Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that causes serious illness in dogs and other animals throughout the world. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that many dogs can acquire, and the number of veterinarians that are seeing this infection in their patients is growing. The concern is of course for our beloved pets, but also a major red flag since leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can easily be passed to humans from animals.
What is Leptospirosis?
It is a spirochetes bacterium that penetrates the skin and infects the bloodstream. It is prevalent in many wild animals and is transmissible through urine. The problem is the ease of infection. Dogs are getting it through dirty puddles of water, drinking contaminated water at dog parks, kennel and boarding contaminations, and pet-to-pet contagion. Leptospirosis is usually in contaminated water and wet soil.
Leptospirosis symptoms in animals:
• Dark speckled gums
• Difficulty breathing
• Difficulty or inability to urinate
• Increased Panting
• Increased thirst and urination
• Lack of appetite
• A runny nose
• Sore muscles, difficulty moving
• Stiffness in legs
• Yellowing of the skin or eyes
• Bloody vaginal or anal discharge
Early symptoms begin to show about 1 week after infection.
It is prevalent in subtropical climates like here in Florida, due to marshy areas, and stagnate water. And it causes systemic infection, due to the blood and the kidneys being contaminated. This disease causes extreme adverse reactions to take place rapidly; therefore, it is imperative to contact your veterinarian if your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above. You must also make certain to not come in contact with your pet’s urine, saliva, or other bodily fluids. Wearing latex gloves while handling your pet is essential in avoiding becoming contaminated.
If you have children or other pets, keeping them away from the infected animal is also very important. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the disease through blood work and urinalysis testing.
If caught early on, the disease can be treated with antibiotics, but if the condition is late stage, your pet may need intravenous antibiotics, which penetrate deeply into the bone marrow to eliminate the bacteria from the body. Hydration therapy may be necessary if your dog is dehydrated and hospitalization is most likely needed in the first few days or longer of the treatment.
Usually within four to six weeks, your dog will be free of the contagious bacterial infection and able to live a healthy life once again; however, it is not uncommon for pets to pass away from Leptospirosis.
According to Merck Animal Health, Commercial vaccines for dogs are available for the 4 of the most common subtypes of leptospirosis. Vaccinated dogs may still be susceptible to infections with other subtypes. Vaccination is recommended at yearly intervals. Dogs that have recently been exposed to leptospirosis may be treated with antibiotics given by mouth for 14 days to prevent infection.
Because leptospirosis can be transmitted to people, any caretakers should take appropriate precautions when handling known or suspected infected animals. Pay particular attention to avoiding exposure of the skin or mucous membranes to urine or blood. Infected dogs should be allowed to urinate only in designated areas that can subsequently be cleaned and disinfected. The organisms are killed by all commonly used disinfectants. If your dog was recently diagnosed with leptospirosis, you should contact your physician with any health concerns. You should also wear gloves when cleaning up urine and should wash your hands after handling your dog, at least until antibiotic treatment is completed.
Both wild and domestic animals can carry the Leptospirosis bacterium.
Prevention and being proactive about your pet’s health is the best way to avoid Leptospirosis. There is a vaccination available. If your dog frequents kennels, dog parks, or standing water, it is a good idea to speak to your veterinarian about this vaccine.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), “In humans, it can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other diseases. Some infected persons, however, may have no symptoms at all. Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.”
Animal Oasis Veterinary Hospital in Naples offers the most up to date and progressive veterinary services for your pets. Ranging from Laser Surgery, Ultrasound, Dental Xrays, Radiology, Full Pharmacy, and In House Diagnostics, Animal Oasis Veterinary Hospital provides your pets with the necessary options for treatment.
Animal Oasis Veterinary Hospital
2700 Imokalee Rd., Suite 16
Naples, FL 34110