Leptospirosis in dogs

As a pet owner, you try to protect your dog from risk as much as possible. Unfortunately, there are dangers lurking right in your backyard or local park that can cause serious harm to your dog. One of these diseases that has been increasingly reported across the UK is leptospirosis.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis, also known as “lepto”, is a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects most species of mammals, including dogs.

Leptospirosis is zoonotic (which means it can be passed along to humans), so protecting your dog helps protect you. Human symptoms range from flu-like symptoms to kidney failure and even death.

Leptospirosis bacteria (leptospira) penetrates a dog’s body through mucous membranes or open skin and rapidly multiplies in the bloodstream for the following 4–12 days. The bacteria is spread through infected animals’ urine (especially rodent urine) and can survive in soil or water for weeks or months. Dogs can come into contact with the bacteria by walking through, drinking, or even spending time near contaminated water like puddles, mud, standing water, and lakes.

Is my dog at risk for leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis can affect dogs of all shapes and sizes, so your dog could be at risk. Once commonly diagnosed in rural areas, lepto is now being seen more commonly in suburban and urban areas. Dogs that spend time near bodies of water, or even play near mud or puddles, can be at especially high risk for leptospirosis.

Common risk factors for leptospirosis:

  • Walking in the same place as infected wildlife, rodents, or farm animals
  • Contact with or drinking from warm, wet environments like streams, lakes, and puddles
  • Direct contact with infected animals

Symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs

It’s important to note that dogs can be infected and not even show signs of having leptospirosis.

Symptoms of leptospirosis include:

  • Fever
  • Shivering
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Increased thirst
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the “whites” of their eyes or the inside of their ears, gums, or belly skin)

If your dog is displaying signs of leptospirosis, see your vet immediately. Delaying treatment can result in severe kidney or liver damage, and even death.

How can I protect my dog from leptospirosis?

The best way to protect your dog from leptospirosis is to vaccinate them against it. At Orchard House Vets, a vaccination course is £70 and this includes 3 health checks (normally valued at £46.80 each). So the vaccination offers not only peace of mind, but great value too. Furthermore if you join our Well Pet Club you will receive a 20% discount on the vaccination course.

Well Pet Club members receive the booster vaccine through our health scheme. Booster vaccines are given 1 year after the initial course and cost £39.95. Or of course if you are a WPC member then the cost is spread through monthly payments along with many great benefits!

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