When we think of contagious canine diseases, things like canine parvovirus and rabies usually come to mind. Of course, these deadly diseases strike fear in the heart of every owner and are included in the core vaccination series every dog should receive.
Leptospirosis, however, poses a lesser known but just as dangerous threat. Depending on your dog’s exposure to the outdoors, doggie daycare, or boarding kennels, the leptospirosis vaccine may be just as important as the core vaccines. Take a moment to learn more about leptospirosis and what may be needed to protect your pet.
What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is spread through the urine of infected animals, such as skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and other wildlife. It thrives in warm, humid environments, like puddles, ponds, soil, and water bowls. Pets can pick up the disease through contact with contaminated soil or water. In addition, leptospirosis is a zoonotic condition, meaning it can be passed from pets to people.
Your Pet’s Risk
The more time your dog spends outside or in areas where lots of dogs congregate (dog parks, boarding kennels, doggie daycare, etc.), the more at risk they are for contracting leptospirosis. Symptoms include:
- Muscle pain/stiffness
- Loss of appetite
With early diagnosis and treatment, a pet’s prognosis is generally good. If left untreated, the disease can progress into a serious condition called pulmonary hemorrhage syndrome, which causes bleeding from the lungs and eventual kidney and liver failure.
Prevent and Protect
Vaccinating against leptospirosis is the single most effective way to protect your pet. Don’t allow your dog to drink from streams or puddles, and make the area around your home less hospitable to rodents and other wildlife. Keep grasses and shrubbery trimmed, and remove piles of wood, leaves, and other debris.