Can Dogs Get Chlamydia?

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Dog is man’s best friend and for good reason. They’re fun, they don't argue back and they’re always happy to see you! On the whole, they’re usually pretty healthy too! But can your beloved dog also catch the same illnesses that you can? Take chlamydia for example. Chlamydia are obligate intracellular bacteria that cause infection in humans and other animals. In humans, it’s a sexually transmitted infection that can often be asymptomatic, but it must be handled with care as if left untreated, it could cause infertility. But could your dog get also get chlamydia?

Can Dogs Get Chlamydia?

YES!

Some people might think because chlamydia is commonly known as a sexually transmitted disease amongst humans, that dogs would never come into the physical contact required to catch it. However, dogs absolutely can contract chlamydia, it just isn’t sexually transmitted. Instead, it comes from a bacterium called Chlamydia psittaci.

Does My Dog Have Chlamydia?

You’ll need to look out for different symptoms than you would in humans. Chlamydia in dogs is likely to manifest itself in the eyes. Does your dog appear to have swollen, red or inflamed eyes? Is your dog persistently trying to scratch its eyes? Are your dog’s eyes watering or producing any form of discharge? All of these could potentially be symptoms of Chlamydia.

But what causes dogs to contract Chlamydia? The infection is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia psittaci, which dogs can catch when they come into contact with bird poo. So you do not need to worry about your dog contracting the condition through the transmission of bodily fluids with other dogs.

When you take your dog to the vet, how will your vet diagnose chlamydia? Your vet will begin with a physical examination looking for any symptoms outlined above. Swabs will then be taken from superficial sites or aspirations from deeper tissues may be taken for analysis. There is also the possibility of fluorescent antibody techniques being used to diagnose the condition as they are highly accurate

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Chlamydia?

Fortunately, treating your dog’s chlamydia is relatively straightforward. Oral medication is usually prescribed to fight the infection. Tetracycline is often the preferred choice and it’s given at a dose rate of 22 mg/kg three times a day, for 3 to 4 weeks. Alternatively, doxycycline is also sometimes prescribed and given at a dose rate of 5-10 mg/kg twice a day, for 3 to 4 weeks. This medication gets to work quickly and fights the infection head on.

Recovering from chlamydia usually takes as long as the course of treatment. This means you can expect your dog to be fully recovered within 4 to 6 weeks. Your dog may seem lethargic and still in some discomfort for the first couple of weeks, but he should soon start to perk up and be back to participating in all their usual daily activities within the first month.

If you suspect your dog may have contracted a sexually transmitted infection, visit our related guide to learn more about sexually transmitted infections in dogs. You will find first hand accounts from other owners, plus frequently asked questions answered by our in-house vets.

How Is Chlamydia Similar in Dogs and Humans?

While you now know Chlamydia in dogs is not a sexually transmitted infection, there still remain some similarities in the symptoms and the way the infection manifests itself. Some of those similarities are:

  • In dogs and humans, it is common to see discharge released from the affected area.

  • In both dogs and humans, chlamydia can cause individuals to scratch the problem area.

  • Both dogs and humans can be asymptomatic (showing no symptoms at all).

  • In both dogs and humans, more serious problems can develop if the infection is left untreated.

How Is Chlamydia Different in Dogs and Humans?

Yes, there are some similarities in the way chlamydia manifests itself in dogs, humans and other animals. However, there are perhaps more noticeable differences in symptoms than similarities. These differences are:

  • Symptoms of chlamydia usually affect the reproductive organs in humans, whereas in dogs it frequently affects the eyes or respiratory organs.

  • Chlamydia in humans is sexually transmitted, however, dogs do not contract the infection via sexual activity.

  • Chlamydia in humans is contracted by bodily fluids, whereas dogs can catch it from dry bird poo.

Case Study

Rover was a 7-year-old German shepherd who started to develop itchy, inflamed eyes. His owners became concerned when Rover looked like he was struggling to see and became uninterested in his food or his walks. After tests, the vet diagnosed the problem as chlamydia. Rover was given doxycycline for 4 weeks and by the end of that month, all the symptoms were gone and Rover was back to himself. This case was important though because conversations with the vet identified that the field Rover often walked through was home to a large number of birds, suggesting a strong possibility that Rover contracted the infection from bird feces found in that field.