Leptospirosis

Cassie the water dog.

Cassie the water dog.

Does your vet ask you if your dog drinks out of puddles and streams? I discourage puddles, but lying in a stream and gulping cool water on a hot summer day, now that’s a water dog, or at least a hot dog trying to cool off. Springers are waterdogs – that’s why I’ve had two. Kaylee, my first springer, was a diving dog, literally diving below the surface to retrieve rocks, while Cassie was a wader or a “dabbling dog” as Mitch liked to say, only going chest deep and then backing out, swimming reluctantly to try and ‘save’ me before turning back to shore. But on a hot day, she was always in the water, even if it was just lying in her plastic kiddie pool. One of our favorite summer excursions was the one mile walk to Government Pier in Waukegan. Immediately on arrival Cassie lay down in the water and drank prodigiously, oblivious to the goose feathers and other flotsam in the water.

Although none of my dogs ever got sick from drinking from streams or lakes, apparently more cases of Leptospirosis have occurred in nearby states. Lepto is a bacterial infection that occurs after your pet drinks water where an infected skunk, raccoon, opossum, deer, or small rodent had urinated. This disease is not only a concern for pets, but is transmittable to humans.

For the last several years, Dr. Barcus at the Canine Center  http://www.caninecentervet.com/ , recommended that Cassie have the annual vaccine against Leptospirosis each spring. Buffy and Chipper, do not enjoy the water, so do not need the vaccine.

Symptoms can include any of the following, making it difficult to diagnose, especially in the early stages:

  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pain
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding
  • Jaundice
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Eye inflammation
  • Death

Treatment: Antibiotics, but may need treatment for liver or kidney damage in more advanced cases.

Vaccines protect the dog for six to eight months, so depending on your location, you may need treatment twice a year, or only in the spring.

For more information, see the following articles:

http://www.canismajor.com/dog/lepto.html

http://vetmedicine.about.com/od/diseasesandconditions/a/CW-Leptospirosis.htm

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