Anaerobic infections can be very stubborn to treat, and so culture and sensitivity testing are often necessary. By swabbing the area of skin with a sterile cotton-tipped applicator, bacteria can be collected and sent to a lab to see what species of bacteria present and which antibiotic will kill it. The same can be determined by collecting sterile urine samples from the urinary bladder or submitting a fecal sample in cases with persistent diarrhea.
Longer courses of antibiotics are often necessary to resolve these infections, and because antibiotics can be harmful to some of the other beneficial bacteria in the body, it is often necessary to take probiotic supplements to help replenish the good bacteria. Otherwise, vomiting and diarrhea can develop. For wound care, some may need to be surgically debrided in order to remove diseased or necrotic tissue.
Many specialty facilities are also having success with hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This involves the flooding of pressurized oxygen into the body so that obligate anaerobic bacteria can no longer thrive. For body-wide infections and sepsis, hospital care is necessary and usually involves intravenous fluid therapy and injectable antibiotics.
Anaerobic bacteria do have some health benefits, but then they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, they can cause significant infections that are difficult to treat. Testing is important to determine what species of bacteria are present if your dog has a non-healing wound or an infection that isn’t responding to initial therapies.