Nocardiosis in Dogs results from the infection of bacteria belonging to the genus Nocardia. They commonly occur in soil, compost, and other decomposing vegetable matter. Dogs get the infection when these bacteria gain entry into their body, either through wounds in the skin or when they are inhaled along with dust. However, the disease is not transmitted from one animal to another. Nocardia bacteria have a worldwide distribution, occurring in tropical as well temperate regions.
Irrespective of the route of infection, the dog may display general symptoms such as fever, lack of appetite, weight loss and listlessness. Localized mycetomas and skin lesions are common, and may be accompanied by inflamed lymph nodes. Nocardiosis often results in mouth ulcers and inflammation of gums that give rise to extreme bad breath in dogs. Infection in the chest may lead to severe inflammation of both thoracic and abdominal cavities, often accompanied by the production of pus. Infection of vital organs such as the kidneys, liver, brain and the heart produce characteristic symptoms in the dogs. In younger dogs, when the infection is initiated by the inhalation of the bacteria, the disease first develops in the lungs and then quickly spreads to the entire body.
When Nocardiosis is detected in the dog, the veterinarian may start an antibiotic therapy that is suitable for fighting the causative agent since these bacteria are resistant to certain antibiotic drugs. To achieve complete recovery from the disease, the antibiotic therapy must be continued for prolonged periods, often exceeding three months. Diligent observation of the veterinarian’s advice is essential for both fighting off the infection and preventing relapses.