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What are Leptospirosis?

You might see your dog flinching from your touch or be unwilling to move very much. It is vital to contact your veterinarian if your dog manifests symptoms after being in contact with a large number of other dogs or with wild animals as this disease is highly contagious and potentially very damaging to their health.

These bacterial infections can be transmitted across multiple species, including humans. Vaccines exist, but several strains are still dangerous to your dogs and can cause kidney and liver disease as well as death in young dogs.

Leptospirosis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $30,000

Average Cost

$4,500

Symptoms of Leptospirosis in Dogs

Leptospira bacteria can infest multiple tissues including kidney, liver, spleen, eyes, the genital tract, and the nervous system. Therefore, the symptoms will vary with every animal, but some of the more common manifestations include:

  • Fever (103-104º)
  • Shivering
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Unwillingness to move
  • Jaundice
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of weight
  • General appearance of pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Hypothermia
  • Eye and nose (oculonasal) discharge
Types
  • Acute

    - An acute infection will manifest very quickly. The bacteria rapidly spread to vital organs and symptoms will begin soon after initial contact with the contagion. This means muscle pain, high fever and in some cases, hypothermia severe enough to kill before the infection reaches the kidneys or liver.

  • Subacute

    - A slow growing problem which may show as dehydration, vomiting, fever or jaundice. It is also possible your dog will not present symptoms at all, but will still result in them spreading the disease through their bodily fluids and shedding leptospira for weeks or months. Unfortunately, the majority of leptospiral infections are subacute with the damage to the liver or kidneys undetected.

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Causes of Leptospirosis in Dogs

Leptospira bacteria are spread through contact with infected tissue. This can be done through:

  • Ingestion of infected tissue
  • Contact with infected bodily fluids such as urine, saliva or blood
  • Contact with infected water
  • Contact with infected bedding
  • Contact with infected food
  • Contact with infected wildlife such as raccoons, mice, rats, skunks or hedgehogs.
  • Contact with infected livestock such as cows, horses, pigs or sheep.
  • Across the membrane while in-utero.

Freezing reduces the survival of the bacteria. As a result, infections are more common in summer, fall and temperate climates.

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Diagnosis of Leptospirosis in Dogs

To diagnose this condition, be certain to give your veterinarian a full history of your pets health, condition, symptom manifestation and effects of their illness. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose this disease through:

  • Blood culturing - The blood can be agglutinized which will examine the presence of specific antibodies. This will determine the strain. However, if the condition is acute, it is possible the blood test will come out inconclusive or negative within the first 10 days post-infection. Therefore, it's important to submit multiple samples to be certain of ruling out a false-negative test.

  • Urine culture - If your dog has a chronic condition, shedding of the bacteria may be intermittent. The urine culture can be also contaminated by additional bacteria either from within the body or in the external environment.
  • A third testing option includes examining the samples microscopically. The bacteria are visible under a microscope, and it is even possible for your veterinarian to determine which strain through this method. However, like the other methods, if the bacteria aren't in that particular sample, it's best to provide additional samples.

Each of these methods has flaws due to the nature of the bacteria and the testing processes themselves. However, the combined examination through all three tests presents a far stronger statistical likelihood of accuracy.

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Treatment of Leptospirosis in Dogs

If your dog has become dehydrated due to excessive vomiting, diarrhea, kidney or liver disease they will need to undergo fluid therapy using an IV drip or subcutaneous injection. Once it is established your dog has leptospirosis, your veterinarian will prescribe a round of antibiotics regardless of strain. The most recommended antibiotic for either acute or chronic conditions are doxycycline. Initial treatment may be penicillin for those dogs sensitive to doxycycline. These are often administered in a two-week time frame. Your veterinarian will discuss more specific strain treatment options with you once the strain is established. Additional medications may be needed to make your dog more comfortable if they are displaying additional symptoms of pain though of course the main focus should be the antibiotic course so that your pet does not become a lifetime carrier of these bacteria.

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Recovery of Leptospirosis in Dogs

Dogs being treated for leptospirosis need not be completely isolated, but it is vital to minimize exposure of skin, mucous membranes and bodily fluids, especially blood and urine for the typical two-week treatment period. Additional visits to the veterinarian will be necessary to establish treatment efficacy.

To prevent this disease, it's important to limit your dog's contact with wildlife, livestock and with stagnant, still pools of water such as shared water dishes or closed ponds. If these are conditions to which your dog risks regular exposure, there are some vaccines for leptospirosis, so it is possible to minimize infection effects, especially the colonization of the kidneys. Unfortunately, most of these vaccines offer a year's worth of protection, they cannot be administered to puppies under eight weeks old and it is estimated that they only exist for four strains of leptospirosis which leaves multiple other varieties to be countered. It is possible for a dog to contract this bacterial infection again if exposed to the same sources, so the best prevention is to figure out the source and avoid it if possible.

