Corynebacterium spp

From Dog
Chronic labial ulceration of a dog due to C. ulcerans[1]

Corynebacterium spp are a small, generally nonmotile, Gram-positive commensal bacteria of the dog skin, reproductive tract[2] and gastrointestinal tract.

Corynebacteria are aerobic or facultatively anaerobic and they exhibit a fermentative metabolism (carbohydrates to lactic acid) under certain conditions.

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Corynebacterium pyogenes[3] (purulent infections)
  • Corynebacterium auriscanis[4]
  • Corynebacterium epidermidicanis[5]
  • Corynebacterium urealyticum[6] (cystitis)
  • Corynebacterium ulcerans[7] (zoonotic reservoir for human diphtheria)
  • Corynebacterium canis (zoonotic via dog bites)[8]
  • Corynebacterium freiburgense (zoonotic via dog bites)[9]
  • Corynebacterium pilosum[10] (cystitis)
  • Corynebacterium diphtheriae[11] (nonpathogenic, dead-end host)

These bacteria are commonly associated with skin diseases such as periodontitis[12], otitis externa[13] and conjunctivitis[14].

They have a propensity for colonizing exposed tissue and thus have been associated with osteomyelitis post-operatively in dogs[15].

C. ulcerans has reportedly caused pneumonia in dogs[16], and systemic infection resulting in intracranial abscesses are not uncommon[17].

Most species are sensitive to enrofloxacin, amikacin or gentamicin.


  1. Lartigue MF et al (2005) Corynebacterium ulcerans in an immunocompromised patient with diphtheria and her dog. J Clin Microbiol 43(2):999-1001
  2. Watts JR et al (1996) Uterine, cervical and vaginal microflora of the normal bitch throughout the reproductive cycle. J Small Anim Pract 37(2):54-60
  3. Hesselink JW et al(1990) Hypertrophic osteopathy in a dog with a chronic lung abscess. J Am Vet Med Assoc 196(5):760-762
  4. Aalbæk B et al (2010) Coryneform bacteria associated with canine otitis externa. Vet Microbiol 145(3-4):292-298
  5. Frischmann A et al (2012) Corynebacterium epidermidicanis sp. nov., isolated from skin of a dog. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 62(9):2194-2200
  6. Bailiff NL et al (2005) Corynebacterium urealyticum urinary tract infection in dogs and cats: 7 cases (1996-2003). J Am Vet Med Assoc 226(10):1676-1680
  7. Katsukawa C et al (2012) Prevalence of Corynebacterium ulcerans in dogs in Osaka, Japan. J Med Microbiol 61(2):266-273
  8. Funke G et al (2010) Corynebacterium canis sp. nov., isolated from a wound infection caused by a dog bite. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 60(11):2544-2547
  9. Funke G et al (2009) Corynebacterium freiburgense sp. nov., isolated from a wound obtained from a dog bite. Int J Syst Evol Microbiol 59(8):2054-2057
  10. Higgins R & Messier S (1997) Urinary tract infection associated with Corynebacterium pilosum in a dog. Can Vet J 38(4):242
  11. Mayr A (1989) Infections which humans in the household transmit to dogs and cats. Zentralbl Bakteriol Mikrobiol Hyg B 187(4-6):508-526
  12. Takada K & Hirasawa M (2000) Expression of trypsin-like activity by the genera Corynebacterium and Actinomyces in canine periodontitis. J Med Microbiol 49(7):621-625
  13. Henneveld K et al (2012) Corynebacterium spp. in Dogs and Cats with Otitis Externa and/or Media: A Retrospective Study. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 48(5):320-326
  14. Wang L et al (2008) Investigation of bacterial microorganisms in the conjunctival sac of clinically normal dogs and dogs with ulcerative keratitis in Beijing, China. Vet Ophthalmol 11(3):145-149
  15. Gallagher AD & Mertens WD (2012) Implant Removal Rate from Infection after Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy in Dogs. Vet Surg Jul 23
  16. Sykes JE et al (2010) Corynebacterium ulcerans bronchopneumonia in a dog. J Vet Intern Med 24(4):973-976
  17. Bilderback AL & Faissler D (2009) Surgical management of a canine intracranial abscess due to a bite wound. J Vet Emerg Crit Care (San Antonio) 19(5):507-512