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.