Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial disease that infects domestic animals, wildlife and humans. It is the world’s most common zoonotic disease, meaning it’s a disease that can infect both animals and humans. The number of canine leptospirosis cases has risen dramatically in recent years. Today, lepto is the number 1 cause of acute kidney failure in dogs. Lepto has been diagnosed in all types of dogs. All breeds and sizes of dogs are at risk.
The disease-causing bacteria are spread through the urine of infected animals and can survive from weeks to months in soil and surface waters such as lakes, streams, rivers and stagnant water like puddles. Lepto carriers reside in many locations, dogs living in urban, suburban and rural areas can be at risk. Common carriers of leptospirosis include raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, rats and other dogs. Leptospirosis is typically spread when an opening in the skin or mucous membrane (eyes, nose or mouth) comes in contact with infected urine. Your dog may be exposed to Leptospira bacteria by drinking, swimming or walking through contaminated water. The curious nature of your dog , following their nose, may also bring them into contact with infected urine.
Signs of a leptospirosis infection in dogs may include fever, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, lethargy and abdominal pain. If you suspect your dog has been infected, urine and blood tests may be performed to determine if your dog has leptospirosis. A new test to provide more immediate results is currently being developed. Antibiotics are necessary to treat the disease and fluid therapy may be needed as well. If left untreated, your dog could develop kidney or liver failure and the disease may prove fatal.
Be proactive in preventing Leptospirosis in you your dog. Keep your dog from drinking, swimming or wading in water that might be contaminated with animal urine. Try to minimize wildlife exposure by removing food, garbage and nesting materials from your yard. Vaccinate your dog to prevent leptospirosis with a vaccine that protects against disease and shedding for the 4 most common strains of Leptospira bacteria. Some distemper vaccines contain strains of Leptospira but they are not as comprehensive in their coverage as the individual vaccination which is why the Leptospirosis vaccine is completely separate from the distemper/parvo combination vaccines at our hospital. Prevention IS the best medicine – call today to see if your dog is as protected as it should be.
Leptospirosis Risk Assessment – If you answer “yes” to any of these questions call and ask about a Lepto vaccination for your dog.
Does your dog drink from or wade in standing water?
Is your dog exposed to areas where wildlife has been?
Do you take your dog to dog parks or day care?
Do you live in a newly developed area or near farmland or woods?
Has lepto been diagnosed in your area in dogs or people?
Does your dog go outdoors?