Canine Leptospirosis is still a relatively unknown disease that is carried by wildlife. It affects millions of dogs worldwide and is most often found in the soil and water. Even in urban areas, the disease is becoming more prevalent because it’s carried by rodents, who thrive in our cities.

But what is Canine Leptospirosis? Is your pet at risk? The Redwood Veterinary Hospital team is here to explain and help pet owners protect their furry loved ones.

The Basics of Canine Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis, also called lepto, is caused by the spirochete bacteria in the family Leptospira. It is plentiful in the environment as more than 200 variants of the bacteria have been identified. The disease is often found in rats, livestock, skunks, and other wild animals. A dog can be infected if it comes into contact with the urine of an infected animal and the bacteria is long lasting, surviving days in soil and water.

Many dogs who become infected show minimal or no signs of the disease. Interestingly enough, 25% of dogs otherwise healthy dogs show antibodies of Leptospirosis. Older pets and puppies under the age of 6 months are most impacted by the disease, but any unvaccinated dog can develop Leptospirosis. 

Clinical signs of Canine Leptospirosis include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Increased thirst/urination
  • Fever

Dogs with more serious cases of lepto can develop dangerously high fevers and dehydration. If these symptoms are present, call your veterinarian for testing and examination. We will take a close look at blood count and kidney and liver function, as well as perform a urine test to determine if Leptospirosis is present.

At present, there is no cure for canine lepto. Treatment involves managing the symptoms, encouraging good organ function, and offering supportive care.

Preventing Lepto

As with any disease, it’s always better to prevent it from happening in the first place. The Leptospirosis vaccine is offered to canine companions at higher risk of developing the illness. This two-part vaccine can help to prevent lepto, but is not guaranteed – it just minimizes the likelihood, as well as minimizing symptoms if your pet gets infected.

Other ways you can minimize your pet’s risk of Leptospirosis:

  • Don’t allow your pet to swim or drink from natural water sources, like puddles, ditches, and ponds.
  • Dump out standing water in the yard.
  • Consider getting rid of fruit trees that attract Leptospirosis carrying rats.
  • Cut down weeds and long grasses in the yard that attract wildlife.

If you would like more information about Canine Leptospirosis, or would like to come in for your pet’s annual appointment, please call us. W