Keeping your dog up-to-date on their immunizations is one of the most important preventative care measures you can take. Annual booster shots have been proven to be essential in safeguarding our canines from infectious, deadly diseases. Although the leptospirosis vaccine is not always a part of the routine vaccination program for all dogs, your veterinarian will consider the risk factors to determine if it would be beneficial.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a highly contagious bacterial infection that primarily affects the liver or kidneys, but can attack the entire body. The infection is transmitted when the mucus membranes or an open wound comes into contact with Leptospira bacteria. As soon as the bacteria enter the bloodstream, they multiply rapidly. They spread throughout the body tissues and concentrate in the liver and kidneys, causing serious damage and even death.

Most dogs contract leptospirosis by drinking stagnant water or they pick it up from soil that is contaminated with the urine or feces of infected or carrier animals.

Are there risk factors for leptospirosis?

Leptospira bacteria are found more commonly in rural, wooded areas. Increased cases have been seen in the South, Midwest, East Coast, and Appalachian regions. However, outbreaks can occur anywhere. New puppies who are deemed to be at an increased risk are especially vulnerable, and you should minimize their contact with other dogs until they’ve completed their immunization schedule.

Dogs who like to swim or that spend a lot of time outdoors have a higher risk of contracting leptospirosis. Contact with other animals including rodents, wild animals, farm animals also increases the chances of catching leptospirosis.

What symptoms should you watch for?

If your dog has become infected with leptospirosis, they typically will not show clinical signs for four to twelve days. Once contracted, the disease can appear in three different forms: hemorrhagic, icteric or jaundice (liver) and renal (kidney). Symptoms will vary based on the form, but overall common symptoms include:

  • Fever/shivering
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice (yellowish eyes and skin)
  • Swelling of the legs
  • Blood in the urine or stool

Treating Leptospirosis in Dogs in Gilbert

East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert, Arizona is fully equipped to diagnose and treat leptospirosis in dogs. First, we will prescribe a course of antibiotics to fight the invasive bacteria. Depending on the severity of the infection, we may make additional treatment recommendations. Once your dog is at home, the two most important things you can do are to make sure your dog completes their full antibiotic course and keep them hydrated.

If you observe concerning symptoms in your pup, the sooner you seek treatment, the sooner we can stop the infection from spreading. Although leptospirosis in dogs is a very serious disease, it is treatable. Call for an appointment today!


Photo by allison christine on Unsplash (8/9/2020)