Treatment Options for Bacterial and Fungal Infections in Dogs What. The. Fungus?

Treatment Options for Bacterial and Fungal Infections in Dogs TercoPics /

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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 to.

Common Fungal Infections

Systemic canine fungal infections can be contracted by your dog inhaling fungal spores, eating something thatโ€™s been infected/exposed to fungi, or having a wound thatโ€™s been exposed to spores via the environment or another animal.

Bodily fungal infections (i.e. those that arenโ€™t systemic), such as ringworm, are typically caused by your dog coming into contact with a certain variety of fungi (through the environment, or another animal).


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 loss.


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 fungiโ€™s spores (commonly found in decaying organic matter).

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 dogโ€™s brain, lymph nodes, eyes, and nasal system. While this fungal infection is rarer in dogs than cats, itโ€™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). Itโ€™s very important to catch these symptoms early in the development of the infection, otherwise, a successful outcome isnโ€™t likely.

Common Bacterial Infections in Dogs

If you werenโ€™t already aware of this, weโ€™re surrounded by bacteria (everywhere, all around us). These tiny organisms usually donโ€™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 fatal).


This type of bacterial infection is entirely superficial, meaning that it doesnโ€™t result in systemic symptoms. Pyoderma isnโ€™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 water.

If the infection is left untreated, or your dogโ€™s immune system canโ€™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
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • 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 thatโ€™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, itโ€™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.

Thatโ€™s why itโ€™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 dogs.

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 immediately.

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 rather quickly.

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 the infection.

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.

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