Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection in dogs, which they acquire when the bacteria leptospira enters the system of a dog by penetrating the skin and through the medium of bloodstream it spreads through your dog’s body.Spreading throughout the body, Leptospires reproduce in a dog’s liver, kidneys, eyes, central nervous system and reproductive system. Fever and bacterial infection of the blood is commonly seen in dogs soon after the initial infection.
The bacteria Leptospira is zoonotic, which means that this disease can also be transmitted to humans and other animals who come in contact with the infected dog.
The leptospirosis infection in dogs can be fatal for your dog and if not provided proper timely treatment, the infection can cause severe damage to the infected organs. Moreover, younger animals are more at risk of severe complications as they have lesser developed immune systems.
Symptoms of Leptospirosis in dogs:
Some of the most common symptoms of Leptospirosis, which can help a pet owner get their pet the care they need, include:
- Sudden fever & illness
- Stiffness in muscles & legs
- Sore muscles & reluctance to move
- Rapid dehydration
- Increased thirst and urination
- Inability to urinate, which may progress to kidney failure
- Lack of appetite
- Vomiting, with or without blood
- Diarrhea, with or without blood
- Bloody vaginal discharge
- Unprompted cough
- Difficulty in breathing
- Irregular pulse
- Runny nose
- Swelling of mucous membrane
- Yellow skin and/or whites of eyes
- Dark red speckled gums
How is Leptospirosis diagnosed in dogs?
When you take your dog to the vet, one of the first things he may look into is your dog’s leptospirosis vaccine status. You may also have to answer some questions related to if your dog has somehow been exposed to the bacteria and if your dog has a history any other disease. However, the next step might be a full physical examination to get all the other required clinical information that your vet may need.
Moreover, there are two ways to diagnose leptospirosis infection in a dog, the first is to confirm presence or absence of infection by testing urine sample. The second way is to look for an ever-increasingamount of antibodies to leptospira in the dog, this represents body’s active immune reaction, as a test known as the microscopic agglutination test.
How can prevent Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis infection is becoming more and more common in the companion animals, particularly in dogs. It is rather very fortunate that leptospirosis is treatable and curable. However, veterinary professionals are finding it to be increasingly difficult to diagnose and treat the infectious disease of leptospirosis, as the Leptospira organism are persistently mutating.
Vaccines for Leptospirosis are available and they are even recommended in places where Lepto infection is common. However, the vaccines for Leptospirosis are only produced for some particular kinds of the Leptospira bacteria and they don’t provide immunity to infection for long-term, so the vaccines need to be repeated as often as prescribed by an authorized doctor.
Even though the available vaccines are not exactly 100 percent effective and they also don’t protect against all varieties of Leptospira, but they are still recommended as they can help prevent a possibly severe disease which can also be transmitted to people.
Moreover, it is also recommended that before implementing vaccines and vaccination schedule, you discuss them with your vet to ensure they are appropriate for you depending on your dog’s risk factors.
Furthermore, taking necessary rodent control measures help reduce the risk of infection, and in places where Leptospirosis is common, it is only smart to prevent your dogs from swimming in ponds and other slow-moving water bodies and getting exposure to places with high contamination possibility.
Early Leptospirosis treatment in dogs
In serious cases of leptospirosis, the dog may need to be hospitalized and intravenous fluid may become necessary to make sure dehydration is in check. Moreover, if the infected dog has internal bleeding then a blood transfusion might just be necessary as well.In addition, it is just a good idea to make sure that you are good with dog insurance to help you cover the high bills from your vet.
It is pretty obvious, the earlier your dog’s treatment has started, the better chances there are for your dog to survive the infection. Generally, the basic method of treatment is administering antibiotics. Penicillin or doxycycline are preferred and usual course of treatment for leptospirosis infection when diagnosed at an early stage. However, at a carrier stage of infection these medications may just be useless, as your dog will now be needing stronger antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones and tetracyclines.
Major Leptospirosis treatment options for dogs
To tend to any dehydration with an intravenous fluid solution, to look into any other symptom of shock and to make sure an appropriate electrolyte balanced is restored in your leptospirosis infected dog, they may need to get hospitalized for a small period of time when diagnosed.
As mentioned above, oral penicillin antibiotics are normally the first choice of medication as treatment of a leptospirosis infected dog. Moreover, as a result of leptospirosis infection, when suffering from an acute renal, kidney, failure they will need to get their urine output and their blood pressure monitored carefully, so professionals can keep a track of the dog’s kidney function. Furthermore, as a result of gastrointestinal hemorrhage, if a dog loses too much blood then a blood transfusion can be very essential as well.
In addition, it is very important that all cautions are being taken when you have a leptospirosis infected dog, such as iodine based disinfectants or bleach products should be used to sanitize every surface like the kennels, where the infected dog lives and more attention should be given to areas where it may have urinated. Maintaining strict hygiene for kennel is very important for the proper management if leptospirosis disease. Moreover, when cleaning infected dog’s living quarters or even when working with the animal, the caretakers or owners should wear gloves. However, in extreme cases when unfortunately some leptospirosis infected dogs end up with complications like chronic liver and kidney damage, this may not be that easily manageable.
Necessary home care for a pet with Leptospirosis
If your dog is diagnosed with Leptospirosis, you can minimize the possible risks primarily with carefully maintained hygiene. In reality, it is often seen that pets who do not show visible signs of infection, and therefore they are not diagnosed and given the necessary treatment of antibiotics to prevent bacteria shedding in urine, possibly carry a greater risk of transmitting the infection to their owners.
However, here are few steps to follow, when your pet is diagnosed with Leptospirosis, to prevent infections from spreading:
- Make extra effort to avoid contact with your dog’s urine and if you need to handle urine then make sure you have taken protective measures, such as wearing gloves.
- Be more careful with general good hygiene practices, such as carefully washing hands.
- Use antibacterial disinfectant or diluted bleach solution to disinfect the surface areas where your infected dog have urinated.
- Carefully follow treatment advices form your vet and ensure all prescribed medications are being taken as directed.
Lastly, if any person becomes ill after being in contact with a Leptospirosis diagnosed dog, make sure you mention dog’s infection to your health care provider.
As long as the disease is quickly and properly diagnosed and treated, for most dogs who get the clinical disease from leptospirosis they have a fairly good prognosis. However, the prognosis for recovery and the treatment process is more guarded when a dog’s symptoms come suddenly and are rather serious.
It is very, unfortunately, in some cases dogs may develop permanent and irreversible damage to kidney or liver. Hence, aggressive and timely treatment is critical for both the dog and for all people who are in contact with the infected dog.
As leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, it means that any person can get infected with the disease if they come in contact with the infected animal, especially with the urine of infected animal. The chances of any person actually getting infected are high when they live together with the infected dog. Even when these dogs don’t show any apparent signs of the illness, they are still shedding the bacteria in the urine, which become the source of possible infection for people and other animals around.
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