There’s been plenty of publicity lately about Iowans catching bad staph infections which can quickly become life-threatening, but one expert says it’s not just people who need to be careful.

Veterinarian Annette Bredhauer  says: "Dogs, humans and several other animals can have a bacterium called ‘staph aureus’ that lives on their skin. Oftentimes, there are no signs at all that you’re carrying this. It’s only recognized when skin infection happens, a cut, surgical procedure or some sort of immune-compromising condition such as cancer." She says different treatments are used to combat the infection on dogs than in humans.

Bredhauer says: "In dogs, we can see a skin infection. We can see an external ear canal infection or a deeper wound infection, also, a surgical site infection." One strain of the disease is referred to as M-R-S-A, for Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus. She says you can transmit staph from human to dog, and vice versa, through skin to skin contact. She says it’s important for you and your dogs to have good cleaning habits.

"If your animal is diagnosed with MRSA, it doesn’t mean you need to get rid of the animal. It just means you need to up your hygiene a little bit," she explains, "after you handle the animal, you need to wash your hands with soap and water. If you need to treat a wound on an animal that has MRSA, you need to wear gloves." She recommends not sharing food with your dogs, make sure any cuts on your body are covered when you come in contact with your dog, and don’t let your pets sleep in your bed if you have a low-immune system.