Bacterial Infection in Dogs (leptospirosis)

Bacterial infection in dogs

Bacterial infection in dogs are also called leptospirosis. It affect dogs when strains of the strains of this bacteria gain access to their skin and spread round the body through the bloodstream. The spirochetes are spiral, or corkscrew-shaped bacteria which penetrates the system by burrowing into the skin.

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Causes of Bacterial Infection in Dogs

The Leptospira spirochete infection mainly occurs in subtropical, tropical, and wet environments. This bacteria are mostly found in marshy/muddy areas. It has stagnant surface water and are patronized by wildlife. Heavily irrigated pastures are also common sources of bacterial infection in dogs.

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Dogs come into contact with the bacteria in infected water, soil, or mud, while swimming, passing through, or drinking contaminated water, or from coming into contact with urine from an infected animal. Dogs that have spent a long time in a kennel are only at risk.

When the bacteria infect dogs, they spread all over the whole body. They reproduce in the eyes, liver, kidneys, reproductive system, and central nervous system. It is common for fever and bacterial infection of the blood to develop soon after initial infection. These symptoms may resolve with the reactive response of antibodies, which clear the spirochetes from most of the system.

The dog’s immune system and its ability to get rid of infection will determine the extent to which this bacteria affects the organs. Notwithstanding, the bacteria can still remain in the kidneys, reproducing there and infecting the urine. Infection of the liver or kidneys can be fatal for animals if the infection progresses, causing severe damage to these organs. Animals mostly prone to severe complications are younger animals with less developed immune systems. The bacteria can be transmitted to other animals and humans too.

Symptoms and Types of Bacterial Infection in Dogs

  • Weakness
  • Runny nose
  • Lack of appetite
  • Sudden fever and illness
  • Shivering
  • Sore muscles, reluctance to move
  • Increased thirst and urination, may be indicative of chronic renal (kidney) failure, progressing to inability to urinate
  • Rapid dehydration
  • Spontaneous cough
  • Stiffness in muscles, legs, stiff gait
  • Vomiting, possibly with blood
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling of the mucous membrane
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Mild swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Dark red speckled gums
  • Anemic signs like yellow skin and/or whites of eyes

Diagnosing Bacterial Infection in Dogs

Your veterinarian will be careful when handling your pet, and will strongly advise you to do the same. It is vital to put on protective latex gloves to avoid contact with bodily fluids. Carefully handle semen, urine, and any fluid that leaves the body of dogs.

Give your vet details of your dog’s health including a background history of symptoms and recent activities that might be responsible for this condition. The vet will ascertain the stage of your dog’s infection from the medical history you provide.

Your veterinarian may order the following tests:

  • chemical blood profile
  • urinalysis
  • complete blood count
  • an electrolyte panel, and a fluorescent antibody urine test
  • Urine and blood cultures will also be examined for the dominance of the bacteria
  • A microscopic agglutination test, or titer test, may be performed to check the body’s immune response to the infection.

Treatment for Leptospirosis in Dogs

Dogs with severe symptoms of the disease should be hospitalized. Fluid therapy will be administered to reverse any effects of dehydration. If your dog has been vomiting, an anti-vomiting drug, called an antiemetic, may be given to them. If your dog is unable to eat, a gastric tube can be used to nourish them. A blood transfusion may also be necessary if your dog has been bleeding excessively.

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The vet will prescribe antibiotics which will be dependent on the stage of infection. Penicillin can be used to treat infections at the early stage. However, they are not effective for getting rid of the bacteria once it has reached the carrier stage. Tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, or similar antibiotics will be recommended for this stage, since they are better distributed into the bone tissue. Antibiotics will be prescribed for a course of at least four weeks. Some antibiotics may have side effects. Ensure to read all of the warnings that come with the prescription. Consult your veterinarian about the indications you will need to watch for.


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