Strep throat — that awful burning sensation that feels like razor blades are attacking your throat. Even the warm comfort of tea or soup doesn’t bring much relief. Have you ever wondered if your dog can get strep throat too?
Can dogs get strep throat?
The answer to this question is yes and no.
According to Dr. Ernst Ward of VCA Hospitals, dogs don’t get strep throat. However, that isn’t the whole story. He says, “Although they do not get "strep throat," they may harbor the bacterium and serve as a source of infection for humans."
Therefore if your dog has the bacteria in his system it can be passed to you and any other humans who come into contact and should be treated with antibiotics.
The anatomy of a dog's throat and tonsils
Like you, your dog has a pair of tonsils at the back of its throat. The tonsils are similar to lymph nodes, and the role of both of these structures is to fight infection. They sit in small pouches called crypts at the back of your dog’s throat.
When the dog is fighting an infection, the tonsils may enlarge due to inflammation. Infected tonsils will be swollen and red and can be seen easily at the back of your dog’s throat.
If your pet is showing signs of illness, the vet will examine your dog’s throat to check for inflammation in the tonsils.
Another reason that the tonsils sometimes get inflamed is due to tartar buildup and periodontal disease. If this is the cause of your pet’s tonsil inflammation, your vet will need to give your dog’s teeth a good cleaning. To perform this procedure, your dog will need to undergo general anesthesia. You can discuss the risks of this with your vet before the procedure, especially if you have an older pet.
How to know if your dog is carrying the bacteria that causes strep throat?
Your vet will need to do a culture to confirm that your pet is carrying the bacteria. In the meantime, there are some symptoms of sore throat or tonsillitis that you may see before you even take your pet to the doctor. These include:
- Coughing: Your dog may cough due to the irritation in its throat
- Lip licking: This is another sign of discomfort
- No desire to eat and drink: Due to the pain of swallowing with inflamed tonsils, your pet may appear hungry but still not eat or drink.
- Gagging: Your dog might feel like something is stuck in its throat
- Low energy: Fghting infection takes a lot of energy so your dog may not be his usual playful self. Your dog may sleep more and you could see a dullness in his eyes while he isn’t feeling so good.
It is very rare for a dog to have its tonsils removed even if they are prone to infection. This is because your dog will need its tonsils to help fight future infections.
How to treat strep in your dog
Make sure your pet is well hydrated and is getting plenty of rest. Your vet will need to prescribe some antibiotics to clear up the bacteria. The vet may also give you an anti-inflammatory medicine to help with the pain!
If you have multiple dogs in your home, you’ll want to quarantine any sick pets so you don’t risk spreading germs. Humans should be extra diligent about hand-washing after interacting with a sick dog to avoid further spread of germs.
Once the dog has started the antibiotics they should be better within a few days. Ask your vet about the duration of antibiotic use and be sure to follow the directions. Your pet needs to take all of the antibiotics even if he is feeling better.
Monitor your pet for allergies to the antibiotics and follow up with your vet if you notice any side effects or your pet continues to not feel well.
You may wish to have your dog re-cultured after treatment to ensure the infection is gone. Strep is highly contagious and can be passed back and forth between dogs and humans. If members of your family continue to have symptoms your dog may be the carrier. If you or a member of your family falls ill, you’ll want to make sure that you’re all treated as well as strep can be serious in humans too!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.