Strep Throat – Is my dog the carrier?

At least once a winter I get a client requesting their dog get a throat culture for strep throat, not because the dog is sick, but because the family can’t shake it off, after cycle after cycle of medication. Most often the pediatrician is requesting testing and treatment of the dog. Is it possible? The quick and dirty answer is yes – theoretically. Dogs and people can pass it back and forth, but it is HIGHLY unlikely.

Strep throat is caused in people by Lancefield’s Group A B-hemolytic Streptococci (Streptococcus pyogenes). The primary host is humans and it is passed by airborne droplets that are mostly inhaled. Contamination of food and possibly water is also possible. Dogs and cattle are susceptible to infection mostly by people, but cows used to pass strep in epidemic proportions to people via unpasteurized milk. The cow would develop a mastitis, strep would pass into the milk, someone would swallow it – you get the picture. Most chronic strep’s are usually due to a virus colonizing the tonsils, with periodic secondary strep infections.

Many pediatricians recall a paper published in Postgrad Med. 1983 titled: “Recurrent pharyngitis in family of four. Household pet as reservoir of group A streptococci.” In this paper, numerous attempts using conventional methods of treatment failed to permanently rid the family of strep throat. Their pet dog was finally discovered to be a carrier of group A streptococci and was treated. This paper is now considered irrelevant because the methodology they used would not differentiate group A strep (the one that causes strep in people) from group G strep (canine cause). Most likely, the dog got strep from a human family member, just like the rest of the family!

My recommendation is to save your money and not test the dog for strep. I have agreed to treat a dog with antibiotics, just in case, to ease a client’s mind, but along that path I feel the pediatrician should insist all human family members go on antibiotics too!

on January 17th, 2012 // 14 Comments »

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  • Maria

    My son just turned one and he has been getting strep infection type “G” since he was six months.  Today I finally got the lab result from my vet and my dog tested positive for strep.  My son has no contact with the dog but we have to take our dogs in and out everyday from the garage to the backyard and apparently just by crawling on the same path keeps infecting my son. I also have to add that my dog has always suffered from skin infections. Vet is already treating her but I wonder if the meds will get rid of the strep or if it will keep coming back.  I am very concerned since I cannot keep giving medication to my son.  I would really appreciate any comments you can give me regarding this.

  • Anonymous

    How frustrating! I would treat your dog with 10 to 14 days of Amoxicillin. It will help his skin a bit, but should resolve any Strep he may be harboring. I still feel your dog is an unlikely source, but the Amoxicillin won’t hurt.
    Good luck!

  • Sarah

    Hi there,

    We have a brand new puppy who is now 9 weeks old (have had him for 1 week).

    Today I (his owner) have been tested positive for Strep Throat. Should I be worried about my puppy who is so young and only had 1 vaccination? He seems healthy and well at the moment, but should I keep an eye on him or limit my interaction with him?

    I don’t want to isolate him too much as I understand the importance of socialisation with a new puppy, but I also do not want to pass on my Strep to him!

    Any comments would be very much appreciated.


  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t spend any time worrying!  In fact, I recommend smooching his sweet lips!  It is very difficult to pass your form of Strep to him.  It is possible,  but would be extremely rare.

    Rest easy and get well so you have the energy it takes to care for a 9 week old puppy!

  • Koren

    Perhaps it is not so rare, just rarely tested and recognized for being what it is… a dog with strep.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t spend any time worrying!  In fact, I recommend smooching his sweet lips!  It is very difficult to pass your form of Strep to him.  It is possible,  but would be extremely rare.

    Rest easy and get well so you have the energy it takes to care for a 9 week old puppy!

  • Leah Calrow

    I Just found out I have Strep C. When I was looking online I found out that you get it from your home pets. I have two. My cat is an inside outside cat, My dog rarely ever comes in the house but I’m around him quite a bit. Could I really have gotten it from them and do I need to have them checked?
     My cat acts like she is sick. She vomits often and just recently her left side of the face and her eye is swollen. Ive been putting a warm wrag on it to keep it clean and hopefully draw everything out. What else can i do about her eye and vomiting?
    My dog on the other hand is 7 months and he doesnt act like anything is wrong but he started bleeding out of his penis. Not to be weird or anything but as a protective parent over my animals I had a look and there is a dark red spot right by the tip. It isnt constant or a lot of blood but still scary to think there is something seriously wrong.. What could it be?

  • tired

    One of my children has an autoimmune disease that attacks his brain brought on by strep throat. We went to great lengths to try to keep strep to a minimum including homeschooling my children.  Even still my kids have had strep 4-5 times in our family in the past year. There was a week that it was raining and we were busy.  I realized we had not seen another human for 7 days (strep has 2-5 day incubation).  Even still strep throat happened again.  I knew it had to be one of our dogs. The vet was kind enough to perform the testing even though he was 99.99% sure it would be negative.  It was the dog! Strep A same as my boys!!

  • Toby’s mom

    Thank you for the post. How is your child with the autoimmune disease?
    We were just at the doctor’s office today and found out our dog is positive
    for Strep A. We have had illness in our family that has baffled the doctors.

  • Sking

    After having 2 child have their tonsils removed and the talk of removing mine and our third child’s tonsils, we did test. My vet has been in practice for 29 years and has never had one case before us. My Wheaton Terrier tested positive for strep A moderate growth. It was tested at ISU animal/human lab. I wish I would of tested sooner maybe 2 of my children might have their tonsils? So if there is a question take the $35 test!!!!

  • Aurora Metz

    My dog has not been eating much for the past the days now. He won’t get up, and barely even lifts his head. Every so often he coughs and hacks as if he has a Hair ball, or is going to throw up, but nothing comes out. He’s been drinking a significant amout of water (more than usual). I’m so worried about him, he’s 14 years old, and has never been sick like this! Is it Strep? If so what can I do?

  • auroraanimalhospital

    Please call us so we can discuss the situation directly, thanks. 303-680-7305.

  • austin

    Can a pass streptococcus to my Jack Russel? Someone told me to not interact with my dog because I could pass it to her. I tryed researching it but everything is different on every website.

  • Holly Cogswell, DVM

    It’s possible but pretty unlikely. Dogs are not as susceptible to our strain of strep. It’s okay to love on your sweet Jack Russell.