Mycoplasma in Dogs

icon May 28, 2024

Mycoplasma is a type of bacteria that is notably different from many other bacterial species due to its lack of a cell wall. This unique characteristic makes it more challenging to treat, as many antibiotics target cell wall synthesis. In dogs, Mycoplasma can cause a variety of health issues, ranging from respiratory infections to reproductive problems. This article will delve into the intricacies of Mycoplasma in dogs, covering its nature, symptoms, treatment options, and contagiousness.

What is Mycoplasma in Dogs?

Mycoplasma is a genus of bacteria that can infect various animal species, including dogs. Unlike typical bacteria, Mycoplasma bacteria lack a rigid cell wall, making them highly flexible and capable of passing through fine filters that would typically capture other bacteria. In dogs, several Mycoplasma species can be pathogenic, with Mycoplasma canis and Mycoplasma cynos being among the most commonly identified.

Mycoplasma bacteria are often part of the normal flora of the canine respiratory and urogenital tracts, meaning they can live harmlessly within the body. However, under certain conditions, such as a weakened immune system or concurrent infections, these bacteria can become pathogenic and cause illness.

How Did My Dog Get Mycoplasma?

Your dog likely contracted Mycoplasma through direct contact with infected animals, such as through respiratory secretions, or from contaminated surfaces like bedding or food bowls. Mycoplasma can also be part of the normal flora in healthy dogs and become pathogenic when the immune system is compromised, such as during stress, illness, or concurrent infections.

Symptoms of Mycoplasma in Dogs

The symptoms of Mycoplasma infections in dogs can vary widely depending on the site of infection and the overall health of the animal. Common symptoms include:

1. Respiratory Symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Pneumonia in severe cases

2. Urogenital Symptoms:

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Infertility in breeding dogs
  • Prostatitis in male dogs

3. Joint and Systemic Symptoms:

  • Lameness or joint pain (polyarthritis)
  • Fever
  • Lethargy

Due to the broad range of symptoms, Mycoplasma infections can sometimes be misdiagnosed or overlooked, making it essential for veterinarians to consider this pathogen when presented with relevant clinical signs.

Diagnosing Mycoplasma in Dogs

Diagnosing Mycoplasma infections in dogs involves several steps:

1. Clinical Examination:

The veterinarian will start with a thorough clinical examination, noting any symptoms and their duration. This helps in identifying the potential site of infection and the severity of the condition.

2. Laboratory Tests:

♦  Culture: Mycoplasma bacteria can be cultured from samples taken from the respiratory tract, urogenital tract, or other affected areas. However, this process can be time-consuming and challenging due to the slow-growing nature of Mycoplasma.

♦  PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction): This is a more rapid and sensitive method for detecting Mycoplasma DNA in clinical samples. PCR tests can identify the presence of Mycoplasma species even in cases where bacterial counts are low.

♦  Serology: Blood tests can detect antibodies against Mycoplasma, indicating an immune response to the infection.

3. Imaging:

In cases of respiratory infection, chest X-rays may be performed to assess the extent of lung involvement and to rule out other potential causes of respiratory distress.

Treatment of Mycoplasma in Dogs

Treating Mycoplasma infections in dogs can be challenging due to the bacteria’s lack of a cell wall, which renders many common antibiotics ineffective. The mainstays of treatment include:

1. Antibiotics:

♦  Macrolides: Antibiotics such as erythromycin and azithromycin are often effective against Mycoplasma due to their ability to inhibit protein synthesis.

♦  Tetracyclines: Doxycycline is commonly used to treat Mycoplasma infections and is effective against a wide range of bacteria, including Mycoplasma.

♦  Fluoroquinolones: Enrofloxacin and other fluoroquinolones can also be effective, particularly in cases of respiratory infections.

2. Supportive Care:

♦  Hydration: Ensuring the dog remains hydrated is crucial, particularly if the infection has caused systemic symptoms like fever.

