Nocardiosis in Dogs
Nocardiosis is an uncommon infectious disease affecting several body systems, including the respiratory, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems. Both dogs and cats may become exposed to the infectious, saphrophytic organism, which nourishes itself from dead or decaying matter in the soil. Typically, the exposure occurs either through open wounds or via inhalation.
Symptoms and Types
Symptoms of nocardiosis are largely dependent on the site of infection. If, for example, it occurs in the pleural body cavity, which includes the lungs and surrounding membranes, symptoms can include emaciation, fever, and raspy, labored breathing (dyspnea). If it is a skin infection, symptoms can include the presence of chronic non-healing wounds and, if left untreated, draining lymph nodes. If the infection is not localized in one specific area of the body, the symptoms may include fever, weight loss, and lethargic behavior. Also known as disseminated nocardiosis, this form of nocardiosis is most common in young dogs.
The infectious organism is found in the soil and can enter the dog's body through open wounds or through the respiratory tract, when it inhales. Nocardia asteroides is the most common species affecting dogs. However, they may also be susceptible to Proactinomyces spp., but it is very rare.
In addition, dogs with compromised immune systems or those suffering from autoimmune diseases increases the likelihood of this type of Nocardia infection.
Your veterinarian will analyze cells from the dog's thorax or abdomen to identify the causative organism. Other diagnostic procedures, such as X-rays and urine analysis, are employed to rule out other potential causes, including fungal infections and tumors.
Treatment for nocardiosis is largely dependent upon the site of infection and subsequent symptoms. If pleural effusion is apparent, hospitalization will be necessary to prevent dehydration. Surgical drainage of the fluid may even be required. Otherwise, long-term antibiotic therapy is vital for fighting off the infection.
Living and Management
Because nocardiosis frequently affects the musculoskeletal and central nervous system, it is imperative that you carefully monitor the dog for fever, weight loss, seizures, breathing difficulties, and lameness for at least one year after therapy.
General cleanliness and frequent disinfection of your dog's wounds or cuts may help prevent this type of infection, especially if your dog has a weakened immune system.