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What Are the Different Types of Bacterial Infections in Dogs?

by Geoff Works |

Has your dog been feeling ill and weak recently? Maybe you've noticed some redness or swelling on his body? These are possible signs that your dog has a bacterial infection. 

In this blog, you'll learn about different bacterial infections that your dog can contract, how to spot them, and what treatments are available.

What are Bacterial Infections in Dogs?

Bacteria are tiny microorganisms that can be found everywhere. Some bacteria are essential in maintaining and balancing the different aspects of your dog's body. However, some bacteria can pose a threat to your pet's health and cause an infection. 

Your dog can get many types of bacterial infections, but his body can usually fight it off without even showing any serious symptoms. But a weakened immune system could limit their body’s ability to fight off harmful bacteria, increasing their risk for infection. 

How Do Dogs Get Bacterial Infections?

The most common reason for your dog having a bacterial infection is a weak immune system. As mentioned earlier, if your dog's immune system cannot eliminate harmful bacteria that threaten his system, diseases can quickly form and worsen. 

Here is a list of other possible causes for your canine's infection:

Drinking and Eating Contaminated Substances:

The easiest way for bacteria to infect your dog is through contaminated things. Dogs forced to drink water from unclean sources such as sewers or sidewalk puddles or eat scraps of food are much more prone to infections. 

Make sure also to watch what your dog puts its mouth on, especially when it's outside. Dogs tend to be curious about things that they encounter, one being stool

Poor Health Lifestyle

If your dog does not eat healthily or gets little to no exercise, this contributes to his immune system being weak. A healthy lifestyle makes sure that his body has the nutrients he needs to stay healthy and fight off any infections. 

Additionally, exercising keeps him fit and energetic, which goes along with proper nutrition. Dog's that don't get enough exercise may feel sluggish and become overweight.

Age and Pre-existing Conditions:

Young and older dogs are more susceptible to infections as their immune system hasn't fully developed yet or has declined over the years. Additionally, dogs with other conditions or sicknesses become more vulnerable to harmful bacteria as their bodies have already been compromised. 

Different Types of Bacterial Infections In Dogs

There are different types of bacterial infections that can affect your dog's health. Some of them are external, while others threaten your dog's health from the inside. 

Here are some come types of bacterial infections that can affect your dog:


This is an infection caused by a bacterium called Leptospira interrogans, which affects both humans and canines alike. Your dog can contract this condition once it comes into contact with contaminated water or the urine of infected animals. Your dog can also contract leptospirosis through mating or being bitten by other animals. 

Kennel Cough 

Kennel cough is both a bacterial and viral infection that is contagious and targets your dog's respiratory system, causing your pet to cough and sneeze. Dogs that live in groups such as in shelters or pounds are at a higher risk for this condition as close living conditions can accelerate its spread.

Lyme Disease

This bacterial infection is brought by ticks that can latch on to your dog’s coat and remain undetected. Lyme disease causes your canine's joints to inflame and even lead to lameness. It can also affect their kidney leading to vomiting, loss of weight, and diarrhea. 

Eye and Ear Infections

Bacteria can also infect your dog's ears and eyes. For example, yeast can develop in your dog's ear, which affects his balance. Infection that affects the eye can lead to excessive blinking, sore eyes, and intense itching.

Urinary Tract Infection

Common in humans as well, this condition is an infection of your pet's urinary system. It makes peeing uncomfortable and even painful for your dog. Straining to pee and needing to release more frequently than usual are common signs of this infection.

Dog Pyoderma

Pyoderma is a skin infection where pus starts to form on your pet's body. This condition is often caused by bacteria that thrive in your canine's moist areas, such as their feet, armpits, and folds. The pus that forms can become painful and release unwanted odor. Your dog will also become prone to scaling and hair loss in the regions that are affected.

What Are The Symptoms of Canine Bacterial Infection?

Dogs that have bacterial infections may show different signs depending on their condition. However, common symptoms of an infected dog include fever and loss of energy. 

Dogs may also become more sensitive to their food or develop an upset stomach, manifested in diarrhea and frequent vomiting. This could lead to sudden weight loss and feelings of lethargy. 

Your dog may scratch itself more often, especially if the infection is skin-related. The constant itching can cause redness and soreness in the infected regions. You may also look out for abnormalities in your pet's body, such as sores, pus, and scaling.

Bacterial Infection in Dogs: Diagnosis & Treatment

If you suspect your dog may have some bacterial infection, go to your vet ASAP. Early detection and treatment are essential in making sure your canine gets better soon. 

Your vet may ask you some questions about your dog's medical history to make a proper diagnosis for your dog. Depending on your dog's infection, your vet may also request for other examinations to be done, such as skin testing, X-Ray imaging, and analyzing your pet's discharges. 

Once your vet has a proper diagnosis for your dog's condition, he may prescribe appropriate antibiotics to combat the worsening of the infection. Your vet may also put your dog into immediate care, like IV fluid regulation to prevent dehydration. 

A bacterial infection left untreated can further develop into sepsis, which can be a life-threatening condition for your canine. It can cause multiple organ failures leading to shock or worse, death. 

It’s essential to take steps to prevent bacterial infection through simple ways like maintaining your dog’s hygiene, giving them a proper diet, and giving them a clean environment.

For more information about common conditions in dogs and how you can treat them, head over to the Lick Sleeve blog.

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