Brucella canis is a zoonotic bacterial pathogen of dogs that is notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat. Humans can become infected with B canis when an infected pet dog is brought into their home. Our objectives were to describe the clinical presentation and outcomes in dogs treated for B canis and evaluate the performance of the quantitative serologic canine Brucella multiplex (CBM) assay for monitoring treatment response.
Diagnostic records from the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University were retrospectively reviewed (2017–2022) for dogs that underwent repeat B canis serologic testing. Medical records were requested to compare the clinical presentations and outcomes for dogs that underwent treatment for B canis. Changes in CBM antibody values were compared between dogs with and without resolution of clinical signs.
While treatment protocols varied in the 30 treated dogs meeting the inclusion criteria, poly-antimicrobial therapy was prescribed in 97% (29/30) of cases. Gait abnormalities, spinal pain, and discospondylitis were the most common clinical abnormalities. A difference (P value = .0075) in the percent decrease in CBM assay PO1 antibody values was found in dogs with resolved clinical signs.
Young dogs presenting with recurring lameness or back pain should be screened for B canis infection. A 40% decline in CBM assay values 2 to 6 months posttreatment can be supportive of response to treatment. Further prospective studies are needed to determine the ideal B canis treatment regimen and the magnitude of public health risks associated with maintaining neutered B canis-infected animals as pets.