat in Canines
In humans, the Group A strep often causes pharyngitis or an infection localized in the pharynx. It serves as a culprit to swelling in certain areas of the throat such as the tonsils. It may also cause skin infections like cellulitis and impetigo.
Throat pain and high fever are the most common symptoms of strep throat in humans. Humans often have a fever and a painful throat as the streptococcus bacteria grows in the body. Strep can be extremely painful and an infected person will find it hard to swallow, talk, and even drink. It can also make someone lose their appetite and feel nauseous.
Fever is actually a good sign because this means the immune system is attempting to fight off the infection. Some people can be carriers of this bacteria and show no symptoms at all. One can have a strep even without a sore throat.
Below are the effects of a strep throat in dogs:
- Red and swollen tonsils
- Fever exceeding 103°F
- Visible localized abscesses
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Pain and discomfort
- Increased water intake
- White spots on the tonsil surface
When these symptoms are present, don’t hesitate to bring the dog to a veterinarian. The doctor should check if there are also issues in the anal glands, since some dogs routinely lick their private areas. This can spread the infection to their mouth.
Diagnosis of Strep Throat in Dogs
Before considering a test for your dog, it is better to get everyone in the family tested first. More often than not, even healthy adults with no symptoms of strep can actually be carriers of it. Aside from a swab test, a blood examination may be necessary to get an accurate result.
If you suspect that you or a family member is a carrier of strep, it is necessary to undergo immediate diagnosis and treatment, otherwise it may lead to more complications such as rheumatic fever that can impair the heart valves.
A strep throat can lead to the toxic shock syndrome, but this is very rare. Aside from the heart, it can also affect other areas of the body such as the lungs and the joints.
Treating Strep Throat in Dogs
A veterinarian will decide on a proper treatment based on the area where the bacteria has permeated. If it is in the skin, your vet might prescribe a topical antibiotic. The common antibiotics for skin infection in dogs are Clavamox and Baytril.
Important Reminder: These antibiotics should only be administered to dogs under the guidance of a vet. Your vet will prescribe a dose based on the weight of your dog. The misuse of antibiotics, even in dogs, can be quite dangerous.
The VCA Hospitals urged that canines should be treated with antibiotics when family members have this kind of infection. When you have a recurring infection in your household, an antibiotic treatment is very important.
Do note that strep throat can go away on its own after 3 days to one week. However, there are cases when the infection can last up to 2 or 3 weeks. This already requires antibiotics to prevent further complications.
The Streptococcus in dogs is usually treated with narrow-spectrum penicillin. However, there is an ongoing debate regarding the use of penicillin and other kinds of antibiotics. There are risks involved as the antibiotics can destroy even the good bacteria inside the body.
When you are hesitant to use antibiotics for your pet, ask your vet about natural antibiotics. Oregano oil, Manuka honey, and Goldenseal are some of the commonly used antibiotic alternatives for canines.
If a dog is suffering from skin problems due to strep, you may use a homeopathic formula intended for dogs. Aside from promoting a healthy skin, those formulas are designed to strengthen your pet’s immune system.
Hydration is very important during this time. You might notice your dog’s increased water intake because water somehow soothes his throat.
How to Prevent Strep in Your Household
Good hygiene is the best way to ward off infections, including strep throat. It can be quite challenging to get rid of bacteria since there are a lot of them naturally living in your dog’s skin. In order to keep him as clean as possible, make sure his beddings, toys, and dishes are all regularly cleaned.
Strengthen your dog’s immune system by giving him the best care possible. There is no magic pill to boost a canine’s immune system, because the preventive methods heavily rely on hygiene and wellness. Below are some wellness tips that can also naturally boost a dog’s immunity:
- Keep Fido clean. Regularly wash your dog, at least twice a week to keep those bacteria at bay.
- Avoid stress. Your dog’s overall wellness can affect his immunity. Minimize his stress by giving him the time to get active and be social.
- Provide him with dietary supplements. Ask your vet about a supplement that is appropriate for your dog.
- Avoid commercially produced foods. As much as possible, avoid giving your dog too much kibble or dry dog food. Your pet needs meat, fruits, and vegetables.
- Make sure he always has clean water. Like humans, dogs need water to flush out toxins from their body. Keep him well-hydrated throughout the day.
- Encourage your pooch to keep moving. Allocate a time during the day when the two of you would walk or do a physical activity.
Going back to our main point, can a dog get a strep? Yes, and it is best to contact your vet if you suspect that your pet has strep throat. An empiric antibiotic therapy may be necessary for canines with tonsil problems due to the strep bacteria.
Can your dog transfer it to you? This one’s a really tricky question because there are conflicting opinions about this. But to sum it up, yes, dogs can harbor the bacteria from humans but don’t blame them if you have it too. It’s rare for them to be the principal carriers of this bacterial infection.
Canines can be at risk of streptococcus when their owners or family members have it. A human may release bacteria-carrying droplets into the air and a dog may catch the infection.