Canine Leptospirosis is frighteningly easy to contract and even more simple to pass on to other dogs. This potentially deadly bacteria is found virtually anywhere there is wildlife and can be transmitted to your pup through a simple drink of water.
Lepto is a nationwide concern for dog lovers, but a few states in particular have seen a concerning leap in cases. And now, health officials in the state of New Jersey are urging pet owners to become aware of this rat-spread illness for the safety of their dogs.
Veterinarians in Illinois, California and Arizona have reported an increase in Leptospirosis cases. Dogs ingest the bacteria by drinking standing water contaminated by infected animal urine. Some reports suggest that dogs can even become ill from simply licking their paws after an outing. Pups who share water bowls – or drink from the same water source at the dog park – can easily transmit the bacteria to their pals.
“Symptoms include an increase in thirst and urination, fever, vomiting, diarrhea and yellowing on the skin. Dogs can also become depressed or display signs of anorexia.”
Leptospirosis causes liver and kidney damage, and if left untreated may turn deadly. Dr. Hoyt says the best way to protect your dogs is to have them vaccinated against the bacteria. Lepto is included in many Distemper/Parvo combo vaccinations, but be sure to double check with your vet that your dog is protected.
While the protocol for most Distemper vaccines has switched to a 3 year interval, the stand-alone Lepto vaccine must be repeated yearly. Owners with pups at an increased risk for Lepto are well-advised to consult with their vets about vaccinating for Lepto on the off years.
Dogs at an increased risk for Lepto include:
- Those that frequent standing water or flooded areas.
- Outdoor dogs that hike, swim or drink in natural bodies of water.
- Dogs that interact with other dogs (dog shows, dog parks, pet-boarding).
- Dogs that come in contact with other animal species.
No vaccine can protect against every single strain of Leptospirosis, so it is important to take extra precautions to protect your dogs:
- Keep rodent problems under control – they are the primary carriers
- Supply fresh drinking water and a travel bowl on hikes or visits to the park
- Clean your dogs paws after coming inside to discourage licking
- Monitor dogs while outside – eating contaminated soil or dead animals can transmit Lepto
- Do not allow dogs to swim in or drink from standing water sources
Humans may also contract Lepto, but the disease can be treated with antibiotics in both dogs and people.
H/T to WQAD 8
Featured Image via Flickr/Luke Anderson