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Campylobacteriosis in Dogs

By: Dr. Arnold Plotnick

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Diagnosis In-depth

The three main ways to diagnose campylobacteriosis is by using microscopic examination, culture and serology.

  • Microscopic examination. A rapid, presumptive diagnosis may be achieved by examining fresh fecal samples for curved bacteria with a characteristic darting movement, or by examining stained slides for lightly staining, "gull wing" shaped slender bacteria.

  • Culture. Swabs of fresh feces can be sent to a commercial laboratory in an attempt to isolate and grow the organism.

  • Serology. In humans, a variety of techniques are available to detect serum antibodies to Campylobacter. At this time, no studies have been performed in dogs and cats to evaluate the importance of antibody levels as an indicator of infection in dogs and cats with or without diarrhea.

    Therapy In-depth

  • Antibiotics. In some cases of severe diarrhea in dogs and cats, antibiotic therapy may be warranted, especially for the purpose of minimizing the exposure of humans and other pets in the household. Fortunately, strains of Campylobacter are susceptible to many antibiotics, especially erythromycin and tetracycline.

  • Supportive care. Severely affected animals may need to be hospitalized and given supportive care, such as intravenous fluids, diets that are bland or that contain high fiber content in an attempt to resolve the diarrhea.

    Follow-up Care

    Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your pet does not rapidly improve. Administer all prescribed medications(s) as directed. Alert your veterinarian if you are experiencing problems treating your pet.

    Avoid stressful situations for your pet, as this is a predisposing factor for the disorder.

    Campylobacter is a leading cause of intestinal disease in people. Clinical signs in people may be severe, and include fever, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort. Kittens and puppies recently acquired from pet stores or kennels are often incriminated as the source of the human infection; however, dogs and cats with no symptoms can also be a source of infection for people. The major risk factor for a person acquiring an intestinal infection with Camplylobacter jejuni is the consumption of raw or undercooked meat, particularly chicken.


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