Clostridium spp are a commensal anaerobic Gram-positive zoonotic bacteria normally present as part of the oropharynx and gastrointestinal microbiome but can causes enteritis and tetanus in dogs worldwide.
All species form endospores and have a strictly fermentative type of metabolism. Most clostridia will not grow under aerobic conditions and vegetative cells are killed by exposure to O2, but their spores are able to survive long periods of exposure to air. The numbers of Clostridium spp present in the canine microbiome is unaffected by prebiotic supplementation.
Species of Clostridia which are reported in dogs include:
- Clostridium difficile - nosocomial diarrhea (zoonotic)
- Clostridium tetani - tetanus
- Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin A - hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
- Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin D - systemic diseases such as pyometra, osteomyelitis, bite-wound abscess
- Clostridium piliforme - hepatitis (Tyzzer's disease)
- Clostridium botulinum - botulism
- Clostridium septicum - myonecrosis
- Clostridium novyi
- Clostridium innocuum (nonpathogenic)
- Clostridium hiranonis (nonpathogenic)
- Clostridium colicanis (nonpathogenic)
Clostridia are able to ferment a wide variety of organic compounds, producing foul smelling compounds, characteristic of the disease.
During bacterial floral changes, some Clostridia can ascend the bile duct due to some predisposing pathology, such as inflammatory bowel disease, cholestasis, gallbladder stones, chronic pancreatitis, immunosuppression, or altered gut motility.
Diagnosis can be performed by routine laboratory culture, fluorescent antibody technique (FAT), ELISA or definitively with PCR assays.
Resistant strains such as C. difficile require vancomycin.
Disinfection of kennels is important for limiting spread to other dogs. C. difficile and C. perfringens are alcohol-resistant, but susceptible to bleach.
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