Adobe Animal Hospital

7712 E. Indian School Rd
Scottsdale, AZ 85251



What is this problem?
Staphylococcus is a name of a group of bacteria commonly found on the skin. Dermatitis is a term that means inflammation of the skin.

Do Staphylococci always cause dermatitis?No. Staphylococci normally reside on the skin of animals and humans; however,they are considered opportunistic pathogens. As long as the skin is healthy,these bacteria are dormant. But once the skin is irritated, they can invade thearea and rapidly multiply.

What causes this type of skin irritation?Scratching is the most common cause. Any disorder that causes itching cancreate the situation that allows Staphylococcus to become a problem. Commoncauses of itching include fleas, inhalant allergy, and food allergy. Irritating chemicals, such as flea and tick dips, can also cause itching.

How is the condition diagnosed?
There are two typical Staphylococcal lesions. One type begins as a red area on the skin with a pimple-like pustule in the center. The other type is a circular, reddish area with a crusty edge and hair loss in the center. The latter can easily be confused with ringworm or yeast skin infection. Finding either of these skin patterns in a dog that is scratching is highly suggestive of Staphylococcal dermatitis.Confirmation can be made with bacteriological cultures or skin biopsy.

How is the condition treated?It is caused by bacteria and is usually sensitive to several antibiotics. A swab and antibiotic sensitivity test will determine the most suitable antibiotic, which usually can be administered by mouth. However, some infections may require 3-6 weeks of treatment before the infection is under control. Antibacterial shampoos and ointments can also be helpful in bringing about rapid control of the infection.The other essential part of treatment is stopping the itching and scratching which may have contributed to the Staphylococcal infection. Other tests may be needed to determine the cause. Frequently, more than one condition contributes to the itching.

Is my dog contagious to me or other pets?
No. All dogs, cats, and people have Staphylococci living on the skin as a normal resident.I finished treatment for Staphylococcal dermatitis two weeks ago, and now the infection is back. 

Why is that?
This situation may be caused by an allergy to the Staphylococcal bacteria. This is called Staphylococcus hypersensitivity or Staphylococcus allergy.The skin lesions that are caused by hypersensitivity are identical to those of Staphylococcal dermatitis. The difference is recurrence. If the dermatitis is treated properly, the underlying cause Staphylococcus is eliminated and itching stops. Thus the bacterial skin disease should be eliminated. The situation may recur if the itching returns. However, when the dog with Staphylococcal hypersensitivity is treated, the skin lesions will return within a few days or weeks.Since differentiation of Staphylococcal dermatitis and Staphylococcal hypersensitivity is based largely on recurrence, it is very important that treatment be continued long enough. This often means a month or more of antibiotics. If not, there will still be a question of which disease is present.

How is Staphylococcal hypersensitivity treated?Treatment begins the same as for Staphylococcal dermatitis: oral antibiotics,medicated shampooing, and whatever treatment is necessary to stop theitching. However, long-term control is best achieved with Staphylococcalbacterin. Staphylococcal bacterin is a solution of killed Staphylococcal bacteriathat is injected into the dog in very tiny amounts. This is an attempt to"reprogram" the dog's immune system so it does not over-react to this naturallyoccurring bacteria. The use of Staphylococcal bacterin begins as a series of dailyinjections into the layers of the skin. After the initial series is completed, theinjections are given subcutaneously (just below the skin) on an interval of every3-4 days to every 2 weeks. These injections frequently will give profoundimprovement when other treatments have failed.If such a course is prescribed, we will teach you to administer these simple injectionsat home.

How successful is this?
Allergy shots are never successful 100% of the time, in dogs or in people. We expect up to 75% of the dogs to respond well.

What happens if Staphylococcal bacterin is not successful?The dog will require periodic treatment with antibiotics and medicated baths. This is not the most desirable approach because Staphylococcus will often develop resistance to the antibiotics. If this occurs, a change in the specific antibiotic used will be necessary. This will also involve more bacteriological tests and antibiotic sensitivity testing in order to establish another appropriate course of treatment.