There is some very interesting information that you may be interested in if you have a dog and children and your children have recurring strep throat.
Dogs, as humans, have the strep bacteria in their throats and are carriers of it, even when they have no symptoms. This means that the family dog could potentially be the reason that little Johnny keeps getting strep throat. Little Johnny can also give it to Rocky the dog!
It is recommended that you treat your dog with antibiotics at the same time as you treat your sick family member, just in case. Your dog can’t tell you when he doesn’t feel good, he may just not eat.
They type of strep that we get and that dogs get are two different strains but there have been many reported cases of humans getting strep and then finding out the dog also had strep throat. Enough that recommending treatment for both at the same time has begun to make sense.
What Symptoms of Strep Do Dogs Get?
It may surprise you to find out that the symptoms from dogs to humans are very much the same. Dogs will suffer much the same way in which we do when they have strep throat. Here is a basic list of symptoms your dog may suffer from:
- Swollen throat
- Lack of appetite and
Obviously, your dog can’t tell you that his throat is sore, so be mindful of the other indicators. If he stops eating, has a cough, and is sleeping more, then he may be sick. Your veterinarian can look at him and check his throat to see if there are any spots or redness present.
Dogs have tonsils as we do and strep can cause them to be infected. This infection can become quite nasty and there may be pus in the back of the throat. In other cases, it may not be that bad yet and if you catch strep early on, there may just be some redness.
Veterinarians may check them visually and then want to run some tests. It is common to do a swab of the mouth to check for bacteria and also to do a urinalysis to see what sort of bacteria are present there. In some cases, doctors like to draw a bit of blood to run a complete blood panel and determine if the body chemistry is normal or if there is a high white blood cell count — always an indicator of an infection.
Strep throat in dogs is similar to humans and can have the same recovery time and needs. They will need antibiotics, rest, and to stay hydrated. If they refuse to drink water, your veterinarian may do subcutaneous fluid which is injected under the skin and gradually absorbed by the body. You may also need to visit the hospital for an IV if it gets extreme.
One way to encourage your dog to take water is to hold their cheek out like a funnel and use a syringe to drop water into their mouth and down their throat. It is very important to just do small amounts; hold their head up until they swallow. You’ll feel their throat and see their tongue move when they swallow the water.
You may give them just a bit more and try to get them to take as much water as you can. Keeping them hydrated will prevent them from becoming hospitalized. Dehydration is the part of an illness that can kill dogs and severe dehydration can kill in a matter of a few days.
Other Illness That Humans and Dogs Have In Common
- Campylobacter – This is usually from drinking raw milk or eating undercooked pork. Dogs and humans can both get this. Usually, it clears on its own but in worst cases, may require antibiotics.
- Tapeworm – Tapeworm infestation happens in dogs who eat fleas in their environment. The flea turns into a tapeworm after several evolutionary changes that happen over the course of just a few weeks. Tapeworms are often first seen as tiny pieces around the rectum that look like grains of rice. Humans can also contract tapeworm and children are more at risk.
- Hookworm – These are very tiny worms that can be spread in the soil and humans that go in the yard barefoot can get them. They are shed in the stool of dogs and passed in this way to the ground. If you are infected with hookworm, they tend to leave a tiny red trail under the skin that itches intensely. Medical treatment will clear this up in 4 to 6 weeks. Most other types of worms can be transmitted from humans to animals and back and forth.
- MRSA – This is a form of antibiotic-resistant staph infection that is very serious. MRSA infections can kill and even cause loss of limbs. It is possible to carry MRSA without showing any signs and to spread it to others. If an animal is infected, it can easily infect humans but humans can also infect pets.
- Leptospirosis – Most dogs are vaccinated for this yearly with boosters at the veterinarian. Humans can contract it but it is rarely fatal and appears as a flu-like illness that runs its course in a few days. Dogs get very ill; leading to kidney failure for them. It is transmitted through contaminated urine, body fluids or contaminated groundwater.
- Lyme Disease – This nasty illness is spread by ticks and can affect humans and animals alike. It is a bacterial infection that is spread when the tick bites. Symptoms in dogs and humans are very similar and include poor appetite, low energy, sore joints and limping, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. Antibiotics are prescribed for Lyme disease to keep it at bay but there is no cure. Look for a bullseye rash after a tick bite. This is an early warning sign. Lyme disease that goes untreated can be fatal.
- Sarcoptic Mange – It is spread by tiny mites that infest the skin, causing itch and sores on dogs. They can lose their hair and chew themselves until they are raw and crusty. Humans do not get infested with the mites but can be affected by the bites of them when close to the dog.
There are other conditions that can be spread back and forth or that impact both animals and humans, such as some other things that are passed by a tick bite. It is best to treat dogs each month for fleas and ticks to prevent worms and tick problems. When you are outdoors, you should take care to wear a heat that keeps ticks from falling on your hair from above. They will also crawl up pant legs and many people tuck their pants into shoes or socks when in the woods to attempt to deter them.
Take care not run around barefoot in the same places where your dog defecates to avoid contracting worms from them.
Don’t let standing water accumulate in barrels that mosquitoes can lay eggs in so that dogs don’t get heartworm. Humans do not get heartworms but you can get giardia, which is also found in standing water that comes in contact with the ground. Giardia will make you very sick and your dog as well. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, bloat, pain in the gut, inability to lay down and be comfortable. Humans will be equally sick and the dehydration can kill either you or your dog if left untreated.
Strep throat is just one of many things that can find its way back and forth between humans and animals. It is important to make sure that you treat your dog with shots each year and that you are careful to have them seen when they seem ‘off’ in any way. It can be something that they caught from you, the kids, or that they will give to you or the kids.
A little bit of planning ahead goes a long way. Vaccinations and wormings that get done on a regular basis will ensure that you and your dog stay worm free and your yard will too. This will keep you all healthier in the long run.
Do not give the dog antibiotics that you have in the medicine cabinet that were yours. They can’t take all the same medicines that we do. You should also not self-diagnose them. It is very important to have them seen by a veterinarian who can make a proper diagnosis and bloodwork can be done. Then and only then should they get medicines prescribed by your vet that are safe for them.
Dawn Greer is a passionate blogger and animal rights activist. She is a pet lover, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, pet nutritionist, and former veterinary technician. She continues her work while writing blogs for pet lovers around the globe.