Just like with humans, dogs are vulnerable to numerous bacterial and fungal infections, ranging from mildly irritating to life-threatening. Dogs who spend a lot of their time outdoors are especially vulnerable, however, many bacterial and fungal infections can easily be contracted regardless of environment, breed, age, location, etc.
Luckily though, there is a wide range of treatment options for
both bacterial and fungal infections. The important thing when
treating infections is quick identification and subsequent
treatment, otherwise, the chance of complications multiplies (the
longer that treatment is delayed).
Below we dive deep into the various treatments available for
bacterial/fungal infections and also take a look at some of the
most common infection types that your dog might be susceptible
Common Fungal Infections
Systemic canine fungal infections can be contracted by your dog
inhaling fungal spores, eating something that’s been
infected/exposed to fungi, or having a wound that’s been exposed
to spores via the environment or another animal.
Bodily fungal infections (i.e. those that aren’t systemic), such
as ringworm, are typically caused by your dog coming into contact
with a certain variety of fungi (through the environment, or
This fungal infection is caused by environmental factors such as
fresh-trimmed grass, hay, dead leaves, and/or dust particles.
There are more than 100 different strains of this fungi, all of
which can be found either indoors or outside. The body part most
affected by aspergillosis is the nose and the nasal sinuses (as
well as the lungs in some cases).
Symptoms caused by aspergillosis include nearly anything
involving the nose; discharge, sneezing, bleeding, and pain.
Long-term symptoms usually take months to slowly develop and can
present in the form of spinal pain, nausea, vomiting, and weight
Male dogs ranging in age from two to four years old (and
specifically large-breed dogs) are most at risk for becoming
infected with blastomycosis, however, the fungus can infect dogs
of any age/breed/gender. Dogs contract blastomycosis via the
inhalation of the fungi’s spores (commonly found in decaying
The most common symptoms present in dogs with blastomycosis are
related to the respiratory system (e.g. coughing, wheezing,
etc.). If the fungus develops into an advanced infection,
pneumonia or other serious issues can occur. However, over 75% of
all dogs treated for blastomycosis make full recoveries.
Caused by a common type of environmental yeast, cryptococcus can
affect a dog’s brain, lymph nodes, eyes, and nasal system. While
this fungal infection is rarer in dogs than cats, it’s still seen
in veterinary clinics across the US each year.
The actual fungi are found within the environment (e.g. in the
soil, on trees, grass, dirt, etc.). Dogs typically contract
cryptococcus via inhalation of infected soil. There is a strong
correlation between infected soil, bird droppings, and
cryptococcus in dogs.
Symptoms can be varied, but usually involve eye inflammation,
nasal issues (discharge, pain, etc.), neurological problems (e.g.
seizures, difficulty balancing, and decreased brain function).
It’s very important to catch these symptoms early in the
development of the infection, otherwise, a successful outcome
Common Bacterial Infections in Dogs
If you weren’t already aware of this, we’re surrounded by
bacteria (everywhere, all around us). These tiny organisms
usually don’t cause any problems (for both humans and dogs).
However, bacterial infections are relatively common (in both dogs
as well as humans), and there are numerous infection types, all
of which can cause a range of symptoms (from mild all the way to
This type of bacterial infection is entirely superficial, meaning
that it doesn’t result in systemic symptoms. Pyoderma isn’t
contagious and is commonly caused by a problem underneath the
skin (e.g. a foreign body getting into a hair follicle), but it
can also be caused by staph infections.
Symptoms include irritated skin/hair, which are easily treatable
with a topical antifungal/bacterial solution. One of our recommended antifungal shampoo for
dogs products works well against both bacterial/fungal
infections found on the hair and skin of your dog. Other topical
treatments include various creams, sprays, and washes. Symptoms
usually take three to five weeks to clear up. Oral antibiotics
are commonly used in conjunction with topical treatments.
This bacterial infection is seen across numerous types of animals
(and can also be contracted by humans). The bacteria associated
with leptospirosis is typically found in soil, and especially
If the infection is left untreated, or your dog’s immune system
can’t properly manage it, leptospirosis can spread throughout the
entire body and lead to severe organ problems (or similarly
serious health issues - especially if the liver and/or kidneys
become infected). Common symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs
include the following:
- Rapid development of fever
- Lethargic behavior and/or noticeable muscle soreness
- Change in attitude
- Excessive urinary behaviors and water drinking
- Nasal issues (swelling, discharge, etc.)
