Dr. Haris Raza, BSc., DVM
Campylobacter in dogs is a common bacterial infection that is easily contracted through the feces of another animal. It’s not considered particularly dangerous; however, any condition that causes diarrhea (especially in puppies) is always cause for concern.
Puppies are at higher risk of contracting the disease due to their underdeveloped immune systems. In particular, puppies purchased from pet stores should be monitored closely for campylobacter infection.
Campylobacter can survive a long time in feces, urine, water, and milk, especially at cold temperatures above freezing. In some cases, it can become an inactive form that can be reactivated when ingested.
Unfortunately, Campylobacter infections can be considered zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted from your new puppy to members of the family.
This post will help you identify signs of the disease and how to prevent it from making you and your family sick.
How Dogs Contract Campylobacter Infections
Dogs become infected with Campylobacter by ingesting or coming into contact with infected feces or contaminated food or water.
Known causes of this bacterial infection include:
Kennels that house multiple animals (i.e., boarding facilities) must be sanitized and kept clean between visits. Always check the reputation of a kennel before leaving your dog and ask what their cleaning protocols are. Dogs are most likely to pick up this bacteria from the feces of other animals.
Contaminated Food & Water
This bacterial infection can be shed through saliva, urine, and feces. Publicly used water dishes is one potential source of the illness. The other involves food that has somehow come in contact with the feces of another animal.
Unfortunately, pet stores are not the best place to purchase a dog. Consider adopting a pet or be sure to choose a good breeder. Pet stores tend to keep their puppies in a single pen where it’s easy to pass the bacteria from one to the other. After purchasing a pet from the store, that bacteria can then be transmitted to the family causing serious gastrointestinal illness.
Can Dogs Die From Campylobacter Infection?
Fortunately, Campylobacter does not usually make dogs sick. Many dogs can carry and shed these bacteria in their feces without signs of illness. This continuous or incidental shedding can lead to infect other pets or people through direct physical contact or indirectly through fecal contamination.
How to Protect Your Family from Campylobacter
Unfortunately, humans can get far sicker from Campylobacter than their pets. Many animals don’t show any signs of having the illness. Campylobacter jejuni is a particular strain that, according to the CDC in a recent notice, has become multi-drug resistant.
This is why it’s important to follow a few rules when bringing home a new puppy:
1. Wash Your Hands After Contact
Puppies and dogs can easily carry the germs that cause this sickness while still appearing healthy.
2. Don’t Let Dogs Lick Your Face
Everyone loves “dog kisses” but, unfortunately, those kisses can harbor germs that can make you, and your family, extremely sick.
3. Don’t Let Dogs Lick Open Wounds
Saliva can transmit the Campylobacter germs into your body through open wounds, broken skin, and sores.
4. Hand Wash After Poo Pick-Up
Even though you use a poop-bag to clean up after your dog, it’s very easy to get trace amounts of feces on your hands. Unfortunately, that’s all it takes to introduce the germs into your body.
5. Don’t Let Children Put Dog Toys in Their Mouths
Children (especially babies and toddlers) put everything in their mouths as a way to learn about the world around them. Unfortunately, dog toys can carry the germs that cause Campylobacter and can cause serious illness in a baby.
6. Disinfect After Your Dog
If your dog becomes sick on the floor or accidentally uses the bathroom, be sure to clean the area well using a water and bleach solution.
7. Carefully Watch a New Puppy
If you have purchased a puppy from a major chain store or pet shop of any kind, watch for signs of illness including diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy. Puppies do not have a strong immune system and can easily become ill.
Keep children away from puppy’s until you know for sure that he/she is well.
Other things you can do to minimize germs is to remove feces from the yard and wash dog bedding regularly.
If you are concerned about your pet’s exposure to Campylobacter, do not hesitate to contact one of the clinics to consult with one of our veterinary staff.
Treating Campylobacter in Dogs
Erythromycin is currently the treatment of choice in dogs. Depending on your dog’s condition, other medications may be used. Your veterinarian will prescribe the correct antibiotic treatment for your dog based on the fecal culture and sensitivity results.
Antibiotics can reduce the amount of bacteria that is shed in the stool, reducing the risk of infection for other pets or household members. As antibiotics can no longer cause the illness to be cured, they usually reduce the amount of bacteria excreted in the stool. However, this factor will minimize the chance of its vast spread in other household members.
Pay Less for Antibiotics
Purchasing a prescribed drug at the local drugstore is convenient, but you might be interested in shopping for the best price. Online stores like 1-800-petmeds are completely legitimate and often offer amazing discounts. Having a large inventory allows them to supply prescription medications at lower prices.
Consider picking up your dog’s prescription meds at 1-800-pet-meds for better prices.
During treatment, your vet will want you to watch out for any worsening symptoms and to contact him if your dog has recurring diarrhea. Some medications can cause diarrhea in certain dogs and your dog can no longer deal with it so you should inform your vet if this happens.
As long as you catch the disease early enough and treat it right away, your dog’s chances of recovery are high.