British vets call for stricter dog import rules amid health concerns


The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has issued a powerful reminder to members of the general public in regards to the serious disease risks from importing dogs from abroad amid health concerns for each humans and animals.

The BVA has urged all prospective dog owners to guard the health of dogs and humans within the UK by rehoming dogs from throughout the country as an alternative. BVA can be re-issuing its calls to the federal government to tighten pet import rules.

The recommendation follows news earlier this month a few positive Brucella canis test in a rescue dog imported into the UK from Belarus in March of this yr.

The lady fostering the dog was hospitalised after coming into close contact with it, within the UK’s first confirmed dog-to-human transmission of this zoonotic disease.

The foster animal and 4 pet dogs who were exposed to the disease all needed to be euthanised.

Health concerns

Stray dogs in some European countries and other parts of the world often live in harsh conditions, in line with the association.

Together with Brucella canis, they might harbour other undetected and potentially life-threatening exotic diseases not present in the UK, corresponding to leishmaniasis, rabies, canine babesiosis and heartworm, without showing any outward clinical symptoms.

When imported into the UK, such chronically infected ‘Trojan’, or carrier dogs risk passing on the infections to susceptible pets and, within the case of some diseases, to humans as well, British vets have said.

These infections may be difficult to detect or successfully treat in such carrier dogs.


Data released by the UK Government shows a steep rise in confirmed Brucella canis cases for the reason that start of 2020, rising from just three before that yr to 107 as much as July this yr.

The dogs were all either imported from countries corresponding to Romania, Bosnia, Greece, and Belarus, returned from holiday overseas, or been bred with an imported dog.

The Brucella canis bacterium causes canine brucellosis, an infectious disease that results in often painful and chronic illness in dogs, in addition to serious health risks to humans and other dogs exposed to them.

Symptoms in dogs include reproductive issues, including miscarriages in the course of the last trimester of pregnancy in females and inflammation of the prostrate and testicles in males, in addition to spinal problems in chronic cases.

Treatment is commonly unsuccessful, and, in lots of cases, vets will recommend euthanasia, keeping in mind the welfare of the dog.

BVA president, Justine Shotton said: “This recent case of Brucella canis in a foster dog is amazingly tragic and highlights why vets have long raised concerns over the actual and serious risks of importing ‘Trojan’ rescue dogs with unknown health histories into the UK.

“We’re a nation of animal lovers, and so the need to rescue stray, neglected or abused animals from other countries and provides them loving homes on this country is totally comprehensible.

“Unfortunately, as this case shows, the hidden consequence of this may be disastrous for the health and welfare of other pets in addition to humans here. This includes the danger to veterinary teams who treat and handle these animals.

“With hundreds of dogs needing homes throughout the UK, the British Veterinary Association is strongly urging prospective owners to adopt from a UK-based rehoming charity as an alternative. You can even support organisations in countries abroad to rescue and rehabilitate any stray animals locally,” she added.


Shotton continued: “Should you already own an imported dog, be vigilant to symptoms of Brucella canis and other exotic diseases and call your local vet for advice on testing and treatment for any underlying conditions.”

While rescue dogs are a specific risk group for Brucella canis, importing any dog from countries with high levels of stray dog populations and known presence of the disease will carry a risk, in line with the BVA.

This includes puppies bred for industrial sale in such countries. The association is advising anyone seeking to adopt or buy an imported dog to be certain it has been tested for this disease and neutered before being brought into the UK.

A BVA survey of vets in 2018 showed that greater than nine out of 10 companion animal vets within the UK were concerned in regards to the import of rescue dogs.

40% of those vets saw latest or rare conditions of their practice over the previous yr which can be related to dog import.

The BVA has called on the UK Government to impose strict restrictions on the movement of pets, including testing in stray dogs for any such diseases as a compulsory before travel to the UK.

It has also called for the strengthening of enforcement provisions and checks on dogs brought in through the industrial route.