Pretty much every dog owner has experienced the following scenario. Picture this… it’s a beautiful day, the air is warm and the grass is finally turning green again. But there are puddles everywhere! As you carefully avoid soaking your shoes, your rambunctious pooch pounces through each of these puddles with perfect aim, completely soaking himself. He’s having the time of his life, why not let him enjoy the nice weather, right? Wrong! This water may contain something potentially hazardous to the well being of both you and your pet. It’s called Leptospirosis, or more commonly “lepto”.
Lepto is a bacteria carried by wild animals, it’s spread though their urine and can contaminate puddles and other moist areas (ex: near ditches and riverbanks). But how can my dog contract this dangerous bacteria solely by jumping through puddles you may ask? Simple, it can be contracted through more than one route, such as through the mouth/tongue, the eyes or even through unhealed cuts on the skin!
Not only is this bacteria dangerous for your favourite puddle splashing canine, but it can also be transmitted to you and your family. In dogs it usually damages the kidneys and liver, which is bad enough, but in people it can cause a wide range of equally serious symptoms and disorders.
On top of these horrible symptoms, lepto is also often difficult to diagnose and treat. One of the reasons that it can be difficult to diagnose is partially due to the fact that some dogs are asymptomatic, or only exhibit very mild symptoms. Symptoms may depend on the dog’s immune status, age and vaccination history . Once diagnosed, it can be difficult to treat as well. Treatment depends on the severity of the infection, but usually involves antibiotics, sometimes IV, and hospitalization. Treatment may not always be successful if organ failure has occurred.
So, how do you possibly manage to get through spring while avoiding EVERY single puddle? You can’t…but you can vaccinate. Lepto is preventable with one simple yearly vaccine, available to your dog at the Lansdowne Animal Hospital. It’s a small price to pay for the happiness and well being of both you and your pet. Plus, he gets to have a whole lot more fun this year!