Leptospirosis is a disease of dogs (and people) caused by a bacteria. We often blame skunks and raccoons for carrying it and shedding it into the environment by their urine but we know that other animals such as mice and rats can carry it as well. Because it is shed in urine, your dog may come into contact with it despite never seeing the mouse, rat, skunk or raccoon that gave it to them. It likes to grow in stagnant water, so puddles or even ponds. Most, but not all, cases occur in the Fall.
This is a very serious disease because the bacteria attacks the kidneys and the liver. We may diagnose it in a dog only after they are heading into kidney or liver failure! At Doon Animal Hospital we have been a little lucky and been able to save our most recent leptospirosis cases, but we know that some patients do die of this. Kidneys don’t regenerate new healthy tissue after infection though, so even if we stop the infection, the damage is permanent, shortening the lifespan of those kidneys.
Some people will bring their new puppy into us stating that their breeder told them that their line or breed can’t have leptospira vaccines due to vaccine reactions. This is almost always absolutely unfounded. Numerous studies have shown that leptospira vaccines do not cause more reactions than other vaccines, and here at Doon Animal Hospital, we see very few reactions. Maybe it is because we encourage separating the vaccines and giving them at separate times. We DO SEE LEPTOSPIRA INFECTIONS THOUGH! So avoiding that vaccine is doing a disservice to your puppy in my humble opinion. I would never do this, but we have a client who told me to give out his telephone number to anyone who declined the vaccine because his previous dog died of it, after his previous vet did not vaccinate for leptospirosis.