If you’re feeling ill, there’s nothing better than cuddling with your dog to improve your spirits. But what if your symptoms include a sore throat, and you’re diagnosed with strep? Can dogs get strep throat? If so, is strep throat in dogs contagious to people?
Strep throat, an infection marked by swollen tonsils and difficulty swallowing, is highly contagious between people. Learn more about whether strep throat in dogs can be contagious to humans, which symptoms to look out for, and how a vet will treat strep throat in dogs.
Can Dogs Get Strep Throat?
Yes, dogs can get strep throat. According to Dr. Jerry Klein, Chief Veterinary Officer for the AKC, strep throat occurs when a dog’s throat becomes infected with streptococcus bacteria, basically the same way it occurs in people. However, Dr. Klein explains that the specific bacterium that causes strep throat for us is a different strain from the one that causes the infection in dogs. “Strep throat in dogs is caused by the Streptococcus bacterium Group G, whereas strep throat in humans is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes Group A,” he explains.
Because different strains of the bacteria are responsible for the illness in dogs than in humans, if a dog has strep throat, it’s unlikely that they caught the illness from a person. Although there is the rare potential for a dog to pass a strep infection to a person through close contact, it would be very unlikely.
Still, Dr. Klein advises that pet owners stay vigilant with basic good hygiene practices around their pets, especially at times when a person or pet in your home is currently sick. “Practicing good hygiene in the home is always recommended, especially in homes where there are young children or people with immune-compromised conditions. This is true whether a person has COVID or a dog has roundworms, or there’s any other unwanted cross-transmission of pathogens—whether bacteria, virus, or parasites.”
Symptoms of Strep Throat in Dogs
If you think your dog may have been exposed to strep throat from another animal, keep an eye out for symptoms. Symptoms of strep throat in dogs include:
- Difficulty swallowing because the throat is swollen.
- Coughing or gagging due to throat pain.
- Low energy levels.
- Lack of appetite because it hurts to swallow.
Treatment and Prevention of Strep Throat in Dogs
Dr. Klein notes that strep throat in dogs is treated like any other canine bacterial infection. Your dog will be prescribed antibiotics to fight the bacteria. You should also be sure your dog gets plenty of rest while their body battles the infection.
Your dog could become dehydrated while they’re battling strep throat. As anyone who’s suffered through strep throat knows, swallowing can be painful, so it’s important they get adequate fluids even if they aren’t drinking as much water as they normally would. Encourage drinking as much as possible, try offering warm salt-free broth, and consider adding moist foods to their diet while they recover.
As dogs get strep throat from other animals rather than people, it’s important to isolate your infected pet if you have a multi-dog household. That can help prevent the illness from spreading. Limit the sharing of food, water bowls, beds, and toys to avoid the spread of germs. Thoroughly launder any bedding they used while they recovered.
There are no known ways to prevent your dog from becoming infected with strep throat, and there is no vaccine. Strep throat in dogs is mostly seen in very young puppies or senior dogs. (Puppies’ immune systems have yet to fully develop, and in senior dogs the immune system weakens with age.) However, Dr. Klein says the most common cause of throat infections and tonsillitis in dogs is poor dental health. Keeping your dog’s mouth and teeth clean with regular tooth brushing can help prevent throat infections. He also advises, “Proper hygiene and appropriate vaccinations against other respiratory pathogens may help to prevent streptococcal outbreaks.”