Your dog may love swimming in lakes and romping in the woods, but a dangerous disease lurks in these areas – one that can sicken you as well as your dog. Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria spread through soil, water, and the urine of infected animals. If not caught and treated early it can be deadly. Fortunately, vaccination can protect dogs from leptospirosis. Preventing your dog from drinking from puddles of standing water or from swimming in lakes, streams, or other bodies of water that may be contaminated also reduces his risk of exposure.
Leptospirosis is a potentially serious disease caused by the bacterium Leptospira interrogans. It affects dogs but can also infect a wide variety of domestic and wild animals, as well as humans.
The organism is usually spread through infected urine, but exposure to contaminated water or soil, reproductive secretions, and even consumption of infected tissues can also transmit the infection. Introduction of the organism through skin wounds can also occur. Carriers of the organism include raccoons, opossums, rodents, skunks, and dogs.
The bacteria can survive for long periods of time in water and are frequently found in swamps, streams, lakes, and standing water. The bacteria also survive well in mud and moist soil, and localized outbreaks can occur after flooding.
Once a dog is infected, the leptospirosis organisms rapidly advance through the bloodstream leading to fever, joint pain, and general malaise. Because the organism settles in the kidneys and actually reproduces there, inflammation and even kidney failure may develop. Liver failure is another common consequence of infection.
Symptoms and Identification
Clinical signs typically develop 2 to 12 days after exposure to the bacterium. In many dogs, infection may remain subclinical (without clinical signs) or chronic. In acute, or more serious cases, dogs may experience potentially fatal kidney or liver disease.
Inappetence (appetite loss)
Muscle and/or joint pain