We all want to keep our pets healthy and to protect them from as many diseases as we can. Usually that means vaccinating them appropriately, being knowledgeable about diseases and situations that may make them ill, and avoiding those situations when possible.
One such disease that you may not be aware of is called Leptospirosis. This is a disease transmitted by a group of bacteria called Leptospira, of which there are many types. This bacteria is commonly found in sources of water where wildlife may have access. This includes rivers, lakes, streams, and even bowls of water left outside where wild animals may encounter them. It can also be transmitted directly to your pet through open wounds, through them being exposed to infected urine, or through ingestion of infected tissues.
Once an animal is infected with Leptospirosis, they may show a variety of clinical signs and degree of illness, ranging from none to being severely ill. Most commonly, a pet that is sick from Leptospirosis will show signs of lethargy, inappetence, and weakness. They may also show signs like inflammation of their eyes, coughing, or trouble breathing. If your veterinarian suspects Leptospirosis diagnostic tests will be ordered to rule the disease in or out, and treatment with antibiotics may be started. Luckily, once the disease is detected and treatment has begun, most pets do well. However, this disease can be very serious and have long lasting effects on pets’ internal organs such as their liver and kidneys, which is why it is important to consider preventing the disease from even happening in the first place.
Luckily, a vaccine exists that protects against many (but not all) strains of the Leptospira bacteria. Not every pet need necessarily be vaccinated against Leptospirosis. However, as it is becoming increasingly prevalent in the Western part of the United States, it is a good idea to discuss with your veterinarian whether your pet may be at risk. If you think they are or have any concerns, please bring them in today for a discussion and to get them started on their vaccination series.
An important distinction to note about Leptospirosis is that it is a zoonotic disease. This means that animals can transmit it to humans, and this is why it is always a good idea to wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with any urine or feces of any animal, and after handling animals.
Leptospirosis can be a scary disease to think about, but by being proactive and vaccinating your pet, you are taking a step in the right direction towards preventing them from disease and keeping them healthy!