Leptospirosis in Dogs


While the number of canine Leptospirosis cases in the United States is relatively low, a recent spike in the disease is a cause of concern. Leptospirosis is zoonotic, meaning it can be spread from animals to humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that between 100 and 200 human cases of Leptospirosis occur each year in this country. So how is this disease transmitted and what symptoms should you look for in your dog?

Leptospirosis is a disease that can be passed to dogs through the urine of other infected animals. The most common carriers are rats. Raccoons, opossums, goats, sheep, pigs, cows, horses, and other dogs can also carry and transmit the disease. The Leptospira bacteria can survive for several months when deposited in soil or water. Canines can become infected through a cut or break in their skin when they come in contact with contaminated water or soil. They can also pick up the bacteria when they drink tainted water.

Many times the infection is mild and dogs may show no symptoms and recover without medical treatment. Unfortunately, an untreated dog can become a carrier of the bacteria for up to a year. If you suspect Leptospirosis in your pet or notice some of the following symptoms, give us a call immediately. With an early diagnosis, this bacterial infection is treatable.

• Fever
• Muscle Pain
• Vomiting and Diarrhea
• Loss of Appetite
• Lethargy or Fatigue
• Depression
• Blood in the Urine

Leptospirosis primarily attacks the kidneys and liver and in severe cases can cause jaundice and hepatitis. Symptoms usually appear between 4-12 days after exposure to the bacteria. Typically, puppies tend to get sicker than adult dogs, and symptoms can depend on the age and health of your pet. The Leptospira bacteria thrive in humid climates and are most common in the summer, early fall, and in areas of flooding, but the disease occurs worldwide. To reduce the risk of Leptospirosis in your pet, keep them away from standing or stagnant water and control the rodent population in and around your home.

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