Pasteurella in Dogs

What is Pasteurella?
Pasteurellosis is not a new disease, but it’s one you may not be familiar with. Named after Louis Pasteur, the disease was first isolated by him around 18801.

Pasteurella sp are a genus of zoonotic bacteria (meaning they can be passed between animals and people). There are a number of species and sub species but all are quite similar2. They are a natural inhabitant of the skin, digestive tract and oral cavity of a dog, but can cause disease under the right circumstances. The bacteria can spread from dog to dog when aerosolized (by way of coughing or sneezing). It can also spread through bite wounds (when saliva enters open wounds). The result can be abscesses or septicemia (infection in the blood stream). This can result in serious or even fatal infections.

What kinds of problems can Pasteurella cause for dogs?
In dogs, species of Pasteurella are associated with a wide range of diseases, including:

  • Ear infections
  • Nasal and sinus infections
  • Eye infections
  • Joint infections
  • Infection and accumulation of pus inside the chest cavity
  • Infection of the covering of the brain

Pasteurella may also lead to pneumonia, which is often fatal.

How is Pasteurellosis spread among dogs?
Because the organism lives in the mouth, it can be readily spread by bite wounds or by licking open wounds. This leads to wound infections and even abscesses and deep infections.

Click here to learn more about the dangers of dog bites.

Is Pasteurella contagious from dogs to people?
Yes, the organism that causes canine pasteurellosis is very capable of infecting humans. It is always important to consult your physician if you have received a bite wound.

How is Pasteurella diagnosed and treated?
The organism can be isolated by culturing the involved tissue. Your veterinarian may run tests to determine the most effective antibiotic to use, but, in general, penicillin is effective (2).  Other antibiotics of value may be recommended by your veterinarian.

How can Pasteurella be prevented?
While there are no available vaccinations, there are definitely steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of transmission to other dogs and to humans:

It’s important to prevent exposure to dog saliva as a wound contaminate by not allowing dogs to lick open wounds and by avoiding dog bites. Always consult with your veterinarian about the care of dog bites.

Click here to learn about Pasteurella endangering the saiga antelope.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.


  1. Harper, M., JD Boyce, and B. Adler. "Pasteurella Multocida Pathogenesis: 125 Years after Pasteur." National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2006. Web. 28 May 2015. 
  2. "Pasteurella Spp." University of Sidney, Web. 28 May 2015.