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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ask the Vet with Dr. Mark:
Tuberculosis and Dogs

by Mark Nunez, DVM
© Carrie Boyko
TB is Serious in Dogs
Please Read Dr. Mark's Advice

Dear Dr. Mark: Hello there. My dad was just called by his doctor telling him it's a possibility he may have TB. My concern is for my 7 yr. old dog that stays with him while I'm at work. I'm concerned because I've read where the treatment in dogs can be toxic and they usually end up having to put them to sleep. I'm not wanting to accept that. Can you please tell me what I can expect as far as treatment options and what symptoms I should be looking for. I will also be contacting her veterinarian first thing tomorrow to schedule her an appointment.

Sincerely, Kathy G.
Hi Kathy,

The risk of transmitting TB to your dog is pretty low, but not zero.  Dogs are more resistant to TB infection than humans are.  The symptoms in dogs can involve coughing, but will likely be lethargy, decreased appetite, vomiting, and weight loss.  Unfortunately there are about a thousand other diseases that present with these symptoms.  

The approach to preventing transmission would be the same precautions that we take to prevent transmission in humans, namely no spitting, coughing, or sneezing around your dog and good environmental hygiene.  Also, follow all of the same precautions that his doctor recommended for prevention in humans.  

Once the infectious period has ended with TB, we do not have to worry about transmission.  If your father's MD is comfortable with him being around other people, chances are he is okay to be around your dog.  

Skin testing is possible, but I would recommend that you go to a specialty hospital or veterinary college (if there is one in your area) to get this done.  If the result is negative, have the test repeated in 6 weeks to be sure.  If he should show positive, unfortunately euthanasia is what is typically recommended because of a poor response to treatment and the public health risk. Thanks for the question!

Dr. Mark
Dr. Nunez is a practicing veterinarian while also assisting patients through The Balanced Canine blog and his own online veterinary pharmacyHave a question for Dr. Mark? Send it to You can also follow Mark on Twitter.

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Dr. Mark's remarks do not replace an actual examination with a veterinarian.


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