Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Diarrhea Due to Clostridium perfringens in Dogs

Clostridial Enterotoxicosis in Dogs

Clostridial enterotoxicosis in dogs is a gastrointestinal syndrome triggered by elevated levels of the Clostridium perfringens bacterium, commonly found in decaying vegetation, marine sediment, and improperly cooked meats. Dogs can also contract this infection from other dogs, particularly when boarded at kennels.

Typically, clostridial enterotoxicosis manifests as infections localized within the intestinal tract, without progressing to systemic disease. Symptoms usually endure for about a week in acute cases and include diarrhea, abdominal pain, and nausea. In chronic cases, diarrhea recurs every two to four weeks, persisting for months to years. It is estimated that up to 20 percent of large bowel diarrhea cases in dogs may be attributed to clostridial enterotoxicosis.

Although more prevalent in dogs than in cats, possibly due to dogs spending more time in vegetation or consuming found meat, most animals possess antibodies that effectively combat the bacteria and eliminate it from the body.

Symptoms and Types

  • Diarrhea accompanied by shiny mucus on its surface
  • Presence of small amounts of fresh blood in diarrhea
  • Passing small, meager stools
  • Potential for large volumes of watery stools
  • Straining during defecation
  • Increased frequency of defecation
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort, typically indicated by standing with lowered front and raised back end, or curling up to cover the abdomen, and resistance to abdominal touch
  • Abnormal amount of flatulence (i.e., passing gas)
  • Fever (rare)


Clostridial enterotoxicosis arises from an excessive proliferation of the Clostridium perfringens bacterium in the intestine. Often, the bacteria is acquired from the environment, such as flora, or from consuming raw, undercooked, or aged meat. Other contributing factors include:

  • Dietary alterations
  • Abnormally elevated pH levels in the intestine
  • Deficiency of antibodies
  • Exposure to other dogs in a hospital or kennel setting
  • Digestive system stress due to concurrent diseases like parvovirus, gastroenteritis, and inflammatory bowel disease


To diagnose your dog’s condition, it’s important to provide a comprehensive history of your dog’s health, including when symptoms began and any potential triggers such as outdoor activities, scavenging through garbage, consuming old or raw meat, or recent stays at a kennel.

Your veterinarian will perform a detailed physical examination of your dog and may order standard blood tests, including a complete blood count, chemical blood profile, and urinalysis. While most of these tests may appear normal, they are essential for ruling out other potential causes of the symptoms. Given the evident intestinal symptoms, a fecal sample will be necessary for microscopic analysis.

Identifying this intestinal disease can be challenging as there isn’t a single definitive test for it. False positive results can occur due to interfering substances in the feces. Your veterinarian may also consider using an endoscope to examine the interior of your dog’s intestines and possibly obtain a tissue sample for further evaluation.


Treatment for clostridial enterotoxicosis is typically straightforward, often managed on an outpatient basis until the dog fully recovers from the infection. In severe cases where diarrhea and/or vomiting lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances, fluid therapy may be necessary.

If the presence of Clostridium perfringens toxin is confirmed, your veterinarian may prescribe a week-long course of oral antibiotics. Dogs with chronic diarrhea may require extended antibiotic treatment.

Dietary adjustments play a crucial role in managing this condition. High-fiber diets and formulations containing prebiotic and probiotic ingredients, such as lactobacillus, help restore and maintain the balance of intestinal flora in the gastrointestinal tract.

Living and Management

In cases of long-term management, this disease is addressed by transitioning your pet to a high-fiber diet, which helps decrease Clostridium perfringens and enterotoxin production in the intestinal tract. Your veterinarian may suggest supplementing your dog’s high-fiber diet with psyllium, a soluble source of fiber. Additionally, prebiotic and probiotic diets might be recommended to help maintain the normal balance of beneficial bacteria in your dog’s intestine.

Fortunately, dogs with a robust immune response typically overcome the infection easily. Regular monitoring and adherence to dietary recommendations can help manage and prevent recurrence of symptoms associated with clostridial enterotoxicosis.

Scroll to Top