♦  Nutritional Support: A balanced diet helps maintain the dog’s overall health and supports the immune system during recovery.

♦  Anti-Inflammatory Medications: These may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms such as joint pain.

3. Monitoring and Follow-Up:

Regular follow-up appointments are essential to monitor the dog’s response to treatment and to make any necessary adjustments to the therapeutic regimen.

How Long is Mycoplasma Contagious in Dogs?

The contagious period of Mycoplasma in dogs can vary. Generally, dogs can shed Mycoplasma bacteria and be contagious to other animals as long as they exhibit symptoms of infection. During the acute phase of the illness, particularly in cases involving the respiratory or urogenital tracts, the bacteria are more likely to be spread to other dogs.

Even after clinical symptoms have resolved, some dogs may continue to harbor and intermittently shed Mycoplasma bacteria, posing a risk to other animals, particularly those with compromised immune systems. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain good hygiene practices and, if possible, isolate infected dogs during the treatment period and for a time after symptoms have resolved to minimize the risk of transmission.

Is Mycoplasma in Cats Contagious to Dogs?

Mycoplasma species are generally host-specific, meaning that the species infecting cats are typically different from those infecting dogs. However, there is some potential for cross-species transmission, especially in environments where cats and dogs are in close contact, such as multi-pet households or shelters.

In cats, Mycoplasma felis is a common respiratory pathogen, and while it primarily affects felines, there is a possibility, albeit low, that it could infect dogs, particularly if the dog’s immune system is compromised. Conversely, dogs infected with Mycoplasma species like Mycoplasma canis could potentially pose a risk to cats, though this is also considered uncommon.

To minimize the risk of cross-species transmission, it is advisable to maintain good hygiene practices, such as regular cleaning of shared spaces, and to monitor both cats and dogs for any signs of illness. If one pet in a household is diagnosed with a Mycoplasma infection, veterinary advice should be sought to determine if preventative measures or treatment is necessary for other animals in the home.

Prevention and Management Strategies

Preventing Mycoplasma infections in dogs involves several key strategies:

1. Vaccination:

Currently, there are no specific vaccines available for Mycoplasma in dogs. However, maintaining up-to-date vaccinations against other respiratory pathogens can help reduce the overall burden of respiratory infections and improve immune system function.

2. Good Hygiene Practices:

Regular cleaning of living areas, food and water bowls, and bedding can help reduce the environmental load of Mycoplasma and other pathogens.

3. Stress Reduction:

Reducing stress through proper socialization, regular exercise, and a stable environment can help strengthen a dog’s immune system, making them less susceptible to infections.

4. Regular Veterinary Check-Ups:

Routine veterinary examinations can help detect early signs of illness and facilitate prompt treatment, reducing the risk of severe infections and complications.

5. Isolation of Infected Animals:

Dogs diagnosed with Mycoplasma infections should be isolated from other pets to prevent the spread of the bacteria. This is particularly important in multi-pet households or kennel environments.


How Long Is A Dog Contagious with Mycoplasma?

A dog is typically contagious with Mycoplasma as long as it shows symptoms and can continue to shed bacteria intermittently even after symptoms resolve.

Is Mycoplasma The Same As Kennel Cough?

Mycoplasma is not the same as kennel cough, but it can be a component of the kennel cough complex, which involves multiple pathogens.


Mycoplasma infections in dogs represent a significant health concern due to the bacteria’s unique characteristics and the broad range of symptoms they can cause. Understanding the nature of Mycoplasma, recognizing the signs of infection, and implementing effective treatment and prevention strategies are crucial for managing this pathogen in canine populations. While challenges remain, particularly in terms of diagnosis and treatment, ongoing research and veterinary advancements continue to improve our ability to combat Mycoplasma infections and safeguard the health of our canine companions.

Click Puainta To Learn More Dogs

Leave A Comment
All comments are moderated before being published.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Join The Puainta

Become one of pet parents and get professional tips, immediate product info, updated promotions and discounts, and more surprises from us!