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What is Clostridium?

Clostridium in dogs is a bacterial infection that causes severe diarrhea. There are two specific types of clostridium in dogs, clostridium perfringens and clostridium difficile. Both types of clostridium are bacteria that spread throughout your dog’s intestinal tract and is spread through contact with an infected dog’s feces. Clostridium difficile can also be transmitted through food that is infested.

Clostridium will dwell within the soil and can be found in dogs that are not exhibiting any symptoms of distress. The bacteria may become problematic when there is an overgrowth and spores are formed. These spores then produce endotoxins. These toxins cause inflammation in the colon. Dogs of any age and of any breed can be affected by clostridium.

Symptoms of Clostridium in Dogs

Clostridium in dogs will affect the intestinal tract. Some dogs will not exhibit symptoms when infected and have a strong immune system that allows their body to fight off the infection. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian for an appointment.

  • Diarrhea that can become severe
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Elevated fever
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy

Types

Clostridium may be caused by C. perfringens or C. difficile. Cases may be acute or chronic and may also present as asymptomatic, or cause your canine severe gastrointestinal distress.

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Causes of Clostridium in Dogs

Your dog can become infected with clostridium by coming into contact with infected feces or by ingesting infected feces. Clostridium also can dwell within the soil and can be easily picked up if your dog ingests any part of the soil that is infested with clostridium. 

Clostridium will produce toxins that cause bacterial infections to occur within the intestinal tract of your dog. They are also anaerobic; this means they are able to grow even when there is no oxygen present. Clostridium also forms spores that allow if to withstand any changes to its environment making it more difficult to kill the bacteria.

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Diagnosis of Clostridium in Dogs

Your veterinarian will begin your appointment by asking you what symptoms you have seen and about your dog’s medical history. They will also ask about your dog’s diet and normal daily routine. This will give them a little more background information on your dog and help them to narrow their search for the cause of your dog’s illness.

If possible, bring in a fresh fecal sample for your veterinarian. Do not worry if you are unable to collect a fresh sample, your veterinarian will be able to collect a sample for analysis. Clostridium will be diagnosed by analyzing a fecal smear. Your veterinarian will be able to see if clostridium is present in the feces.

Your veterinarian may also opt to perform other tests including a complete blood count and a urinalysis to determine if the bacterial infection has spread and they type of antibiotics that will be necessary for proper treatment.

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Treatment of Clostridium in Dogs

Clostridium in dogs is generally treatable using oral antibiotics. Your veterinarian will discuss with you the type of antibiotic that will be used and how long your dog will need to be treated with the medication. 

Often, your veterinarian will prescribe metronidazole or amoxicillin for seven to ten days. These are the antibiotics that are used most frequently for clostridium infections in dogs. At the end of the treatments, your veterinarian may request another fecal sample to ensure that the infection is gone. If it is not gone, then another round of antibiotics will be necessary.

During treatments, your veterinarian may suggest that your dog be put on probiotics to improve their intestinal and colonic flora. This will increase the productivity of the intestines and colon and it will help put good bacteria back into your dog’s intestinal tract after antibiotic treatments.

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Recovery of Clostridium in Dogs

Your dog’s prognosis is generally good provided that medical care was quickly sought and treatments begun. Be sure to follow all dosing instructions given for any medications prescribed by your veterinarian. Complete all follow up visits with your veterinarian to ensure that the clostridium infection has been eradicated.

When your dog is diagnosed with clostridium, you will need to spray your yard, paying close attention to your dog’s potty area, with a diluted bleach solution. Clostridium can dwell in the soil so the bleach solution will kill any of the bacterium that is contaminating your yard. Clean up your dog’s feces regularly and do not allow them to eat their own feces or other dog’s feces. 

If you have a multi-dog household, isolate the dog that is infected with clostridium and do not allow them to potty in the same area as your other dogs. Have all the dogs in your household tested for clostridium.

Symptoms relating to clostridium can be expensive to treat. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

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Clostridium Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Labradoodle

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Eight Years

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Unknown severity

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6 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Watery Diarrhea, Brown In Color, Severe Weight Loss, Depression

I have read that a fecal transplant may be an option?

July 19, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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6 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Fecal transplants are not a common procedure other than in Veterinary teaching hospitals. If that is something that you are considering for your dog, your veterinarian can refer you to the closest teaching hospital. I hope that all goes well for your dog.

July 20, 2020

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Koda

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Rhodesian Ridgeback

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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12 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Bloody Diarrhea, Weight Loss
Bloody Diarrhea

Where do I start....? My Rhodesian Ridgeback had MAJOR stomach issues at 1 year old. Started with diarrhea, then got bloody, bright red leaky faucet for months. We went to multiple vets, specialists, lab work done, blood test, the whole nine yards, nothing came up. We then switched to a raw diet (chicken, potato, rice, veggies) and he got better, started gaining weight, etc. We thought he just had to eat raw diet! Now 8 months later and it's back. Took him to the vet and positive for C-Diff. For the 5th time in the last year he's on metranidazole and it's just getting worse again. He's lost 10 pounds, and has VERY bloody diarrhea 10+ times a day. Straining like crazy. What do I do? I'm out of answers.

Aug. 29, 2018

Koda's Owner


My vet prescribed Tylan/tylosin for 10 days, Hills Science Diet IB and probiotics. It worked.

Sept. 2, 2018

Mary

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