Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Brucella canis

Synonym(s): B. canis

Contributor(s): Richard Walker




  • Genus: Brucella.
  • Species: canis.

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Clinical Effects



  • Obligate parasite.
  • The only known host for B. canis is the dog.


  • Multiplication occurs within host phagocytes and lymph nodes.
  • Proliferates massively at midgestation in the reproductive tract of the pregnant bitch.


  • Direct or indirect contact with aborting female, products of abortion and vaginal exudate is the most common source of infection.
  • Sexual transmission also occurs.
  • Most infections occur via ingestion.
  • Can also be transmitted through the conjunctiva, skin and respiratory tract.
  • Humans can become infected by handling contaminated tissues.

Pathological effects

  • Early embryonic death → apparent infertility.
  • Abortion; foetuses partially autolyzed.
  • Epididymitis Orchitis / epididymitis → loss of fertility.


Control via animal

  • Control in breeding kennels depends upon test and culling.
  • Breeding dogs and bitches with genital infection or reproductive failure should be serotested and have blood cultured.
  • Those who test positive should be removed from the breeding program, and preferably euthanased.
  • Animals kept as pets should be neutered.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Antibiotic treatment of B. canis infection has generally not been found to be successful.
  • If treatment is attempted, prolonged administration of antibiotics is advised, as the intracellular organism is relatively resistant.
  • A combination of a tetracycline Tetracycline with streptomycin Streptomycin is regarded as the best treatment.
  • Most strains are highly resistant to the penicillins and cephalosporins.


  • No vaccine is available.

Other countermeasures

  • Under kennel conditions, the population is considered free of the infection when all animals have had 3 consecutive negative tests 30 days apart.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from VetMed Resource and PubMed.
  • Corbel M J (1997) Brucellosis - an overview. Emerg Infec Dis 3(2), 1-12.
  • Tan J S (1997) Human zoonotic infections transmitted by dogs and cats. Arch Intern Med 157, 1933-1943.
  • Carmichael L E, Shin S J (1996) Canine brucellosis - a diagnostician's dilemma. Semin Vet Med Surg 11(3), 161-165.
  • Mateu-de-Antonio E M & Martin M (1995) In vitro efficacy of several antimicrobial compounds against Brucella canis and Brucella meletensis strains isolated from dogs. Vet Microbiol 45(1), 1-10.
  • Kerwin S C et al (1992) Diskospondylitis associated with Brucella canis infection in dogs - 14 cases (1980-1991). JAVMA 201, 1253.
  • Nicoletti P L & Chase A (1987) The use of antibiotics to control canine brucellosis. Comp Cont Ed Pract Vet 9, 1063.
  • Nicoletti P L & Chase A (1987) An evaluation of methods to diagnose Brucella canis in dogs. Comp Cont Ed Pract Vet 9, 1071.
  • Dawkins B G et al (1982) Pyogranulomatous dermatitis associated with Brucella canis infection in a dog. JAVMA 181, 1432.