Treating a staph infection in dogs

Updated April 17, 2017

Dogs, just like people, are susceptible to skin infections. Staph infections are common, and the treatment for canine skin infections is similar to treating staph infections in humans.

Causes of Staph Infections in Dogs

Staphylococcus is the name of the bacteria that causes this type of skin infection in dogs. Staph is commonly found to live on the skin of dogs without ever causing a problem. However, when the immune system becomes weakened, by allergies, bites or other reactions, a staph infection may flare up.

Treatment for Canine Staph Infection

Staph appears as either a red, sore spot with hair missing around a crusty edge to the lesion, or as a pimple-like sore with pus. Diagnosing staph is done by a culture or biopsy of the infected skin. Veterinarians usually treat staph infections in dogs with oral antibiotics. Cephalexin is commonly prescribed, as well as erythromycin, amoxicillin with clavulanic acid, lincomycin, dicloxacillin, enrofloxacin and oxacillin, according to Paw Prints and Purrs. Antibiotics are usually given for three to six weeks.

It's important to figure out the underlying cause, or trigger, of the staph infection to prevent or reduce reoccurring infections. Testing for an immune disease or allergies may be necessary. Medications for illnesses and allergies may also be prescribed as well as removing allergens.

Treatment must also include stopping the source of itching, as constant scratching will prevent healing or cause more outbreaks of infection. Treatment also includes good hygiene, using antibacterial ointment cream and shampoo. These products relieve symptoms and promote healing.


Washing your dog's skin regularly removes allergens and keeps skin healthy. Some veterinarians suggest adding omega-3 fatty acids to a dog's diet to help heal and prevent future staph infection.

Additional Considerations

Staphylococcus infections take time to heal. Follow through with your vet's instructions, use medications as directed even after the infection appears to be gone.

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About the Author

Beth Richards, a freelance writer since 2002, writes about health and draws from her 25 years as a licensed dispensing optician. She has authored several books, writes for national magazines including "Country Living" and "Organic Family" and is a health and wellness features writer for several publications. She is earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland.