2001-Sun Apr 23 12:00:25 EDT 2017
Vetstreet. All rights reserved. Powered by Brightspot.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
You may not think a walk in the woods or a swim in a lake with your dog might lead to illness, but it could — potentially for both of you.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be passed between animals and people and is caused by bacteria. Infected animals spread the bacteria in their urine, which can taint the soil and water. Drinking contaminated water or having contact with contaminated water or soil can lead to infection.
In North America, leptospirosis has historically affected rural livestock, pet populations and wild animals like skunks, opossums and raccoons.Although cats can become infected with the bacteria, feline leptospirosis cases are rare.
Signs of leptospirosis can vary and often develop two to 12 days after exposure to the bacteria. The most common signs include abdominal discomfort, decreased appetite and vomiting.In some cases, dogs may have a range of less specific flu-like signs, including fever, muscle tenderness and depression. Because theorganism settles in the kidneys and actually reproduces there, inflammation and even kidney failure can develop. Liver failure can be another consequence of infection. Call your veterinarian if your dog exhibits any of these signs — leptospirosis can be deadly if it's not caught early.
Antibiotic therapy can help minimize organ damage and the risk of spreading the bacteria to other animals and humans. The risk to people becomes minimal within 24 hours of starting your dog on antibiotic therapy, but appropriate precautions, such as avoiding contact with urine and wearing gloves, should still be taken. Treatment typically takes two to three weeks. Dogs with signs of kidney and/or liver failure may also need hospitalization and supportive treatment, such as IV fluids.
Don't let your dog drink from standing water or swim in bodies of water that may be contaminated. And since humans can also become infected, handle dogs who may have been infected with care. Practice good hygiene, like frequent hand washing, and avoid contact with potentially contaminated urine. Additionally, there is a vaccine available that can help protect your dog from leptospirosis. Talk to your veterinarian about whether it might be right for your pet.
More on Vetstreet:
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Take our breed quiz to find your next pet.
Get all the best pet news and information sent right to your inbox!
Thank you for subscribing!
Bartonella is a type bacteria that can be transmitted to cats, dogs and humans from exposure to infected fleas and…
Want to give your pup yummy, low-calorie treats? We’ve got the skinny on which foods are OK to feed him.
Not sure about food puzzles? Our veterinarian reveals why the payoff for your pet is well worth any extra work.
With these simple dental care tips, you can help keep your canine’s adorable smile shiny and healthy for life.
The friendly and inquisitive LaPerm has an easy-care coat that comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
If the video doesn't start playing momentarily,
please install the latest version of Flash.
Thank you for subscribing.