Introduction: Urinary tract infections (UTIs) in dogs with urinary catheters in intensive care units (ICUs) are frequent. Historically, multi-drug resistant (MDR) Escherichia coli account for about 10% of the UTIs. The objectives of this study were to determine the frequency of E. coli infections and of MDR E. coli in dogs with UTIs in our ICU, and to assess whether the MDR E. coli were community-acquired or nosocomial in origin.

Methods: Over a 1-year period, rectal swabs were taken from all dogs in the ICU on the day of admission (D0) and on days 3 (D3), 6 (D6), 9 (D9) and 12 (D12). Urine was collected on these days from dogs with an indwelling urinary catheter (n=190). Rectal swabs and urine were routinely cultured. E. coli isolates were identified by biochemical tests. Using NCCLS guidelines, antibiotic susceptibility testing was done by disk diffusion method on fecal and urinary E. coli isolates. Twelve antimicrobial agents were used: nalidixic acid, enrofloxacin, cephalothin, cefoxitin, cefotaxime, ceftiofur, trimethoprim-sulfa, chloramphenicol, gentamicin, tetracycline, ampicillin, and amoxicillin/clavulanate. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was used to compare MDR E. coli UTI strains with fecal E. coli strains from the same patient and with MDR fecal E. coli from patients that were adjacent to, or housed in the same cages.

Results: E. coli was cultured from 12 (48%) of 25 UTIs. Two of the E. coli were MDR. For one dog, PFGE showed no similarities among fecal E. coli and the urinary MDR E. coli isolates from the patient or between these isolates and fecal E. coli from a dog housed in the same kennel on the previous day. The MDR E. coli UTI was likely acquired prior to admission to the ICU, as it was present on D0. For the other dog, PFGE showed genetic similarity but not complete identity between the D3 MDR E. coli urinary isolate and the D3, D6, D9 fecal MDR isolates. This suggests that the UTI originated with the fecal E. coli. Using selective plates, fecal MDR E. coli were not found on D0. Selection of the MDR strain in the intestine by the use of antibiotics occurred while the dog was in the ICU and possibly led to the UTI.

Conclusions: Multi-drug resistant E. coli accounted for 2 of 12 E. coli UTIs in dogs in the ICU over a 1-year period. Genotyping showed that one of the two MDR E. coli infections could possibly be of nosocomial origin.