July 3, 2012

Pet Connection Q&A:Dog's skin condition may need a specialist

My dog keeps getting hot spots. Do dogs get MRSA?

My dog keeps getting hot spots. Do dogs get MRSA?

– Via email

Dogs almost never have symptoms from MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus), but they have their own resistant form of staph: MRSI (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus intermedius), also known as MRSP (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus pseudintermedius).

Unfortunately, it can cause as many problems for them as MRSA does for us.

Your first step is to have your veterinarian culture the hot spots and determine if there are resistant organisms present. If so, you should ask for a referral to a veterinary dermatologist; resistant skin infections are very tough to treat, and veterinary dermatologists are the ones with the most experience in treating them.

Your veterinarian may also be able to treat your dog in consultation with the specialist.

While oral antibiotics are usually given, some research suggests that topical treatment might be more effective. Ask the dermatologist about bathing the dog every day with 4 percent chlorhexidine shampoo or other topical therapies to use with, or instead of, oral medication.

If your dog has other conditions that cause skin problems, such as allergies or hypothyroidism, these should also be addressed by your veterinarian.

– Dr. Marty Becker with Christie Keith

The buzz

Jerky treat reports concern veterinarians

Reports of pet illness from Chinese-made chicken jerky continue to surface, and many veterinarians are telling clients to avoid the treats, which remain on store shelves.

The Veterinary Information Network News Service ( reports that despite six years of complaints and concerns, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been unable to identify a contaminant. The agency has received more than 1,300 complaints. An online petition to ban jerky from China has drawn 14,000 names, but the companies insist the products are safe and have not recalled them.

California is getting closer to denying property owners the right to insist that cats be declawed or dogs be debarked as a condition of rental for pet-friendly housing.

The state's veterinary and property-owner trade groups support the measure, as do most animal-welfare groups. A similar proposal was vetoed in 2010 by the previous governor.

More than 800 shelter and rescue organizations participated in Just One Day on June 11. They pledged to not kill any adoptable animals on that day and instead participated in enhanced adoption efforts. Part of the growing no-kill movement, the national program raised awareness while getting pets into homes.

More information about future events is at, as well as a list of participating organizations.

Gina Spadafori

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