Leptospirosis which is known as ‘lepto’ is a serious bacterial infection. It can affect many different species of animals including cattle, pigs (especially feral pigs), rodents, dogs and most importantly humans.
The bacteria is shed in the urine of infected animals, and can be passed to your dog (or yourself) in the following ways
o When mucous membranes (i.e. lips, tongue, gums, inside of the eyelids) or any broken skin (i.e. a wound) comes into contact with infected urine or something that is contaminated by infected urine (for example, soil, water, food).
o Eating tissue from an animal or carcass that is infected.
o Being bitten by an animal that is infected.
o Rarely, through breeding or if a pregnant female passes the infection through the placenta to her puppies.
Because of how it is transmitted dogs that go pig hunting are considered at higher risk of becoming infected with lepto.
Leptospirosis can cause kidney failure and liver failure, and occasionally severe lung disease and bleeding disorders, in dogs and people. The clinical signs of Leptospira infection vary considerably from no signs of infection, to just a mild illness of short duration from which the animal recovers quickly on their own, to severe disease and even death.
Signs of leptospirosis may include:
o Sore muscles and a reluctance to move
o Increased drinking
o Increased or decreased frequency or amount of urination
o Vomiting and Diarrhoea
o Jaundice (where the skin and mucous membranes become yellow in colour)
o Bleeding (including blood in vomit or faeces, saliva, bleeding from the nose and small red spots on mucous membranes or pale skin from bleeding)
o Fluid accumulation causing swollen legs, distended abdomen or restricted ability to breathe
As with all disease prevention is a lot easier and cheaper than treatment. For dogs that are at high risk of coming in contact with lepto there is a vaccine that can keep them safe. Contact the clinic today to discuss whether your dog should be vaccinated against lepto.