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Tuberculosis in Dogs

By Otto M. Radostits, CM, DVM, MSc, DACVIM (Deceased), Professor Emeritus, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan ; David A. Ashford, DVM, MPH, DSc, Assistant Area Director, International Services, APHIS, USDA ; Craig E. Greene, DVM, MS, Professor, Department of Small Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Georgia ; Eugene D. Janzen, DVM, MVS, Professor, Production Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Calgary ; Bert E. Stromberg, PhD, Professor, Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Minnesota ; Max J. Appel, DMV, PhD, Professor Emeritus ; Stephen C. Barr, BVSc, MVS, PhD, DACVIM, Professor of Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University ; J. P. Dubey, MVSc, PhD, Microbiologist, Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, USDA ; Paul Ettestad, DVM, MS, State Public Health Veterinarian, Epidemiology and Response Division, New Mexico Department of Health ; Kenneth R. Harkin, DVM, DACVIM, Associate Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University ; Delores E. Hill, PhD, Parasitologist, U.S. Department of Agriculture ; Johnny D. Hoskins, DVM, PhD, Small Animal Consultant ; Jodie Low Choy, BVSc, BVMS, IVAS Cert, Menzies School of Health Research; University Avenue Veterinary Hospital, Northern Territory, Australia ; Barton W. Rohrbach, VMD, MPH, DACVPM, Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Medicine, Veterinary Teaching Hospital, University of Tennessee ; J. Glenn Songer, PhD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Science and Microbiology, University of Arizona ; Joseph Taboada, DVM, DACVIM, Professor and Associate Dean, Office of Student and Academic Affairs, School of Veterinary Medicine, Louisiana State University ; Charles O. Thoen, DVM, PhD, Professor, Veterinary Microbiology and Preventive Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University ; John F. Timoney, MVB, PhD, Dsc, MRCVS, Keeneland Chair of Infectious Diseases, Gluck Equine Research Center, Department of Veterinary Science, University of Kentucky ; Ian Tizard, BVMS, PhD, DACVM, University Distinguished Professor of Immunology; Director, Richard M. Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center, Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University

Also see professional content regarding tuberculosis in dogs.

Tuberculosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the genus Mycobacterium. The disease affects practically all species of vertebrates, and, before control measures were adopted, was a major disease of humans and domestic animals. Signs and lesions are generally similar in the various species.

Three main types of tubercle bacilli are recognized: human (Mycobacterium tuber-culosis), bovine (Mycobacterium bovis), and avian (Mycobacterium avium). The 2 mammalian types are more closely related to each other than to the avian type. Each of the types may produce infection in other host species.

The breathing in of infected droplets expelled from the lungs of an infected person or animal is the usual—though not the only—route of infection. Ingestion, particularly via contaminated food or milk, may also be a common source of infection.

Most infected dogs do not have any signs, as the canine immune system actively suppresses the bacteria. When disease does occur, signs generally include chronic coughing with difficulty breathing or quick, shallow breaths. Other generalized signs include progressive emaciation, lethargy, weakness, poor appetite, and a low-grade, fluctuating fever.

The disease is easily transmitted to humans and other animals and represents a public health risk. Therefore, treatment of tuberculosis in dogs should be discussed with your veterinarian. If a dog is suspected of having advanced tuberculous lesions, it must be reported to the appropriate public health authorities, and the dog should be euthanized.