Can dogs get flesh-eating bacteria? Vibrio vulnificus and dogs

dog swimming in lake

Recently, a flesh-eating bacteria known as Vibrio vulnificus has killed 5 people in Florida and at least a dozen have died overall in the U.S.

This of course is a water lover’s worst nightmare and many pet owners are concerned for the dogs that enjoy a good swim.

Just a little information about Vibrio vlunificus

  • It is a naturally occurring bacteria
  • It thrives in warm, slightly salty water
  • It has infected almost 400 people in Florida, killing 100 of them since 2008.
  • It can enter the body through a scrape, wound, or cut
  • It can also live in raw seafood and cause infections (especially raw oysters)

Can dogs get Vibrio vulnificus?

The great news is that your dog is not at risk of contracting Vibrio vulnificus as an infection is unknown in dogs and they do not seem to be susceptible.

However, let’s look at some flesh-eating bacteria or other microorganisms that you should be aware of for dogs that love water.

dog swimming


Pseudo-nitzschia is an algae-like organism that produces a toxin that can kill animals and humans. It has been found in the Indian River Lagoon and in fish caught in the same lagoon.

It can cause neurological issues and present as erratic behavior and seizures due to a release of the toxin, domoic acid.

Luckily, there have not been any deaths associated with the organism


A blue-green algae is also commonly found in the Indian River Lagoon and they clump together and resemble floating brown seaweed on the water.

Lyngbya is toxic to fish, and plants, and can cause ‘swimmers itch’ in humans.

Dogs can become infected if they drink contaminated water while swimming or if the algae is caught in their fur and they eat it while cleaning themselves.

dog eating