Brucellosis in dogs
Drs. Foster & Smith

Much has been written on Brucellosis in breeding dogs. Infection rates may run as high as 10%. It is suspected that one in ten dogs in this country carries Brucellosis. In addition, it is transmissible to humans who may develop serious liver impairment or arthritis.

Medical advancements in controlling this disease have been few and far between. It is a very difficult disorder to treat and in most cases, treatment is unsuccessful. A prevalent attitude is that "if my dogs get it, then I will treat it." This is a serious mistake because you probably will not cure it and, if you do, the individual will probably be sterile or a poor breeding specimen.

Brucellosis in the female dog lives in the vaginal and uterine tissue and secretions. Litters are commonly aborted, usually in the last two weeks of gestation, or the puppies may die shortly after birth. The female may never appear to be pregnant at all. She can spread the bacteria to other animals through her urine, aborted fetuses, or most commonly through the act of breeding.

In males, the brucella bacteria live in the testicles and seminal fluids. An infected male is just as dangerous as the female as he can spread it via his urine or semen. Oftentimes, there are no signs except in advanced cases when the testicles may be uneven in size. Since Brucella canis is mainly spread by the act of breeding, it is paramount to test all canines, male and female, prior to breeding. Test between every breeding of different animals. In other words, if a male or female was tested one year ago but has bred since, it must be tested again.

In the case of a male, even if he serviced a female since his last test, then he must be tested again even if his last test was as recent as four weeks ago. Testing is the only sure way to detect carriers.

Testing for Brucellosis usually requires a blood test by your veterinarian and all positives should be retested for a confirmation. When possible, all > incoming breeding dogs should be isolated for two weeks upon arrival at the kennel. At the end of two weeks, have the individual male or female tested by your vet for Brucellosis. Do this even if the dog was tested before shipment. This may seem excessive but you will spend a lot more money if Brucellosis creeps into your kennel, not to mention the disruption in your breeding program and loss of genetic potential.

Treatment for Brucellosis fails in most cases. Tetracycline is usually used for a four week period but success is rare. Streptomycin is occasionally effective. As a general rule, do not breed an individual that is said to be treated and cured. "Cured" patients often begin shedding the bacteria months to years after treatment. Don't knowingly take a chance.

In conclusion, test and isolate. Do not rely on an uncertain cure. If you do not heed these suggestions, you are playing with fire in your kennel and perhaps with your own health. Remember: One out of ten dogs may be a carrier and those are very disturbing odds.

Websites for brucellosis: (clinical article by a DVM) (individual non- vet info) (from "VetTalk" by a DVM)