Campylobacteriosis in Dogs

Campylobacteriosis in dogs is found worldwide, is often confused with Parvovirus, and can be deadly to older dogs, very young dogs, as well as weak dogs. But it is especially dangerous to puppies; so much so that there are some opinions that it is much better to euthanize a puppy that contracts these bacteria than fight for their survival.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is a very serious life threatening situation but there are several methods that can be used and all puppies as well as weaker dogs should be given every option at recovering from this deadly bacteria. Euthanasia should be the absolute last resort.

This infecting bacterium will cause severe diarrhea in puppies or weaker dogs to the point that the diarrhea will become explosive in nature and can cause a very rapid dehydration in your pet. Dogs by nature dehydrate at a very astounding rate and to fully understand the implications of this infection, it helps to understand why dogs dehydrate so fast.

Dehydration, which is the process of excessive water loss, can mean the matter of life or death to your dog. Dogs dehydrate at a much quicker rate than humans do primarily because they only have sweat glands on their nose and feet, so they cool down at a much slower rate. The heavy coat on most dogs also slows down the cooling rate.

However, dehydration is not the only thing that could kill your dog, especially puppies, with this infection. Puppies are also at a tremendous risk of what is known as intussusception, which is a condition that occurs when one portion of the bowel slides into the next. This can occur as the result of the violent diarrhea attacks and the result is the walls of the intestine are pressuring each other.

If it does occur, it creates an obstruction which leads to swelling and inflammation and as a result a decreased blood flow to the intestines which is also a very serious situation.

What is Campylobacteriosis?

First of all, it is not parvovirus nor is it a newer form of it. It is bacterial imbalance in your dog’s digestive tract and it needs an entirely different type of treatment than parvovirus.

It is caused by a bacterium called Campylobacter jejuni which is a gram-negative microorganism that requires oxygen to survive, but can live with lower levels of oxygen than what is found in the atmosphere. Bottom line is that is survives very well in your dogs intestines.

It has just recently burst from the obscurity from the animal world and now has also been identified as the leading bacterium that can affect humans with severe diarrhea. It is extremely contagious and can be passed from dogs to humans.

This bacterium is so powerful that once it starts to grow in your pet’s digestive tract it throws it totally out of balance, and as a result the system counters by trying to remove all of the bacterium at once. But in doing so, it also will remove a dangerous amount of body fluid as well. The younger or the weaker your dog is the more the system will over react.


This bacterium is transmitted in several modes including contact with infected urine or feces; as well as by contaminated food, water, or by handling raw poultry and than touching your pets feeding dishes or food.

Dogs in kennels or in large holding areas will be more at risk as are puppies raised in factories and than sold to pet stores. Transmission is also possible by your shoes or boots that may have come in contact with contaminated feces and than infecting your pets living area.


In most all cases, your dog will show no initial symptoms; and than suddenly it will hit.

The symptoms will start with just a normal form of diarrhea but as it progresses the fecal mucus continues to get softer with each episode until it is almost entirely water. When it reaches this stage it is almost always accompanied by blood and it will literally explode out of your dog and they will have no control over it.

In dogs that are healthy in can run in stages for several weeks and will be just intermediate episodes. In puppies and weaken dogs it will get progressively worse and severe hydration will take their lives if you do not react.

Vomiting may also happen in this stage and it can closely resemble severe flu symptoms in humans. In very severe cases there will also be a fever and your dog will have absolutely no appetite much like us with the flu.

The smell of the feces will be absolutely horrible.


The key to survival with puppies and the weak will be to treat them before they become anorexic and as soon as you possibly can. The incubation period for this bacterium is between one and five days so as soon as you see the symptoms you must react.

This bacterium must come out of your pets system. Using anti-diarrhea medicine will not work at all with these bacteria and will only make it worse; you need to get the bacteria out. Antibiotics such as erythromycin and tetracycline have proven to be very effective for Campylobacteriosis in dogs.

Intravenous fluids will also have to be given as quickly as possible as well as treatment with Cephalexin. This is similar to penicillin as it stops the growth of bacterial cells by preventing the bacteria from forming the cell wall that surrounds each cell. The recommended treatment is 250 mg per 25 pounds of body weight.

Puppies may also be treated with Ceph-drops orally as it needs to go through the digestive tract but only until the situation has reversed, than it should be stopped. Cultured yogurt and glucose treatments may also help stop the symptoms and start the healing process.


If you react quickly enough you can save your puppies or weaker dogs from Campylobacteriosis infections. Do not treat it like Parvovirus and watch very closely for the symptoms. Once you suspect this deadly infection, get your dog to your veterinarian as quickly as possible.

A very quick treatment process may be the only thing keeping them from euthanasia.

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