What is E. Coli Infection?

The bacterium Escherichia coli, more commonly referred to as E. coli, resides in the lower intestines of dogs and is typically benign. However, when highly concentrated, it causes an acute reaction known as colibacillosis or E. coli infection.

E. Coli infection is commonly found in newborn puppies in the first few week's of life; however, it can be found in dogs of any age. The onset is very sudden, and can lead to serious complications, so it must be treated immediately. E. coli infection can lead to blood poisoning, or septicemia, and has been found to compound with parvovirus in dogs and puppies, leading to an increased risk of death by parvovirus.

Symptoms of E. Coli Infection in Dogs

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Malaise/weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Low body temperature
  • Bluish gums, nostrils, ears, lips, and anus

Causes of E. Coli Infection in Dogs

E. Coli infection is most commonly caused by puppies being born to an unhealthy mother. Puppies' immune systems are typically supplemented by their mother's colostrum, the antibody-rich milk produced soon after birth. When puppies do not receive colostrum for any reason, they suffer increased vulnerability to various infections. Risk factors are poor nutrition of birthing mother, unsanitary or crowded birthing environment, mammary gland infection of a nursing mother who has E. coli infection herself and prolonged birth. Causes also include contact with an infected animal or objects, such as bedding, that has been contaminated by an infected animal. It is because of these causes that E. coli infection is often contracted in conjunction with other infections, commonly parvovirus.

The best way to prevent E. coli infection in dogs is to maintain sanitary conditions in a birthing environment and maintain proper nutrition in a pregnant dog. Less commonly, dogs can get E. coli infection from contaminated food or water. In common kennel areas, regular cleaning of facilities is a source of prevention, as is proper nutrition. Feeding a raw diet may increase a dog’s risk, as can exposure to an infected dog, cat, or person. Be sure to maintain proper hygiene for your dog and yourself. Wash your dog’s food bowl after each meal, if you have multiple pets and you suspect one is infected, keep them separate. Additionally, wash your hands after handling food and dogs.

Diagnosis of E. Coli Infection in Dogs

A speedy diagnosis will depend upon seeking prompt veterinary care and describing your dog's risk factors for E. Coli infection. A sample of your dog's feces will be taken and examined underneath a microscope, and the veterinarian will conduct a physical rectal examination to check for abnormalities. A complete blood count will be taken to measure red and white blood cells, as a decrease in white blood cells is one of the first signs of parvovirus. Your dog's blood will also be analyzed for a biochemistry profile, which will determine if E. coli is present in your dog's blood and at what levels, as well as indicate if your dog has blood poisoning. A urinalysis will also indicate if there are any further abnormalities, which may indicate other concurrent issues.

Treatment of E. Coli Infection in Dogs

If your dog tests positive for E. coli infection, he will very likely need to be hospitalized in order to achieve stabilization and begin treatment. This will include an IV in order to restore and maintain fluid and electrolyte levels. In the case of severe dehydration accompanied by diarrhea, your dog will be given an oral solution of glucose. Typically antibiotics, such as ceftiofur, cephalexin, and cefpodoxime, will be prescribed to treat the E. coli infection itself. Because of the rapid onset of the infection, timing of treatment correlates to a dog’s chance of success. There is very high morbidity, over 95%, in young puppies that are left untreated, and a chance that death can occur even with treatment.

Recovery of E. Coli Infection in Dogs

Provide your dog with a warm and very comfortable space to rest, possibly in a cage, during recovery period. Restrict activity and monitor vitals and behavior carefully. The veterinarian may have specific nutritional instructions for your dog, such as bottle-feeding, during this period. If your puppy is under six weeks old, and the mother is unavailable or infected, your puppy may continue to require intravenous nutrients and hospital monitoring.

You will bring your dog back into the veterinarian for regular blood tests in order to monitor the levels of E. coli infection in your dog’s blood. Be sure to contact the veterinarian immediately should you notice a change in your dog’s body temperature and health.

Cost of E. Coli Infection in Dogs

An E. Coli infection is dangerous for anyone to suffer from, even your furry family members. For puppies, the timing of the treatment is just as important as the treatment itself. A trip to the veterinarian’s office is always necessary! The veterinarian will need to hospitalize your dog and start him on intravenous fluids to help regulate his electrolytes and prevent severe dehydration. This can cost between $67 and $95. If severe dehydration has already occurred then, your dog may need an oral solution of glucose which can cost around $40 on average. Your dog will also need antibiotics to fight off the infection. Normally, antibiotics can run between $10 and $30. However, an E. Coli infection requires specific antibiotics, and they can be pricey. Ceftiofur is a liquid antibiotic and can cost around $200-$224 per 100ml bottle. Cephalexin 500mg is an antibiotic that comes in tablet form and are sold in 100ct bottles for $30-$45. Finally, Cefpodoxime 200mg also comes in a tablet form and can be sold for $200 per 100ct bottle.

