What Is Brucellosis In Dogs?
Canine brucellosis is a contagious and zoonotic disease caused by Brucella Canis. Humans are susceptible to most of the Brucella species while each species have a highly variable zoonotic potential.
There are at least 10 species of Brucella bacteria that infect various animals. Dogs are the only definitive host of B. Canis although sporadic infections with B. abortus, B. suis, or B. melitensis occur in dogs. This happens by having close contact with infected livestock animals, e.g. secretions or tissues, especially aborted fetuses, contaminated placentas, and raw milk.
Unlike many other bacterial infections, this infection is more serious and a dog is usually infected for life even after antimicrobial treatment.
Transmission occurs via ingestion of contaminated materials through oral, nasal, conjunctival, or secondarily venereal (genital mucosa). The disease disseminates quickly among closely confined dogs as in kennels, especially at the time of breeding or genital secretions (semen or vaginal discharges) or when abortions occur. Transmission through urine also has been reported but seems to be rare.
What Are The Symptoms Of Brucellosis In Dogs?
Initially, many infected dogs may be asymptomatic. The pathognomic signs in dogs may show up anytime from a few days to a few months after infection.
Common symptoms are similar to those of the flu:
- Fever and Fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Chills /Sweats
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Joint, muscle, and back pain
For female dogs: Abortion, Infertility or failure to conceive, stillbirth, and prolonged vaginal discharge.
For male dogs: Painful urination, epididymitis, orchitis, prostatitis, testicular atrophy, and scrotal oedema.
Brucellosis symptoms may disappear for weeks or months and then return. Some people have chronic brucellosis and experience symptoms for years, even after treatment. Long-term signs and symptoms may include:
- Recurrent fevers
- Inflammation of the inner lining of the heart chambers (endocarditis)
- Joint inflammation (arthritis)
- inflammation in the hindlimb joints (polyarthritis)
- Arthritis of the spinal bones (spondylitis)
- Arthritis of joints where the spine and pelvis connect (sacroiliitis)
What Is The Treatment For Canine Brucellosis?
As of now, there is no vaccine or proper treatment available against B. canis so prevention is the key.
Early diagnosis of infected dogs and proper management are crucial in controlling the spread of the disease.
Given the long and varied incubation periods, screening can be tricky but it is a necessary tool.
Treatment usually combines two or more antibiotics - Doxycycline, minocycline, rifampicin, oxytetracycline, or perhaps enrofloxacin.
Probiotics may be recommended for digestive and intestinal health.
It is important for dog owners to keep in mind that the cure for brucellosis is still uncertain after antibiotic treatment as they have high rates of relapse and the bacteria sheds intermittently.
Home Remedies For Brucellosis In Dogs
- Talk to Your Veterinarians and understand your pet's treatment options.
- The infection can be asymptomatic in dogs - access your dog's pain and watch out for any abnormal behavior.
- Work with your vet to find the optimal dietary plan for your dog.
- Home remedies such as herbs, diet, and exercise will depend on your dog's age and stage of the disease they are in.
How To Prevent Brucellosis In Dogs?
The best way to protect a dog from being infected by B. canis is to have it screened for the infection prior to breeding.
Breeders and buyers should encourage screening with dogs imported from countries where B. canis is more common.
Dogs in a breeding kennel situation should be kept away from new dogs until a quarantine period of two to three months has been completed along with a negative test for brucellosis.
In utero transmission and transmission through blood, milk, urine and feces are also possible. Therefore, necessary prevention should be undertaken in the management of infected dogs to limit contact with other dogs and humans.
Unfortunately, the only trustworthy way to stop the spread of Brucellosis is euthanasia (of the infected animal).
Dog Breeds Affected By Brucellosis In Dogs
There is no breed, sex or age predisposition.
Additional Facts On Brucellosis In Dogs
- The causative agent of canine brucellosis - B. canisis considered self-limiting and occasional with respect to human infection. In fact, it has been reported that B. canis is responsible for only 1% of the diagnosed human brucellosis.
- The primary risks of the spread of Brucellosis in Dogs are:
- Licking of infected urine, vaginal or penile discharge.
- Ingestion of infected milk, infected fetuses, or placental material.
- Contact of mucous membranes with infected material.
- Mating with an infected dog.
- Inhalation of infected urine, vaginal or penile discharge.
- Fomite-associated transmission (contaminated things) such as bedding, bowls, etc.,
- An aerosol route in crowded kennels.
- For dogs infected with B. canis, the first six to eight weeks shed large numbers of bacteria and this is followed by intermittent shedding of the bacteria for their entire lives.
When To See A Vet For Canine Brucellosis?
Brucellosis is very complicated to treat and affected dogs should be considered to be infected for life. When there is an acute infection, contact the vet immediately so that it can be controlled with antibiotics.
Diet And Food Suggestions For Brucellosis In Dogs
What to feed?
- Brown rice, lukewarm (never hot) chicken soup with Low sodium or chicken breast, and cooked vegetables are perfect for the ailing pup.
- Add a couple of spoonfuls of salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, or another fish product to your dog's food.
- Too much-canned fish is bad for a sick pup. A small quantity to tempt an unwell pet to eat is usually ok.
- Shredded chicken with a carrot stick.
- Meat-flavored baby food or bland food.
- Semi-moist pet food with boiled chicken.
- Leafy greens (Spinach, Kale, lettuce).
- Poultry like chicken and turkey.
- Turmeric, Red Bell Peppers.
- Broth or stock of boiled chicken bones.
- Tuna, salmon, cod, whiting, whitefish, etc.,
- Cooked or raw liver, Red Meat.
- Plant-based proteins peas, chickpeas, and lentils.
- Canned pumpkin, Carrots.
- Berries, apples, banana.
There is no proper cure for brucellosis. Antibiotic therapy does not always get rid of B. canis and so a lack of clinical signs after treatment does not mean that the infection is cured. Therefore, control measures are gaining prominence nowadays.