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What are Necrotizing Fasciitis?

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare, grave, incapacitating disease that can result in systemic illness in your dog. It is difficult to diagnose as initial symptoms are similar to those of other less serious conditions. Due to its rapid progression and difficulty to diagnose, it can lead to death in infected dogs. Necrotizing fasciitis may also be referred to as “flesh eating bacteria” and it can destroy skin, fat, and muscles.

Necrotizing fasciitis is a rare, bacterial soft tissue infection that appears suddenly and progresses rapidly, leading to systemic illness and often death.

Necrotizing Fasciitis Average Cost

From 348 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,800

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Necrotizing Fasciitis in Dogs

Dogs that are suffering from necrotizing fasciitis will experience intense pain. The areas that are most likely to be impacted are hock joints, flanks and the skin of the abdomen. Other symptoms include:

  • Painful, deep lesions of the skin along your dog’s limbs or trunk
  • Infection may start with a small skin lesion and progress to a large area of necrosis and ulceration within a few hours
  • Pain initially seems out of proportion with what can be seen on the skin
  • Fever 
  • Within 24-48 hours skin often sheds
  • Localized swelling
  • Erythema
  • Signs of shock
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation
  • Significant pain that seems out of proportion to what is seen upon physical examination

Types 

While necrotizing fasciitis is rare, it is serious. It can occur in humans as well as dogs. It is more likely to occur in young dogs or elderly dogs; healthy adult dogs are not as prone to infections.

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Causes of Necrotizing Fasciitis in Dogs

Necrotizing fasciitis can be caused by an infection with Streptococcus canis, B-hemolytic streptococcus, Staphylococcus pseudintermedius and E. Coli may also cause necrotizing fasciitis. The lungs and throat are the most likely places where your dog will contract the bacteria. Transmission may occur through sharing a water bowl, a run, or bedding with an infected dog. Your dog could also acquire the bacteria by licking the face of a person who is carrying the bacteria or from being in crowded conditions with other dogs (like in dog shows). Stress (from traveling long distances, for example) may also lead to a decreased resistance to the disease.

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Diagnosis of Necrotizing Fasciitis in Dogs

It is important that your dog is diagnosed quickly in order to immediately undergo treatment. Unfortunately, it is difficult to diagnose necrotizing fasciitis as the early signs of the condition are no different than the signs of other, less serious problems (for example, cellulitis). A veterinarian will confirm the diagnosis of necrotizing fasciitis through bacterial culture and histopathological examination, however to be most successful, treatment must begin prior to the results of these evaluations. It is recommended that treatment begin once the clinical diagnosis points to necrotizing fasciitis, as this will lead to the best chance of recovery for your dog.

It has been noted that in cases of necrotizing fasciitis, the severe pain that the patient is experiencing is out of proportion to what is seen during the physical exam. This is due to the extensive tissue damage under the skin that is caused by bacterial toxins and enzymes that damage tissue. All of this is occurring underneath the surface, with little change initially seen on the animal’s skin. Many of the dogs that have been diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis have also exhibited serious systemic disease (including hypotension and sepsis).

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Treatment of Necrotizing Fasciitis in Dogs

Quick and aggressive treatment is imperative for a dog suffering from necrotizing fasciitis. Initially, intravenous antibiotics (either clindamycin or amoxicillin-clavulanate) will be administered. Once the veterinarian has sensitivity testing results, the antibiotic may be changed. Other treatment may include:

  • Intravascular fluid therapy
  • Plasma transfusions
  • Nutritional support
  • Surgically removing dead and infected tissue and draining wounds
  • Amputation

It is noted that fluoroquinolone antibiotics should not be used. These may increase the toxicity of the streptococcus strains and should be avoided. Tests have shown that Streptococcus canis is usually sensitive to penicillin G and ampicillin. Homeopathic options such as Carbo Veg.IM and Arnica have been suggested by some but many vets refute their role in treatment.

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Recovery of Necrotizing Fasciitis in Dogs

It is likely your dog will require multiple follow-up appointments for additional long-term treatment. Recovery from and management of necrotizing fasciitis is intense and should be expected to be long. Initially, you will want to clean your dog’s wounds and frequently change his bandages. Antibiotics will need to be given for some time. Damaged areas will likely need to be repaired and reconstructed, and skin grafts may be necessary. These procedures will require surgery and an anesthetic. It is important to follow the instructions of your veterinarian to best help your dog recover.

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Necrotizing Fasciitis Average Cost

From 348 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,800

Average Cost

$850

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Necrotizing Fasciitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Airedale Terrier

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Two Weeks

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Foot Fell Off

My neighbor has this puppy 2 weeks old, he had necrosis of the foot and his foot fell off now has bone sticking out of his knee, what can we do?

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There is not a lot that you can do at home for that, and that puppy should see a veterinarian. There is a chance for a deep bone infection, and there's probably a need for reconstructive surgery at some point. That isn't going to heal on its own. I hope that everything goes well with the puppy.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Rottweiler

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Just This Patch

This patch has formed over night we have not changed diet, the dog is well taking care of and we tried over the counter items

Aug. 3, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. It’s hard to say exactly from the picture, but it looks like your pet has developed an area of acute moist dermatitis otherwise known as a hotspot. I would recommend taking her to your veterinarian so they can clip and clean it and then they will likely prescribe antibiotics. The most common underlying cause if this becomes a recurrent problem is allergies in dogs. I hope she heals quickly.

Aug. 3, 2020

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Necrotizing Fasciitis Average Cost

From 348 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,800

Average Cost

$850

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