Staph Infections in Dogs and the Importance of Topical Therapy

STAY INFORMED!!   Alert….Overuse of Antibiotics!  Staph. (staphylococcus) Bacterial Infections in Dogs are Common and Contribute to the Overuse Problem.

Antimicrobial Guidelines Working Group of the International Society for Companion Animal Infectious Diseases 2014 (Vet Dermatol 2014; 25:163-175.) 

Superficial bacterial infections in dogs are commonplace and pose a therapeutic challenge in many cases due the emergence of multidrug resistant strains.  One of the points of focus by the committee was on the use of topical therapy as a way to avoid overuse of systemic antibiotic therapy.

“ ..there are significant potential advantages for early and frequent use of the topical approach to this disease.  These advantages include more rapid resolution and a decrease in the duration of antimicrobial administration when combined with systemic antimicrobial drugs, removal of organisms and debris from the skin surface, minimal adverse effects, and greatly reduced exposure to antimicrobial drugs of bystander organisms in other organ systems (reducing the risk of inadvertent emergence of resistant strains.”

“The benefits and importance of topical antimicrobial therapy and topical therapies that help restore normal skin structure and function (promoting recovery and enhancing resistance to infection) are likely to emerge as significant options as systemic therapy becomes more limited.”

“In general, topical therapy is helpful in all patients with superficial bacterial folliculitis.”  Topicals are available as shampoos, sprays, rinses, lotions, ointments, wipes, mousse, and gels.

Dog Shampoos & Sprays: Can we avoid antibiotics? 

The veterinary and medical communities are focusing on topical therapy to avoid repeated (chronic) use of antibiotics (oral or injectable) when possible. Bathing your dog frequently can be a critical tool in treating your dog’s skin disease. 

The focus is now on topical therapy because:

1. The over-use of antibiotics has contributed to the emergence of multi-drug resistant strains of bacteria

2.  Dogs have problems with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus skin infections (typically methicillin-resistant Staphylococcal pseudintermedius or MRSP), typically NOT MRSA. Appropriate topical therapy is vitally important to resolve as well as prevent relapse by decrease bacterial numbers on the skin surface.

3.Because an abnormal (or defective) epidermal skin barrier recognized in allergy patients contributes to recurrent skin infections, appropriate topical therapy also helps to moisturize, restore, and repair this skin barrier.

4. Topical therapy helps decrease bacterial numbers and remove allergens (pollens, molds, dust mites, etc.) from the skin surface (remember, dogs absorb allergens through their skin rather than inhaling them like people).  The same as eczema in people.

5.  Topical therapy mechanically removes irritants, scale, crust, and debris from the skin surface further decreasing dermatitis and itch.

Dermatologist’s therapeutic recommendation for topical therapy treatment

1.  select an effective antibacterial shampoo and spray

2.  bathe 2-3 times weekly until the rash resolves

3.  spray daily


1.  bathe weekly or every other week

2.  spray 1-2 times per week