December 10, 2010
Leptospirosis in dogs

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects many species of animals as well as human beings. It occurs throughout the world.

St.Vincent and the Grenadines, has had numerous cases in animals over the years, and in recent months, I am seeing quite a number of cases.{{more}}

How did my dog get the disease?

Dogs become infected with leptospira through contact with the urine of infected animals. Stagnant water, contaminated with urine, is a common source of infection. Rats are the main carrier of the disease. It is also transmitted through contact with infected blood. Transmission is greatest during periods of rain weather.

The organism gains entrance to the blood stream through mucus membranes or wounds. It takes 4 – 12 days for symptoms to occur.

Once in the blood stream, the organism spreads rapidly to body organs that include the liver, spleen and kidneys, the nervous system, genital tract and eyes, and also harbors the leptospira.

Symptoms of leptospirosis.

The first signs of leptospirosis are fever and depression. Dogs developing this disease are cold, and they shiver. They appear to ache and be tender all over. Soon they develop fever of 103 – 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Joint pain and excessive bleeding sometimes occur. The dog stops eating and drinking and often drools and vomits. Due to th,e vomiting, they loose fluids and become dehydrated. They may also have a bloody diarrhea.

Dogs with the full blown disease, soon become sub- normal in temperature and may die before signs of liver and kidney failure develop. In other dogs, infection of the kidneys leads to blood-tinged reddish urine, oral ulcers and uremia. Inflammation of the covering of the brain (meningitis) and abortion could also occur.

Dogs with more moderate forms of the disease soon drink water excessively. The tenderness and reluctance to move is due to painful swollen kidneys. In those with liver involvement, the membranes that line the mouth and surround the eyes become yellowish (jaundice).

Treatment: If the disease is diagnosed and treated early, treatment is relatively effective. Sadly, though, when these cases are brought into the clinic, the animal is jaundiced and already suffering from severe liver and kidney damage. At this stage, only about 40 % of them survive.

Vaccination and prevention:

Limiting exposure to leptospira requires draining and fencing off sources of contaminated water.

Pest control: Seal and protect all sources of feed and water.

The regular puppy vaccines that are administered to your puppies and subsequently once yearly as adults are very effective in preventing them from contracting the disease.

For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd. Tel: 456 4981