Strep throat hurts. You’re fine one day, and then you wake up in the middle of the night and it feels like you’re swallowing razor blades. It takes a few days for antibiotics to kick in, but when they do, they’re like magic. Strep (streptococcus) is a pretty common bacteria, so it’s completely logical to wonder if your dog can catch strep throat from your family.
Dogs and Streptococcus
Dogs can “catch” the bacteria from their humans, but they don’t necessarily get a strep infection like humans do. Instead, if someone in the house has strep throat, it can be transmitted to the dog where it hides in the respiratory tract and serves as a “transient infection”. A transient infection means the bacteria is present but it doesn’t necessarily go into a full-blown, active infection with symptoms. Instead, it can be transmitted to humans and give them an infection in turn, but the dog itself is hardly affected.
Can Dogs Give Humans Strep Throat?
Transient infections can be passed onto humans and turn into an active infection. It’s often recommended that when a dog’s family is diagnosed with strep throat that the dog is treated with antibiotics, too. Oftentimes a family passes a strep infection back and forth for months despite properly sanitizing their dishes and communal areas. A lot of doctors aren’t aware that dogs carry the bacteria and they could be the culprit in continuing the family-wide infection. If your dog is healthy, your vet might not even require a vet visit to get antibiotics. Just tell them that your family has strep throat and your doctor wants the dog treated to prevent a months-long battle.
What If Dogs Get a Strep Infection?
This is pretty rare, and your dog would have to be fairly immunocompromised to have a full-blown strep infection. In the off chance they do, however, symptoms include lethargy, coughing, loss of appetite, fever, and difficulty swallowing due to inflamed tonsils.
Strep throat is definitely more of a human ailment, so don’t always assume your dog’s respiratory or throat problems have anything to do with streptococcus. As always, if your dog is acting off or the family has been fighting strep throat, give your vet a call to see what the best course of action is.