Leptospirosis in Dogs
At TCAP, we are Pet Lovers First. Our dedicated staff works hard each week to both educate and serve our community of pet owners. Through this work, TCAP staff vaccinates many puppies and adult dogs every week. During this work, we commonly find that most dog owners understand the importance of the Rabies, Distemper/Parvo, and Bordetella vaccines, but there is a definite lack of knowledge about protecting their dogs and human families from leptospirosis. We have assembled answers to commonly asked questions about leptospirosis and why it is important to seek preventative safeguards against it.
What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis, also known as “lepto”, is an infection caused by bacteria called Leptospira. This infection is fatal and is spread throughout the entire body, reproducing in the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, eyes, and reproductive system. The Leptospira bacteria are zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted to humans and other animals. Children are most at risk of acquiring the bacteria from an infected pet. So it is essential that your pet remains protected from this bacteria.
Dogs commonly become infected by coming into contact with the urine of an infected animal. The most common infection sites are areas with stagnant surface water and are frequented by wildlife. Because of this, pets on farms or near wooded areas are at an increased risk of becoming infected. However, pets living in suburban or city environments are also at risk because rodents, squirrels, raccoons, and other common city-bound wild animals are commonly infected with these bacteria.
Dogs usually get lepto from infected water, soil, or mud, while swimming, passing through, or drinking contaminated water, or from coming into contact with urine from an infected animal.
Symptoms of leptospirosis can vary and it is why this infection is commonly misdiagnosed. Dogs and humans infected by this bacteria can experience a mixed combination of these symptoms: Sudden fever and illness, sore muscles (reluctance to move), muscle stiffness, shivering, weakness, lack of appetite, increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing or fast breathing, and an irregular pulse.
TCAP offers a lepto vaccination for $10. If your pet has never been vaccinated against the Lepto vaccine, the first vaccine will need to be boostered 3-4 weeks later. It is highly recommended that dogs (especially puppies) receive the lepto vaccination as part of their core vaccines on a yearly basis. Lepto vaccines are provided on a walk-in basis during TCAP’s walk-in vaccine hours.