A dog swimming in a beautiful lake.

Leptospirosis. It is a pretty intimidating word, and the disease itself can be pretty scary as well. It can be a very serious disease, and one worth avoiding at all costs. 

When it comes to leptospirosis treatment and prevention, you have come to the right place. MarketPlace Veterinary Hospital knows all about leptospirosis in dogs and how to protect your pet. 

All You Never Wanted to Know About Lepto

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection caused by the spiral-shaped organism Leptospira interrogans. The bacteria gains access to its host’s bloodstream by entering through the skin or mucous membranes. 

Leptospirosis is typically transmitted through the urine of infected wildlife and may live in standing water and contaminated soil. 

When a pet becomes infected with leptospirosis the bacteria enters the bloodstream and settles in the liver and/or kidneys. The immune system begins to work hard in order to eliminate the bacteria from the body, but it may not be effective or may not be able to do so before permanent organ damage occurs. Symptoms may vary, however leptospirosis in dogs usually presents with signs including:

  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Dehydration
  • Digestive upset
  • Jaundice
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

If not treated, pets infected with leptospirosis can die from kidney or liver failure. Even if they do recover, infected animals may continue to shed the organism in their urine, becoming a potential source of infection to their human owners. 

Leptospirosis Treatment and Prevention

Leptospirosis is not good news for humans or canines. While it can be ubiquitous in the environment, it does not mean that you are doomed to disease, though.

Leptospirosis risk can be greatly reduced by vaccinating your pet as part of their wellness care plan. Call us today to see if vaccination against leptospirosis is a recommended part of your pet’s care and the protection of your family. 

Vaccination helps the immune system to recognize a disease so that it can more effectively fight it off when necessary. There are several different subtypes (serovars) of the Leptospira bacteria. We currently vaccinate against the four most common serovars. 

While leptospirosis in dogs can still occur even with vaccination, fully-vaccinated pets tend to have less serious disease. This may be due to the fact that vaccination against one of the serovars likely provides some cross-protection against other serovars. With the serious nature of this disease and its zoonotic potential (the ability to cross to humans), it is a worthwhile step to protect your pet.

Should your pet become infected, leptospirosis treatment is also possible, especially if the diagnosis is made quickly. Infected pets often need aggressive supportive care such as hospitalization on intravenous fluids. Antibiotic therapy is also essential to effectively clearing leptospirosis in dogs.

Prevention is best when possible, though, and our doctors think it is very important to protect at-risk pets. Please discuss leptospirosis vaccination with us at your next preventive care appointment, and don’t hesitate to call if you have questions. Leptospirosis is a serious disease, but together we can work to minimize the risk.