Leptospirosis is a disease caused by infection with the Leptospira bacteria, which can be found in the water and soil, and is most often transmitted to animals via urine. Dogs can become infected by coming into contact with contaminated water sources, such as puddles, streams, lakes or rivers, or even from wet grass and soil. They can also get the disease through contact with infected animals directly. Among wildlife, dogs can come into contact with infected raccoons, rats, mice, squirrels, deer, and possums. They can also pass the disease to other dogs. (Leptospirosis among cats is rarely reported.)
Signs of leptospirosis in dogs are often non-specific, and include fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and changes in frequency and amount of urination. As the disease progresses, it can cause severe kidney and liver damage. Once diagnosed, it is treated with antibiotics and supportive care.
Leptospirosis is a public health concern; while it is dangerous to our dogs, this disease is zoonotic, which means it can also be passed on to humans, causing flu-like symptoms and possibly liver and kidney disease.
To protect your dog and family from leptospirosis, reduce your dog’s exposure to possible sources of Leptospira bacteria, such as outdoor water sources or contact with wildlife. Vaccinating your dog against this disease is also an option. If you are interested in vaccinating your dog against leptospirosis, our veterinarians would be happy to discuss this with you. Feel free to give us a call at (973) 887-0522 to schedule an appointment!
For more information about leptospirosis in dogs, feel free to visit the American Veterinary Medical Association page: