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1. What is it? Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is shed in the urine of infected animals. The bacteria are passed through the urine into water sources, where they reside and reproduce. The bacteria can be present in any stagnant surface water, moist soil, and recreational water sources such as ponds and lakes.
2. How do we get it? Your dog can become infected with Leptospirosis by drinking, swimming in, or walking through contaminated water. The bacteria can enter the bloodstream through a cut in the skin or through mucous membranes. For some reason, cats seem to immune to this bacteria. This disease is zoonotic, which means that humans can get this. We can get it the same way as our dogs, by ingestion, through a cut in our skin, or through our mucous membranes.
3. What does it do? Leptospira invades the bloodstream within 4-7 days and can spread to all parts of the body within 2-4 days after exposure. The two main organs that it affects are the kidneys and liver. The most common symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weakness, depression, and lethargy.
4. What is the treatment? Antibiotics are reasonably effective if they are begun promptly. However, these dogs are usually so sick that they will need hospitalization and intensive nursing care, including intravenous fluids.
5. How can it be prevented? Remember....Protection=Prevention. To protect your dog, vaccination is the key. The leptospirosis vaccine is part of our routine canine vaccine program. We recommend a 4-way vaccine to protect your dog against the most common types of Leptospirosis. They do need to get annual boosters of this vaccine in order to maintain proper immunity.