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Streptococcus Zooepidemicus in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

Written by aslmad.yaz


Streptococcus zooepidemicus — also known as Strep zoo — is a highly contagious pathogen that can cause serious illness in dogs. It is a gram-positive bacterium that is part of the Streptococcus genus. Strep zoo is commonly found in horses but can also affect other animals, including dogs, cats, and cattle. In dogs, Streptococcus zooepidemicus can lead to conditions ranging from mild respiratory issues to life-threatening infections.

Here’s what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for the condition.

Symptoms of Streptococcus zooepidemicus in dogs

Identifying Streptococcus zooepidemicus in dogs can be challenging as symptoms may vary widely depending on the severity and site of the infection. Initially, your dog may exhibit mild respiratory signs, including coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, and fever. These symptoms are often mistaken for kennel cough or other common respiratory issues in dogs.

As the infection progresses, more severe signs can emerge. These may include:

In cases where the bacterium has caused a systemic infection, you may observe more critical and life-threatening symptoms, including:

  • Septic arthritis, evidenced by lameness or reluctance to move
  • Sudden episodes of collapse
  • Severe systemic inflammation

According to a study from the National Library of Medicine, Strep zoo respiratory disease compromises lung function, often resulting in bleeding within the organ and the accumulation of fluid in the surrounding areas. As such, early detection and treatment are crucial for a full recovery, so observing your dog’s behavior and health closely is important.

Causes of Streptococcus zooepidemicus in dogs

Doctor examining dog suffering from Streptococcus zooepidemicus — Strep zoo — with stethoscope in clinic.
(Photo Credit: Morsa Images | Getty Images)

Streptococcus zooepidemicus is primarily transmitted through direct contact with infected animals or through contact with contaminated surfaces or materials — like bedding or water bowls. The bacterium can thrive in environments where dogs are in close quarters, such as kennels, shelters, and grooming facilities, making these locations hotspots for transmission. Furthermore, dogs with weakened immune systems — such as those who are very young, elderly, or suffering from other diseases — are at higher risk of infection.

The incubation period is usually less than a week, but transmission can occur for up to several weeks afterward. While transmission from dogs to humans is rare, individuals with compromised immune systems should be particularly cautious. Hence, proper hygiene and handling practices are recommended when dealing with an infected animal.

Treatments for Streptococcus zooepidemicus in dogs

The treatment for Streptococcus zooepidemicus in dogs largely depends on the severity of the infection and the organs affected. After conducting a thorough diagnosis — which may include blood tests, X-rays, and cultures of nasal or throat swabs — your veterinarian will decide on the most appropriate treatment course. Common treatments include:

  • Antibiotics: As a bacterial infection, Streptococcus zooepidemicus is typically treated with antibiotics. Your vet will prescribe the specific type and duration of antibiotics suited to your dog’s condition. Commonly used antibiotics include penicillin, amoxicillin, and cephalosporins.
  • Supportive care: Depending on the symptoms and severity of the infection, your vet may recommend providing supportive care such as fluid therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and rest to help your dog recover.
  • Hospitalization: In severe cases, particularly those involving pneumonia or septicemia, hospitalization may be necessary to provide intensive care, including oxygen therapy and intravenous antibiotics.

Preventive measures are also important in protecting your dog from Strep zoo. Ensuring your pet lives in a clean environment and keeping up to date with vaccinations are fundamental steps. Although there is no specific vaccine against Streptococcus zooepidemicus for dogs currently, keeping your pet healthy and minimizing exposure to high-risk environments can help. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to Streptococcus zooepidemicus or is exhibiting concerning symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately.


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