What is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis (lepto) is a growing concern for dog parents. It is an infectious disease caused by a bacterium called leptospira. It is found in wild animal’s urine and can survive the environment for long period of time. These wild animals include skunk, raccoon, squirrels, opossum, rat, wolf and deer. Leptospirosis can cause serious damage on your dog’s health. The bacteria works quickly through a dog’s system, shutting down the kidney and liver. In addition, since leptospirosis is shed in the urine, it is a zoonotic disease. This means leptospirosis can be transmitted to people.
How Can Your Dog Catch Leptospirosis?
Dogs catch it through direct contact with the infected urine, sniffing or stepping into a wild animal’s urine. It is most common during warm and wet weather, making Spring and Fall risky seasons.
Leptospirosis In Your Backyard
Squirrels, raccoons and skunks are common wild animals in most city/town. Most of the time these wild animals find their way into your backyard. It is normal and seems to be unavoidable for most dogs to sniff the ground before they do their “doggy business.” As a pet parent, be watchful of your dog’s movement in your own backyard.
A dog suffering leptospirosis can become very ill quickly. As a pet parent, be vigilant and observant of your dog’s behavior. Seek veterinary care immediately if any of these signs develop: lethargy, depression, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, increased thirst and urination. In less severe cases, it can be treated with antibiotics and 80% of dogs can survive.
I was compelled to write about this topic because three dogs recently died in our city. Many dog parents were informed through the evening local news. It is not just affecting pets in rural and suburban areas, dogs in urban settings can be infected too. Leptospirosis is a global disease, common in tropical areas but can occur anywhere.
For more information check out PetMD.
Ann Staub says
Great post Sugar. This is actually something that is very common where I live. I’ve helped treat a lot of dogs with Lepto before. I can think of at least 3 off the top of my head who sadly died from it while I was vet teching. I think there were more than that though. And while I was pregnant, I helped treat a Lepto dog and my work made me go to the doctor for antibiotics and whatnot. The only vaccines I get for Shiner right now are Rabies, because I have to, and the single Lepto vaccine, not the DHLPP.
That is so sad…that the dogs have died from it. It is very important to be vigilant. Thank you for sharing this information with us! xo Chloe and LadyBug
Reilly & Denny says
It is also very common where cattle are kept or even where cattle have been grazed. Where we lived in NEbraska there had been a dairy farm some 10 years previous and there were a number of Lepto cases around there
Amber DaWeenie says
Thanks for the information. I’ll have to check all our records to make sure all vaccinations are up to date.
Lily Belle & Muffin says
Thanks for the information! We have loads of deer in our yard so Mommy is always keeping an eye out on what we do and where we walk.
Lily Belle & Muffin
Erin Gleeson says
Thanks for this post! A lot of people have never heard of lepto and the terrible effects it can have. One note though, from my days as a vet tech- lepto needs a damp environment to survive. Pets playing in marshy areas, streams, lakes or wooded areas could be at more of a risk, and their pet parents should talk to their vets about the vaccine!
Sand Spring Chesapeakes says
Thank you for getting the word out about this nasty disease, people just can’t get a crasp on how deadly this disease is.
Jenna,Mark “HuskyCrazed” Drady says
wow! I have not heard of this before!!!
How on earth would we prevent them from stepping in it right in our yard! EEK! Scary stuff!
ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!
Squirrels are bad for so many reasons! My sisters and I have our Lepto vaccination, it is important! Great post as we didn’t really know how one contracts this disease, but now we do.
Molly The Wally says
Great advice Sugar as we have not come across that before. Have a fabulous Friday.
Best wishes Molly
Jan K says
Our vet offers a vaccine for our dogs, but he does not push it because lepto is not very common in our area. He leaves it up to us and right now we don’t vaccinate our dogs for it. But if it becomes more common in our area, we probably will (except for our beagle who is sensitive to vaccines).
madi and mom says
OH MY word we had no idea…..Goodness me we are glad Sugar wears boots out side.
Hugs madi your bfff
Murphy & Stanley says
Very good to know since we had a skunk at our yard 2 weeks ago!
Murphy and Stanley
DZ Dogs says
I’ve never heard of this, thank you for posting!
Dory's Backyard says
Great post!! We have to b very careful about lepto here in the Pacific Northwest…all of us have been immunized!!
Dory, Jakey, Arty & Bilbo
We get that vaccine, but thanks for the info…we didn’t even know what the vaccine was all about!
We have all of those critters in our yard!
Wyatt and Stanzie
We had a dog named Astro who was vaccinated for lepto but got it anyway. He got a strain that was not included in the vaccine. After very strong treatments, he survived. In fact, he lived to be 16 years old! So, your message is right on – if you notice anything “off” about your dog, go to the vet! And don’t rule out lepto just because your dog is vaccinated against it.
Callie, Shadow, and Ducky's Mom says
My response would be similar to Jan K’s, except that it was a couple of years ago, when I first learned of lepto through Lauren Forge (Desmond’s mom). Maybe things have changed recently. I’ll have to ask our vet again. Although around here the main cause of wildlife deaths seems to be the animals being hit by fast-moving vehicles. I’m sure our vet would have something on the website by now if it were a danger. Still, I’m going to keep up my vigilance anyway.
Jan Dunlap (@BirderMurder) says
Gracie just got her initial vaccination dose last week, and will get the second dose in another two weeks. Like most of our friends, I had not heard of it until my vet suggested Gracie get it, since she loves wallowing in streams in the forest. So glad we got the tip and we’re getting her vaccinated.