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What is Leptospirosis in Dogs?

What is Leptospirosis in Dogs? A dangerous bacterial  infection caused by a spiral-shaped Leptospirosis bacteria

It is right to be worried that this waterborne disease that can be passed to dogs, from wildlife such as rats, and in turn, be passed to humans causing flu like symptoms  progress to severe illness with kidney or liver failure.

Staglers knows that Leptospirosis is an underdiagnosed and a zoonotic  (notifiable disease) , meaning that it can be transmitted to humans and other animals from an infected animal.

Border Terrier puppy near lake and trees

Where Can My Dog Catch Leptospirosis?

Contaminated water is the most common source of bacteria. Where marshy, muddy areas that have stagnant surface water and are frequented by wildlife.

We appreciate part of the fun in some dog’s lives is to get as muddy and dirty as possible for you to clean up! We do not want to stop the fun, just educate those who have never heard of Leptospirosis.

In the modern urban landscape, if you know your have rats visiting your bird feeder chances are they are also visiting the dog bowls that you are leaving around outside.

Keep your pests under control.

dog in field with water



How does it get into a dog’s body?

Leptospirosis can enter the body through a number of ways such as

  • drinking from a bucket of contaminated, standing rainwater (e.g. that a rat had peed in)
  • contact with mucous membranes
  • broken/cut skin that allows the bacteria in.
  • a direct bite from an infected pest

dog laying down

What are the Symptoms of Leptospirosis in Dogs?

Each dog will have a variety of symptoms but will also depend upon their age and strength of immune response of a dog. Signs and symptoms may include

  • Breathing difficulty
  • Cough
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Excessive Drinking
  • Fever or illness
  • Frequent urination then followed by lack of weeing
  • Jaundice – yellow skin and yellow whites of eyes (anaemic)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Runny nose
  • Stiff Joint or muscle pain meaning they do no want to move
  • Vomiting

If you suspect your dog is sick, call the vet immediately.  Puppies are more susceptible, this is due to their young age and less developed immune systems. It is really important to get any sign of illness checked out.

dog on vets table




How will the vet test my dog?

It is important to give your vet a history of your dog’s health and recent activities to provide a clue to what stage any illness may be at. They will look for blood in urine and an increasing level of antibodies in the blood.

Treatment for your dog or puppy

  • Firstly, you dog will need fluids to combat dehydration.
  • Secondly, antibiotics are needed to kill the Leptospira bacteria. They are used to treat the initial infection.
  • Thirdly, an additional dose of an antibiotic, often intravenously, may well be needed to tackle the bacteria in the urine.

Giving Dogs Time To Recover

Recovering from any illness involves rest as this infection will have delivered quite a physical trauma.

Wear gloves and disinfect where your dog urinates as the bacteria leaves the body, especially bedding etc where they may have urinated. Then dispose of properly.

What can I do to protect my dog from lepto?

UK vets strongly advise you get your canine pet vaccinated against lepto as part of your dog’s yearly booster injection. Most importantly dog vaccinations reduce risks of illness and can protect against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza.

Bird Feeders can encourage rats if placed near hedges, placing them in the middle of the lawn will help, for instance.

What is Leptospirosis in Dogs?  March 22

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