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Bartonella Infection In Dogs – Types, Symptoms, Causes, & Treatment

Bartonella In Dogs

What Is Bartonella In Dogs?

Bartonellosis is used to describe any infectious bacterial disease caused by a non-spore-forming, non-motile, gram-negative, intracellular facultative Bartonella bacterium consisting of at least 20 different species. They generally show a preference for endothelial cells, red blood cells, and macrophages.

Bartonella infections may also be known as Cat Scratch Disease (in humans), Carrion’s Disease, Trench Fever, peliosis of the liver (often called bacillary peliosis), and Oroya fever. Bartonella is considered to be transmitted by a vector, mainly fleas and also scratches, needle sticks, or animal bites. Bartonella Quintana, Bartonella bacilliformis, and Bartonella henselae are often associated with infections in humans.

In canines, there are six Bartonella species involved and that includes B. Vinsonii, B. Henselae, B. Clarridgeiae, B. Woshoensis, B. Quintana, and B. Elizabethae, B. Henselae are the most commonly reported species that infect dogs. The incidence of infection is comparatively lower in cats than dogs and dogs are more likely to develop symptoms.

Laboratory studies reveal that Ixodes ticks can be proficient vectors of B. Henselae besides Anaplasma, Borrelia, and Babesia organisms. From an infected mouse, Ixodes ricinus ticks are also found to be capable of contracting Bartonella Birtiesii infection and pass on this infection to an uninfected mouse. Recent research suggests that other arthropod vectors, including mosquitoes, lice, ticks, and chiggers are also found in the spread of the disease.

Symptoms Of Bartonella In Dogs

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Nasal discharge and bleeding
  • Enlarged spleen, lymph nodes, or liver
  • Heart murmurs or arrhythmias
  • Jaundice
  • Rapid/ shallow or Labored breathing
  • Weakness
  • Convulsions
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Excessive urination or thirst

Treatment Options For Bartonella In Dogs

Antibiotics: Amoxicillin trihydrate/clavulanate potassium, Baytril (Enrofloxacin), Clindamycin (Cleocin), Keflex (cephalexin), Gentamycin (Garamycin), etc.

Anti-inflammatory therapy and Immunosuppressants:

Cyclosporine (Optimmune), Mycophenolate Mofetil, Cyclophosphamide Sulfones, Budesonide, Chlorambucil, or Gold salts.

Antidiarrheal drugs: Loperamide (Diamode, Imodium, Anti-Diarrheal), Kaopectate, Bismuth Subsalicylate, Atropine, Hyoscine Butylbromide, and Opiates.

Dietary management:

  1. Swap over to a diet that leads to antigenic modification (eg, fresh protein source, Hydrolyzed protein dog foods).
  2. Exclusion diet: taking away ingredients that are suspected to cause allergies encountered.
  3. A wholesome homemade diet is always better than a commercial diet.

Home Remedies For Bartonella In Dogs

  1. Home remedies such as medications, exercise options, and diet will be based on your dog’s age and the severity of the disease.
  2. Work with your vet to find the optimal dietary plan for your dog.

How To Prevent Bartonella In Dogs?

  1. The risk is higher for Hunting and herding dogs living in endemic regions.
  2. Outdoor dogs existing in close proximity to flea or tick-infected areas; wooded areas, tilled soil (i.e., agricultural lands/farms), or ponds/lakes seem to be predisposed to this infection.
  3. The direct spread between dogs to humans and vice versa does not occur. But the possibility of transmission cannot be discarded.
  4. Sanitize the water sources. Keep your lawn or garden clean. Maintain it neat and free of fleas to evade unwanted complications.

Affected Dog Breeds Of Bartonella

  • There is no breed disposition
  • Puppies/Immunocompromised dogs/older dogs

Causes And Types For Bartonella In Dogs

1. Causes:

2. Types:

Acute Bartonella disease: Sudden onset and most destructive

Chronic Bartonella disease: This lasts for several weeks or even longer

3. Diagnosis:

  • A complete blood count (CBC), chemistry profile
  • PCR testing
  • Viral infection tests to rule out viral infections
  • Fecal smears/cultures /PCR testing

4. Prognosis:

The degree of the infection depends on the age, the immune response of the host, and the presence of any co-existing infections. The chances of recovery from Bartonella infection are generally good. Most affected dogs undergoing treatment will recuperate within 4-6 weeks. When left untreated, Bartonella infection can be deadly for puppies/ older dogs, so visit your vet immediately.

When To See A Vet For Bartonella In Dogs?

Contact your vet right away, if you notice:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Nasal discharge and bleeding
  • Enlarged spleen, lymph nodes, or liver
  • Heart murmurs or arrhythmias

Food Suggestions For Bartonella In Dogs

  • Lean, home-cooked meats (chicken, turkey, beef, fish)
  • Fresh vegetables/fruit (green beans, carrots, banana, apple, orange)/ Cooked spinach and potatoes
  • Plain yogurt, Cheese, milk, and legumes such as broccoli, spinach
  • Low-sodium cheese (Look for the Heart Healthy labeling)
  • Plant-based protein sources – broccoli, asparagus, spinach, Chickpeas, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, etc
  • Raw meaty lamb or beef bones, chicken wings, or raw lamb flaps


While Bartonella is not considered to be a zoonotic bacteria and direct transmission between dogs to humans and vice versa does not occur. But the possibility of transmission cannot be discarded.

The prognosis for Bartonella disease is directly proportional to the time taken for diagnosis, degree of infection, and evidence of malfunction of vital organs.

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