Most dog owners know that there are a variety of diseases and infections that their dogs can get, but many may not be aware of campylobacteriosis - a bacterial infection caused by Campylobacter. Campylobacter in dogs is a relatively common infection that can lead to serious health complications, so dog owners need to be aware of the signs and symptoms so they can get treatment if needed. In this post, we'll take a closer look at campylobacter in dogs, including clinical symptoms, how it's treated, and some tips on preventing it.

What is campylobacter in dogs?

Campylobacter is a bacteria that affects the intestinal system in dogs, people and other animals.

Dogs, especially adults, can be asymptomatic carriers of campylobacter. This bacteria is responsible for a mild and self-limiting enteric disease that usually only affects puppies younger than six months old. The shedding of the bacteria tends to be greater in this group (puppies) during summer or autumn.

Ingestion of contaminated feces is the most common cause of campylobacter infection in dogs. This can occur through contact with the environment, contaminated food, or contaminated water. The spread of campylobacter in dogs has been linked to unpasteurized milk and meat products (especially chicken and beef). Campylobacter has been found in raw pet foods containing meat.

What are the symptoms of campylobacter in dogs?

The severity of the disease can differ. Puppies and kittens are more likely to become sick, potentially because they haven't been exposed before and don't have protective antibodies developed yet. If they also have an infection with other enteric pathogens, like giardiasis, parvovirus, or intestinal parasites, it may make their clinical signs worse.

Common clinical symptoms of campylobacter in dogs include:

  • Diarrhea with blood and mucus
  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Straining to defecate

How is campylobacter in dogs diagnosed?

Campylobacter infection in dogs is typically diagnosed based on the clinical signs and symptoms, as well as a history of recent exposure to contaminated food or water. If your veterinarian suspects campylobacter, in-house fecal cytology can be performed to identify the bacteria. Additionally, your veterinarian may also recommend some diagnostic tests, such as a fecal culture or PCR test, to confirm the diagnosis.

How is campylobacter in dogs treated?

Campylobacter in dogs is typically a mild, self-limiting disease that will resolve on its own. However, it can be serious for young animals or those with concurrent infections.

Antibiotics are usually the first-line treatment for campylobacter infection in dogs. The most common antibiotic used to treat campylobacter in dogs is tylosin. If your dog is severely ill and/or not responding to antibiotics, supportive care may be needed. This may include fluid therapy to correct dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

How can campylobacter in dogs be prevented?

The most effective way to prevent campylobacter infection in dogs is with good hygiene practices. Always wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up after your dog, and don't give your dog raw foods that contain meat (especially chicken or beef). Additionally, be sure to practice good sanitation in your home by keeping food bowls clean and separate from their water bowls.

Zoonotic considerations of campylobacter in dogs

Campylobacter is a zoonotic bacteria, which means it can affect both animals and people. This is an important consideration for dog owners, as campylobacter infection in dogs has the potential to spread to other humans or pets in the household.

Campylobacter is the most common bacterial cause of human enteritis in developed countries. Most infections are foodborne, but waterborne infections can also occur. Both asymptomatic and clinically ill dogs and cats can infect people. People infected with campylobacter will develop enteritis with diarrhea as the main clinical symptom.

Campylobacter in dogs is a bacterial infection that causes watery diarrhea. Dogs can carry campylobacter without showing any symptoms (asymptomatic). This disease is usually mild and goes away on its own, but younger animals may have more severe symptoms. The bacteria are most likely to be shed by puppies less than 6 months old, and this typically happens in summer or autumn. Campylobacter is a zoonotic bacteria which means it can affect both animals and people. Treatment for symptomatic dogs includes antibiotics. If you are concerned that your dog may have campylobacter, please contact your veterinarian.