Brucellosis is a bacterial infection which mainly affects the reproductive organs of both male and female dogs. The disease can lead to a wide range of problems, including orchitis (testicle inflammation), uveitis (inflammation of the middle layer of the eye), and miscarriage in dogs. It is a major cause of sterility and spontaneous abortion in dogs. Puppies infected in utero are typically aborted at 45 to 59 days after conception.
The causative agent for brucellosis is a rod-shaped, non-motile, non-spore-forming bacteria known as Brucella canis. The disease is spread by body fluids, with the main route of transmission being by sexual means. In addition, the disease can be transmitted by ingesting contaminated fluids such as vaginal discharge or urine. It may also be spread through an infected mother’s milk. Airborne transmission is very rare but has been reported. The disease spreads quickly among dogs that are kept in closely confined areas especially during breeding times and when abortions occur.
The disease is highly contagious among dogs. Kenneled dogs are at the highest risk of being affected. Non-kenneld dogs can also get this disease through contact with an infected dog or its discharges or by eating contaminated food.
The causative agent, brucella canis, is zoonotic in nature which means it can affect humans as well. Though transfer of disease from dog to humans is rare, it does happen and all preventive measures should be taken when dealing with an infected dog.
While brucellosis can affect any breed of dog, it is commonly seen in beagles. The causative organism has a tendency to replicate successfully in the reproductive organs of both male and female dogs. It causes abortion and infertility in female dogs, and testicular atrophy and infertility in male dogs.
Common symptoms associated with this condition are
Typically appears healthy
Decrease in fertility
Loss of sex desire
Abortion (usually 6-8 weeks after conception, though may abort at any stage of pregnancy)
Birth of weak pups
Swollen scrotal sacs in males due to infection of testicles
Shrinkage of testicles
Inflammation of the eyes/cloudy eyes
Back pain due to infection of spinal disks
Leg pain or weakness
Swollen lymph nodes
Loss of control over movements in chronic cases