Genotypic and phenotypic characterization of Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium difficile in diarrheic and healthy dogs

J Vet Intern Med. Sep-Oct 2002;16(5):533-40. doi: 10.1892/0891-6640(2002)016<0533:gapcop>;2.


The objectives of this study were to examine the potential roles of Clostridium difficile and enterotoxigenic Clostridium perfringens in diarrhea in dogs by comparison of isolation, determination of toxin status via enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and application of multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR). These techniques were used to evaluate fecal specimens in 132 healthy and diarrheic dogs. These dogs were prospectively evaluated by grouping them into the following 3 categories: hospitalized dogs with diarrhea (n = 32), hospitalized dogs without diarrhea (n = 42), and apparently healthy outpatient dogs without diarrhea (n = 58). All fecal specimens were cultured using selective media for C difficile, Salmonella spp., and Campylobacter spp. and selective media after heat shock for C perfringens. No significant difference was found in the isolation of C perfringens or C difficile among the 3 groups. A significant association was found between the presence of diarrhea and detection of C perfringens enterotoxin (CPE) or toxin A via ELISA for both C perfringens and C difficile, respectively. PCR performed on C difficile isolates for toxin A and toxin B genes revealed no significant differences among the 3 groups, but diarrheic dogs were significantly more likely to be positive for the enterotoxin gene of C perfringens. Based on the results of this study, the use of ELISA for detection of CPE in feces combined with the detection of enterotoxigenic fecal isolates obtained via heat shock provides the strongest evidence for the presence of C perfringens-associated diarrhea.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins*
  • Bacterial Toxins / analysis
  • Bacterial Toxins / genetics
  • Clostridium Infections / microbiology
  • Clostridium Infections / veterinary
  • Clostridium difficile / genetics*
  • Clostridium difficile / isolation & purification*
  • Clostridium perfringens / genetics*
  • Clostridium perfringens / isolation & purification*
  • Diarrhea / microbiology*
  • Diarrhea / veterinary*
  • Dog Diseases / microbiology*
  • Dogs
  • Enterotoxins / analysis
  • Enterotoxins / genetics
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Genotype
  • Health*
  • Phenotype


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Bacterial Toxins
  • Enterotoxins
  • enterotoxin, Clostridium
  • tcdA protein, Clostridium difficile
  • toxB protein, Clostridium difficile