Leptospirosis is a disease primarily recognized in dogs. Although other animals and occasionally even people can acquire it, this is rare. Genus leptospira is the name of a bacteria group responsible for causing symptoms. The most typical way that dogs acquire leptospirosis is by drinking water from ponds, rivers, and other standing bodies of water where the bacteria thrives. 

How Dogs Become Infected with Leptospirosis and How to Recognize Its Symptoms

In addition to drinking water contaminated with the bacteria, your dog could pick it up through contact with the urine of another infected dog. This can happen when dogs dig in the same soil or share the same bedding. A bite from an infected dog or eating tissues of a smaller animal with leptospirosis could also cause your dog to acquire it.

Dogs typically have a strong enough immunity to fight off most of the leptospirosis infection. Unfortunately, it can travel quickly to the kidneys and cause significant health issues. Once infected, your dog will continue to shed the bacteria through urination for as long as several months. We encourage you to schedule an appointment with Grantsburg Animal Hospital right away if your dog engaged in any of the behaviors above and you feel concerned that she could have contracted the bacterial infection.

Your dog could pick up a strain of leptospirosis that ranges from mild to severe. His age and immunization status impact how much the disease affects him. The most common signs to watch for include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Discharge from eyes or nose
  • Fever
  • Frequent urination
  • Jaundice
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting

How to Treat and Prevent Leptospirosis

The simplest way to prevent your dog from picking up leptospirosis is to make sure that she receives all vaccinations on schedule. If you see your dog digging in soil, stop and redirect her to another activity. It’s also important that your dog has her own bedding and that you do not allow her to drink any type of stagnant water. 

If you bring your dog into Grantsburg Animal Hospital due to a suspected case of leptospirosis, our veterinarian will first take a urine and blood sample. Determining whether your dog has leptospirosis or another condition can be challenging since it mimics so many other canine diseases. The most typical course of action for dogs who test positive for leptospirosis is to start on antibiotic medication right away.

We will need to provide more invasive treatment such as administering IV fluids if our veterinarian determines that the bacteria has affected your dog’s liver or kidneys. Dogs who continue to struggle with vomiting can receive a medication for that as well.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at 715-463-2536 with additional questions or complete an online appointment request form.


Image credit: Jupiterimages | iStock | Getty Images Plus

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