Educational Articles

Dogs + Infectious Diseases

  • Unfortunately, anthrax has been threatened as a method of bio-terrorism and dogs can be infected, as can most mammals. Different animals have different levels of susceptibility to anthrax infection. Herbivores (animals that eat plants, such as cattle, sheep, and horses) are the most susceptible to anthrax.

  • Antibiotic resistant bacterial infections are bacterial infections that are minimally or no longer responsive to commonly used antibiotics. In other words, these bacteria are resistant to antibiotics - they cannot be killed and their growth cannot be stopped. An infection that does not respond appropriately to an antibiotic is suggestive of an antibiotic resistant bacterial infection.

  • Babesiosis is a disease that can be spread by multiple species of ticks and affect both dogs and people. It can be a persistent infection to treat and might not fully be cleared from the body. Treatment may involve multiple drugs and tick control is recommended in at risk regions for at risk pets.

  • Bacterial pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung usually caused by bacterial or viral infection but can be caused by inhalation of an irritant. Typical signs of bacterial pneumonia include fever, difficulty breathing, lethargy and coughing. As these can also be caused by other disease, diagnostics include a full physical exam, blood work, radiographs, and may also require bronchoscopy with sample collection for cytology and bacterial culture and sensitivity. Treatment includes the use of one or more antibiotics that ideally would be selected using the results of a culture. Affected dogs may also require hospitalization and supportive care including intravenous fluids. Prognosis is good to guarded depending on the presence of predisposing factors.

  • Blastomycosis is a fungal disease caused by Blastomyces dermatitidis. This fungus most commonly infects humans and animals through the respiratory tract. After the fungal spores are inhaled, they settle in the small airways and begin to reproduce. The organism then spreads throughout the body and may infect other organs. Rarely, infection occurs through contamination of an open wound.

  • Blepharitis means inflammation of the eyelid. In most cases, the inflammation affects the outer two layers of the eyelids; in some cases it may spread to involve the inner lining or palpebral conjunctiva.

  • Botulism is a rare condition that can cause paralysis in dogs. It is caused by ingesting the botulinum toxin, which is produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum that can grow on raw meat and dead animals. The toxin can cause muscle paralysis and lead to death. It is difficult to diagnose and there is no vaccine available, although an antitoxin is available if the condition is identified before signs develop.

  • Brucellosis is a contagious bacterial infection that can cause a number of reproductive problems, including infertility and abortion in breeding dogs. Male dogs infected with brucellosis develop epididymitis, an infection of the testicle. Female dogs infected with brucellosis develop an infection of the uterus. The infection is usually diagnosed by a blood test (rapid slide agglutination test). Treatment with antibiotics is not significantly effective and infected dogs should be removed from the breeding population. In the United States, brucellosis is a reportable disease.

  • Campylobacter infection or Campylobacterosis is a bacterial intestinal infection cased by Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter upsaliensis. It is a major cause of human bacterial enteritis although it is considered a normal bacterium in the intestinal tract of many animals and birds.

  • Histoplasmosis is a chronic, non-contagious fungal infection caused by the soil-dwelling fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. Histoplasma capsulatum is found globally and may infect both humans and animals. However, histoplasmosis is uncommon to rare in all but dogs and cats.