30 Oathall Road

Haywards Heath 

West Sussex

RH16 3EQ

01444 440224



Emergencies for our registered Clients : 



Mon - Fri: 08:00 – 19:00
Sat: 08:30 – 13:00


VAT Reg. No. 760 1736 42

Canine Brucellosis – Imported dogs and the need for testing

Canine Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria Brucella canis. It is a disease that can be transmitted to humans from infected dogs and can cause serious illness and occasionally be fatal. Although currently very rare in the UK, cases are rising due to increasing numbers of imported dogs, some of which are infected. There is a significant level of disease in many countries of Eastern and Southern Europe as well as other parts of the world. There are also cases now of transmission between dogs in the UK. You may have seen recently in the media, the report of a very sad situation where an infected imported dog spread the disease to the lady who had rehomed it and all her other dogs. The lady became very ill and was hospitalised, and all the dogs had to be euthanised.

Canine Brucellosis is mainly a reproductive disease (a STD for dogs), and is generally transmitted through mating, from mother to pup in the uterus or suckling, from vaginal discharges when a bitch is in heat or giving birth, from urine and blood. Dogs that are neutered present a lower risk of transmitting the disease, but the risk is still present

If you plan to breed your dog, it is very important that you make sure the dog they are to be mated with has no risk of previous exposure to Brucellosis (has it come from abroad or been mated with other dogs that have been imported?)

Unfortunately, it is not recommended to treat an infected dog, and the only way to remove the risk of transmission is euthanasia. Even very long courses of combinations of antibiotics are often not successful in curing infection, and the dog remains a risk to other dogs and humans. It is required by law to report any Brucella canis positive cases to the APHA (Animal and Plant Health Agency).

Infected dogs pose a risk to other dogs in the UK, their owner’s family, and anyone else they come into contact with. People who have a compromised immune system, pregnant women and young children are at higher risk of severe infection. There is a significant risk to veterinary staff during surgery, treatment and care of infected dogs. We, along with most other Veterinary Practices, are now putting measures in place to avoid risk to our staff from exposure to Brucella canis

It is very important if you are getting a dog from abroad, especially a rescue dog or one that has or may have bred before, that it is tested for Brucellosis. No test is 100% accurate, but the tests recommended are serology tests for antibodies – SAT and RSA tests, carried out by the APHA. Antibodies are usually produced within 2 weeks of infection but may take up to 3 months. Therefore, to be as sure as possible that the dog is not infected, it should have a negative Brucellosis blood test before leaving the country of origin, and then a blood test should be taken 3 months after the dog could last have been in contact with an infected dog or infectious material.

Our new protocol is that all newly registered imported dogs must have a negative Brucellosis test 3 months after entering the UK. All imported dogs that are to undergo non-emergency surgical procedures (especially neutering) MUST have a negative Brucellosis test result before it will be undertaken.

Please call and speak to one of our Vets if you have any questions about this. There is additional information on the situation on the BVA website  – please click here