A dog walking in the surf.

Vaccines are pretty amazing things. From the time that Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine until now, we have made some incredible leaps. It is particularly wonderful to see how we can utilize vaccinations in animals to prevent disease in humans. 

When it comes to vaccinations for cats and dogs, Brownswitch Pet Hospital takes an individual approach. There are many vaccines,however, that we consider essential. One often forgotten, yet very important, vaccine is leptospirosis. Read on to learn what this disease is and why your pet should be protected from it.

All About Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is an infectious disease caused by a bacteria that is found in the urine and bodily fluids of infected animals. When urine contaminates water and soil in an area, our pets can become exposed. Pets become infected when these contaminated substances contact the skin or mucous membranes.

Because wild animals like raccoons, squirrels, opossums, and deer can be infected with leptospirosis, it can be just about anywhere. 

The Leptospira bacteria affects the liver and kidneys of exposed animals. Symptoms of leptospirosis can include:

  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Painful abdomen
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Increased thirst and/or urination
  • Jaundice

Leptospirosis can cause a pet to be very sick and even lead to death. Perhaps the scariest part is that it is also transmissible to humans, and people can contract it from their infected pet. Thankfully, if the disease is identified early, antibiotics can be used to treat it. 

Protecting Your Pet 

Leptospirosis is not something that you want to have to deal with. While it would be impossible for exposure to be completely eliminated, you can decrease risk by minimizing rodents and other wild animals on your property, and eliminating standing water where possible. 

There are also leptospirosis vaccines for dogs. Vaccination does not completely prevent a pet from becoming infected, as there are several varieties (serovars) of the bacteria, however vaccination does reduce the chance and severity of infection.

Pets who are at risk of contracting leptospirosis should be vaccinated annually. While cats can contract this disease,  it is much less common than in dogs. There are currently no leptospirosis vaccines for cats available.

Contact us with any questions you have about how to best protect your pet and family. For most of our patients, vaccinations play an important role in good wellness care