As a pet owner, you try to protect your dog from risk as much as possible. Unfortunately, there are dangers lurking right in your backyard or local park that can cause serious harm to your dog. One of these diseases that has been increasingly reported across the U.S. is leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis, also known as “lepto”, is a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects most species of mammals, including dogs.
Leptospirosis is zoonotic (which means it can be passed along to humans), so protecting your dog helps protect you. Human symptoms range from flu-like symptoms to kidney failure and even death.You can learn more about the human symptoms of leptospirosis here.
Leptospirosis bacteria (leptospira) penetrates a dog’s body through mucous membranes or open skin and rapidly multiplies in the bloodstream for the following 4–12 days. The bacteria is spread through infected animals’ urine (especially rodent urine) and can survive in soil or water for weeks or months. Dogs can come into contact with the bacteria by walking through, drinking, or even spending time near contaminated water like puddles, mud, standing water, and lakes.
Leptospirosis can affect dogs of all shapes and sizes, so your dog could be at risk. Once commonly diagnosed in rural areas, lepto is now being seen more commonly in suburban and urban areas. Dogs that spend time near bodies of water, or even play near mud or puddles, can be at especially high risk for leptospirosis.
Common risk factors for leptospirosis:
It’s important to note that dogs can be infected and not even show signs of having leptospirosis.
Symptoms of leptospirosis include:
If your dog is displaying signs of leptospirosis, see your veterinarian immediately. Delaying treatment can result in severe kidney or liver damage, and even death.
The best way to protect your dog from leptospirosis is to vaccinate them against it. Learn more about the leptospirosis vaccine, and ask your veterinarian about it at your dog’s next appointment.