Contributors: Kathleen P Freeman, James Simpson

 Species: Canine   |   Classification: Lab Tests

Overview Sampling Tests Result Data Further Reading


  • Bacterial infections can cause severe diarrhea, especially in young animals.
  • Fecal culture can demonstrate these bacteria and with sensitivity testing suggest effective antimicrobial therapy.



  • Identification of bacterial causes of enteritis.
  • Identification of intestinal carriers of zoonotic bacteria, eg Salmonella Salmonella sppCampylobacter Campylobacter jejuni , certain types of E. coliClostridia spp, Yersina spp.


Source of Test Material

  • Rectal sample or freshly voided feces.

Quality Control


  • Standard hygiene.

Sample storage

  • Transport medium swabs ( rectal swab) or sterile container (feces or diarrhea sample).
  • Refrigerate if sample is not being posted/processed immediately.

Sample transport



  • Growth on selective and nonselective media with identification of significant colonies.


  • Widely available.

Technique (Intrinsic) Limitations

  • May have false negative cultures when pathogens present.
  • It is important to carry out at least two samplings as pathogens are excreted intermittently.

Technician (Extrinsic) Limitations

  • Requires special knowledge and techniques for accurate isolation and identification of potential pathogens.

Result Data

Normal (Reference) Values

  •  E. coli Escherichia coli and Campylobacter Campylobacter jejuni may be isolated from healthy dogs.
  • Serotyping of E. coli isolates may be necessary before a result is considered significant, especially in adult.

Abnormal Values

Errors and Artifacts

  • False negative culture results: if treatment with antimicrobials before sampling.

Further Reading


  • Recent references from VetMedResource and PubMed.
  • Marks S L et al (1999) Evaluation of methods to diagnose Clostridium perfringens-associated diarrhea in dogs. JAVMA 214 (3), 357-360.