February BLOG – Lurking in the water….

Let’s talk about Leptospirosis!

My dogs love going for walks and hikes, and while we are out and about, especially in the warmer months, they are quick to jump in the pond, stream, or lake….and if there’s a puddle?  Forget it – they are in it!  This is not necessarily a bad thing, though it can be gross, but there is a disease that often lurks in water like this that is worth being aware of!  Leptospirosis!

Leptospirosis is a type of bacteria that is most often spread in wild animal’s urine.  Due to this type of spread, it is often found in puddles, creeks, streams, or any other bodies of water, especially standing water!  It can also be harbored in moist ground, or can be spread by direct contact with an infected animal!  Many wild animals can carry it in our area including rodents, raccoons, foxes, opossums, and deer – and dogs!!  It is thankfully not that common, but the incidence has been increasing over the years, and what makes it the scariest, is that it is a disease that is zoonotic – which means it can be spread to people too!

Not many diseases that our dogs can pick up can be easily spread to people too, so I think that is one of the main reasons that this one is worth talking about!  It attacks the kidneys primarily, so can lead to severe kidney disease, illness, and even death.  I have had a few cases over the years, and a couple of them did not make it because the infection was so severe, and the kidneys so severely affected, that they went into kidney failure.  And every time, the entire family had to get treatment as well!

The good news??  There is a vaccine!  The lepto vaccine is an annual vaccine that is very safe and protective against this disease.  At our hospital we are not huge on over-vaccinating, so I do not believe that every dog needs this vaccine – but if you are someone who goes hiking or camping, or you have a dog who loves swimming, or beelines to drink out of puddles, or you have a ton of wildlife in your yard…it’s probably worth at least having a conversation with your vet to see if your pup is a good candidate!  Stay safe out there people – spring is right around the corner!