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Leptospirosis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $30,000

Average Cost

$4,500

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Leptospirosis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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sagan

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Siberian Husky

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7 Months

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Yellow Eyes
Yellow Skin

my dog was diagnose with lepto last wed... but the doctor said he responds to the meds well .. no diarhea no vomit for 5 days but hes still weak ..can he recover ? if we continue his meds and IV

July 30, 2018

sagan's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Sagan I cannot really give any indication of prognosis, the response to treatment and improvement in symptoms would be your best indicator; however when organ function is compromised the prognosis is more guarded. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/generalized-conditions/leptospirosis/leptospirosis-in-dogs

July 31, 2018

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kc

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ausi

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Drinking Lots Of Water And Peeing

will my dog always be a carrier and have twin 5year old boys will her urine be clean after treatment or will I always have to be worried about them contracting it

May 23, 2018

kc's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Some dogs may remain persistently infected once treated, this may lead to shedding in the urine due to the presence in the kidneys. Risk of infection is low, but as always good hygiene should taken by washing hands after playing with the dog etc… Discuss with your Veterinarian at your next visit. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 24, 2018

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Sammy

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Samoyed

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15 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Tested Low Positive Leptospiros

still lethargic after 2 days on IV and antibiotics. we don't want her to cross the rainbow bridge just yet. she was dehydrated and had difficulty moving when we admitted her to the vet.

May 2, 2018

Sammy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Two days is still early in treatment, we normally see some improvement after starting treatment but each case is different and depends on the severity of the symptoms and whether there is another underlying condition. Doxycycline is typically administered for two weeks along with supportive and symptomatic care. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.merckvetmanual.com/generalized-conditions/leptospirosis/leptospirosis-in-dogs

May 3, 2018

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Chim Chim

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Chihuahua

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3 Months

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Critical severity

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Im sorry I didn’t gave the full description, so here it is. Chim is still hospitalized for 5 days so far, The vet said she didn’t see any improvements for the past 5 days. Chim’s damage on his liver is really high, he vommits for about 3 times a day, he won’t eat, but he has liquid support on and he seems really tired. Im really worried about my puppy...

April 19, 2018

Chim Chim's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Supportive care is the only thing that will help Chim Chim at this point, and we can only hope that he will turn a corner and recover from this insult to his liver. With the right care, dogs can recover from amazing things, and I wish the best to him.

April 19, 2018

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Chim Chim

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Chihuahua

dog-age-icon

3 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Weightloss Lethargy Vomiting

He has been hospitalized for 4 days so far and the veterinarian said he hasn’t shown any improvements for the past days he’s been hospitalized. Im really worried

April 18, 2018

Chim Chim's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Without knowing more about Chim Chim and what is going on with him, I have a hard time offering any advice, other than to say he is in the best place for him if he is with your veterinarian, as they will be able to treat him. They will be able to give you a better idea as to what might be going on with him, and let you know how he is doing. I hope that he is okay!

April 18, 2018

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Brinkley

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English Springer Spaniel

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lameness
Back Pain
Elevation Of Third Eyelid
Vomiting
Paralysis
Weakness
Uti
Nose Discharge
Diarrhea
Unwillingness To Move
Lethargy

Yes, my 12 year old English Springer Spaniel was just diagnosed with leptospirosis and he started with back pain which we originally thought was a UTI with increased thirst and urinating. He got treated for the UTI with antibiotics and was fine for about a week then the pain returned and he became wobbly in his back legs. He got prescribed a stronger antibiotic but then started vomiting and having bloody diarrhea which was thought was to be a side effect of the medications. He got treated with Cerenia for the vomiting and flagyl for the diarrhea. By this time, he wasn't walking anymore, had no appetite, but drank some water. The vet I went to couldn't find anything on x-ray and didn't recommend a blood test. He prescribed prednisone to see if that would help with inflammation he thought was causing his lameness. He thought he was paralyzed despite being able to feel pain in all four legs. His opinion was he probably had a brain lesion and we should consider his quality of life. With his condition worsening, I went to a different hospital where they did labs and tested for leptospirosis and finally found this to be the cause. He had a 105 fever and shivering. Thankfully, his kidney and liver values are normal. He's staying in the hospital until he starts to show signs of improvement. I'm praying for his full recovery. Btw, he was vaccinated 5 months prior for leptospirosis. Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/leptospirosis

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Henry

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

I have lab who has been diagnosis with Neurological attacks which causes weakness in his rear legs. He has been given anti-compulsive and steroids to help with the attacks. They worked great the first 3 days but now his rear legs are week again and he drinks alot of water and urinates alot as well which I thought was because of the meds. But we have had many down pours in the last few weeks so i wonder if he could also have lepto. He tested negative last week for it and any other disease in his blood and urine tests. Could this be early stages of letpo or a symptom of his attack along with his meds.

Leptospirosis Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $500 - $30,000

Average Cost

$4,500

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