Brucellosis in Dogs

Brucellosis is one of the few bacterial infections transmissible between both dogs and humans. It is an infection which stems from the Brucella canis bacteria and can cause serious problems in the female dog and her offspring, or lack thereof. Brucellosis is, in fact, a very common infection among dogs and remains one of the main problems during breeding.

Transmission and Breeding

Brucellosis is primarily a sexually transmitted disease that occurs as a result of sexual contact between dogs. The bacteria harbor themselves in the secretions of both the male and female dog, making secretions of the urine, vagina and semen the main carriers for infection.

This particular infection is highly dangerous to breeding dogs. A female that is infected with brucellosis will undoubtedly pass it on to her fetuses. When that happens, the unborn puppies will become affected, and they will not likely survive their time in utero. If testing is not done prior to breedings, it may take many failed breedings before there is any evidence of sterility or infection within the female. Because both male and female dogs can carry the infection, there is a dual-risk of pregnancy and conception issues. Not only does brucellosis produce litters that are not viable, but over time, it eventually causes both males and females to become sterile.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing brucellosis is a fairly easy feat. Blood testing and vaginal smears are very accurate indicators for the bacteria. If the one of these tests reveal a positive result, then the diagnosis of brucellosis is made. As one of the most common complications of breeding, testing for brucellosis should always be conducted prior to any breeding.

While diagnosis is relatively easy, treatment is not so much. There are medications on the market that can be used to treat brucellosis; however, they are not always successful in every dog. Because brucellosis nests within the cells of a dog, it can be very hard to reach with standard antibiotics. In fact, most treatment regimens for brucellosis will require at least a few different antibiotics. The rate at which this type of infection can be controlled is unknown.

Prevention and Isolation

Because there is no vaccination available for the brucellosis infection, the only way to actively prevent it is to maintain a reputable, conscientious breeding program. It is always best to isolate infected dogs from uninfected dogs and to not mix them during breedings. Actually, an infected dog should no longer even be considered a breeding prospect.

In addition, the onset of artificial insemination has helped to reduce some of the potential for brucellosis in dogs. Using this method eliminates the sexual contact that typically transmits the infection and keeps uninfected dogs untouched. The only downfall to artificial insemination is the cost. However, producing a viable litter may actually offset the problems that arise from continuously attempting to breed dogs with brucellosis.