What Is Canine Leptospirosis and Should You Be Worried About It?

Posted by Stacey Venzel
A dog is drinking from a dirty puddle

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection, and it can be spread from dogs to humans.

Hundreds of parasitic, bacterial, and viral infections exist among canines, but few can be transmitted to humans. Leptospirosis, however, can be transferred between species.

The bacterial infection, called "lepto" for short, typically survives in warm climates with heavy rainfall. The disease is most often contracted when a dog comes in contact with infected water. It can also be picked up from contaminated urine or animal bites.

Lepto can be transmitted to humans through an infected dog's fluids, including blood and urine. It tends to enter the body via mucous membranes, such as around the mouth and nose. When canines develop the illness, they are hospitalized overnight and proper sterilizing protocol is followed to protect humans and other patients.

Brittany Spaniel

The spirochete bacteria most often results in acute renal failure. Symptoms therefore align with those of kidney disease, such as increased urination and drinking, or yellowing of the skin. A fever spike or shivering might also occur. Vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon, nor are lethargy and inappetence.

Antibiotics and fluid therapy are typically recommended as treatment. If lepto is caught early, the chances of full recovery are far greater.

dog leptospirosis

Lepto vaccinations are available from most veterinarians, though dogs in areas that do not tend to harbor the bacteria might be less likely candidates for the vaccine.

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What Is Canine Leptospirosis and Should You Be Worried About It?