It is an infectious disease caused by bacteria, and that can become quite serious for the health of our pets. In the following article, we inform you about leptospirosis in dogs and how to treat it.
What is leptospirosis in dogs
First, it is important to know about this disease. It is caused by a bacterium of the genus Leptospira, and the main mode of infection is through the urine. It can also be found in contaminated or stagnant water and even transferred from one animal to another if the patient urinates in the grass and the healthy sniffs, licks, or eats those herbs.
This microorganism first infects the mucous membranes or skin wounds, then passes into the blood and, after ten days, affects the renal epithelium and hepatic parenchyma.
Pets that live near wild areas or with a lot of vegetation, or in cities where rats and mice are an epidemic, are more likely to suffer from leptospirosis. It is also necessary to know that the disease is more common in males than in females since they snoop the ground to mark territory and urinate in different places during a walk.
Leptospirosis can be found in all parts of the world, although it is more common in those countries or areas with a tropical climate. This is because humid and warm environments favor the development of bacteria. Therefore, it is also more common in summer than in winter.
The main forms of infection are through contact with the urine of an infected animal, by placental route (a female pregnant with its puppies), intake of contaminated meat or stagnant water, and contact or bites of an infected rodent.
You should keep in mind that leptospirosis can be spread to humans. Therefore, we recommend not having direct contact with the dog’s body fluids, especially if the disease has been detected.
Although the disease can develop from the moment of infection, it is known that the dog expels bacteria in its urine from the eighth day.
Sometimes leptospirosis in dogs has no symptoms, so owners do not know that their pet is infected. But once some following signs are detected, it is essential to take it to the veterinarian:
- Lack of appetite
- Lack of energy
- Trouble breathing
- Very frequent urination
- Blood in the urine
- Hemorrhagic gastroenteritis
- Muscle pains
- Bleeding gums
Diagnosis and treatment of leptospirosis in dogs
Before the first symptoms, taking our pet to the veterinarian can determine his salvation or recovery. In the case of leptospirosis, the professional will indicate a blood test to determine the number of liver enzymes and white and red blood cells, and a urine test to identify the presence of this bacterium.
In some cases, a serological test is also requested to determine the presence of leptospires. The bad thing is that it is a difficult bacterium to grow, and many times, the results of these studies are wrong.
Once the veterinarian diagnoses leptospirosis in dogs, treatment should begin as soon as possible. In milder cases, a set of antibiotics – penicillin and streptomycin – is prescribed and must be administered by injection for at least one week.
In more severe cases, a serum is added – if dehydration or the condition of the animal is considered – and even blood transfusions.
If a canine is not treated correctly, or for some reason, antibiotic doses are suspended, he will be a carrier of the disease for one to four years. Little by little, it will eliminate the bacteria through the urine.
As prevention measures, it is advisable to apply all vaccines to our pets and eliminate rodent populations, since these are the carriers of leptospirosis. In addition, when we take our dog for a walk, we must avoid smelling the urine of others or eating grass in the park.