On this past Friday, before taking off to a week of CE on exotic pets (reptiles, rabbits, chinchillas, ferrets etc.,), a dog came into our Anderson practice that had survived being treated for leptospirosis by All Creatures. The woman reminded me that 2 years ago she had come to our practice desperately seeking for veterinary advice on how to help her dyeing dog. Before finding us, she had been to two other veterinary practices whose only advice had been to keep giving the pills cause they didn’t know what was wrong with her dog. She is “forever grateful to our practice” that she now can expect in addition to the 2 past years, the rest of her dogs years to be enjoyable. Preventing our dog patients from getting lepto, is one of the main reasons we have not switched to an every three year vaccination protocol for dogs. Leptospirosis vaccination is required annually to protect your dog from contracting the disease.

For the record, leptospirosis is an infectious bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals. When leptospirosis is suspected in your dog, some precautionary steps are recommended. The infectious leptospirosis organisms usually are not shed in urine until 7 to 10 days after your dog is exposed to the bacteria, but you and other pets in the household may be at risk from the original source of contamination. If your dog is being treated for leptospirosis, you and family members are considered at low risk of contracting the disease from your dog but remain at risk if exposed to areas that were already contaminated by your dog.

If your dog has been confirmed or is suspected to have leptospirosis, please use the following precautions:

  • Avoid direct contact with urine.
  • Keep your dog away from standing water while it is urinating.
  • If possible, have your dog urinate on a concrete surface that can be cleaned with a 3% to 10% (1:30 to 1:10 dilution) of bleach solution.
  • Wash your hands after having contact with your dog.
  • Wear gloves when cleaning up urine.
  • Inquire whether other pets in your home need to be treated and vaccinated.
  • Seek medical attention if you or family members become ill at or around the same time your dog was diagnosed.

Steps you can take to help prevent leptospirosis:

  • Have your pets examined by your veterinarian and vaccinated for the disease annually.
  • Avoid contact with animal urine or bodily fluids, especially if there are any cuts or abrasion on your skin.
  • Do not swim in, walk in, or swallow water that you suspect has been Contaminated by animal urine.
  • Bathe your dog and yourself immediately after swimming in dirty water.