Considerations for those wanting to adopt a dog from overseas.
If you are thinking of importing a dog into the UK we would firstly advise you to consider whether it is appropriate to adopt a dog from an overseas shelter with an uncertain disease status.
There are many shelters that will provide this information alongside a dog up for adoption which we would encourage, however, if there is reluctance to provide such information or no proof of disease testing, we would recommend finding another suitable shelter.
If you are looking to adopt a puppy from outside of the UK, we would encourage you to ask to meet the puppy’s mother as many puppies are smuggled into the UK, posing a welfare and disease risk.
It is worth also noting, that puppies or adult dogs entering the country may well be carrying exotic diseases or parasite infections which show no clinical signs upon arrival. Routine screening of these dogs is recommended. Please chat to your veterinary surgeon to find out more on the tests available to you.
Exotic diseases and parasites we may advise testing for include;
- Brucella canis
- Lyme disease
- Hepatozoon canis
It is worth noting that many of these diseases/parasites are contagious, meaning it is worth considering testing even if your pet has not been imported but has been in close contact with a dog that has. Some of these diseases and parasites are also zoonotic which means they can be passed on to humans.
What is Canine Brucellosis?
Your vet may have directed you to this page on our website as it has been noted your pet has travelled, been imported from overseas or been in close contact with a dog that has. Canine Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by the Brucella canis bacteria. The disease is not considered endemic in the UK but true case numbers here are unknown. The disease is found in many other countries in the world (in some countries the disease is considered endemic).
There is growing concern around this disease because of the large number of dogs imported from some countries, especially Romania (and other Eastern European countries), where it is known that Brucella Canis is prevalent. In the UK we have seen increasing numbers of dogs imported from Romania, where the disease is classed as endemic. There have also been increasing numbers of imported dogs which test positive for the disease in recent years. One significant concern is that these dogs often appear clinically well so it may not be detected straight away, and it must be remembered that Brucella canis is zoonotic, which mean that it can infect and cause disease in humans.
How is Brucella canis transmitted between dogs?
Brucella canis primarily enters the body by ingestion (through the nose and mouth) and via the genital tract.
Common causes of transmission:
- Aborted material, birth fluids, placenta. It is shed for several weeks following birth.
- From mother to puppy in the womb or ingestion of infectious milk.
- Vaginal discharge when in season.
What are the clinical signs of Brucella canis in a dog?
The most worrying part of the situation we find ourselves in, is that many dogs may show no clinical signs. However, these dogs can still be infectious and pass the disease on to other dogs and people. Dogs that show no clinical signs but are infected can go on to develop clinical signs later in life.
These may include:
- Failure of a bitch to conceive, male infertility with abnormal semen quality, enlarged painful testicles
- Brucella can cause many non-specific clinical signs such as: lethargy, fever, behaviour anomalies, weight loss, back pain, stiffness, lameness, paralysis, eye disease, and generalised lymphadenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes).