What Is Leptospirosis, and Why Is the Vaccine Important?

What Is Leptospirosis, and Why Is the Vaccine Important?

What Is Leptospirosis, and Why Is the Vaccine Important?

What Is Leptospirosis, and Why Is the Vaccine Important?

What Is Leptospirosis, and Why Is the Vaccine Important?


What Is Leptospirosis, and Why Is the Vaccine Important?

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria that thrive in water and moist places. It often affects dogs. The Leptospira bacteria have many strains that can cause the disease. The bacteria get into the body by burrowing through your dog’s skin into their bloodstream.


Your pet can get the disease from bodies or puddles of water that have urine from infected animals. Leptospirosis can be severe and life-threatening.


Risk Factors


Leptospirosis is rare in cats but commonly affects dogs. Below are some of the risk factors of leptospirosis:


  • Exposure or drinking from streams, lakes, or rivers

  • Exposure to farm or wild animal species

  • Contact with other dogs or rodents

  • Cut, wound, scrape, or skin touches the infected urine

  • Eating infected carcasses or tissues

  • Breeding


Signs and Symptoms


Below are symptoms that show your dog has leptospirosis:


  • Shivering

  • Lymph nodes mild swelling

  • Sudden illness and fever

  • Mucous membrane swelling

  • Sore muscles

  • Runny nose

  • Legs and muscle stiffness

  • Irregular pulse, difficulty, and fast breathing

  • Weakness

  • Unprompted cough

  • Depression

  • Anemic symptoms such as yellow skin

  • Loss of appetite

  • Bloody vaginal discharge

  • Increased urination and thirst

  • Bloody or non-bloody diarrhea

  • Quick dehydration

  • Vomiting, especially with blood



Your veterinarian will need a thorough health history of your dog. They will ask for the background of their recent activities and any incidents or symptoms that may have provoked their condition. All the information will give them a hint about the infection stage of the disease. They will also know what organs have gotten compromised.


Your veterinarian will take a complete blood count, electrolyte panel, and chemical blood profile. They will also order a urinalysis and a fluorescent antibody urine test. Additionally, they will get blood and urine cultures to examine the spread of bacteria. They will also measure if the pet has antibodies in its bloodstream by performing a titer test.


Importance of Vaccination


The best prevention for leptospirosis is vaccination. There are many vaccine schedules and options, and your veterinarian will guide you on what suits your dog best. Vaccination is essential as it makes leptospirosis in dogs rare and reduces its spread.



Leptospirosis treatment entails supportive care and antibiotics. Recovery chances are high if the condition gets treated aggressively and early. However, permanent residual liver or kidney damage can still occur.


Your veterinarian will use fluid therapy to reverse the dehydration effects. They may also administer a drug to help your dog stop vomiting if they experience that as a symptom. The vet can also use a gastric tube to help nourish your pet if they cannot eat. If your dog has severe hemorrhaging, it may need a blood transfusion.


Your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics depending on the infection stage. Your pet may receive penicillin to treat initial infections but not for the carrier stage as it cannot eliminate bacteria. The vet will use other antibiotics that distribute in the bone tissue.


It is essential to talk to your vet about what to watch out for because antibiotics tend to have side effects. Read all the warnings on the prescription. However, the prognosis should be good and hinder organ damage from occurring.


For more about leptospirosis or to schedule an appointment to get your pet vaccinated, call Bergen County Veterinary Center in Waldwick, New Jersey at  201-205-2500 today.