What Is Leptospirosis And How Does It Affect Dogs?

Leptospirosis is a disease that dogs can contract if they live in an environment with muddy, wet conditions.  These conditions are like those seen in woody areas near swamps and places where mud puddles never dry up. If you’ve never heard about this disease, we’ve put together some information to help you spot the symptoms of Leptospirosis and given you a way to prevent it.

leptospirosis dog

How it Affects Dogs

Leptospirosis is spread by an organism called a spirochete.  These are spiral, corkscrew-shaped bacteria which get into your dog’s blood stream by burrowing into the skin. Once in your dog’s body, the spirochetes can reproduce in her organs and central nervous system.

The good news is that, after initial infection, antibodies buildup and attack the organism.  Will your dog recover from Leptospirosis? It depends on how strong her immune system is. Of particular concern is that this bacteria can be transmitted to humans and other animals. Children are at the most risk from an infected pet.


Symptoms of Leptospirosis include things like fever, sore muscles, shivering, weakness and lack of appetite.  It sort of looks like your dog has the flu. If, however, you begin to see things like bloody vaginal discharge in a female dog or dark red spots on her gums, get her to the vet immediately.


Because Leptospirosis is bacterial, you will want to be very cautious about the cleaning up after your pet.  If you suspect that your dog may have this disease, make sure to use a pair of disposable gloves and treat body fluids as though they are hazardous materials.

If it’s found that your dog suffers from acute Leptospirosis, your vet will hospitalize him and pump fluids through his body to reverse any effects of dehydration. Antibiotics will be prescribed since this is bacterial.  Make sure to talk with your veterinarian about any side effects of the medication and what symptoms you should be checking.

If your dog is in the process of being treated, keep her isolated from children and other pets, and continue to wear protective gloves and clothing.


Fortunately, Leptospirosis is a preventable disease.  If you live in an area with woods and water, talk with your vet about the vaccination.  This preventive is often given at the same time as a Lyme disease vaccination.

The diagnosis of Leptospirosis is rarely fatal unless it has attacked vital organs. Ask your vet about the vaccination today.


Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

Have you experience Leptospirosis with your dog?


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