Propionibacterium spp

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Electron micrograph of Propionibacterium spp[1]

Propionibacterium spp are a diverse group of Gram-positive anaerobic bacteria which are commensal in the dog oropharynx and gastrointestinal tract.

These bacteria commonly cause acne in humans and P. freudenreichii sub shermanii is used in cheesemaking.

Species which are pathogenic to dogs include:

  • Propionibacterium acnes[2] (formerly Corynebacterium parvum)

P. avidum[3] and P. acnes[4] have been used as experimental immunomodulators in pyoderma[5] and as an adjuvant in dog vaccinations.

These bacteria have the ability to translocate from the intestine into mesenteric lymph nodes and cause systemic illness[6], but are often associated with periodontitis[7].

Diagnosis is based on bacterial culture and PCR assay speciation.

Most of this group are sensitive to amoxycillin/clavulanate, metronidazole and gentamicin.


  1. Vietsciences
  2. Goodacre R et al (1994) Rapid identification using pyrolysis mass spectrometry and artificial neural networks of Propionibacterium acnes isolated from dogs. J Appl Bacteriol 76(2):124-134
  3. Siwicki AK et al (1998) Adjuvant properties of killed Propionibacterium avidum KP-40 in vaccination of dogs against canine parvovirosis. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr 105(5):186-190
  4. Van Kampen KR (1997) Immunotherapy and cytokines. Semin Vet Med Surg (Small Anim) 12(3):186-192
  5. Becker AM et al (1989) Propionibacterium acnes immunotherapy in chronic recurrent canine pyoderma. An adjunct to antibiotic therapy. J Vet Intern Med 3(1):26-30
  6. Dahlinger J et al (1997) Prevalence and identity of translocating bacteria in healthy dogs. J Vet Intern Med 11(6):319-322
  7. Ferreira FB et al (2006) Root canal microbiota of dogs' teeth with periapical lesions induced by two different methods. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 102(4):564-570