Leptospirosis, A Growing Concern for Dog Owners

October 23rd, 2014

Whether in the city, mountains, country, or suburbs, your dog can get Leptospirosis (Lepto).

Lepto is a bacterial disease of dogs, other animal species, and humans.  Its occurrence among dogs is increasing according to veterinarians who are having to deal with more and more cases of lepto. Primarily, this increase is due to the growing population of wildlife that is commonly infected with lepto such as raccoons, mice, squirrels, rats, deer, and skunks. The growth is on one hand due to the decrease in this wildlife's natural predator, like bobcats and mountain lions. On the other hand, humans building expansion has reduced the habitat of these animals and have driven many of them to cohabitate in our neighborhoods.

If a dog comes in contact, even indirectly, with an infected animal, like through blood or urine, they could get sick. If not treated early, the disease can be fatal. 1 in 5 clinically infected dogs die of lepto. Even if a pet survives, they may have seriously compromised their health from exposure to the disease. However, vaccinations for lepto are available as a preventative step.

Transmission of lepto can be easier than some pet owners realize. Any dog, all breeds and types, that even spends a few minutes outdoors is at risk. The reason being is that lepto is generally transmitted through contact with urine of an infected animal. Wet grass, soil, puddles, streams, or ponds are typical places where the bacterial disease can be found. The bacteria can enter through a dog's eye, nose, mouth, or cut on the skin; when your dog grooms him or herself, the bacteria may enter through the mouth from an unsuspecting area like the paw.

Some dogs show no signs while others may have less energy, signs of depression, lack of interest in eating, fever, abdominal pain, jaundice, changes in urination pattern, and vomiting. If your dog shows any of these signs, see your family veterinarian. If it is a confirmed case of lepto, antibiotics may be prescribed. Be sure to follow your vet's instructions and avoid contact with your dog's blood or urine. 

As a preventative measure, ask your vet about available vaccines for leptospirosis. Lepto many times is preventable.

To learn more or to take a risk assessment test, please visit Lepto Info.