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Posted on 04-20-2012

Spring has sprung!.... Is your dog at risk for Leptospirosis?  Yes, most definitely.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that is found in the urine of most animals, Tyler_Pix_1.jpegincluding wildlife (deer, raccoons, skunks, possums, rats, and other rodents) and livestock (cattle, pigs, and sheep). The bacteria are passed via the urine into water sources where they reside.

Leptospirosis is prevalent in rural, suburban, and urbanized areas. The bacteria can be present in any stagnant water, soils, and recreational waters such as ponds and lakes.

Your dog can become infected by drinking, swimming, or walking through contaminated water. The bacteria can then enter the bloodstream through an open cut in their skin, or through mucous membranes such as in the nose, mouth, and even their eyes.

Leptospirosis is a contagious disease. It can be transmitted from dog to dog and to humans. Although cats are potentially at risk, they appear to have a natural resistance.

The following signs could indicate your dog has been infected with Leptospira. Flu-like symptoms are most common such as:

  • fever
  • vomiting/diarrhea
  • weakness/lethargy
  • depression
  • dehydration
  • loss of appetite
  • jaundice/yellow cast to gums and white of eyes

In most severe cases, the disease can lead to kidney and liver failure and be fatal. To effectively treat this disease, our veterinarians may recommend a combination of IV fluids, antibiotics, and other supportive therapies. If your dog in experiencing these symptoms, contact us at Eagle Animal Hospital as soon as possible. In humans, the disease is rarely fatal, but can cause severe illness.

Can I protect my dog from Leptospirosis?     Yes

To help protect your dog from this potentially fatal disease, vaccination is the key. Vaccines are affordable and safe. The initial vaccine is a series of shots 3-4 weeks apart, then is given on an annual basis. Exposure risks increase during the summer and early fall months.

You can reduce the risk of Leptospirosis by following a few preventative measures:

  • Vaccinating your dog
  • avoiding water that might be contaminated with the bacteria, especially stagnant water
  • Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands after handling anything that may be contaminated with your pet's urine.

**** Remember......Protection = Prevention****

Please, contact us at Eagle Animal Hospital for your Leptospirosis vaccine or to further discuss this potentially fatal disease. We server Chester Springs, Exton, Glenmoore, Downingtown, and Exton.

Written by Vicki Guy, head veterinary technician

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