What are Actinobacillosis?
Actinobacillosis is sometimes referred to as wooden tongue or woody tongue. It may cause soft tissue abnormalities in parts of the dog’s body including the tongue, head, neck, and limbs. The lungs, lining of the chest, soft tissues under the skin, and adjacent bones that are close to the infected muscle may also be affected. The actinobacillus bacteria typically enter the skin through the opening of an existing wound. These bacteria live in the mucus lining of the upper part of the digestive system of the dog. This is a common form of actinobacillus that is difficult to prevent due to its prevalence around the world.
Actinobacillosis is a common infection in the soft tissues caused by the actinobacillus bacteria. It enters the body through an open wound, and infection can internally spread through the lymphatic system.
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Symptoms of Actinobacillosis in Dogs
Actinobacillosis can be localized or may affect soft tissue and bones in various parts of the body. It can be an isolated infection such as one found on the tongue, or if left untreated can travel through the lymph nodes and progress into a systemic infection. In either case, one or more of the following symptoms may be present:
- Abscesses on the tongue
- Lesions under the skin in the soft tissue such as neck, head, and legs
- Excessive salivation
- Visibly enlarged tongue
- Hardness of the tongue
- Gingivitis of the gums of the teeth
- Respiratory abnormalities
Depending on what type of actinobacillus organism is involved will determine the form of the infection it presents itself as. One type of actinobacillosis infection may cause an abscess similar to a tumor on the tongue of the dog. This can become very painful and the tongue may become visibly enlarged. Another type of actinobacillosis infection produces lesions in the soft tissue under or on the skin. These lesions are usually seen under the skin and may be found on the head, neck, or legs. It lives in the upper gastrointestinal tract of the dog and causes infection when it is able to access to the soft tissues through open wounds. It could stay localized or become systemic. A systemic type of actinobacillosis will sometimes occur if the infection is left untreated and moves into the lymph nodes. This spreads throughout the dog’s body, causes swellings, and eventually may cause abscesses.
Causes of Actinobacillosis in Dogs
An infection with the actinobacillosis bacteria occurs when an open wound is exposed to the bacteria. The bacteria live in the mucus lining of the upper digestive tract where it then travels to other areas. If not treated, the infection can spread throughout the dog’s body, via the lymphatic system.
Diagnosis of Actinobacillosis in Dogs
Your veterinarian will ask questions and examine your dog’s condition. Skin lesions or abscesses caused by the actinobacillus bacteria will be swabbed and cultured. If an actinobacillus bacterial infection is identified, the appropriate treatment recommendations will be given. If the dog is showing respiratory symptoms, a chest x-ray will most likely be performed to determine whether infection in the lungs is present.
Treatment of Actinobacillosis in Dogs
Since infection with the actinobacillus bacteria can be localized or systemic, treatment will vary. Depending on the type and location of the infection, there are several methods of methods of treatment that may be recommended by your veterinarian.
If your dog has a severe infection, it may be necessary for your veterinarian to recommend surgical excision. During the surgical procedure, the skin lesion or abscess will be removed by completely cutting it out.
If a systemic bacterial infection is present, oral antibiotics are necessary to eliminate the infection. Some of the more commonly used antibiotics to treat actinobacillosis are penicillin, tetracycline, spectinomycin, or cephalosporin.
Potassium iodine is sometimes administered orally to treat this condition. This used to loosen and break up mucus in the airways if infection is present.
Recovery of Actinobacillosis in Dogs
Make sure follow up appointments are made with your veterinarian if that is what was recommended. If your dog was prescribed an antibiotic treatment, the proper amount of medicine must be administered. If the proper dosage or length of treatment is not followed according to directions, recurrence of the infection may occur in a more severe form. If excision surgery was required to remove the abscess or lesion, your dog should heal quickly. Avoidance of sharp foods, treats, or toys will be necessary during recovery due to the potential irritation that could occur. If your dog had larger lesions on the tongue, he may require pain killers.