- Decreased appetite
- Coughing that appears out of nowhere
Fungal and Bacterial Infection Treatments for Dogs
If a dog has contracted a fungal or bacterial infection that’s
more than superficial (i.e. the infection has gotten into its
bodily systems), they are usually treated with specific
antibiotics (or anti-fungal/bacterial infections). Sometimes,
veterinarians take a multifaceted approach, especially if the dog
has an advanced infection.
Whatever specific infection your dog has, it’s very important to
follow the treatment plan that your vet has prescribed. Deviation
from the plan could mean a resurgence of the infection, or the
development of additional symptoms.
The prognosis of specific infections depends on numerous
variables. Generally speaking, the sooner the infection is
diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis will be.
Superficial infections are nearly always easy to manage, but
systemic/bodily infections can be more problematic.
That’s why it’s essential to take your dog to the vet if you
suspect they might have an infection (no matter how minor their
symptoms may appear). The longer you wait, the more chance the
infection has to develop into something more serious.
Differences Between Bacterial and Fungal Infections in Dogs
There are good and bad bacteria in dogs. When the skin is clean
and normal, the good bacteria come through which prevents the bad
bacteria from coming through. However, when the skin is not
normal or clean, the bad bacteria are able to come through which
then causes a bacterial infection.
When these bad bacteria are present in the skin, it can cause
yeast or other ailments to grab hold of the skin and cause other
illnesses or infections. There are three different categories of
organisms that cause skin infections which include bacterial,
yeast, and fungal infections. This time we are going to discuss
bacterial and fungal infections in dogs and the differences
between them and how to treat them.
Bacterial Infection in Dogs
Bacterial infections are very common in dogs and horses but not
so common in cats. Many bacterial infections are a secondary
cause of another health problem in dogs. This other health
problem is usually not clear until the dog is seen by the
veterinarian. The symptoms of a bacterial infection include
redness of the skin, crusts, hair loss, and pustules. Lesions may
also occur and have a central area of hair loss, crusts, and an
outline of redness. The lesions are mostly circular. There may
also be a bad odor caused by the bacteria in the skin breaking
down oils into smelly fats.
The treatment for a bacterial infection includes antibiotics and
sometimes topical creams or lotions with antiseptic in them, and
more importantly, the unknown health problem diagnosed and
treated to prevent any further infection.
Fungal Infection in Dogs
A fungal infection is usually uncommon and rare in dogs but can
still happen to them. It is not the cause of itchiness or redness
and does not happen because of allergies. Although most fungal
infections are rare, one that is more common in dogs and can be
contagious to human beings is ringworm. Ringworm is an infection
of the top layers of the skin that are dead. It can also become
an infection of the hair follicles.
Treating Bacterial Infection in Dogs
Once you think your dog has a bacterial infection, you will need
to take him or her to the vet right away to get treated. They
will first run tests to determine the cause of the bacterial
infection. Once they find out what the cause is, they will treat
it and the bacterial infection with antibiotics. In more severe
cases of this infection in dogs, they may provide your beloved
family dog with IV fluids to replace the fluids he or she lost if
they became dehydrated from the infection.
Your vet may also recommend treating bacterial infection using Clavamox
for dogs. To treat certain typs of wounds and infections vets may
prescribe Simplicef tabs for
The main cause of a bacterial infection in dogs is feces,
undercooked meat, dairy, and even contaminated water. Your dog is
more at risk for bacterial infection if you got him or her from a
shelter or if he or she was in a boarding kennel with other dogs.
If you notice your dog vomiting, suffering from diarrhea, have a
fever, lethargic, and cranky from not feeling well, he or she may
have a bacterial infection and will need to be treated by a vet
Treating Fungal Infection in Dogs
Ringworm and yeast infection are the two most common fungal
infections dogs can suffer from. Ringworm symptoms include
flaking, itching, or crusting skin, hair loss, and brittle and
misshapen nails. Once you notice these symptoms occurring in your
dog, he or she will need to be taken to the vet right away. This
is because the fungus can spread to other animals in the house
Once you get your dog to the vet, they will take a hair and skin
culture to test for ringworm. Depending on how severe the
ringworm is, he or she may be given medicated baths, antifungal
medications they will need to take orally, and cleaning and
vacuuming your home will prevent your other animals from getting
Once you determine whether your dog has a bacterial infection or
a fungal infection, you will need to seek professional medication
treatment for them right away. Not only will it make them feel
better, and you feel better, but it will help prevent other pets
in the house getting sick. You should also take preventive
measures to avoid your dog getting one or both of these
infections again or at all.