Listeria monocytogenes are bacteria that cause the infection listeriosis. The illness tends to affect humans, but it can attack your pooch as well. Be wary of what you feed your pooch and know the warning signs of listeriosis. It can be life-threatening if left untreated.
How It Spreads
Listeria monocytogenes bacteria thrive in warm soil, mud and small bodies of water. When livestock animals, such as cows, sheep and goats, nibble on infected plants or drink from a contaminated body of water, the bacteria gets into their systems. Your dog can get listeriosis in the same manner -- by getting into something contaminated in the yard. But it’s more likely that he becomes infected by eating contaminated meat or kibble that has been made with contaminated meat.
Initial warning signs of listeriosis are similar to the flu in humans. Your pooch will go from a high-energy fur ball, to an overly fatigued dog almost overnight. As the bacteria progress through his system, he’ll lose his appetite, have diarrhea, throw up, have poor coordination, suffer from a high fever and drool excessively. In advanced stages, listeriosis causes his face to be droopy -- a sign of paralysis. Listeria monocytogenes bacteria ultimately affect your pooch’s brain, leading to brain swelling.
Listeriosis can sometimes be effectively treated if you catch it quick enough. Upon an early diagnosis, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe a high dose of antibiotics to kill the foreign invader. If your pooch isn’t eating or drinking, he may need a hospital stay to get intravenous fluid. Sadly, in some cases, listeriosis can be fatal as quickly as a couple days after exposure to the bacteria.
You can’t protect your dog from everything, but you can work to limit his risk of coming into contact with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Don’t let your mischievous chum come into contact with dead animals. Anything from a deceased cow all the way down to a dead bunny can be contaminated with the bacteria. You should also keep your furry friend away from any animal excrement, which can be breeding grounds for growth of harmful bacteria. Lastly, watch what you feed your pooch. Pay attention to food, treat and bone recalls regularly -- the pet store where you buy your dog food should have this information. If you give your companion meat, cook it thoroughly first, no matter what it is. Even hot dogs have been known to cause listeriosis outbreaks.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.