What is Leptospirosis?

By July 21, 2021 Uncategorized

When the time comes to update your dog’s vaccines, the Leptospirosis vaccine is included as one of the core vaccines your veterinarian recommends. But what is Leptospirosis and how does it affect your dog?

Leptospirosis, or “lepto” for short, is a bacteria shed in the urine of wildlife that can result in kidney and or liver failure. If not caught in time, this can be a fatal condition. This disease is also zoonotic, which means that it can be transmitted from animals to humans. 

As mentioned earlier, this bacteria is shed in the urine of infected wildlife. Deer are the poster child for this, but it can also be shed by squirrels, raccoons, opossums, mice, etc. Point being, every pet that spends time outside is at risk of exposure, but especially those that frequently visit parks and trails. The most common way your pet can be exposed to lepto is by drinking from rain puddles. This occurs as the bacteria is washed from the grass into these collections of water and is then ingested by the animal drinking it. Dogs are more commonly affected than cats, likely due to their higher rate of being indiscriminate eaters and drinkers. 

This disease can be difficult to diagnose, as it mimics the clinical signs of other, more common, conditions. If your veterinarian suspects lepto, then the way to test for it is to send blood and urine out to a diagnostic laboratory for various testing. It usually takes roughly five business days for the lab to get results. During this time, antibiotics are usually started, as waiting for results without treating first can be risky. If the tests come back positive for lepto, then the pet will continue on antibiotics for two weeks. At that time diagnostics are run again to see if we have cleared the organism. 

The good news about this scary condition, is that there is a very effective vaccine available. It must be regularly boosted, but it offers great protection. Just as with other illnesses, the vaccine doesn’t magically prevent your pet from being exposed, but rather strengthens their immune system and makes clinical signs much less severe should your pet contract the disease. As mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons we don’t see this condition very often, anymore, is because so many pets are vaccinated against it.

If it’s time for your dog’s lepto vaccine, reach out to us and schedule your appointment today. Not only could it save your pet’s life, but it’s also MUCH cheaper to vaccinate than it is to treat the condition. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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