Leptospirosis is a zoonotic bacteria that can cause great harm to your pet’s health. Due to its zoonotic potential, it’s important to understand this bacteria, and how to best prevent the infection.
What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial spirochete that burrows into the skin with the help of it’s corkscrew shape. Once it has made it’s way into the skin, it spreads through the system by the bloodstream. Once in the body, leptospires will spread throughout the entire body, reproducing in the kidneys, liver, central nervous system, eyes, and reproductive system. Infection of the liver and kidneys can be especially dangerous, as this can lead to organ failure if left untreated.
How can a dog contract Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is often found in sitting water, mud, or soil. Even if a dog is vaccinated, it’s best to limit their exposure to these areas that contain any of the above.
Symptoms of Leptospirosis?
- Muscle pain & soreness
- Increased thirst
- Change in urine production (increased or decreased production)
- Respiratory changes
Complications of Leptospirosis in dogs?
The severity of the disease will depend on the dog, but each case should be taken seriously. Dogs who test positive for the disease should be hospitalized due to it’s zoonotic potential and the threat of progression. Leptospirosis can lead to severe dehydration, kidney failure, liver failure, bleeding disorders, and overall discomfort due to all of the above. Close monitoring by a veterinarian is pertinent in the diagnosis of Lepto.
How can you diagnose Leptospirosis in Dogs?
Definitive testing for Leptospirosis will require a blood and urine sample. These samples can be sent to a local lab for a DNA-PCR test, that tests for the DNA in the Leptospira bacteria. Other diagnostics that often lead up to the need for PCR testing are CBC’s, biochemistries, and urinalysis testing.
How worried should we be about it’s zoonotic potential?
If a dog is a Leptospirosis suspect or being treated for the disease, precautions should be taken. Any dog with Lepto should be handled with gloves, and any contaminated objects should be disposed of immediately. Leptospirosis in humans is usually contracted by being involved in water activities, but this does not mean that it’s impossible to contract the bacteria from a pet. To be safe, it’s best to monitor anyone who has been in contact with the infected dog closely. Better yet, a visit to your primary doctor to discuss potential exposure is recommended.
How to prevent Leptospirosis in dogs?
Leptospirosis vaccines are recommended for dogs in areas where Leptospirosis has been seen. Avoiding areas with sitting water or mud is also recommended to aid in protection against the bacteria.
If you learned something from this info-graphic, take a look at Mast Cell Tumors in Dogs on our blog, and learn about another widely unknown threat in dogs.