Bacterial infections in dogs

Bacterial infections in dogs: causes, symptoms and treatment

Knowing how to recognise common bacterial infections in your dog can be the difference between promptly getting treatment to speed up their recovery and watching their overall health deteriorate – and no dog lover wants the latter.

Dogs are vulnerable to a range of bacterial infections that can affect the respiratory system, skin, ears, urinary tract, and kidneys. Most bacterial infections can be quickly cleared up with the right course of antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medication. But act fast: infections can lead to more severe health issues when left untreated.

We outline some of the most common dog infections. If you suspect your canine companion is suffering from any of the conditions listed here, get them along to your local vet for a check-up and treatment.

What causes bacterial infections in dogs?

Bacterial infections are often the result of a weakened immune system. A poor diet, ageing, allergies, lack of exercise, stress, and other illnesses can all leave your dog vulnerable to bacterial infection.

Often simple lifestyle changes such as feeding your dog a nutritious diet, providing a constant source of fresh water, regular walks and routine veterinary check-ups and vaccinations can help to strengthen your dog’s immune system, and lower the chances of him contracting a bacterial infection.

Common bacterial infections in dogs

Skin infections in dogs

Skin infections are usually easy to spot as they tend to have visible symptoms. Itching, rashes, patchy hair loss, scabs or crusting on the skin can all be signs of infection – and it’s important to get veterinary treatment fast to avoid the condition worsening.

Leptospirosis in dogs

Leptospirosis occurs through drinking stagnant water or coming into contact with the urine or faeces of an infected dog. Leptospirosis is highly contagious. The symptoms include fever and vomiting, as well as aches, pains, lethargy and depression.

Left untreated, dogs with leptospirosis can develop inflammation of the kidneys, which can lead to permanent damage, so get help from your vet fast. Leptospirosis is also a potentially infectious and serious condition transmissible from animals to people.

Good news however, you can vaccinate against Leptospirosis which vastly reduces the chances of your beloved pet becoming infected.

Kennel cough in dogs

Kennel cough is a common condition that affects the respiratory system. A highly contagious infection, kennel cough gets its name from how it’s spread – through coughing and sneezing, and often within groups of dogs in kennels or animal shelters, but also from any infected canine close contact at exercise or in the home.

Older dogs and those with a weakened immune system may be more vulnerable to developing kennel cough.

Again, good news, you can vaccinate against Kennel cough which will reduce the chances of infection.

Lymes disease in dogs

Lymes disease is a serious condition carried by ticks – nasty parasites that lurk in long grass and latch themselves on to passing dogs, animals, and even humans.

Lymes disease is hard to diagnose, and can cause ongoing health problems. Dogs with Lymes disease often experience lameness caused by inflamed joints. Others go on to develop kidney problems – sometimes indicated by vomiting, diarrhoea, lack of appetite, weight loss, increased thirst and urination, and an abnormal build-up of fluid.

As this disease becomes more common, it will become increasingly more important to proactively prevent ticks with routine parasite treatment.

Bacterial ear infections in dogs

Various types of bacteria can cause ear infections in dogs. Symptoms include frequent head shaking or tilting, loss of balance, discharge or pus from the ears, and redness and irritation.

Bacterial eye infections in dogs

The most well-known bacterial eye infection in dogs is bacterial conjunctivitis, but there are dozens of bacterial eye infections that can affect your pet pooch.

Symptoms of bacterial eye infections usually include watery, red, sticky, itchy eyes, squinting and light sensitivity, and excess blinking.

Want more information on bacterial infections in dogs?

For expert advice on the types of bacterial infections that can affect your dog, get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.