What Causes Leptospirosis in Dogs and How to Prevent It
Leptospirosis is a rare and dangerous bacterial disease that we humans can acquire from animals. Also known as the Weil’s disease, the cause of Leptospirosis is a compound group of closely related bacteria of the genus Leptospira, which spreads through the urine of infected animals, mainly from dogs, rodents, and farm animals. They might not show any symptoms, but they can be the carriers of the disease. Leptospira Bacteria grows in warm and humid areas and is usually found in standing water like ponds. Leptospirosis is considered to be a widely spread zoonotic disease in the USA.
What is Leptospirosis in dogs?
Leptospirosis or the Weils disease in dogs is very common in dogs but rare in cats. Dog of any age, breed, or sex is vulnerable to Leptospirosis, and it should distinguish by its lifestyle or based on any particular characteristics. After entering a dog’s body, Leptospirosis stays in its kidney, finally disposed of into the soil or water through its urine. The bacteria enter a dog’s body through an open skin and quickly multiply in the bloodstream. It takes 4-12 days for the bacteria to spread in your dog’s body. It’s widespread for your dog to get leptospirosis unless and until you take care of it. Various risk factors of this disease can be walking at the same place where the infected animal has been and direct contact with the infected animal.
Signs and Symptoms of Lepto in Dogs
The primary hosts of the bacteria named Leptospira are dogs, which can infect many other mammal species. One of the most common symptoms of the Weils disease in dogs is acute kidney injury (AKI) issues. The signs of leptospirosis in dogs are:
- Lethargy: Lethargy is not a common sign in a dog. If your dog is uninterested in playing with you, or going out for a walk, or is not doing any activity as it used to do earlier. Then it is a sign for you to worry.
- Anorexia: If your dog has any symptom of loss of eating, like eating less than the regular food it used to eat, unable to pick or chew the food despite being hungry, extreme and sudden weight loss, or a general lack of interest in food, it may indicate the presence of Leptospirosis.
- Vomiting: If your dog throws up multiple times in 24 hours or shows any other symptoms, which aren’t usual. Then there is seriously something not right about it.
- Abdominal pain: If your dog is having trouble standing up from lying down position, is crying/vocalizing of pain, if you sense some abnormal breathing pattern in your dog, that means you should take it to a vet.
- Polyuria, oliguria, or anuria: Polyuria is a condition where your dog urinates more than usual urine every time it passes urine. Oliguria is a state in which your dog urinates less than normal. Anuria is a condition in which your dog is not producing any urine.
Temperature, shivering, and jaundice are also some common symptoms. While all these circumstances are not suitable for anyone, they may indicate the Weils disease in dogs. This definitely means there is something wrong with your dog.
Can Humans Get This Infection From Dogs?
Yes. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which implies that it can transfer from dogs to humans. It’s common for canines to enjoy and explore outdoors, have morning or evening walks, interacting with other animals, digging into the soil, and playing in ponds or lakes. Since it is easy for dogs to catch leptospirosis, pet parents and veterinary staff should be well aware of where their pets are going and who they spend time within the pet care facilities. You should be well aware of the infections in your area if you take your dogs out for a swim or play.
Children or young people are more at risk of getting infected by these bacteria. Pet parents and vets should carefully handle and take precautions like wearing facemask, gloves, and goggles before treating and touching the infected dogs. Should carefully dispose of the infected soiled bedding as well. And if any person is feeling unwell, should seek medical assistance and avoid meeting other people.
Medical Treatment of Leptospirosis in Dogs
Leptospirosis is a highly complicated disease. Immediately take your dog to a veterinarian if you see any symptoms. Share whole of your dog’s history, symptoms, and recent behavior. This history will give the veterinarian an idea of what stage of infection your dog is and which organs are most infected. Dogs with severe leptospirosis disease should be hospitalized immediately. The primary step for leptospirosis in dog’s treatment would be fluid therapy to reverse any dehydration effects. Administer an anti-vomit drug, such as antiemetic, if your dog has been vomiting continuously. Another treatment of blood transfusion can be done if your dog is going through internal bleeding.
As per the stage of infection, the veterinarian will provide different antibiotics for Leptospirosis in dogs treatment. For the diseases at the initial stage, Penicillin can be prescribed. But if the disease has reached the carrier stage, antibiotics like tetracyclines and fluoroquinolones will be prescribed as these antibiotics directly go into the bone tissues. Always read the instructions mentioned on the prescription and consult your veterinarian about the care and precautions you need to take.
Can Leptospirosis in Dogs be Prevented?
As a pet parent, you try your best to protect your dog from as much infection as possible. Sadly you cannot be everywhere with them, and most importantly, you don’t know where the bacteria are present. But you can surely prevent you and your dog from the side effects of Leptospirosis. Consult your veterinarian about the Leptospirosis vaccine for puppies.
You can also learn and increase awareness about the importance of the Lepto vaccine for dogs within your social circle or your acquaintances. This is especially crucial since humans are susceptible to it too. So, wash your hands, wear masks while cleaning the area with vomit or urine, and disinfect properly. Check the infection rate in your site so that you can be cautious while taking your dog out anywhere.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which spreads from animals to humans. They are found more in dogs than in other animals. As a dog owner, you should be very careful before taking your dogs out for walks or swimming. You should regularly check the cases of Leptospirosis in your respective area so that you should be extra cautious. Always take precautions before going out – wear masks and gloves and dispose of your dog’s poop or any infected thing carefully. Remember that you need to protect yourself, since only then can you protect your paw-fect friend.