Mycoplasma in Dogs

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Overview of Canine Mycoplasma

Mycoplasma is a bacterial organism that is capable of infecting humans, animals, plants and insects. It can affect multiple organs and in turn, create a wide array of associated disorders.

Any one of several serotypes (subtypes) of Mycoplasma can cause illness. This infection is seen in both dogs and cats. Mycoplasma is occasionally found in healthy dogs without causing disease. There is no sex, breed or age predilection.

Stress, concurrent disease, immunodeficiency/immunosuppression (poorly functioning or underactive immune system) and cancer may render an individual more susceptible to disease from Mycoplasma.

The impact on the pet can vary from a complete absence of signs to severe disease.

What to Watch For

Signs of mycoplasma in dogs may include: 

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Sniffling
  • Straining to urinate
  • Blood in urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Abortion
  • Infertility
  • Arthritis
  • Colitis (bloody/mucoid diarrhea)
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Skin abscesses
  • Diagnosis of Mycoplasma in Dogs

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Biochemical profile
  • Urinalysis
  • Screening chest and abdominal X-rays
  • Culture and isolation of the organism
  • Serologic testing, or blood tests that measure antibodies or the bodies response to an organism
  • Treatment of Mycoplasma in Dogs

  • Depending on the severity of clinical signs, treatment options may include out-patient care or may necessitate hospitalization.
  • Supportive care, to include fluid and electrolyte therapy may be indicated.
  • Antibiotic therapy is indicated.
  • Home Care and Prevention

    Administer all medication and return for follow-up as directed by your veterinarian. Prognosis is generally good in otherwise healthy animals.

    There is currently no vaccine available to prevent Mycoplasma infection. The organism is readily killed by drying, sunshine and chemical disinfection.

    In-depth Information on Mycoplasma in Dogs

    Mycoplasma is a bacteria that can affect any age or breed of dog. It is not unusual for pets to have no symptoms; Mycoplasma has been isolated from healthy dogs. Several risk factors may render an individual more susceptible to Mycoplasma, including overall health status and environment, concurrent disease or administration of certain medications, such as corticosteroids and chemotherapy, that cause suppression of the immune system. Many systems can be affected by Mycoplasma, and in turn, a variety of clinical scenarios. Because the signs are so variable, many disorders must initially be considered.

    A host of infectious agents that cause respiratory signs need to be differentiated from Mycoplasma. These include:

  • Other bacteria (Bordatella bronchiseptica, coliforms, Staphylococci, Streptococci)
  • Viral (parainfluenza virus, canine distemper)
  • Fungal (Histoplasma, Pythium, Aspergillus)

    Disorders that cause abortion, infertility, stillbirths or weak newborns need to be differentiated from Mycoplasma. These include:

  • Bacteria (Brucella, Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Streptococcus)
  • Viruses (canine herpesvirus, canine distemper, canine adenovirus)
  • Toxoplasma gondii
  • Endocrine disorders (hypothyroidism)
  • Drug/medication administration: chemotherapy, hormones, certain antibiotics
  • Severe stress/trauma

    Disorders that cause arthritis must be ruled out. These include:

  • Immune-mediated polyarthritis
  • Bacteria (Staphylococci, Streptococci, coliforms, anaerobes)
  • Rickettsia (Ehrlichia, Borrelia burgdorferi)
  • Fungal (Coccidioides, Cryptococcus, Blastomyces)
  • Protozoa (Leishmania)

    Diseases that cause renal or urologic disorders must be considered. These include:

  • Urinary or genital tract infections
  • Balanoposthitis (inflammation of the penis and prepuce)
  • Urethritis (inflammation of the urethra)
  • Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate)
  • Cystitis (inflammation of the bladder)
  • Vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina)
  • Nephritis (inflammation of the kidney)
  • Endometritis (inflammation of the uterus)

    Diseases that cause conjunctivitis must be considered. These include:

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
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    In-depth Information on Diagnosis 

    Certain tests must be performed for a definitive diagnosis of Mycoplasma infections and to exclude other disease processes that may cause similar symptoms. A complete history, description of clinical signs and thorough physical examination are all an important part of obtaining a diagnosis. In addition, the following tests are recommended to confirm a diagnosis:

  • A complete blood count (CBC) may be within normal limits, but it may reveal mild anemia (low red blood cell count), and/or elevated white blood cell count.
  • A biochemical profile will help evaluate the kidney, liver, protein and electrolyte status. Although often within normal limits, it is helpful to rule out other disorders that may mimic Mycoplasma.
  • A urinalysis helps to evaluate the kidneys and level of hydration. Some individuals may have proteinuria (protein in the urine) if the kidneys are involved.
  • Chest and abdominal X-rays are recommended in most cases. Although often within normal limits, they may help to rule out other diseases or confirm changes that relate to Mycoplasma infection, such as pneumonia.
  • Serologic testing may be helpful in diagnosing Mycoplasma. It necessitates a blood test, which reveals a value measuring the strength of a reaction between certain substances in the body. High values may be suggestive of Mycoplasma infection.
  • Cultures specific for Mycoplasma can be obtained from affected tissue or fluid. Special care needs to be taken in sampling, handling and shipping, as Mycoplasma is a delicate organism and can be difficult to isolate.

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