Learning to Live With Pets

Does Your Dog Have Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a contagious illness caused by the bacterium Leptospira. It affects a wide variety of mammalian species, including raccoons, foxes, and wolves, and it spreads easily through water. This means if your dog goes for a walk in the woods and comes back all wet, you had better watch out for signs of this disease. If you do notice signs of leptospirosis, your dog will require treatment in a vet hospital. So, with that in mind, take a look at the following symptoms of leptospirosis and how this condition is treated. 

Symptoms of Leptospirosis

Some cases of leptospirosis are mild, and others are life-threatening. It's really hard to tell, at the onset, whether your dog will ultimately have a mild or a more severe case. As such, you are best off erring on the side of caution and taking your dog to the vet if they display any of these symptoms after being out in the woods.

  • Fever and chills — your dog may shiver
  • Muscle tenderness — your dog may not want to be touched
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Inflammation around the eyes
  • Lethargy

Treatment of Leptospirosis

Often, vets will be able to diagnose leptospirosis based on your dog's symptoms and your account of where they've been spending their time. If there is any doubt, though, the vet may conduct a blood test to rule out other conditions. 

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your vet will begin by administering antibiotics. These are usually given by IV so that they can take action immediately and help your dog's body start fighting the bacteria. Doxycycline is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that is often used. Your dog will likely also be given IV fluids to rehydrate them, which is important after they've suffered from vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.

Your dog may need to stay in the vet hospital for a day or two so they can have their IV medications. After that, however, you should be able to take them home. You will need to continue giving them oral antibiotics and perhaps an appetite stimulant for about another week. Also, keep in mind that leptospirosis is contagious to humans, so you will need to stay away from your dog's urine and feces.

Leptospirosis can be quite serious, but most dogs recover with no permanent damage with proper care from the vet. After your dog recovers, you may want to have them vaccinated for leptospirosis in order to prevent them from coming down with the illness again. For more information, contact a veterinarian hospital.