Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that acquire from the urine of infected animals and water sources.
Risk factors for dogs include hiking, camping, hunting, swimming, living near lakes, streams, or ponds, living on or near a farm, living in an area where lots of wildlife visit, or even just drinking from puddles.
According to AVMA (American Veterinarian Medical Association) dogs can become infected with if their mucous membranes (or skin with any wound, such as a cut or scrape) come into contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food or bedding; or through a bite from an infected animal.
The signs of leptospirosis in dogs vary. Some infected dogs do not show any signs of illness, some have a mild and transient illness and recover spontaneously, while others develop severe illness and death.
The AVMA notes that signs of leptospirosis may include fever, shivering, muscle tenderness, reluctance to move, increased thirst and urination, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes), or painful inflammation within the eyes. The disease can cause kidney failure with or without liver failure. Dogs may occasionally develop severe lung disease and have difficulty breathing. Leptospirosis can cause bleeding disorders, which can lead to blood-tinged vomit, urine, stool or saliva; nosebleeds; and pinpoint red spots (which may be visible on the gums and other mucous membranes or on light-colored skin). Affected dogs can also develop swollen legs (from fluid accumulation) or accumulate excess fluid in their chest or abdomen.
Leptospirosis may be suspected based on the exposure history and signs shown by the dog, but many of these signs can also be seen with other diseases. In addition to a physical examination, your veterinarian may recommend a number of other tests such as blood tests, urine tests, radiographs (x-rays), and an ultrasound examination.
Leptospirosis is generally treated with antibiotics and supportive care. When treated early and aggressively, the chances for recovery are good but there is still a risk of permanent residual kidney or liver damage.
The AVMA states that, currently, available vaccines effectively prevent leptospirosis and protect dogs for at least 12 months. Annual vaccination is recommended for at-risk dogs. Reducing your dog’s exposure to possible sources of the Leptospira bacteria can reduce its chances of infection.
During the month of October, Animal Health Center is offering leptospirosis vaccine series for only $20. If your pet has never had the vaccine, or more than 6 weeks overdue, your dog will receive an initial vaccine for $20 and return a month later for the booster, which is free. The vaccine then becomes apart of your pet’s yearly examination.
As with any vaccine, there is the potential risk of adverse reactions. It is not uncommon for your pet to be more tired or experience mild pain or swelling at the injection site after a vaccine. If your pet is uncomfortable, we can administer or advise which pain medications to give. A more serious, but rare, adverse reaction might include facial swelling, trouble breathing, pale mucous membranes, or collapse. If this were to occur, you should bring your pet immediately back to the office, or to the nearest veterinary emergency care center.
This promotion is valid October 1st – October 31st, 2016. Initial vaccination must be received during this time frame. New and established patients are eligible. Dog must be at least 8 weeks old. Only dogs that have never received the vaccine, or are at least 6 weeks overdue, are eligible. A veterinarian must administer the vaccine to dogs that are overdue for their annual exam or rabies vaccine, which does entail an office visit fee. Established patients that are up to date with their annual exam and rabies vaccine, and are healthy, may receive the vaccine from a veterinary technician.