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Miscarriage Due to Bacterial Infection (Brucellosis) in Dogs

Brucellosis in Dogs

Brucellosis is a contagious bacterial disease found in various animal species, including dogs. In canines, Brucella canis is the culprit behind this condition. The bacteria spread primarily through breeding and contact with tissues from miscarried pregnancies or through an infected mother’s milk. Infected female dogs may experience spontaneous abortion or a significant decrease in fertility levels. Even if the pregnancy progresses, the puppies often succumb to the infection due to their underdeveloped immune systems.

The contagious nature of Brucellosis poses a significant threat to dogs, especially those in kennels. However, even dogs without kennel exposure can contract the disease. In breeding kennels, Brucellosis leads to a substantial decrease in the survival rate of weaned puppies, affecting approximately 75 percent of them.

It’s crucial to note that Brucella has zoonotic properties, meaning it can infect humans and possibly other animals. Although the risk of human infection is relatively low, it’s essential to take preventive measures while treating an infected dog. Maintaining a highly sanitary environment and using personal protection such as disposable gloves are standard precautions until the infection is completely eradicated.

While Brucellosis can affect any breed of dog, it’s commonly observed in beagles. The bacterium tends to thrive in the reproductive organs of both male and female dogs, leading to abortion and infertility in females and testicular atrophy and infertility in males.

Symptoms and Types


  • Generally appears healthy
  • Exhibits vaginal discharge
  • Experiences a decrease in fertility
  • Shows a loss of sexual desire
  • May undergo abortion (typically occurring 6-8 weeks after conception, although abortions can happen at any stage of pregnancy)
  • Gives birth to weak pups


  • Presents with swollen scrotal sacs due to testicular infection
  • Experiences testicular shrinkage
  • Displays infertility

Both Genders:

  • Develops inflammation of the eyes or cloudy eyes
  • Suffers from back pain caused by spinal disk infection
  • Exhibits leg pain or weakness
  • Shows weakness and lethargy
  • Presents with swollen lymph nodes
  • Develops a fever
  • Experiences loss of control over movements in chronic cases


To diagnose Brucella canis infection in your dog, it’s essential to provide a detailed history of your dog’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms. Following a thorough examination by your veterinarian, standard fluid samples will be collected for laboratory testing. However, diagnosing Brucella canis with standard blood tests is often challenging, as laboratory results typically appear normal.

Confirming the diagnosis may require a combination of various serological tests. A titer test is commonly employed to determine if your dog is infected with the Brucella bacterium. This test assesses your dog’s antibody levels and detects specific antibodies to the Brucella organism in the blood.

To confirm the presence of Brucella, your veterinarian will collect blood samples for culturing the organism on laboratory media. Additionally, cultures of vaginal fluids or semen can be utilized to isolate the causative organism. Since lymph nodes are affected by the infection, a lymph node biopsy may also be performed in certain cases for diagnostic purposes.


The primary objective of therapy is to eliminate the causative organism from the dog, although achieving this goal in all animals can be challenging. Antibiotic treatment is utilized to manage patients with brucellosis; however, its effectiveness is not guaranteed. It’s crucial to note that breeding a dog that has or has had brucellosis is strongly discouraged under any circumstance. Therefore, your veterinarian will strongly recommend spaying or neutering your dog to eliminate the risk of contamination.

In kenneled environments, euthanasia is often advised as a preventive measure.

Since brucellosis can potentially spread to humans, individuals with autoimmune disorders or those susceptible to infections should avoid keeping a dog infected with brucellosis. This precautionary measure is essential to minimize the risk of zoonotic transmission.

Living and Management

Managing this disease can be challenging, so it’s essential to follow the recommendations and guidelines provided by your veterinarian diligently. Following the initial treatment, regular tests may need to be performed monthly for three months to assess progress. If your dog doesn’t respond well to treatment, your veterinarian may suggest re-treatment, neutering, or euthanasia based on the severity of the condition.

Regular monitoring of disease status in kennels is crucial. Quarantine measures and testing should be implemented before introducing new animals to the kennel environment.

If your dog is infected or has a history of infection, refrain from selling or giving it to others, and avoid breeding under any circumstance. Animals diagnosed with brucellosis are considered positive for the disease for the rest of their lives. Periodic antibiotic treatment is the only option to minimize symptoms and reduce the shedding of causative organisms.


It is recommended that all intact male and female dogs undergo testing for Brucella canis every three to six months. Additionally, all breeding dogs should be tested before any breeding occurs.

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