What Is Leptospirosis In Dogs?
Vet Tell You That Your Buddy Has Leptospirosis? Well, What Does That Mean?
Hello. I just got back from the vet. She told me that my dog has a disease called Leptospirosis. What is that? Where did she get it from? I’m a good pet parent, I don’t know what I did wrong!

First things first: calm down. If you caught it early, there is usually not much to worry about from Leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is not something that you caused your pet to get. Many animals catch this illness every year.

So, let’s go ahead and answer your questions:
What is Leptospirosis in Dogs?
Leptospirosis is a highly contagious disease that can affect many different animals. Cats, dogs, rodents, other wildlife and even humans can catch Leptospirosis.

Leptospirosis is caused by a whole host of different types of bacteria. There is no single bacteria that causes Leptospirosis, rather, it is caused when one of the different subspecies of the Leptospira interrogans bacteria get into the body.

And the scary part about this bacteria is that they do not necessarily have to make their way in through a cut or other opening. The bacteria is described as a spirochetes bacterium. These types of bacteria are spiral shaped, and they make their way into an animal by burrowing into the skin. Essentially, they drill their way in.

The bacteria that can cause Leptospirosis can be found everywhere in the world. They can be found in areas that are wet, rainy, muddy and marshy. They particularly like to live in areas that have heavy rainfall. Although, this does not mean that if you live in a dry area that you are free from risk of your pet catching Leptospirosis.

The bacteria can be found in standing water, and a pet can catch it simply by coming into contact with the urine of an infected animal.
Your Dog Can Get Sick From Infected Water Pretty Much Anywhere
What Does Leptospirosis Do Inside The Body?
Once inside the body, Leptospirosis immediately goes to work to infect several major organs. It goes into the liver and kidneys, as well as the reproductive system, eyes and even the nervous system. This is why liver and kidney failure are such a large risk with this infection.

In a normal, healthy animal, the bacteria would eventually make its way into the bloodstream where the immune system will develop antibodies to clean the body of the infection.

In the worst case scenarios, the infection of the liver or kidneys can be fatal. Younger and older dogs are the most susceptible for this serious risk.

However, even once the body has developed sufficient antibodies for symptoms to clear up, the bacteria may still be present in the kidneys. This allows the infection to continue to spread as the bacteria makes its way into your dogs urine.

You must be extremely cautious when handling your pet if you believe that she may have Leptospirosis. This disease is EXTREMELY contagious. Please see our discussion on this here.
Always Be On The Lookout If You Live In A High-Risk Area
What Should I Do If I Suspect My Dog Has Leptospirosis?
First and foremost, you must take the proper precautions. Handle your pet with care, and use latex gloves, especially when near blood or urine.

You should then take your pet immediately to see his veterinarian. Your vet will ask you a number of questions regarding the circumstances that led your pet to becoming ill.

From there, your vet will perform a number of tests, including a urinalysis and several blood tests. The primary indicator will be whether your pet has the Leptospirosis antibodies present in her blood. This will tell your vet exactly whether it is Leptospirosis and to what extent your pet has been infected.

If your vet determines that Leptospirosis is the likely diagnosis, your vet will then initiate treatment. If you want to know more about what treatment consists of, please see our discussion on that here.
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Please do not submit questions about medical problems here. Only licensed veterinarians can diagnose medical conditions. If you think that your pet is sick, injured or experiencing any kind of physical distress, please contact his veterinarian immediately. A delay in seeking proper veterinary care may worsen your pet's condition and put his life at risk.

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