Knowledge of the bacterial species present when dealing with an infectious condition will be very helpful in selecting an appropriate antimicrobial and therefore culture and sensitivity testing is often indicated. If this information is not available, a combination of cytology and a knowledge of which pathogens are likely for a given situation may help in selecting an appropriate antimicrobial. Cytology will allow classification of the bacteria present by Gram-staining and morphology, which will narrow down the possible species. Knowledge of the site of infection may suggest whether bacteria are likely to be aerobic or anaerobic, for example cases of pyothorax and abscesses are likely to involve obligate and facultative anaerobes.3


Type of organism



Possible bacterial pathogens4

Leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae (stain poorly as Gram-negative)

Borrelia burgdorferi (stain as Gram-negative, microaerophilic or anaerobic)


Useful antimicrobials5,6



Key: Aerobic Anaerobic



Disclaimer:  Indications and doses may vary between products.  The antimicrobials listed may constitute an off licence use of the product and as such should only be used according to the ‘Cascade’, further details of which are available on the RCVS, VMD and NOAH websites.  Veterinary surgeons are advised to carefully check the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) before prescribing a product and obtain informed owner consent where required.