WHAT IS LEPTOSPIROSIS?
Canine leptospirosis, “lepto” for short, is an infection caused by a bacteria called leptospira. The bacteria is spread through contact with body fluids (most commonly urine) from infected animals.
How does my dog contract leptospirosis?
Leptospira bacteria is transmitted through the urine of infected animals (often rats and mice). The urine contaminates water sources, soil or bedding. Dogs pick up the bacteria through a cut in the skin, when they drink or swim in contaminated water, or when they get bitten by an infected animal.
Your dogs are at higher risk if they:
- frequent outdoor areas with water bodies
- drink from puddles or ponds
- bite or eat infected rodents
what are the signs of leptospirosis?
- muscle pain and stiffness
- vomiting and diarrhea, with or without blood
- loss of appetite
- excessive urination (sign of kidney failure)
- blood in urine
- jaundice (yellowing of skin and mucous membranes, e.g. whites of the eyes) as the bacteria destroys cells in the liver.
Vomiting and diarrhea are common signs of other diseases. Take your dog to the vet for a health check and a lepto test if recommended. Leptospirosis is treatable when diagnosed early. If you have other dogs in the household, it is advisable to have them tested as well.
how is Leptospirosis treated?
Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics, fluid therapy and supportive care. When treated early and aggressively, your dog can recover but there is a risk of permanent kidney or liver damage.
what can i do to protect my dog?
This is not just about protecting our dogs from lepto. But keeping them safe from possible dangers out there.
- Keep your eyes on your dog during walks => Put your phone in your pocket and focus on your dog. Many incidents can be prevented if we just pay attention.
- Do not let your dog consume food waste
- Do not let your dog drink from or play in puddles or stagnant water
- Avoid overcrowded dog parks and boarding facilities
- Stay away from rat-infested areas => Dispose waste properly to prevent pest infestation
- Speak to your vet about vaccinations => No vaccine is 100% effective but it reduces the likelihood of infection. It is equally important to take other precautionary measures as mentioned above.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease. It can be passed from dog to dog, and dog to human. Practise good hygiene. Wash hands thoroughly after handling any dog.