You are unlikely to trade throat infections with your dog, but dogs can get strep throat, tonsillitis, and a plain old “sore throat.” In the family of Streptococcus bacteria, some bacteria prefer human throats, while others prefer canine throats.
Human strep throat is usually caused by Group A Streptococcus, while dogs are more susceptible to Group G Streptococcus. Dogs could, in theory, pass an infection between two people without getting sick themselves, but this is unlikely and can be avoided with basic hygiene such as washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes when sick.
Can Dogs Get Strep Throat?
Dog tonsillitis, or inflammation of the tonsils, occurs when a bacteria or virus either infects the tonsils directly or causes the dog to irritate their tonsils by coughing or vomiting. Thankfully, tonsillitis is much less common in dogs than in people.
Signs of dog tonsillitis include:
- Red, swollen tonsils
- Difficulty swallowing
- Coughing or gagging
- Poor appetite
The exact symptoms depend on the underlying cause of the tonsillitis. Periodontal disease is a common cause of bacteria in the mouth that can easily spread to the tonsils. Any disease that causes a cough or vomiting can also lead to tonsillitis.
Treating Dog Tonsillitis
If your dog has infected tonsils, your veterinarian will determine why your dog’s tonsils are inflamed. If the dog has dental disease, a dental cleaning is needed to clean the dog’s mouth. Viruses are treated with supportive care, and bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics.
You can protect your dog from tonsilitis and strep throat by keeping her up to date on core vaccines, avoiding contact with sick dogs, and providing regular dental care.