Leptospirosis is an infection caused by an organism called spirochete that primarily affects wildlife, although your dog is also at risk of becoming ill. There are many spirochetes in nature that cause no harm, however there are two that are responsible for causing the disease.
These bacteria spread all over the body throughout the bloodstream, reproducing in the liver, the kidneys, the central nervous system, the eyes and the reproductive system. It can permanently damage your dog’s organs if his/her immune system was unable to eradicate the infection.
Not all dogs exposed to leptospirosis become visibly ill, which makes it more difficult to diagnose. However, when they do become ill, the most common signs are fever and depression. You may notice your dog weak, cold, shivery, stiff, with a runny nose, without appetite and possibly vomiting.
The leptospira infection mainly occurs in wet environments, places with tropical or subtropical weather and heavy rainfall. The bacteria are prevalent in muddy areas with standing water. Dogs can come into contact with them when swimming, drinking or playing in contaminated water. They are also at risk when coming into contact with urine from an infected animal, and even through a bite wound.
Dogs that are most at risk are the ones that spend a lot of time in swampy or woody areas. Humans are also at risk of getting infected, that’s why extreme hygiene is important, especially after handling your dog’s waste.
Some doctors suggest as prevention to give your dog the vaccination against leptospirosis. However, there have been recent deaths of dogs because of the reaction to the vaccine, so think twice about this way of prevention.
READ MORE: VACCINATION TO PREVENT BACTERIAL INFECTION IN DOGS CAUSING SEVERE REACTIONS AND EVEN DEATH
The best you can do is to limit your pet’s access to contaminated and standing water. Encourage him/her to urinate away from standing water or areas where wild animals have access. Be extremely hygienic after handling your dog and keep your eyes open for any signs of discomfort you may see in him/her.
Visit your vet if you see any changes in your dog’s behavior, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.