BRUCELLOSIS IN DOGS
If you have a female dog and want to find a male to breed with, you may very well be asked to prove that your female dog is Brucellosis negative first.
The owner of the male dog wants to make sure his prized dog doesn’t contact this terrible disease while mating.
Testing is standard procedure to professional breeders and serious kennels, but the typical pet owner and amateur breeder may not be familiar with the disease.
Like many other diseases, brucellosis used to be a common in our farm animals, greatly reducing production, wreaking financial ruin on families dependent on their farms, causing abortions of calves and piglets, and killing animals and people alike.
With the advent of modern science and with great expense and effort, veterinarians, government scientists, and farmers worked together in the developing countries to test every cow and hog prior to slaughter or crossing a State line.
If an animal turned up positive, the farm was quarantined, and all affected animals were destroyed. The farm wasn’t released from quarantine until multiple follow up tests proved negative. It was a big, big deal, but it proved effective; we vets rarely see a brucellosis case anymore.
I haven’t worked in herd health in long time, but I’m pretty sure testing is still routine, especially for animals crossing borders to prevent this disease from finding it’s way back into our food animals.
While the disease may be practically eradicated in our livestock, the disease is still present as a strain known as Brucella canis in our canine population.
Usually dogs carrying the brucella organism have no outward signs of sickness ... But; the organism loves fetal tissue and causes abortions. Humans coming in contact with the aborted tissue, semen, vaginal discharges, or urine of an affected dog might also harbor the organism with ill effects...especially if pregnant.
While most dogs don't have outward signs of sickness, infected dogs sometimes develop swollen lymph nodes, swollen vulvas, testicles and prostatitis.
Spondylitis and uveitis are also sometimes associated with brucella infection
The disease is transmitted from one dog to another mostly through sex, but also from contact with vaginal discharges, urine, and aborted placentas and fetuses. One positive dog in a kennel situation could spread the problem to all the other dogs and there might not be any obvious sign that it happened.
Positive females either don’t conceive or have abortions. Males become sterile and may have swollen testicles. Most seem healthy but are capable of spreading the disease to others.
Because of all this, it’s wise for breeders to test both the male and female before breeding. This is something your vet must do for you, but if you plan a few weeks ahead, he or she can mail your dog’s blood sample for you to your State lab, which usually will do the test quite cheaply, but results make take too long to get back if you’ve waited until your dog is in heat to do the test.
The alternative is a more expensive screening test kit that your vet is likely to have with the advantage of results in about 30 minutes.
In the rare event that your dog turns up positive, you may be forced to destroy the dog for public health reasons. This won’t be done, however, until the dog is retested by the official State Veterinarian to ensure that the dog is positive.
This too, is a big deal. The State Vet will very likely require any of your other pets, neighbors pets, etc to be tested in an attempt to eradicate the potential threat. Luckily this is a rare event.
There is no treatment or vaccine (for dogs) for this terrible disease.
There is only the legal requirement and hope that animal owners will cooperate if needed and that breeders will test prior to breeding.
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