SlimDoggy Health Check: Bacterial Diseases in Dogs

Share Button

Recently we introduced our SlimDoggy Health Check series and provided a list of the different types of dog diseases. The list was long, but our plan is to start at the top and work our way down.

Bacterial diseases

“Diseases caused by bacteria. The most common infectious diseases, they range from minor skin infections to bubonic plague and tuberculosis”. Encyclopedia Britannica

“Bacterial diseases include any type of illness caused by bacteria. Bacteria are a type of microorganism, which are tiny forms of life that can only be seen with a microscope. Other types of microorganisms include viruses, some fungi, and some parasites”. HealthGrades

Bacterial  Diseases

The most common bacterial diseases to affect your dog include:

  • Bortadella or Kennel Cough: An upper respiratory infection, typically caused by one of several viruses or by Bordetella bronchiseptica. It is usually found in dogs sharing close quarters and is easily transmitted. Symptoms include: a dry, hacking cough accompanied by a clear nasal or eye discharge. This may lead to pneumonia in puppies or immune-compromised adults. Diagnosis is typically through physical exam and history, although in more severe cases blood tests or xrays may be recommended. Treatment is to keep the dog warm and dry with a round of antibiotics if necessary. Prevention of the disease is through vaccinations, but this is usually only necessary with dogs that are boarded, show dogs or dogs who are regularly in contact with a large group of other dogs.
  • Leptospirosis : A bacterial disease caused by a spirochete (a type of bacteria) and transmitted through contact with dog’s urine. Symptoms include vomiting, reduced urination, darkening of the urine and fever. Lack of treatment may result in liver or kidney failure. Diagnosis may be made through several tests including: chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, an electrolyte panel, and a fluorescent antibody urine test. Treatments may include hospitalization if the diseases is advanced, or treatment with antibiotics. Prevention is through vaccination which is available in some areas. If you are boarding your dog, be certain waste areas are kept clean and your dog does not have an opportunity to come in contact with infected waste materials.

    “The Leptospira spirochete bacteria is zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted to humans and other animals. Children are most at risk of acquiring the bacteria from an infected pet.” PetMD Given this, precautions should be taken when helping a dog with Lepotspirosis, wear gloves, keep their bed and kennel areas clean and keep children away.

  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a tick-borne disease. The bacteria, Rickettsia rickettsii, is carried by the tick and passed to the dog through a bite. It is also a zoonotic disease and the signs and symptoms in dogs are similar to humans: listlessness, depression, high fever, loss of appetite, cough, conjunctivitis, difficult breathing, swelling of the legs, and joint and muscle pains. Advanced illness is characterized by hemorrhagic issues and the dog may develop nosebleeds, blood in the urine or stool or subcutaneous hemorrhaging. Diagnosis is made through blood and possibly skin tests. Treatment is with the use of antibiotics. Prevention is mainly through tick control. Ticks do not attach for up to 20 hours, so close examination of your dog when they have been in tick infested areas is critical.
  • The Staphylococci bacteria is one of the more common staph infections seen in dogs. There are various strains, the most common being Staphylococci Dermititis which presents itself in skin infections. Staph usually affect the skin or upper respiratory system of the dog and symptoms may include, fever, pain, itching, loss of appetite and infections or irritations of the skin. Puppies and older dogs with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to this virus. Diagnosis is through blood work, urinalysis and possible skin tests. Treatment is typically through the use of antibiotics, but some strains are resistant and may need alternative treatments. Since this bacteria lives normally on canine and human skin, there is no known prevention. Early diagnosis and treat is the best preventative.
  • Lyme Disease is another tick borne, zoonotic disease. Luckily only about 10% of infected dogs actually contract the disease. It is caused by a spirochete (bacteria) species of the Borrelia burgdorferi group. Symptoms are slow to appear – up to 5-6 months after the bite. They include fever of 103-105, recurrent lameness due to inflammation of the joints. There may also be a lethargy, lack of appetite and depression. In more advanced cases, there may be kidney damage or even heart issues. The disease is carried by ticks and is most prevalent in the upper Midwestern states, the Atlantic seaboard, and the Pacific coastal states. Diagnosis is made through blood tests, but note that a single positive test may not be definitive as many dogs are infected, but fight it off. Treatment is through a course of antibiotics from 14-30 days. A second treatment may be necessary. Tick control is the best form of prevention through flea-tick medication and thorough examination of your dog after exposure to tick areas.
  • Salmonella is typically contracted through the consumption of raw or commercially contaminated foods, by eating animal manure, or by making oral contact with surfaces that have been contaminated by the diarrhea of an infected dog. Salmonella bacteria live for many months or even years in soil or manure. Symptoms include severe diarrhea, fever, vomiting, possible even blood in the stool. Dehydration is always a concern when a dog is vomiting with diarrhea, so a trip to the vet is warranted. Diagnosis may be difficult and blood and urine samples may be requested partly to rule out other possible diseases such as E coli. Treatment is simple. Salmonella is resistant to antibiotics, so if the case is not to severe, it may be allowed to run its course as long as fluids are replenished. Salmonella is also a zoonotic disease, so care must be taken when working with a dog as it is easily transmitted to other dogs as well as to humans. Preventative steps include being aware of surfaces your dog comes in contact with as well as food preparation and food itself if you feed your dog raw.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of bacterial diseases that your dog might contract, but rather an overview of some of the more common diseases. As always, if you suspect your dog is sick or just not behaving normally, see your veterinarian as soon as possible.


