Illustrated Articles

Dogs + Infectious Diseases

  • Anthrax is a bacterial infection that can affect dogs if exposed to large amounts of bacterial-produced spores such as by terrorist attack or ingesting large quantities from infected meat. The organism that causes anthrax, Bacillus anthracis, produces spores that are resistant to typical disinfection methods and heat. These spores can last up to 40 years in the environment. Anthrax is usually spread through inhalation or ingestion of spores from infected meat, although cutaneous exposure can occur. Symptoms depend on the type of exposure and can include: black skin pustules, pneumonia, acute gastroenteritis with hemorrhagic vomiting and diarrhea, oral ulcerations, fever, weight loss, swelling of the neck, face and head and ultimately sepsis and death if not treated. Treatment requires antibiotics and can be highly effective in early stages. There currently is no canine vaccine.

  • 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.

  • Dogs appear to be more susceptible to blastomycosis than many other species. The blastomycosis fungus seems to target the respiratory tract, although it may spread throughout the entire body. Cytology and/or histopathology are required to diagnose blastomycosis conclusively. Itraconazole is the preferred drug of treatment for most dogs. Prognosis is good for many cases of blastomycosis infection with recovery rates between 50-75%.

  • 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.

  • Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial intestinal infection usually acquired by exposure to raw meat, poultry or infected water but can be spread between pets and humans. Signs of infection are watery or mucoid diarrhea with straining, possible cramping, lethargy, and fever. Most infections are self-limiting and do not require treatment. As many asymptomatic dogs carry these bacteria, diagnosis can be difficult and includes fecal culture and DNA(PCR) testing. Treatment, if required, is based on fecal culture sensitivity results as the more common infective species are resistant to many antibiotics. Prevention includes good personal hygiene and keeping your pet’s environment clean.

  • Canine coronavirus (CCoV) is not the same virus as SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. Canine coronavirus disease, known as CCoV, is a highly infectious intestinal infection in dogs, especially puppies. CCoV does not affect people, and causes gastrointestinal problems as opposed to respiratory disease. Crowding and unsanitary conditions lead to coronavirus transmission. Dogs may be carriers of the disease for up to six months (180 days) after infection. The most typical sign associated with canine coronavirus is diarrhea, typically sudden in onset, which may be accompanied by lethargy and decreased appetite. There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. Canine coronavirus vaccines are available. This vaccine will only work for the CCoV type of coronavirus.

  • Capillaria is a small internal parasite, related to intestinal worms. Capillaria, however, can live in a number of areas within the body, including the bladder and respiratory tract. There are multiple species of Capillaria; some species affect cats, some affect dogs, and some can affect both species. These parasites are acquired from the environment, when a dog eats the Capillaria eggs directly or eats an earthworm infected with the parasite. Treatment is simple and effective, though diagnosis can be challenging.

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Summerfields Animal Hospital provides fear free, friendly and compassionate veterinary care for dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets and exotics in the North Fort Worth, Keller, Saginaw and Watagua areas of Texas.

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