All About Lepto

While Lyme Disease is usually the main illness concern of pet owners, especially those that live in areas with a high tick population, many people are not aware of another disease that can be just as detrimental to both the health of their pets and their own health as well.

Leptospirosis, more commonly referred to as Lepto, is a disease caused by an infection from the bacteria Leptospira which can be found in water and soil across the world, however it is more prevalent in areas with warm climates and high annual rainfall.

Though Lepto is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can spread from animals to people, people are more likely to contract the disease from activities involving water, not from contact with an infected pet. That being said, it’s important to keep in mind that it is possible to have the disease passed on in such a fashion.

Risk Factors of Lepto

Dogs are more likely to contract Lepto over cats, where Lepto contraction is very rare. The most common ways dogs are infected with the Leptospira bacteria is from drinking river, lake, or stream water, walking through rural properties, exposure to wild and farm animals, and contact with rodents or other dogs.

Signs of Lepto

Signs of Lepto will vary from dog to dog; some show no signs of illness, some show signs of a mild illness and recover spontaneously, and others develop severe illness and in some cases result in death. If your pet is showing signs of an illness, keep an eye out for these symptoms that can point to Lepto.

  • Fever
  • Shivering
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Reluctance to move
  • Increased thirst
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Jaundice
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver failure
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Swollen legs
  • Excess fluid in chest or abdomen

Treatment & Prevention of Lepto

If your pet should contract Lepto, conducting early and aggressive treatment will increase the chances of recovery greatly, however the risk of kidney and liver damage still remains. It is usually treated with antibiotics and supportive care, but there is also a vaccination that protects dogs for at least 12 months. Make it a point to reduce your dog’s exposure to possible sources of the leptospira bacteria as well in order to prevent contraction.

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