HOW TO Treat Your Dog’s Bartonella Infection




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HOW TOAfter your daily walk in the park, you notice that your dog is starting to develop several disturbing symptoms, such as vomiting, seizures and nose bleeds.

You also suspect she may have fleas. Although these symptoms alone sound like many other issues, your dog may have contracted Bartonella.

PetMD.com explains, “Bartonellosis is an emerging infectious bacterial disease in dogs, caused by the gram-negative bacteria Bartonella, which may affect cats and humans as well. The Bartonella spp. bacterium is transmitted to dogs via fleas, sand flies, lice, and ticks. Herding and hunting dogs are at higher risk due to increased exposure to vectors like sand flies, lice, fleas, and ticks.”

The article also mentions that you should be aware that both dogs and humans share similiar symptoms after contracting Bartonella.

According to petplace.com, “All ages, breeds, and sexes of dog are susceptible, however dogs in rural areas and herding breeds are thought to be at increased risk. The risk of disease is increased with pets exposed to the disease vectors. Therefore, feral dogs and strays are at increased risk.”

What Can Cause a Bartonella Infection?

PetMD.com lists a few of the factors that can lead to a Bartonella infection:

  • Bacterium Bartonella infection
  • History of flea or tick infestation
  • Transmission in dogs is through sand flies, lice, ticks and flea exposure
  • Dogs living in rural environments are at increased risk

What are the Symptoms of a Bartonella Infection?

The symptoms in humans and dogs are very similar, and are very serious. Even if your dog only displays a few of these symptoms, it’s important to take her to a vet right away. PetMD.com and petplace.com list the symptoms in dogs as:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Enlargement of spleen and liver
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lameness
  • Swelling and inflammation of lymph nodes
  • Inflammation of the heart’s muscles
  • Inflammation and irritation of the nose
  • Eye inflammation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Seizures
  • Arthritis
  • Nasal discharge and/or nosebleed
  • Inflammation of brain
  • Many other symptoms similar to those in humans

“Many dogs infected with Bartonella show few or even no clinical signs,” Petwave.com explains. “But dogs with weakened immune systems have an increased chance of infection.”

How is a Bartonella Infection Diagnosed?

Dog EyeYou will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms.

PetMD.com explains, “Various abnormalities may be present, such as a decreased number of platelets (the cells required for blood clotting), or anemia. An increased number of white blood cells (WBCs), or leukocytosis, may also be evident in blood testing. Biochemistry profiling may reveal abnormal liver enzymes and a decreased concentration of albumin (a protein in blood) in affected dogs. Confirmation of the presence of Bartonella spp. will also involve a positive result from growing, or culturing, the organisms from a sample of infected blood. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is a more advanced method for detecting bacterial DNA using a sample of tissue taken from a lesion.”

How is a Bartonella Infection Treated?

According to Petwave.com, “Dogs that test positive for Bartonella — and that have compatible symptoms of clinical illness for which other possible causes have been ruled out — may be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotic therapy must continue for quite a prolonged period of time, usually four to six weeks at a minimum. The attending veterinarian will select an antibiotic or combination of antibiotics with the ability to reach high concentrations inside cells. Even with appropriate antibiotic therapy, owners should recognize that their dogs may have recurring or persistent infections.”

In some cases, the infection resolves itself without any treatment, but it is still advised that you consult your vet.

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Developing a Bartonella Infection?

The best prevention is to protect your dog as best as you can from exposure to fleas, ticks, sand flies and lice.

According to petplace.com, “Preventive care is based on maintaining good hygiene. Wash your hands after handling pets and wash scratches or bites thoroughly. Never let a dog lick an open wound, and maintain meticulous flea control.”

PHOTOS: Cindy Funk, premieroctobre

Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.

Do you have a question about Bartonella infections? Submit it to i Love Dogs’ Ask a Vet here

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Kara Ogushi

Contributing writer Kara Ogushi is a pet mom to two dogs and five rabbits. When she isn't writing travel tips for pooches, she's exploring new ways to share and create media.

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