They are classic signs no one wants to see. A pregnant looking female. She may even belly down. But her litter is then either very small or none at all. One possible cause is the bacteria Streptococcus zooepidemicus also known as Strep zoo.
Infertility and Puppy Loss
This strain of bacteria has been found to cause infertility in dogs. Kennels with Strep zoo can start out displaying minor reproductive issues and then later move to infertility or embryo death. When the embryo is killed before bone development, mom reabsorbs the fetus. Some females experience minor vaginal discharge. Strep zoo can be diagnosed by vaginal culture while in heat and then using the PCR test for Strep equi subspecies zooepidemicus. It seems to be reliable.
How Strep Zoo Grows
These bacteria live in the lower reproductive tract and grow in numbers during heat cycles. In estrus is when secretions and food for bacteria increase and when the immune system is stressed. Strep numbers increase at this time and the bacteria follow semen into the uterus. The strep bacteria becomes fatal when the embryo starts to grow fast. It is not interested in the embryo when it is tiny and not growing.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Having a Miscarriage?
To prevent embryo loss, breed on an antibiotic such as a long-lasting penicillin every third day when they are spotting and keep them on the antibiotic until they refuse the male. Amoxicillin is also a good choice but should be given twice a day when spotting until two days after the female refuses the male. The goal is to keep the number of these bacteria low when the cervix is open during breeding. The cervix becomes closed and the mucus plug is sealed two days after the female refuses the male so it is safe to stop then. Breeding on an antibiotic for two breedings or one year will usually work this issue out of your females. Creating a protective environment for the embryos is your goal. Since these bacteria live in the lower reproductive tract, managing the issue by preventing the bacteria from following the semen into the uterus is the key. Once the mucus plug is in, antibiotics can’t help.
Want help treating and preventing Strep zoo? Call our Pet Care Pros at 800.786.4751. They have the experience and knowledge to help you manage and prevent pet care challenges.
Vet Minute: Strep Zoo, Lepto and Brucellosis. What Do They Mean for Pregnant Dogs?
Can a pregnant dog lose her puppies? Dr. Greer explains the dangers of strep zoo, lepto and brucellosis in pregnant dogs and unborn pups and ways to protect them.
Why Won’t My Dog Get Pregnant
Dog breeding problems can be challenging. Learn the most common causes of infertility in dogs.
Managing the Valuable Brood Dog
How do you breed a dog for the first time? What tests should be done before breeding dogs? Dr. Marty Greer, learn what to know before breeding dogs and how to improve reproductive capabilities of breeding female dogs.
Dog Miscarriage: Puppy Loss During Dog Pregnancy
Can dogs have miscarriages? There are many things that can go wrong during a dog pregnancy. Learn about dog miscarriage and why an ultrasound is so important.
Written by: Marty Greer, DVM
Director of Veterinary Services
Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.