Canine leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can affect both animals and humans. It represents a zoonosis of great distribution worldwide, where dogs act in transmission to man, especially in urban areas.
This disease is highly infectious so it is necessary to pay enough attention and care in case you have a case of near suffering. While it is more common in dogs, cats or other animals can also get it.
Learning everything about this disease, what are the clinical signs, how to identify it correctly and what is the treatment to follow, is essential not only to know how to act but also to try to prevent it for the good of the community.
What is canine leptospirosis?
It is an infectious disease that is caused by the serovars leptospira icterohaemorrhagiae and canicola. It is more common for outbreaks to appear during spring and fall due to a shortage of humidity and moderate temperatures.
The main route of infection of this disease is the urinary. Thus, infected dogs eliminate leptospires in the urine, contaminating their environment and infecting the most susceptible animals. However, it is also possible to spread the disease through the placenta, bites, contaminated food and contact with rats.
After the microorganisms infect the mucosa of the wounds, they subsequently pass into the blood and once there it affects the renal epithelium and the hepatic parenchyma. In addition, it can also cause damage to the central nervous system, the uvula and the placenta.
What are the clinical signs?
Being a highly contagious and dangerous disease, it is necessary to pay special attention to the clinical signs that occur in the animal, in order to take action as quickly as possible.
Among the most frequent signs, we can identify high fever, conjunctiva and mucous hyperemias, weakness, lack of appetite, vomiting, hemorrhages, low back pain, kidney pain on palpation, muscle pain, diarrhea, jaundice and seizures.
Also, it is usual for inflammation of the tongue, stomatitis, breathing difficulties and excess dark urine.
When identifying the appearance of more than one of these signs, it is necessary to go quickly to the veterinary clinic so that the specialist determines the actions to follow with the pet.
Treatment of canine leptospirosis
To treat leptospirosis it is necessary to use several antibiotics and perform other elementary actions, such as changing the dog’s diet in order to counteract the negative effects that symptoms have. The most common antibiotic to treat cases of leptospirosis is penicillin.
For its part, rehydration is essential for the adequate recovery of the animal, in addition to being necessary to be very careful with hygiene, both to avoid being exposed to what caused the contagion and to prevent transmission to people. Depending on the severity and how advanced the disease is, hospitalization of the animal will be necessary to give better care and treatment to the pet.
It is very important to go to the veterinarian before making any determination regarding the treatment of the disease, since the professional is the only one who will be able to determine the state of the disease and the steps to follow. At the same time, great care must be taken since a poorly applied treatment could be counterproductive for the animal’s health.
Because the main route of infection of this disease is the urinary tract, it is important to isolate the infected dog to prevent it from infecting other animals or people. Veterinarians and assistants in charge should protect themselves as well as pet owners.
Vaccines for canine leptospirosis can protect against the acute state of the disease, but cannot protect the chronic carrier, so the vaccine must be renewed every year once the disease has been overcome.
Prognosis and prevention of leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is an infection that can have very serious consequences on the pet’s organs; If it is not diagnosed in time, it could cause the death of the animal due to damage to the kidneys and nervous system.
However, if it can be identified in time and treated with due care, the infection can be completely cured without serious sequelae. Preventing the disease will always be much better, in order to avoid sequelae.
As we have indicated, domestic animals with leptospirosis generate contamination of the soil and surface waters by eliminating leptospires through urine. These bacteria can survive for several days, even in humid environments.
The first part of prevention and one of the most important actions is vaccination, which must be done in time to prevent the dog from contracting the disease. The best practice is that vaccination is not done annually but every six months, although this vaccine does not cover all the bacteria that cause leptospirosis.
Because the vaccine does not attack all bacteria, it is also necessary to constantly clean the areas where the pet is, in order to avoid exposure to the foci of infection. A disinfection of water and soil with hypochlorite or copper sulfate can be of great help to prevent the spread of the disease.
It is extremely important to avoid any skin contact with contaminated water; Every wound should be covered with bandages or waterproof cloths and splashes with contaminated water should be avoided, protecting the eyes and mucous membranes.
Being a disease that humans can also get, it is very important to be responsible for its prevention and treatment to prevent it from spreading in the community.