Nedele: Leptospirosis, a preventable pet disease |

Nedele: Leptospirosis, a preventable pet disease

Carrie Nedele, DVM
Courtesy Photo |

Leptospirosis is a potentially deadly bacterial disease caused by bacteria that can be found worldwide in soil and water. Many types of animals may carry and shed the leptospira bacteria, including pigs, cattle, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals. It is considered to be a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be spread from animals to humans.

Dogs are commonly affected and may contract the disease by exposure to infected urine or contaminated water, soil, food, or bedding. They may also be infected by a bite from an infected animal or from eating the carcass of an infected animal.

Signs of leptospirosis vary from no signs at all to fever, shaking, muscle tenderness, reluctance to move, increased thirst, changes in urination, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy, and death. This disease commonly causes kidney failure and may sometimes cause liver failure.

If caught early, leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics and supportive care (ie: fluids and medications) and chances of recovery are good. Annual vaccination is recommended to prevent this disease in at-risk dogs.

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