Welcome to Lyndale Animal Hospital’s new blog series! Each month, we will be discussing a different health topic relevant to your pets. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding our discussion, and as always, reach out to our veterinary team to make the best decisions for you and your pet.
Today, we wanted to discuss a disease called leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects almost all species of mammals, including people and dogs. It is caused by a bacteria that is commonly found in the environment and can be spread in water, urine, or even moist soil. In our community, we most commonly see rats and raccoons spreading leptospirosis, but dogs can also carry this infection and spread it to other dogs through their urine. Additionally, leptospirosis bacteria can live in the environment or standing water (think puddles and dog parks!) for up to 6 months.
If a dog is infected with leptospirosis, their symptoms can vary widely. Some dogs can spread this infection with minimal clinical signs, while others can develop life-threatening liver and kidney failure. These dogs can require intensive care, and this disease can be fatal. Leptospirosis is also considered a zoonotic disease. This means the infection can be spread from animals to people, and poses a human health risk.
Because of the potential severity of infection, the veterinary community has developed a vaccine to protect against leptospirosis. This vaccine is extremely effective against infection and preventing severe disease in dogs. When we start this vaccine, it is given as an initial dose and booster vaccine 2-4 weeks later. Thereafter, the vaccine is administered annually.
Traditionally, we thought about leptospirosis as a concern for our dogs with an outdoor lifestyle – like hunting, hiking, or camping. However, more recent studies show that leptospirosis is becoming a disease affecting urban dog populations. With our goal of preventing pets from potentially life-threatening illnesses, Lyndale Animal Hospital has decided to include leptospirosis as part of our core vaccination recommendations. Please discuss any questions you may have about Leptospirosis or your dog’s vaccinations at your next visit with us.