Brucellosis in dogs

Brucellosis in dogs

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can lead to a wide range of problems, including orchitis (testicle inflammation), uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye), and miscarriage in dogs. Dogs are not the only ones affected by this disease; it infects a lot of domestic animals world wide, including cattle, swine and goats. Humans can also suffer from Brucellosis. In dogs, the disease is caused by a bacterium named Brucella canis, while goats and sheep are infected with Brucella melitensis, pigs with Brucella ovis, and so on.

Brucellosis transmission in dogs

In dogs, sexual transmission is the most common form of Brucellosis transmission. They can however get the disease in other ways as well, e.g. by having contact with foetuses that has been aborted due to Brucellosis.

Brucellosis symptoms in dogs

In dogs, the Brucellosis bacteria normally settle down in the genitals and the lymphatic system, but it is possible for it to spread to the kidneys, eyes and the intervertebral disc as well. When Brucellosis infects the intervertebral disc, the result is discospondylitis.

In dogs, symptoms from the reproductive organs are common. Male dogs can for instance develop scrotal and testicular inflammations, while female dogs can have miscarriages. Fever is uncommon, but the pain associated with Brucellosis can make the dog weak. If the disease spreads to kidneys, eyes or the intervertebral disc symptoms can begin to show from these organs. 

Brucellosis prevention

The best way of preventing Brucellosis is to test all dogs prior to breeding. A blood test can show if the dog is infected with Brucellosis. Avoiding “accidental” mating is naturally also important. 

You have to be careful when handling dogs infected with Brucellosis, because humans can catch Brucellosis from animals, e.g. by having contact with aborted foetuses, blood or semen. If you only pet and care for your dog in a normal fashion and leave everything that involves blood and semen to the veterinarian your risk of getting Brucellosis is very low. If your immune system is compromised, e.g. due to HIV, cancer or immunosuppressant drugs (common after transplants) you should not care for a dog with Brucellosis.

Brucellosis treatment for dogs

Brucellosis in dogs can be treated with antibiotics, but it is hard to cure and prolonged medication is often required. Antibiotics such as rifampicin, tetracycline, streptomycin and getnamicin are all effective against the Brucella bacteria. 

One frequently used method is to use a combination of doxycycline and rifampin during 6 weeks. Another combination is intramuscular injections of streptomycin for two weeks combined with doxycyline pills for 45 days. It can however take several months for the dog to fully recover. Fatal Brucellosis is uncommon, but in a few cases the does disease leads to endocarditis.

The reason why antibiotics have to be administered during several weeks is the fact that the Brucellosis bacteria incubates within the cells of the dog. Using doxycycline only is never a good idea, because doxycycline needs to be combined with other drugs to prevent the Brucellosis from reappearing.

Bacterial infections in dogs: (click for more info)
Aspergillosis in dogs
Brucellosis in dogs
Clostridium in dogs
Ehrlichiosis in dogs
Leptospirosis in dogs
Rocky Mountain spotted fever in dogs