Leptospirosis: Keep you and your dog safe!
By Luke Viramontes, DVM
Leptospirosis - you may or may not have heard of this disease, whether in its full name or by the more common "lepto" for short. Leptospirosis is a disease that is transmitted in contaminated urine, commonly from outdoor mammals, like raccoons, squirrels, mice, rats, etc. You may have heard your veterinarian briefly discuss vaccinating your pet for leptospirosis and why this is so important.
Dogs, by their naturally curious nature, are exposed to many potential diseases in the outside world. We know they'll go sniffing around and under bushes, drink random puddles of water, play in the mud at dog parks - they're almost always in contact with some sort of humid, damp area when they're outside. If you think about it, wild animals also frequent these areas, where they will gather, eat, and....urinate. This is where the transmission of leptospirosis begins. For dogs that unfortunately contract the disease, it primarily infects the kidneys and liver. Signs of illness can be non-specific, such as fever, vomiting, urinating and drinking more than normal, or in the most severe cases, not urinating at all. These patients need aggressive care immediately for the best chances of survival. In nearly all cases, infected patients require multiple days of hospitalization.
Luckily the leptospirosis vaccine helps by immunizing your dog against this disease - first, a series of 2 shots, then annually. Another reason to consider vaccinating your dog for leptospirosis is that this disease is zoonotic, meaning humans can contract this disease from infected animals. Here in Florida, we have a lot of wet days (think hurricane season, rivers, lakes, and daily summer thunderstorms). As with any other vaccine, there remains a chance of vaccine reactions that we need to be mindful of. Talk to your veterinarian if your dog's lifestyle warrants vaccination. If your dog goes outside, even for a quick trip to the bathroom, or in apartment dwellings with a history of rat problems, this vaccine should be strongly considered.
PS: Did you know Tampa made Orkin’s list of top 50 rattiest cities in America in 2021? Get your pet vaccinated - vaccines save lives.