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Leptospirosis In Dogs – How To Save Your Pets From Deadly Virus Found In Water?

Leptospirosis In Dogs
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Leptospirosis is a wide-spread illness in canines. A hard-hitting, infectious disease, it is a contagion of the corkscrew-shaped bacteria named “Spirochetes.” It has also started to spread fear in the minds of everybody, especially dog lovers.

In the United States, more cases of this disease are found in late summer and heavy rainfall. But, winter conditions lowered the risk of this disease as the Leptospira can’t tolerate freezing temperatures.

As the Leptospira bacteria exist in mud and standing water, your pooch has more chances to get this disease. But, it can affect wildlife, rats, domestic livestock and even people, too!

Leptospirosis can cause severe damage to your dog’s liver and kidney and your canine may die in severe cases. So, it is essential to know in detail about this contagious disease.

It is also important for you to know the ways to prevent your pooch from getting infected by this deadly disease. You must also know how to safeguard yourself from your Leptospirosis-affected pooch.

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What Is Leptospirosis In Dogs?

This is a disease that affects canines after they come in touch with stagnated water. The bacteria present in this water affect the pets.

As per reports, a dog passed away in the Roseville region after infecting the virus. Sporting and hunting dogs, canines that live near farms, and canines that live near wooded areas are at an increased risk of getting an infection.

How Does My Dog Get Leptospirosis?

Most dogs get this disease by direct contact with urine from an infected animal. They also get infected by contact with contaminated soil, water or mud.

During the contact, the Leptospira bacteria (subspecies of Spirochetes) will penetrate the soft lining of the eyelid, nose, and mouth and enter the body through open sores and scratches in the skin.

It spreads in puddles and lakes after affected animal pass urine in the water. Dogs or animals which drink this water become sick. Most mammals including mice, rat, deer, skunks, squirrels, and raccoons are carriers.

Generally, Leptospira spirochete infection mainly occurs in tropical, subtropical, and wet environments. Also, it is more prevalent in muddy areas having stagnant water.

How To Identify Leptospirosis In Canines?

Both humans and dogs produce similar signs. You can identify the signs of Leptospirosis in canines through a few signs. These include

  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Sudden fever
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Yellow skin and whites of eyes
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Shivering
  • Depression
  • Bloody vaginal discharge
  • Spontaneous cough

Those signs are quite like many other ailments. But, early detection will help to prevent liver and kidney problems. So, it is better to diagnose this disease through a few tests.

It is advisable to consult your vet in this case. You have to provide a thorough history of your canine’s health. It will give the clues to your vet about the stage of infection and the affected organs.

The vet will ask you for the dog’s complete blood count, chemical blood profile, urinalysis, fluorescent antibody urine test, and an electrolyte panel. Generally, blood and urine cultures will reveal the presence of Leptospira bacteria.

But, the vet will do the titer test to measure your dog’s immune response to the infection. This will help him to identify Leptospira spirochetes and the level of infection.

Can A Dog Survive Leptospirosis?

Yes, but not sure in all cases. Although antibiotics will help to treat this disease, early, appropriate, and up to date treatment will only enhance the survival rates.

Generally, your pooch will be sick for 1 or 2 weeks (i.e. usually 10 days) after getting the infection. But, the incubation period can range from 2 to 21 days.

Some dogs will recover after the initial illness. But, a few may develop kidney/liver failure and may die if an infection is severe.

How To Prevent And Treat The Disease In Dogs?

Generally, antibiotics are used to kill Leptospira bacteria. The vet may prescribe it in two phases depending on the severity of the infection. The first phase will clear an acute infection from the body. And, the second phase clears the shedding of bacteria in the urine.

The vet will discuss the treatment details with you. But, early treatment will enhance the recovery chances. Some vets use penicillin used for initial infections, but they are not effective once the disease reached the carrier stage. So, fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, or similar antibiotics will be prescribed at this stage.

If your dog has severe kidney or liver damage, intravenous fluid treatment will reverse the dehydration effects. The vet may give antiemetic, an anti-vomiting drug, to your dog and insert a gastric tube if it is unable to eat. A blood transfusion may be necessary if your dog has a severe hemorrhage. But, treatment is not successful when organ failure is present.

Vaccines are also available for this disease to protect your pooch for at least 1 year. But, they are not 100% effective and won’t give protection against all types of Leptospira. So, the vaccines should be repeated often. Dogs at risk need annual vaccination.

But, vaccination is still recommended as a precautionary measure for this disease. So, discuss with your vet for recommended vaccines and vaccination schedules based on your dog’s risk factors.

At Douglas Vet Clinic, it is mandatory that all animals get shots for leptospirosis. The shot does not cure or prevent the disease. It actually reduces the signs and enables quick recovery.

The first booster costs US$ 60.00. The annual boosters cost US$ 30.00. If a pet ingests this bacteria, vets treat the disease with lots of fluids and antibiotics.

Home Care for Dogs Affected with Leptospirosis

It is vital to provide care to your dog affected with Leptospirosis. Home-based care will help your pooch in a better way. Also, reducing your dog’s exposure to possible sources of Leptospira bacteria can reduce the chances of severe infection.

  1. Don’t let your pooch drink stagnated water or swim in contaminated water bodies.
  2. Encourage your dog to urinate away from standing water or areas having more access to people or animals.
  3. If you are placing your dog in a kennel, ensure that the kennel is clean and rodent-free.
  4. If your dog is undertaking treatment, keep it isolated from other pets and children to avoid spreading of infection.
  5. Restrict your dog’s activity and ensure that it has good rest until your pooch recovers from the physical trauma of infection.

Rodent control measures also reduce the chances of infection. Preventing dogs from swimming in ponds and slow-moving water can help in areas where this disease is common.

Can Indoor Pets Also Contract This Disease?

Yes, indoor pets are also not safe from Leptospirosis. Most animals that infect these bacteria tend to spend more time outdoors. Apartment pets contracting from the rats and the mice are not unheard of.

In the United States and Canada, the infection rate for domestic pets has been increased. And, pets get infections mostly during the fall season.

Sometimes, those pets infected by the Leptospira bacteria won’t show any symptoms. So, it is better to have them tested for the bacterial presence. Also, you have to keep in mind that leptospires may shed continuously through the pets’ urine for several weeks after treatment and recovery from the infection.

So, appropriate handling practices are the best way to prevent the spreading of infection or avoiding getting the infection again.

Can Humans Contract Leptospirosis?

Of course, you can get it from your dog through its urine. Also, leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease (i.e. it can spread from animals to people).

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 200 humans in a year get this disease. Children are specifically vulnerable to it by having close contact with their pets, irregular hygiene and play habits.

Although this disease is rarely fatal in humans, it can cause severe illness. So, you should be careful while caring for an infected dog. Precautionary measures such as gloves, face masks, and regular hand-washing will prevent you from getting an infection.

How Can I Protect Myself From Getting Leptospirosis?

If your pooch is diagnosed with Leptospirosis, you should take precautionary measures from getting infected by the deadly bacteria. You can protect yourself in the following ways.

  1. Clean the urinated area with iodine-based disinfectants or bleach solutions.
  2. Avoid skin contact with your dog’s urine by wearing latex gloves. Properly dispose of the gloves after the cleaning process.
  3. Wash your hands after handling your pet.
  4. Avoid stagnant and contaminated water.
  5. Carefully dispose of the soiled bedding. If your occupation involves daily exposure to wildlife, wearing protective clothing will be the best precautionary measure.
  6. Consult with your vet and take antibiotics.

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