We understand that vaccines are something that get put on the long finger sometimes or forgotten about, but we would ask that you put a mark on the calendar every year. We have unfortunately seen some recent cases of young healthy dogs contracting Leptospirosis and sadly we were unable to save them. Being aware of the symptoms and acting fast if you suspect Leptospirosis is vital as the sooner it is noticed and treated, the higher the chance of survival. So what is Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis in Dogs
At this time of year, there is always an increase in the number of dogs presenting to the veterinary hospital showing signs of Leptospirosis. According to MSD Animal Health; “Leptospirosis is now considered to be the most widespread Zoonotic Infection in the world”. It is important to us that our clients are aware of this disease as it potentially life threatening to a dog, but also it can be transferred from an infected animal to us.
What causes it?
Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream through ingestion or the mucous membranes – nose, mouth, eyes, cuts etc. Rats are well known vectors of Leptospirosis; they can carry the disease without showing clinical signs and shed it through their urine. This is why there can be a spike in the amount of dogs coming into contact with the bacteria from September through the winter as rats and other rodents seek shelter on farms and closer to food sources – bins etc. when the weather gets cold. Most commonly, animals drink or swim in water that contains the bacteria. The bacteria travel to the kidney, liver, spleen and reproductive system and begin to replicate. These bacteria are then shed into the environment through this animal’s urine.
Quite soon after infection, the dog will develop a fever as a result of the blood infection, the dogs immune system will then begin to defend the body against the bacteria, however the dogs ability to fend off the bacteria depends on the strength of their immune system and as it is a dangerous disease, vaccination is one of the best ways to strengthen the animals immune response.
The Clinical signs to look out for include:
- Sore Muscles
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal Pain
- Increase in thirst and urination
- Jaundice (yellowing of gums, whites of the eyes and skin
Left untreated this can progress to kidney or liver failure. Younger, unvaccinated dogs are most at risk of developing a serious case of Leptospirosis. Especially those who swim in rivers, herd animals or are in area where they can come into contact with rodents. Having said this, it is becoming quite common for town/city dogs to come into contact with rat urine as rodents are unfortunately never too far away.
The vaccine for Leptospirosis covers the 4 most common types of Leptospirosis found in Europe, although the viral vaccines can be given every 3 years, the Leptospirosis vaccine is a bacteria, this looses strength in the system after a year so a booster is needed to again remind the immune system of it.
You can read more about vaccinations on our website services page or if you have any questions or would like any more info on this topic please feel free to call us. If you want to ensure you are kept up to date with all things pet related why not sign up to our newsletter.