What is Lepto, and how do you know if your dog has it? Read our Dallas, TX, animal hospital‘s article below to find out more.
What is Lepto?
Leptospirosis, commonly known as Lepto, is an infectious disease caused by the Leptospira bacteria. The Leptospira bacteria can be found in soil and water, and there are many different strains and variants of the bacteria. Lepto is most commonly found in warmer, rainy climates, but it can also be found in many other places.
Lepto spreads to the kidneys and liver and it is likely to rapidly reproduce, leading to a bacterial infection in the bloodstream. In addition, Leptospirosis can be passed between animals and humans. Infections in humans may present as flu or cold symptoms. It can cause kidney or liver disease in humans as well.
Causes of Lepto
Drinking water that is unsafe can lead to Lepto, but the causes of Lepto go far beyond just drinking contaminated water. Dogs can contract the disease from coming into contact with infected animals, urine-contaminated bedding, and even from eating animals that have been infected with Lepto.
Dogs with the highest risk of Lepto are:
- Hunting dogs
- Sporting dogs
- Dogs living near wooded areas
- Dogs living near marshy areas
- Dogs living in or near farms
- Dogs that spend a lot of time in kennels
Symptoms of Lepto
Symptoms of Lepto include:
- Sudden fever or illness
- Sore, stiff, or weak muscles
- Stiffness in legs or gait
- Lack of appetite
- Weakness/reluctance to move
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Runny nose
- Bloody urine
- Gums are speckled dark red
- Difficulty breathing
- Yellow skin
- Whites of eyes turning yellow
- Swelling of lymph nodes
- Swelling of mucous membrane
Diagnosing Lepto in Dallas, TX
The first step to diagnosing Lepto is to contact your vet as soon as you notice any of the above symptoms. Tell your veterinarian all the symptoms you have noticed, as well as if you live in an area that may be considered high risk, such as a wooded or marshy area.
You will then need to take your dog to the vet for testing. Your vet will run a series of tests to diagnose Lepto, such as a chemical blood profile test, a blood count test, a urine analysis, an electrolyte panel, and a fluorescent antibody urine test. After examining the results your vet will be able to prescribe a treatment plan based on what they found.
When treating Lepto, fluid therapy is often necessary to treat the effects of dehydration. Your dog may also need anti-vomiting medication if they have been vomiting. In some cases, blood transfusions might even be necessary if your dog has been hemorrhaging.
To help fight off the bacteria, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics and will provide you with instructions on dosage and frequency. You will need to administer these antibiotics for at least 4 weeks. What kind of antibiotics will depend on how infected your dog is.
Dogs with severe cases of Lepto should be hospitalized. If your dog has a weakened immune system, you vet may recommend hospitalization, because they are at risk for severe symptoms such as liver and kidney infections. These types of infections can become fatal. Young dogs and puppies with Lepto are at risk for severe symptoms because they do not yet have a strong immune system.
Taking Care of a Dog with Lepto
Ensure your dog gets plenty of rest.
Keep your pet away from other pets, children, and family members. Your dog can transmit the illness to others so this is important.
If you are the designated caretaker, make sure you clean everything after taking care of your dog. Have specific clothing your wear when caring for your dog. Always make sure to wash your hands after taking care of your dog. It also helps to wear protective gear while caring for your pup.
Test the Rest
If you have other pets, talk to your veterinary about testing other animals in the household.
Get Tested Yourself
You may want to have your doctor test people in the house to see if anyone else is sick.
Prevention of Lepto
Prevention of Lepto is key, and the Lepto vaccine is highly recommended for dogs, especially those that are at high risk of contracting the disease. If you live in an area that puts your pet at risk, getting the Lepto vaccine is necessary.
It is also important to research kennels before taking your dog there. It is possible for your dog to get sick if they stay at a kennel with a sick dog or if the kennel is in an area that is considered risky, such as on a farm.
Schedule Your Dog’s Lepto Vaccination at Our Dallas, TX, Animal Hospital
Leptospirosis, like all bacterial infections, can be treated, but it is highly contagious. Since it can be transferred to humans, make sure to stay protected while caring for your precious pup.