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What is MRSA and how can it affect my pet?
Some people may have heard of the bacterial infection called MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, but some might not know that it can affect their cats and dogs, too. Understanding the signs of MRSA and what the condition entails can help keep you and your four-legged friend safe.
What is MRSA?
MRSA is bacteria that is typically found in the nasal passages and skin of humans and it can be found in the same areas on dogs and cats. MRSA is commonly transferred from direct skin contact, though it can also be transmitted by contaminated surfaces or objects. Many people and pets can carry MRSA on their skin or in their nasal passages without any real signs of infections, which is why it can be easy to transmit from one person or pet to another.
Symptoms of MRSA
Signs of MRSA can vary depending on where the overgrowth of bacteria is and how long a dog has been living with it. If the dog is suffering a full blown infection it may have a wound that leaks a whitish-yellow pus. If the sore is MRSA, it won't heal even if you use pet products like Betagen meant to clear up skin infections or if you use soothing pet shampoo to try and heal the skin. You might also notice that your pup is less playful than usual and that it may seem warmer or have a fever. If you notice any of these signs, bring the dog to the vet immediately as MRSA is a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition.
When you bring the dog into the vet's office after seeing the symptoms, he or she will likely test for MRSA right away. The vet will take a swab of the affected area and will then send it to a lab for testing. Treatment for the bacterial infection will vary depending on the severity of the MRSA. The vet may start it on topical medication as well as oral antibiotic pet drugs like Simplicef that works to treat skin infections caused by bacteria. Stick the medication in Greenies Pill Pockets to disguise it as treats. It can take several weeks to get the results of the swab back so most vets will prescribe what they think is necessary based on the site. With early detection and treatment, most pets are able to make a full recovery from MRSA. The vet may recommend adding in a supplement to the dog's diet in the
future to boost its immune system and ward off future infections.