Leptospirosis is a disease caused by an infection with Leptospira bacteria. It is more common in areas with warm climates and high annual rainfall, however, can be found in soil and water worldwide.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease meaning it can be spread from animals to humans. Most humans contract the disease from recreational activities involving water. A less common way to become infected is through contact with an infected animal.
Dogs are most commonly affected by leptospirosis and can become infected if their mucous membranes or wound come into contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated water, soil, food, bedding, a bite from an infected animal, eating an infected animal, and even breeding.
Symptoms can vary in each dog but you should contact your veterinarian immediately if notice any of the following in your dog: fever, muscle tenderness, diarrhea, shivering, lethargy, increased thirst, changes in the frequency of urination, dehydrations, vomiting, nosebleeds, pinpoint red spots on the gums or light colored skin, difficulty breathing, jaundice, reluctance to move, swollen legs, or painful inflammation within the eyes.
Leptospirosis can cause kidney with or without liver failure, severe lung disease, excess fluid in the chest or abdomen, and bleeding disorders that can lead to blood in the vomit, stool, saliva, or urine.
Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics and if caught early enough, the chances for recovery are good, however there is still a risk that your dog could have permanent residual kidney or liver damage.
If your dog has been diagnosed with leptospirosis it’s important to take precautions to ensure you don’t contact the disease; avoid contact wit your dogs urine, clean any urine in the house throughly while wearing gloves, don’t allow your dog to pee near standing water or other areas where people and other animals have access, and wash your hands after handling your pet.
Vaccines are available to effectively prevent leptospirosis for 12 months in your dog. If you have any questions regarding leptospirosis, contact your veterinarian today.