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Bacterial Enteritis In Dogs

Dogs can develop bacterial enteritis for a variety of reasons and when they do it can make life extremely uncomfortable for them. Dogs are notorious for eating some pretty nasty things whenever they get the chance and the result is often an upset digestive symptom. However, when things turn more serious, it could be they have developed a much nastier condition namely bacterial enteritis and they would need to be examined by a vet sooner rather than later.

The Causes

As previously mentioned, bacterial enteritis can be caused by several things which includes the following:

  • Salmonella - a dog can develop a bacterial infection when they eat raw foods which includes raw chicken. However, contaminated and rotten food can also be responsible for dogs developing bacterial enteritis, but whatever the cause, things have to be taken seriously because if the cause is salmonella, the infection is known to be Zoonotic which means it can be passed on to people too
  • Campylobacter - dogs can develop this type of bacterial infection through drinking contaminated water and food. The symptoms can either be mild or very severe causing a condition known as campylobacteriosis. It is worth noting that when dogs develop this type of infection, it is often confused with another condition known as canine parvovirus which is a very serious and life threatening disorder
  • Dog Show Crud - this particular bacterial infection has been around for a long time and is known to be aggressive in nature. Anyone who takes a dog along to a show needs to be aware of it and to take the necessary precautions to protect their dogs. When dogs suffer from Show Crud, it seriously and negatively impacts their immune system leaving them open to contracting other diseases and health issues including bacterial enteritis

Symptoms Associated with Bacterial Enteritis

When dogs develop bacterial enteritis, the signs to watch out for that are often associated with the condition could include the following:

  • Diarrhoea that often contains blood
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever

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Diagnosing the Problem

A vet would need to know a dog's full medical history and be told how the onset of any symptoms first manifested themselves. The more information a vet can be given the better as it helps confirm a diagnosis. The vet would thoroughly examine a dog suspected of suffering from bacterial enteritis and would typically recommend carrying out the following tests:

  • A complete blood count to rule out any blood related health issues
  • A full biochemistry profile to assess liver, kidney and pancreatic function and to establish blood sugar levels
  • A urinalysis
  • A faecal test to rule out parasite overload
  • An electrolyte test to establish whether a dog is dehydrated or suffering from an imbalance
  • X-rays to rule out any sort of obstruction
  • Ultrasound to establish whether a dog's digestive tract has been compromised
  • An endoscopy to assess the condition of a dog's intestinal tract

Treatment Options

Once a dog has been diagnosed as suffering from bacterial enteritis they would normally be treated as an outpatient. However, if a dog is severely dehydrated they would need to be hospitalised so they can be given fluid therapy as a matter of urgency and so their condition can be closely monitored. If their condition is deemed to be mild, a vet would recommend not feeding a dog for a few days until their digestive tract has settled down again. The sort of treatment a vet would prescribe depends on the underlying cause of a dog's condition.


The only real way of preventing a dog from suffering from bacterial enteritis is to keep a close eye on what they eat which can prove challenging at times. However, making sure a dog is regularly wormed goes a long way in helping reduce the chance of them developing the condition, but it is also important for dogs to be protected against fleas, ticks and other parasites by regularly treating them throughout the year which also reduces the chance of a dog developing bacterial enteritis.

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