Why You Shouldn’t Let Your Dog Drink Water from an Unfamiliar Source

What is Leptospirosis and How is it Transmitted?

Leptospirosis is a gram negative bacteria from the genus Leptospira that is transmitted via infected urine and contaminated water. Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal zoonotic disease (transmitted between animals and humans and vice versa). It can be contracted via ingestion or absorption through mucous membranes or skin. Once infected, the bacteria enters the bloodstream via the lymphatic system and travels to multiple organs, including the kidneys, liver, spleen, lungs and eyes.

Clinical Symptoms Include...

  • vomiting
  • anorexia
  • lethargy
  • dehydration
  • fever
  • increased thirst 
  • increased frequency of urination 
  • icterus (“yellowing” )of skin, mucous membranes, sclera (whites of the eye), etc.
  • liver and kidney failure

How is Leptospirosis Diagnosed?

Leptospirosis can be diagnosed by evaluating blood, urine or tissue samples through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, microscopic agglutination test (standard serology test), and others.

How is Leptospirosis Treated?

Antibiotics, commonly Doxycycline or IV ampicillin is administered for 14 days to prevent infection in dogs who have come in contact with contaminated urine or water source.  Supportive care, such as IV fluid administration, is also necessary for dogs that have become infected.

Is Leptospirosis Preventable?

Three ways to prevent infection and transmission of Leptospirosis:

  1. A vaccine against the four most common strains of the disease is available and should be administered yearly to dogs at risk.
  2. While enjoying the outdoors, prevent your dog from drinking water from puddles, lakes, etc.
  3. Because Leptospirosis can be transmitted from animals to humans, take precautions, such as wearing gloves and disinfecting contaminated areas, when handling an infected pet.

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