Leptospirosis in Dogs
Leptospirosis, also known as lepto, is a bacterial disease spread mostly through the urine of infected animals – a big problem in both rural and residential areas as many pests such as raccoons and rats are carriers.
One of the biggest concerns with leptospirosis is that it’s also contagious to humans. When a dog or cat in a home contracts lepto, it’s important that any humans in the household also take antibiotics to prevent spread of the disease, which can cause severe damage to the kidney and liver, cause respiratory failure, meningitis, or in extreme cases death.
Could My Pets Get Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is not a common disease, and is rarely diagnosed. However, pets in both rural and residential areas both run the risk of being infected, and when a dog or cat does contract the disease it is difficult to treat and can be deadly.
Cats contract lepto even more rarely than dogs, and are generally less at risk.
Your pet might run a higher chance of contracting lepto if:
- They are around a lot of wildlife or farm animals
- They are around a lot of standing water
- They’ve been exposed to other animals with lepto
One of the biggest problems with lepto is the danger it poses to humans. Dogs can contract the disease and show few to no symptoms, later becoming a carrier and infecting humans.
Antibiotic therapy is usually highly effective for treating leptospirosis, and most dogs respond quickly to antibiotics. Dogs who have several kidney or liver damage may require hospitalization for intravenous fluid treatment and other medical therapy.
Severely infected dogs, however, can have irreversible organ damage, resulting in rapid deterioration and death even with appropriate treatment.
Vaccinating your pets against leptospirosis is the quickest and fastest way to prevent them from contracting the disease. However, the vaccination is not 100% effective due to different strains of the disease, so here are some practical tips for keeping you and your pets safe:
- Keep pest problems under control. Rodents are common carriers of the disease and can be an issue, especially in residential areas.
- Keep access to standing water to a minimum. It’s more likely to be contaminated and prolonged exposure increases the risk of your pet (or you!) contracting the disease.
- If leptospirosis is a problem in your area, make sure to keep your pet away from any possibly infected areas (for example dog parks). Lepto can be spread by exposure to anything from contaminated urine to soil, water, food and bedding.