Canine Brucellosis: Proactive Pet Parents-To-Be

This is part 2/2 of our article about canine brucellosis.

Clearly, canine brucellosis is a great concern for dog breeders but it also must be on the radar of anyone considering the purchase of a puppy and perhaps even of a rescue, young or old. What can the prospective pet parent do?

The best way for pet parents to avoid canine brucellosis is to be proactive. In an ideal situation, the pet parent will be dealing directly with the breeder and not a third party. Do not hesitate to ask some difficult questions:

  • Are all dogs in the facility tested regularly for canine brucellosis? How often? (at least once every 12 months is a minimum)
  • Are new dogs tested, isolated for at least eight weeks and then tested again?
  • What test is used? (Pet parents should understand the pros and cons of the many tests available and generally avoid PCR or blood and tissue cultures which are poor screening tests and may give false negatives)1
  • Other than visits to the vet, do any of the dogs leave the facility?
  • If females are sent out to breed, are they isolated and retested upon return?
  • Are visitors, including prospective pet parents, allowed to be in contact with puppies and breeding dogs?
  • What measures are taken to prevent exposure from visitors?
  • If you visit the breeder, are the facilities clean? How often are they cleaned? (Regular cleaning and disinfection is paramount in keeping the disease from spreading)
  • Will the breeder test your prospective puppy for canine brucellosis prior to pick up and will they take the pup back if a retesting 8 weeks later proves positive? (This could be a very difficult situation for all involved and is best discussed prior to purchase)
  • If you are considering a rescue dog, has the rescue operation done any testing? If not, will they?

If you already have dogs, you may wish to consider delaying bringing the new pup/dog home until it has been retested after the 8 week incubation period has passed.

Pet parents should keep in mind that Brucella canis can be present in any breeding environment. This includes an at home, "mom and pop" situation.

Finally, while the incidence of canine brucellosis in the general population appears to be low, if your current dog(s) have not been tested, you may wish to do so for your own safety given the zoonotic/human communicable nature of the disease.

1. Best Practices for Brucella canis: Prevention and Control in Dog Breeding Facilities, USDA APHIS 10/2015

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