Dr. Kristin Christy
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can infect our mammal species. In regards to our pets, we are most commonly concerned about it infecting dogs and people, but wildlife and farm animals can be responsible for exposing our pets. There is a vaccination available for “at risk” dogs. Many people think of this vaccine as “the water one” since it is most commonly recommended for dogs that are around water sources.
Lepto can cause liver and kidney failure and is not always easy to identify or diagnose. Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, not eating, jaundice/yellowing of skin or urine, lethargy, and nonspecific “sick” symptoms. The bacteria is spread through urine and stays alive in wet areas like lakes and streams, but it can also be found in ground bird baths, stagnant water, marshy or flooded lands, and in wet areas on farmland.
The most at risk dogs include obviously those that go to the lake or in creeks, but other at risk dogs can include those that live in rural areas, on farmland, yards that have outside water elements, or yards that may back up to woods or farmland. Some dogs may come into contact with the organism when running in the woods, camping, hiking, and nosing around where wildlife may have urinated. Mice and other rodents have been known to spread the disease, so consideration should be taken when exposure to rodents is possible.
While thankfully we do not see cases very often, we have seen multiple cases pop up even in our lower risk dogs during periods of heavier than normal rains or flooding. Let us know if you feel your dog may be at risk, if you have any questions, or if you want to consider the vaccination!