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Bacterial Infections in Dogs - Different Types and Treatment

A brown dog sleeps with its head on the arm of a couch

Has your dog recently been diagnosed with a bacterial infection? There are many different types of bacterial infections that they may have and many things that you can do to fix these infections. Depending on the infection, there are different treatment methods. Quickly noticing that there is something wrong with your dog will help you be able to fix these issues and get your dog back to their normal healthy, and happy life.

What Are Bacterial Infections in Dogs?

Bacterial infections can happen anywhere in your dog’s body. When your dog gets a cut or scrape, these bacteria can enter their body thru these openings. They can also enter through the mucus membranes found in their eyes, mouth, and nose. Once the bacteria have entered your dog’s body, it can get into their bloodstream and travel anywhere causing an infection.

What Causes Bacterial Infections in Dogs?

There are many reasons that your dog would get a bacterial infection. These are a few common causes that your dog may have suddenly developed an infection.

Weakened Immune System

If your dog is sick or has another disease, they can get bacterial infections more often than healthy dogs. Your dog’s immune system should be able to fight an infection, but with a weakened immune system, they cannot fight off the bacteria that they come in contact with and can get an infection.

Poor Diet

What your dog eats affects their health. If your dog is eating a poor diet, they will not have the proper nutrients and energy to fight any infection. This can cause them to have bacterial infections more often than if your dog was fed high-quality dog food.


As your dog gets older, they are more prone to developing bacterial infection because they no longer have a healthy immune system or may also have a different disease along with their infection.


If your dog has allergies, they are more likely to develop a skin infection. When they itch and scratch, they are injuring the protective layer of the skin. This can allow bacteria to easily and quickly cause a skin infection.

Lack of Exercise

Exercise helps your dog stay fit and healthy. By keeping your dog at a healthy weight, you can decrease the infections that they have. This also keeps them from developing fat rolls that can also easily get infected.


If your dog is stressed their immune system is not able to function properly. You may notice that your dog is a little sicker and may easily develop bacterial infections.

Other Illnesses

If your dog is fighting other illnesses, they may also develop bacterial infections. This is because their body is having to handle another disease while also trying to keep their body from developing a bacterial infection.

Different Types of Bacterial Infections in Dogs

There are many different types of bacterial infections that your dog can have. These are some of the more common bacterial infections seen in dogs.

Skin Infections

Dogs can easily get a skin infection. These infections can spread all over their body. Many times they are caused by the normal bacteria that have taken over from damaged skin. Once the bacteria start to grow, the infection can quickly spread all over your dog’s body.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that your dog can get from coming in contact with infected urine from another animal, such as a rat.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is spread to your dog by being bit by an infected tick. The tick-borne disease can cause your dog to have joint pain and feel very bad. This can be treated with doxycycline.

Bacterial Ear Infections

Dogs who have ear infections are usually caused by either bacteria or yeast. These infections can get very bad. If your dog has an ear infection, it would be best for your vet to prescribe your dog medication to put in their ear to clear up this infection.

Bacterial Eye Infections

Eye infections can also be caused by bacteria. If your dog has reddened eyes or discharge from their eyes, this would be a sign of an infection. Your vet can prescribe eye drops to help clear this infection.

Urinary Tract Infections

One common bacterial infection seen in dogs is from a urinary tract infection. Dogs with a urinary tract infection will be urinating more often and maybe even drinking more water. Urinary Tract Infections are often caused by environmental exposure to bacteria or a predisposition due to anatomy of the dog.


A pyometra is an infection of your dog’s uterus. This is commonly seen in older unspayed female dogs. This usually requires emergency surgery to remove the uterus and the infection. This can be a life-threatening issue that requires immediate vet attention.

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How Are Bacterial Infections in Dogs Treated?

If your dog has a bacterial infection, it would be best for your dog to see your vet. They can prescribe them antibiotics to help clear this infection. If they have a skin infection or wound, your vet may also want to send home shampoos or ointments for you to also use on your dog. Make sure that you follow the direction from your vet to help your dog quickly recover from their bacterial infection.

For a really bad infection, your vet may take a sample of their skin, urine, or discharge from their ears or eyes. They can send these samples to the lab to see what bacteria is growing and what bacteria will treat these infections.

If your dog has recently been diagnosed with a bacterial infection, or if your think that your dog has a bacterial infection, it would be best for your vet to help them get better. Your vet can prescribe medication to help quickly clear this infection. In severe cases, your dog may need a culture to make sure that they do not have a resistant bacterial infection. With the proper treatment and care, your dog can quickly recover from these infections.

Your veterinarian may also recommend doing routine lab work, such as blood work or a urinalysis to identify any underlying causes of infeciton. It is important to have a baseline so when your dog does become ill, we have something to compare to. Routine blood work is a benefit and should be considered as your pet ages.

Meet The Author 

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM


Since she was a little girl, Dr. Ochoa knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals, she is now a great source of knowledge for others. Dr. Ochoa lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies: Ruby the Schnoodle and Bam-Bam the bunny.

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Shana Schank DVM


Shana is a veterinarian, writer and mother of 3. She graduated from Iowa State University, School of Veterinary Medicine in 2007. Dr. Schank has a diverse background including Equine Medicine, Shelter Medicine, and Private Small Animal Practice. Dr. Schank prides herself on being adaptable and able to jump into any situation and work with anyone.

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