E. Coli Infection in Dogs Treatment Advice

E. Coli Infection Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Henry
Great Dane
5 Years
Moderate condition
0 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Lameness
Licking and biting legs
high temperature
High heart beat
No appetite
Licking at Genitals
Lethargy

Medication Used

Clavaseptin

My dog has e coli in his bladder which is being treated by a second dose of Calvasepin but is also now showing signs of his personality changing and is losing his balance and intermittent lameness. A friend has mentioned that a dogs brain can be affected by E Coli, can you confirm if this is true and if so is this likely to be permanent .

5 weeks ago he was operated on for bloat and has had his stomach now secured to his side to prevent this is future, I don't know if any of this is relevant

Thank you in advance for your help.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
724 Recommendations

Infection of the central nervous system in dogs is rare, normally occurrences are with neonatal pups; septicemia is a more common problem. Adverse reactions to Clavaseptin (amoxicillin and clavulanic acid) are usually signs of vomiting and diarrhoea; although skin sensitivity is another reaction which may be causing the licking and biting of the legs and genitals, this should be discussed with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
www.vetary.com/dog/condition/septicemia-bacteremia

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Colt
Beagle mix
2-3 months old
Fair condition
0 found this not helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Throwing up
In pain
Stiffness
watery stools

My puppy has been really sick and pooping muddy water basically. We just found out the water at our house is infected with e.coli and a boil advisory in tact and it's been 2 days since they put it but we are just now finding out and he has been drinking the water. Should we take him to the vet?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
724 Recommendations

It would be best to take Colt to your Veterinarian as E. coli may cause severe gastroenteritis in some dogs, especially puppies with undeveloped immune systems. Also, if you haven’t already, discuss vaccination of Colt with them if you haven’t started; he may need to be treated for E. coli first. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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anonymous
dachshund chihuahua mix
7 Years
Moderate condition
0 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Swelling

Hi, my dog got E. Coli and Staph while he was at the animal hospital. He has been there for the past two weeks because he got hit by a car and had to get an FHO and a leg amputation.

The hospital told me he got an abcess last week after his surgeries, they sent cultures a few days later to see what kind of bacteria it could be, and then just told us today (about a week later) that they found out he got E. Coli and Staph. What would have caused him to get these bacterias? Isn't it their fault since he got it while under their care? Do you think it can be due to their poor hygiene and surgical procedures? one of the posts above mentioned e. coli associated with urinary tract infections...they put a urinary catheter in him, could the infection have occurred because they didn't clean his genitals and/or the catether properly? Also, he hasn't been able to walk, so he probably has been pooping while lying down/in his living area, could it have come from them not cleaning his feces from his body or not cleaning his living area properly?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
724 Recommendations

Repeated catheterization may cause urinary infections even with the best hygiene. Post surgery infections may be caused by a variety of causes including poor surgical hygiene and technique; I cannot legally comment on whether the cause is the Veterinarian’s fault or not. In cases of road traffic accidents, wounds from the trauma may be infected and cause infections and abscesses which wouldn’t be the fault of the practice; some road traffic accident cases can be quite difficult to correct. Both bacteria isolated are in a dog’s environment and their faeces in normal everyday life; immunosuppressed animals are more prone to these ‘garden variety’ infections than healthy dogs. If you have concerns regarding the practice that your dog is in you can request to move to a different practice. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Charli
Miniature Schnauzer
30 Months
Moderate condition
0 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Discharge licking genitals

Medication Used

Trisul

after swab was cultured. I opted for treatment of an anti biotic before getting her sedated to check for urinary stones etc . She was on another anti biotic for a week prior to the current but this type caused her to get breathless. She is now in 240mg twice daily .....half tablet ......of trisul. (Nz) she has been on for two weeks thus far and I'm still using a numbing anti biotic cream too as there is still obvious signs of discharge. Had been yellow ish and thick previously. No signs of this abating and wondered what your recommendations are please

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
724 Recommendations

If there is still discharge present, I would recommend swabbing again to see if there are any pathogens still present and to determine the type of discharge (from infection or contact dermatitis). Ensuring the genitals are clean is important, however sometime discharge may occur which is just due to skin inflammation and not infectious in origin; again visit your Veterinarian for another swab. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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pup pup
poodle
4 days
Mild condition
0 found this not helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

just fading puppy that died by 4days

I had a couple of newborn pups die and autopsy shows ecoli in brain and lung tissue. I am wondering if the Mother could have Ecoli in her blood and not show any symptoms? She is healthy active and full of energy. but I'm wondering how the new borns got it ?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
724 Recommendations

