Leptospirosis is a highly infectious bacterial disease in dogs and can be contagious to humans as well. The disease is most commonly contracted when our pets are exposed to urine-contaminated water in puddles, streams and ponds; urine from raccoons, skunks, rats, cows and pigs. The disease is most prevalent in the Spring and Fall when the ground remains wet. What was once believed to be a more rural problem, is now affecting our urban canine pets due to the increase of raccoons, skunks and rodents in our neighbourhoods.
The first symptoms of exposure to Leptospirosis can be fever, malaise and muscular tenderness; these symptoms then progress to vomiting, increased thirst, urination and, eventually, kidney failure. Prompt diagnosis and treatment early on in the course of the disease are vitally essential, and due to the rapid onset of symptoms, treatment is often too late.
There have been multiple confirmed cases of Leptospirosis in our area and several at the Aurora Animal Clinic. Due to the rising incidence of the disease in our area, we are recommending that all dogs in our Practice receive the Leptospirosis vaccine. Initially, your dog will receive two vaccinations, one month apart, and then one annually with their regular core vaccinations.
Although the vaccination is not 100% effective (as there are over 100 strains of the bacteria), the vaccine protects against the four most contagious strains of the bacteria.
Please contact the hospital to make an appointment to protect your dog from this resurging disease.
Written by Dr. Bill Hanson, DVM