Breeding, Diseases, Facility Management, Vet Minute

Strep Zoo, Lepto and Brucellosis. What Do They Mean for Pregnant Dogs?

What are the symptoms of brucellosis in pregnant dogs? What are bacterial causes of abortion in dogs? In this Vet Minute, Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Marty Greer, talks about dog litter loss in pregnancy and explains how diseases can endanger unborn puppies, and ways to protect them.

Litter Loss Causes: Strep Zoo, Lepto and Brucellosis

What Can Cause a Dog to Lose Puppies?

When a pregnant dog loses a litter, you want to know why. Dr. Marty Greer, Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services, shares three possible causes of litter loss: strep zoo, leptospirosis, and brucellosis.

Strep Zoo and Antibiotics

Strep zoo is a strep infection. That’s a one-celled bacteria that we don’t commonly see. But every now and then it’ll crop up in a breeding situation. We can culture the dogs, both the males and the females, to try and determine if strep zoo is the organism causing a problem. It does respond pretty well to the use of antibiotics.

Routinely we don’t put dogs on antibiotics for breeding, but in circumstances where we’ve either proven or have a strong suspicion that strep zoo is an organism that’s causing our problems of either infertility, apparent infertility or pregnancy loss, then it’s appropriate to start a dog on amoxicillin or one of the other prescription drugs in the same drug class.

Leptospirosis in Pregnant Dogs

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection, a spirochete, which is a spiral-shaped bacteria. It is spread through standing water. It’s really important that we control standing water on our properties and that we control the wildlife like raccoons that might enter the property. So, fencing that area off, keeping the animals free from leptospirosis is important. But lepto is unique in that, unlike strep zoo, which we can’t vaccinate against, we can vaccinate against four strains of lepto.

So very important that you keep dogs in your breeding kennel, males and females up to date on leptospirosis, that you do those annual vaccinations and that you protect them. Now, late term abortion can happen as a result of leptospirosis. If that happens in your kennel, that a dog has premature puppies, you want to have those tested at a diagnostic lab.

Normally lepto causes liver and kidney problems, but in dog pregnancy lepto causes the loss of litter. There are two different tests that we can do for leptospirosis. There’s a urine test that we look for the bacteria prior to the start of antibiotics or a blood test looking for the titer.

It can be managed with antibiotics. But again, routine use of antibiotics is not appropriate in a breeding kennel. It’s only used if we have a strong suspicion or proof that we have leptospirosis and then we treat appropriately.

Brucellosis in Pregnant Dogs

Brucellosis in dogs can make apparent loss of fertility. Either the male can lose his fertility or the female can either have infertility or again, fetal loss, late stage abortion or resorption prior to that. It can look like you have a fertility issue, but in reality, you really have canine brucellosis. Brucellosis is contagious to people so again, we have to be really careful with that.

There is no vaccine for brucellosis in the dog. Antibiotics don’t effectively clear that infection. It’s very important that before dogs come into a boarding kennel, breeding kennel, any place that you’re going to have groups of dogs that are in a breeding situation, that they are tested for brucellosis. So before bringing new dogs into a breeding colony, they should be tested and quarantined until those test results are back.

Right now, brucellosis testing is becoming more difficult to get a fast turnaround on. So, again, very important that you’re screening for that and not introducing dogs into the kennel. That is a disease that the state has the authority to come in and eliminate your breeding dogs. So be very, very aware that brucellosis is a serious disorder and one we have to keep out of our breeding kennels.

Positive Test for Strep Zoo, Lepto or Brucellosis: What Now?

Both lepto and strep zoo can be treated. Brucellosis, generally, the recommendation is to depopulate the breeding kennel. It is very serious, so be very, very careful with that disease. The others can be managed. Brucellosis is generally one of depopulation. Not good for anybody’s breeding kennel.

If you have more questions on dog litter loss in pregnancy, call us at 800.786.4751.

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.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.