What You Need to Know About Canine-Induced Infections



Pet store owners may find their customers to be more anxious than usual this month. With recent reports on canine-induced infections hitting the headlines, pet parents have multiple health concerns. Retailers should be aware of these reports in order to field questions and calm their clientele.


The first step pet store owners should take in understanding this panic is to learn about what causes the illness. The media has focused on two extreme cases of this blood infection, one of which resulted in limb amputations and the other in death. In both instances, the infection was traced to capnocytophaga canimorsus, bacteria that is commonly found in the mouths of dogs and cats. The two patients had contact with dogs that included licking and nips, and the bacteria was most likely transmitted from the pets’ saliva through broken skin or a mucous membrane.


While these outcomes are undeniably scary, retailers can inform worried customers that they are incredibly rare, despite the prevalence of this type of bacteria. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 74 percent of dogs and up to 57 percent of cats tested positive for capnocytophaga. Even humans have a different strain of it in their mouths. The presence of the bacteria is usually not a threat, and the chances of death are exceedingly low.


However, those with compromised immune systems may be more susceptible to contracting a serious infection. While the victims in the two cases had healthy immune systems, it is agreed by experts that their reactions to the bacteria were not normal. Retailers can advise pet parents to take special care to avoid nips and licks from pets if they do have weakened immune systems, and to tell a doctor if they start to feel ill after a bite from a dog or cat.


Most importantly, pet store owners can assure their customers that this rare illness is not a reason to surrender a beloved cat or dog. While consumers may be in a frenzy over these widely reported cases, retailers can act as a valuable source of information. By assuaging unnecessary fears, pet store owners can build trust and forge stronger relationships with their customers.


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