SlimDoggy Health Check: Bacterial Diseases in Dogs
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.
“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
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.