Common Types of Bacterial Infections in Dogs: A Comprehensive Guide

April 29, 2023

Bacterial infections in dogs can be severe, but they're also fairly common. These types of infections typically arise from a bacterial pathogen, which can enter your pet's body through its nose, mouth, or skin. It's important to recognize the signs of bacterial infections because if left untreated, these conditions can become life-threatening for your pet.

In this article, we'll explore some common causes of bacterial infections in dogs as well as how to treat them with antibiotics recommended by veterinarians.


Staphylococcus is a group of bacteria commonly found on the skin and mucous membranes of dogs. While these bacteria are normally harmless, they can sometimes cause infections, particularly if they enter the body through a wound or surgical incision.

Staphylococcal infections in dogs can present as a variety of conditions, including skin infections like pyoderma and impetigo, as well as urinary tract infections and infections in the respiratory system. These infections can be serious if left untreated and may require antibiotic treatment prescribed by a veterinarian.

Cephalexin for dogs is a commonly prescribed antibiotic for bacterial infections. It comes under the class of cephalosporin antibiotics and works by interfering with the bacteria's cell wall synthesis, leading to their death.

Cephalexin is effective against a wide range of bacterial infections in dogs, including skin infections, urinary tract infections, and respiratory infections. It is available in tablet or capsule form and is usually given orally two to four times a day, depending on the severity of the infection.

However, a pet medication platform, PetCareRx, suggests it is important to follow the veterinarian's instructions carefully and complete the full course of treatment to ensure the infection is completely eradicated. The site lists the medication’s side effects as generally mild, which may include gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, or drooling.


Salmonella is a type of bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness in dogs. It is typically contracted through the consumption of contaminated food or water, or contact with infected animals or their feces.

According to Country Living, while some dogs may not display any symptoms despite carrying salmonella in their gastrointestinal tracts, they can still transmit the bacteria to other pets or humans through their feces. In the case of salmonellosis, dogs typically exhibit diarrhea that may contain mucus or blood, along with signs of lethargy, fatigue, fever, or vomiting. Additional symptoms that dog owners should be aware of include loss of appetite, decreased activity levels, and dehydration.

Pet owners need to take steps to prevent Salmonella infection, such as practicing good hygiene when handling pet food and waste, and ensuring that pet food is stored and handled properly.

E. coli

Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a type of bacteria that is found in the intestinal tract of many animals, including dogs. While most strains of E. coli are harmless, some can cause serious illness. Infection can occur through contaminated food, water, or contact with infected animals or their feces.

Symptoms of E. coli infection in dogs can include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and fever. Treatment may include antibiotics and supportive care, such as fluid therapy and nutritional support.

Pet owners can take steps to reduce the risk of E. coli infection in their pets, such as practicing good hygiene and ensuring that pet food and water sources are kept clean and uncontaminated.


Bordetella is a bacterial infection that can cause respiratory problems in dogs. This infection is commonly known as "kennel cough" in dogs, as it is highly contagious and often spread in kennels, dog parks, and other places where many dogs gather.

Recently, as reported by Fox4, a dog park in Charlotte County, Southwest Florida, was closed for cleaning after it was discovered that a dog was infected with the bacterial infection, Bordetellosis. This is a common respiratory disease in dogs that occurs due to the invasion of the lung tissues by a bacteria known as Bordetella bronchiseptica. It can be transmitted through aerosolized sprays produced by coughing or sneezing from a dog's mouth or nose.

Vaccinations are available to prevent bordetella in dogs, and treatment may include antibiotics and supportive care to manage symptoms.


Pasteurella is a common bacterial infection found in dogs, which can cause various health issues. The bacteria are commonly transmitted through bites or scratches from other infected animals. Once the bacteria enter the animal's body, they can cause skin infections, abscesses, and respiratory infections.

Symptoms of the infection include swelling, redness, discharge from the wound site, and difficulty breathing. In some cases, the infection can be severe and lead to life-threatening conditions, such as pneumonia or sepsis. Immediate treatment with antibiotics is necessary to control the infection and prevent further complications.

Lyme disease

Dogs are susceptible to Lyme disease and can develop a range of symptoms, including lethargy, fever, lameness, and swollen joints. National Today reported that The Lyme Disease Foundation initiated an annual campaign called Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs Month. The objective is to raise awareness among dog owners about the prevention, identification, and treatment of Lyme disease in dogs, and it takes place throughout April.

With the onset of spring, pet owners and their dogs tend to spend more time outdoors, making them more susceptible to black-legged or deer ticks, which pose a significant health risk to dogs, especially in warmer climates. Prevent Lyme Disease in Dogs Month coincides with the peak of spring, as dogs are more vulnerable to Lyme disease or borreliosis during this period.

Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but prevention is the best approach. Pet owners should take measures to prevent tick bites, such as using tick prevention medications and checking their pets regularly for ticks.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that poses a significant threat to dogs. It is transmitted through contact with contaminated urine, water, or soil, and can cause a range of symptoms such as fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver and kidney damage. In severe cases, it can even be fatal.

The bacteria responsible for leptospirosis can survive for long periods in the environment, making it a risk for outdoor pets, particularly those that have access to standing water or come into contact with wildlife.

Vaccination is available for leptospirosis, and it is essential to maintain good hygiene and cleanliness to prevent the spread of this infection.

Clostridium difficile

Clostridium difficile is a type of bacteria commonly found in the environment, particularly in soil, water, and animal feces. It can cause gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea and colitis in dogs. The bacteria produce toxins that can damage the lining of the intestines and cause inflammation.

Clostridium difficile infection is usually acquired through contact with contaminated food or water, but it can also be acquired through direct contact with an infected animal or environment. The infection is more common in older animals or those with a weakened immune system.

Treatment for Clostridium difficile infection typically involves antibiotics and supportive care to manage symptoms such as dehydration and diarrhea.


Campylobacter is a bacterial infection that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and fever in dogs. It is commonly spread through contaminated food or water, and can also be transmitted through contact with infected animals.

While most cases of Campylobacter infection are self-limiting and resolve on their own, severe cases may require antibiotics, such as cephalexin for dogs, to treat the infection.

However, overuse of antibiotics can lead to antibiotic resistance, so it is essential to only use them when necessary and under the guidance of a veterinarian. Proper hygiene practices, such as washing hands after handling pets and their waste, can also help prevent the spread of Campylobacter to humans.


If you have any questions about your dog's health or symptoms, ask your veterinarian. The information provided here is not meant as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

If your pet has been diagnosed with a bacterial infection, he or she must see a vet immediately so they can prescribe the proper medication and begin treatment right away.

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