Bacteria is actually a normal, good, healthy thing as long as they are kept in balance. Unbalanced bacteria or an overgrowth of bacteria is when it becomes unhealthy, which is referred to as a "staph" infection short for Staphylococcal bacteria.
Staph bacteria on your dog's skin is perfectly normal, but actual staph infections, also called staphylococcal dermatitis are not. According to this article from the Daily Paws, "The difference between the two comes down to the pet's skin barrier and immune system. When these are compromised, infections occur."
So the questions are:
- What causes the skin barriers and immune systems to become compromised? And
- Are antibiotics doing more harm than good?
To answer the first question, anything that disrupts your dogs' gut microbiome, which could include poor diet (think kibble), too many vaccines and environmental toxins. The more exposed your dog is to any of these things, your dogs' susceptibility to staph infections increases.
"When animals become ill, pathogenic (i.e. disease-causing) bacteria inhabiting the skin can overgrow the 'good' bacteria and lead to infections at various body sites... "For example, dogs with allergic skin disease have dysbiosis of the microbiome, or an imbalance of good and pathogenic bacteria. During an allergy flare, these pathogenic bacteria are found in higher numbers on the skin and are thought to contribute to the inflammation and unhealthy condition of the skin."
As for antibiotics, they certainly can and should be used in life or death situations, but in my experience, they are way overprescribed and overused, which causes antibiotic resistance and basically enables the unbalanced bacteria to rage on unchecked despite the medication administered. And, antibiotics can absolutely kill off good bacteria, which could also result in an imbalance and ultimately a sick dog.
Additionally, according to this Harvard study, "when antibiotics are used in farm animals as growth enhancers or when antibiotics are prescribed too often or incorrectly for humans, bacteria develop mutations to protect themselves. Inappropriate medical prescribing can occur when an incorrect diagnosis results in an antibiotic prescription or when antibiotics are used for conditions that do not require them, such as upper respiratory infections."
What can you do to keep your dog healthy?
You can feed him/her a high quality diet, ideally raw food or home-cooked meals. You can and should vaccinate carefully and only give vaccines after your vet has completed a titer antibody test. Take your dog outside. Let them run around, burn energy and get some natural vitamin d. This way, if and when your dog does get sick, their immune system and gut microbiome will be ready to work the way they are supposed to and you can avoid antibiotics all together.