Additional Resources:

Disorders Caused by Bacteria in the Digestive System of Dogs

Common Bacterial Diseases in Dogs

Bacterial infections

Bacterial & Viral Infections

Dog Diseases Caused by Bacteria

Bacterial diseases

Common Bacterial Diseases in Dogs


We are joining the Thursday Barks and Bytes Blog Hop Co-hosted by our friends at 2Brown Dogs and Heart Like a Dog. Grab the badge and join the fun!



Share Button


  1. Have you seen this article on Bordetella? Bailie has to have it if she goes to daycare, but it is something to seriously think over, maybe talk to the vet about.
    Emma recently posted…What’s In Your Box?My Profile

    • I didn’t see this article – so thanks for sharing. My sister’s dog got kennel cough once when she was younger and she has had continued lung problems her whole life. Hard to know which is the bigger danger sometimes.
      mkob recently posted…SlimDoggy Health Check: Bacterial Diseases in DogsMy Profile

  2. You discussed some very important diseases. Greasy job explaining all of them. People who live in areas of deer raccoon possum are at risk for picking up lepto as it is spread in wild animal urine also. By the time they figure out it is lepto causing your dogs problem it maybe to late. Nasty disease.
    Sand Spring Chesapeakes recently posted…The Skinny On Me~Thursday Barks And BytesMy Profile

  3. That is a great round-up. We give lepto because it can also be transmitted if a dog is exposed to water that has been infected by wildlife or rodent urine . Hunting dogs that work in fields/marshy areas where there may be standing water puddles are particularly susceptible to it so we keep vaccines current. There was a breakout here recently when they did a major re haul on a freeway. The rats moved to nearby backyards and some dogs were infected and died. Their lepto vaccines were not current.
    2 Brown Dawgs recently posted…Thursday Barks And Bytes–The Way To A Storm’s Heart Is Through Her StomachMy Profile

  4. thanks for a very informative post, I will keep it in my first aid folder :o)
    salmonellas are a great problem in our area, every summer peeps&pets have to bear this attacks :o(
    easy rider recently posted…easyblog WOW-WEDNESDAYMy Profile

  5. Interesting. I still struggle from time to time exactly what bacteria grabbed a hold of my Leo. I try to let it go, but it’s not always that simple. Great information shared here. Harley does get the Bordetella vaccine once a year because of day camp.
    Groovy Goldendoodles recently posted…FACEBOOK FRIENDS | WWMy Profile

  6. Great and useful info here, Slim! Thanks as always! *wags* – Gilligan from
    Gilligan recently posted…Barks and Books – Dachshund Rescue Series (Pt. 1)My Profile

  7. Great information. Bentley got Kennel Cough when he stayed overnight at the vet. It was so hard to listen to him and know how miserable that he must feel. I get him a shot if we have to leave him anywhere. After reading the article Emma linked, I am going to ask my AAHA vet. They have already reduced the amount of shots my other vet recommended.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…The Benefits of BenecoatMy Profile

  8. We’ve been fortunate with our dogs and health. Cancer in our senior Aussie, and arthritis (same dog). In 22 years with dogs. Oh, then Flash’s tumors, but those were benign. And he’s nearly 13. We’ve just never had the bacterial/viral stuff with the pups. I’m grateful. Thanks for the heads up on what to look for!
    Flea recently posted…Things I Realized At WestminsterMy Profile

  9. That was a great post. Sampson had the Bordatella vaccine as a puppy and had Kennel Cough two or three times. After that i stopped vaccinating him for it. Delilah doesn’t get it either. We won’t board our dogs and they stopped going to daycare. Even when they went to daycare the owner told me she did not vaccinate her dogs for it, so she certainly couldn’t insist I did. We gave her a paper from our vet stating the dogs were current on all vaccines recommended by our vet.

    I am not anti-vaccine, but I do feel we over vaccinate in this country. Both people and animals. I’m also not a fan of a multiple vaccine. I think it compromises the immune system. My daughter joined the Army and when they go to boot camp they line them up and shoot them full of vaccines. Because of this my daughter has a vaccine triggered immunity disorder that she will live with and take medication for her entire life.

    I vaccinate my dogs for Rabies which is required every three years in CT and Leptospirosis because we have a LOT of wildlife where we live. Leptos is a yearly vaccine and the years they need both rabies and leptos they get the shots about two weeks apart.

    You can also Titre your dogs and many boarding facilities will accept the Titre. It is what we did when the dogs went to daycare.

    Thank you for joining the blog hop!
    Jodi recently posted…The Dog Days of Winter – Barks and BytesMy Profile

  10. Luke received the Bordatella vaccine before being transported, and he still came down with it after he came home with us. He recovered quickly with antibiotics, and our other dogs, who have never been vaccinated for it, did not contract it from him.
    I think that vaccine is similar to our flu shots….there are many strains of it, and the vaccine may or may not work.
    Jan K recently posted…Black & White Sunday – Ready to RaceMy Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.