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Leptospirosis in Dogs: What Is It and How Is It Treated?

Leptospirosis threatens dogs in specific Fort Pierce but can also be transmitted to their affectionate owners. Our vets are ready to outline the symptoms you should watch for and provide tips to safeguard your pet.

Leptospirosis in Dogs

Leptospirosis threatens the health of your dogs, farm animals, and even your family. The bacterium Leptospira, found worldwide in water and soil, causes the disease when it contaminates a substance through contact with urine. Cats that hunt and feed on host animals like rodents are also susceptible to leptospirosis.

Although this bacteria has been reported globally, it is most commonly found in warmer climates with high rainfall. Research indicates that leptospirosis has gradually spread into areas of the United States, including Colorado, Utah, and Arizona.

Leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease, can be transmitted from animals to humans. People can contract leptospirosis from contaminated water sources, wild animals, livestock, and other pets, mirroring the transmission to pets. The majority of leptospirosis outbreaks in humans result from contact with contaminated water.

How Do Dogs Develop Leptospirosis?

Every pet is at risk of catching leptospirosis, regardless of where they live in the world (urban, suburban, or rural areas). The following factors can increase your pet's risk:

  • Exposure to wild animals or farm animal species that may pass infected urine, even in your backyard
  • Exposure to or drinking from streams, lakes, rivers, or puddles
  • Contact with rodents, such as squirrels or rats, or other dogs (such as in dog parks, facilities where multiple dogs are housed, or urban areas)

What Are The Symptoms Of Leptospirosis In Dogs?

Leptospirosis symptoms in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Shivering or fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Jaundice
  • Increased drinking and/or urination
  • Decreased appetite or not eating
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Conjunctivitis (red eye)
  • Inability to have puppies
  • Dyspnea (difficulty breathing or coughing)
  • Muscle pain, stiffness, or reluctance to move

Testing For Leprospirosis

Microscopic Agglutination Test: This diagnostic method sets the gold standard for identifying leptospirosis and detecting antibodies against Leptospira in the dog's blood. Confirmation of infection occurs when the antibody level, known as a "titer," reaches a sufficient high.

What Are the Chances of Dogs Surviving Leptospirosis?

Preventing leptospirosis proves far more advantageous than treating it, as with many other diseases. If your dog lacks immunization against this disease, consult your veterinarian to determine its suitability for your dog's lifestyle.

Dogs that contract leptospirosis and have it detected early boast a survival rate of about 80%, albeit with severe impairment to their kidney and liver function. Prevention remains the most effective remedy for contagious diseases of this nature.

At Sunrise City Animal Hospital, our vets administer the leptospirosis dog vaccine between 10 and 12 weeks of age as part of our comprehensive vaccine schedule for dogs. Following the initial leptospirosis shot, a booster is necessary 3-4 weeks later, with subsequent annual vaccines essential to safeguard your dog throughout its lifetime.

Given the potential transmission of leptospirosis to humans, avoiding direct contact between your bare skin and their urine is imperative if you suspect your dog may be infected. Always wash your hands after petting them, use rubber gloves when cleaning areas your dog may have soiled, and disinfect any spots where your dog has urinated. Utilizing a diluted bleach solution or a household disinfectant stands as one of the most effective methods to sanitize your home.

Prescription antibiotics are available for treating leptospirosis and protecting transmission to other household members as well.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you concerned that your dog might have contracted leptospirosis? Contact our vets in Fort Pierce immediately to schedule an appointment for your beloved canine companion. 

New Patients Welcome

Sunrise City Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Fort Pierce companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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