E. coli is a bacteria which is found almost everywhere in the environment and is also a normal finding in a dogs faeces; also, given that it is common in the faeces of dogs, it is also the most common urinary tract infection in dogs. Given the loss of pups, it may be worth having a quick urine dipstick for the Mother to ensure everything is fine and to give antibiotics if an infection is present. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Maddie
French Bulldog
13 Weeks
Serious condition
0 found this not helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Frequent Urination

I have a 13 week old French bulldog who has had an ecoll urine infection since we got Her at 8 weeks old. Frequent urination and ++ drinking, she has had Norclav for 1 week, Rilexine for 10days and as she still has ecoli in her urine the vet is recommending another 10 day course of Rilexine. She did have a clear urine result on the last day of her course of antibiotics but the ecoli has returned. She is having blood tests tomorrow and the vet is suggesting a scan and IVU. Why would such a young seemingly otherwise healthy dog have an on going ecoli urine infection?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
724 Recommendations

There are various reasons why a urinary tract infection may recur; this may be due to an underlying condition such as thyroid disease, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, kidney stones or due to a tumour. Blood and urine tests would be the best start (also the cheapest start), before going for scans etc… An x-ray would help to identify any stones or tumours present and would establish normal anatomy. Culture and sensitivity of the urine would help identify a suitable antibiotic if required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Harlee Sue
Maltese
9 Years
Moderate condition
0 found this not helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Frequent Urination

Hello, my dog is 9 years old and has 2 types of bacteria infections - Escherichia Coli and Proteus Mirabilis. What type of anti biotic can I give her to kill both bacteria? Below are the urine tests that were administered and the results from the anti biotics reaction

R is RESISTANT to the antibiotic
I means "intermediate" response to the antibiotic
S is susceptible to the antibiotic

Organism #1
Escherichia Coli
Amikacin <=8 8-64 ug/ml - S
Clavamox 16 4-8 ug/ml - R
Ampicillin/Amoxicillin >=32 0.25-8 ug/ml - R
Cefovecin >=8 2-8 ug/ml - R
Cefpodoxime >8 2-8 ug/ml - R
Cephalexin/Cefadroxil >=32 4-8 ug/ml - R
Enrofloxacin >4 0.5-4 ug/ml - R
Marbofloxacin >4 0.5-4 ug/ml - R
Nitrofurantoin >=128 16-128 ug/ml - I
Tetracycline >16 2-16 ug/ml -- R
Trimethoprim/Sulfa >2 0.5-2 ug/ml --R

MIC Organism #2 (Urine)
Interpretations: 1 2 3 4 5
Organism #2 Proteus Mirabilis
Amikacin <=8 8-64 ug/ml -S
Clavamox <=4 4-8 ug/ml - S
Ampicillin/Amoxicillin >=32 0.25-8 ug/ml - R
Cefovecin <=2 2-8 ug/ml - S
Cefpodoxime <=2 2-8 ug/ml - S
Cephalexin/Cefadroxil N/A 4-8 ug/ml - R
Enrofloxacin 2 0.5-4 ug/ml - I
Marbofloxacin <=0.50 0.5-4 ug/ml - S
Nitrofurantoin N/A 16-128 ug/ml - R
Tetracycline >16 2-16 ug/ml - R
Trimethoprim/Sulfa >2 0.5-2 ug/ml - R

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
724 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. According to the culture and sensitivity data that you have provided, amikacin is susceptible to both bacteria; but, this antibiotic is reserved for only aggressive infections and in patients in overall good health (liver and kidney function is good) and not too old. Having not personally examined Harlee Sue I am unable to make any recommendations regarding treatment. Many times there isn’t a one fits all solution to treating a disease and a combination of treatments may be required. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Harley
Jack Russell Terrier
8 Years
Serious condition
1 found this not helpful
Serious condition

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Loss of Balance

Medication Used

Doxycycline
Enrofloxacin

My dog Harley is a 8yr old male Jack russell he was diagnosed with a e coli bladder infection and has been on antibiotics for almost two weeks and he isn't getting better

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
724 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. E. coli is one of the most common urinary tract infections along with Staphylococcus, Enterococcus, and Streptococcus. There are a variety of reasons why dogs may get urinary tract infections: endocrine disorders, immunosuppression, tumours and urinary stones. If another condition is concurrent with a urinary tract infection, it would need to be treated too. Urinary tract infections usually resolve after two weeks of treatment. Was a sample taken for culture and diagnosis or a presumptive diagnosis performed? I would recommend culture and sensitivity to be carried out to ensure that the treatment is specific for the bacteria present. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Can an infection of e.coli IN A 12 year old dog's ear be caused by another dog defacating on balcony above my patio and the loose stool is dripping thru the slats of my patio onto what ever is below?
My dog has NEVER had an infection. The mastiff above was ALLOWED by owners to urinate and defecate on to their balcony! Which oozed/seeped onto my patio.

Could it have somehow migrated into my dog's left ear that has caused a really bad infection? It was cultured at an er by a vet. It is e. coli.

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