Dog bite wounds are a common reason for dogs requiring veterinary care, but there is surprisingly little data on the bacteriology of bite wounds. A prospective study was performed on dogs with various grades of bite wound to identify the bacteria present in these wounds. Swabs were collected from all wounds for bacterial culture and cytology. All swabs were cultured aerobically and anaerobically and all aerobic cultures were evaluated for antibiotic susceptibility using the Kirby Bauer disk diffusion test. Fifty dogs with 104 bite wounds, inflicted within the previous 72 h, were included. The victims were predominately intact male small breed dogs. Of the 104 wounds, 21 were judged by cytology to be infected and 83 non-infected.
Infected wounds were significantly more likely to culture positive ( p = 0.02). Sixteen percent of wounds showed no growth. Sixteen percent grew aerobes, 1% anaerobes and 67% a mixture of aerobes and anaerobes. Pasteurella canis and pyogenic streptococci were common in infected wounds, whereas Bacillus spp., Actinomyces spp. and the oral streptococci were usually found in contaminated wounds. Three anaerobic genera were cultured, namely, Prevotella, Clostridium and Peptostreptococcus.
One case represented the first isolation of Capnocytophaga canimorsus in an infected dog bite wound. Although no single antibiotic therapy was considered to be effective against all the bacteria, amoxycillin plus clavulanic acid, 1st and 3rd generation cephalosporins ampicillin or amoxycillin and potentiated sulphonamides gave the best in vitro sensitivity results.