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Jenna Stregowski, RVT

Your Dog and MRSA

By June 23, 2009

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Once upon a time, people thought that dog saliva had healing properties. This old adage probably stemmed from seeing dogs lick their wounds after injury. We now know that this is not the case. In fact, a dog's mouth contains many strains of bacteria. This bacteria generally causes no harm to the skin, but can cause infection if it enters an open wound - usually from a bite. As a vet tech, I have seem many co-workers develop infections from animal bites. I've had one or two bites myself that turned into minor infections. One of the most common of these bacteria is Staphylococcus aureus. Typically, a round of antibiotics will do the trick, though some serious infections require hospitalization with intravenous antibiotics. In short, animal bites are no fun.

Unfortunately, research has shown the emergence of a potentially life-threatening methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections shared between pets and human handlers. MRSA infections are especially difficult to treat because they do not respond to the usual antibiotics. Most common are skin, soft-tissue, and surgical infections. MRSA infections in pets are often acquired from their owners and can may even cycle back and forth between pets and humans. Because they are drug-resistant, minor infections can easily turn into serious conditions like sepsis.

So, what does this all mean to you? First of all there is no need to panic. Second of all, don't banish your dog from the house. MRSA is not easily transmitted through normal contact - it is usually contracted through bites or scratches. Take measures to prevent dog bites, wash your hands frequently and keep your dog healthy. If you do get bitten or scratched by an animal, seek medical attention right away.

Cats can be affected by MRSA infections, too. Read about cats and MRSA from Cats Guide Franny Syufy:
Skin Infections Linked to Cat Bite, Scratches

Learn more about MRSA infections from Veterinary Medicine Guide Janet Tobiassen Crosby, DVM:
MRSA and Pets - Infection Connection

Poll: Will the threat of MRSA change the way you interact with your dog?


September 15, 2009 at 5:09 pm
(1) laughingoutloud says:

What a load of rubbish….where on earth do you get your “facts” from??

October 12, 2010 at 6:13 pm
(2) FACT says:

this is very true. my brothers dog who visits often developed a skin infection. we thought my brother had properly treated it with vet prescribed anti biotics and anti bacterial wash. now the dogs reddness and sores are returning and my mom & i just got back from an ER visit. we both have mrsa.
who are you to just deciede this is untrue information on this page. are you a scientist conducting research in this field?? so you havent gotten mrsa from your dog or cat. LUCKY YOU! but people have. ME being one.

January 26, 2012 at 7:44 pm
(3) Diane says:

Husband was just diagnosis with MRSA, but it is a secondary DX, the drs are still trying to determine what the primary DX is. Question is: This may sound gross to some but, the dry scabs that are left on the floor, couch etc., my dog will lick them up before I get a chance to vacuum them up. Are those scabs harmful to her? She is 11 yr German Sheppard. 01/25/12.

March 24, 2012 at 6:40 pm
(4) megan says:

Your all are stupid who think it isn’t possible u will be the ones to get it

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