Brucellosis in Dogs

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:

  • Lethargy
  • 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.


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Reviewed on: 
Monday, May 5, 2014