Brucellosis is a contagious disease caused by the small bacterial organism Brucella canis. This bacterium primarily affects the reproductive organs of male and female dogs. Brucellosis can cause infertility and late miscarriages in female dogs. In male dogs, it can cause testicular or scrotal inflammation and infertility. This nasty disease can also cause puppies to be stillborn or very weak at birth.
Brucellosis can infect dogs of any breed and any age, though it is most common in mature dogs. It is transmitted by contact with infected fluids, especially during breeding or birth, and is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be transmitted from your pet to you.
If your dog has brucellosis, he or she will probably exhibit some of the following signs:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Difficulty walking
- Back pain
- Weak, sickly newborn puppies
- Vaginal discharge
- Swollen testicles
- Inflammation of the skin around the scrotum
Brucellosis can be a difficult disease to diagnose. Your veterinarian may recommend several tests to confirm the diagnosis.
They may include:
- Spinal x-rays to see if changes in the spine are consistent with brucellosis
- A cytology and culture to determine if a bacterial infection is present
- A complete blood count to rule out any blood abnormalities, such as anemia
- Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
- Special antibody and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests for brucellosis
If your dog has been diagnosed with brucellosis, your veterinarian will most likely recommend spaying or neutering to prevent the transmission of the disease to other dogs. Additionally, a combination of antibiotics will likely be recommended to treat your best friend. Follow up testing for brucellosis is recommended to assess if treatment is successful.
The best way to prevent brucellosis is to spay or neuter your dog according to your veterinarian’s advice. Since breeding your dog should be a very well-considered decision, discuss with your veterinarian the potential consequences of breeding. Reducing the risk of exposing your favorite canine also reduces your risk. Remember: this disease can be transmitted from your dog to you!
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM
Symptoms of Canine Brucellosis
If your dog has Canine Brucellosis, they might be exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty walking|Back pain
- Weak newborn puppies
- Vaginal discharge
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Swollen testicles and skin inflammation around the scrotum
Both male and female dogs may also experience infertility, as well, the female may abort her litter or the litter will be stillborn or weak.
Brucellosis is a zoonotic disease, or a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans.
Who is at risk?
Brucellosis is found globally and is a reportable disease in most countries. It affects people of all ages and both sexes. In the general population, most cases are caused by the consumption of raw milk or its derivatives such as fresh cheese. Most of these cases are from sheep and goat products.
The disease is also considered an occupational hazard for people who work in the livestock sector. People who work with animals and are in contact with blood, placenta, foetuses and uterine secretions have an increased risk of contracting the disease. This method of transmission primarily affects farmers, butchers, hunters, veterinarians and laboratory personnel.
Worldwide, Brucella melitensis is the most prevalent species causing human brucellosis, owing in part to difficulties in immunizing free-ranging goats and sheep.
Human-to-human transmission is very rare.
While there are several strains of Brucella that can infect your dog, the most common one is Brucella Canis. This bacterium is typically transmitted during breeding and typically comes from an infected female. There are some brucellosis specific symptoms to look for, however, many of them are more generalized and may not present as a bigger problem.
Canine brucellosis is a bacterial infection that can cause issues in reproduction in both male and females dogs. It is caused by the Brucella Canis bacterium typically.
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