Leptospirosis is not a new disease, having been first described in the medical literature in 1886. Thirty years ago all dogs were vaccinated for Leptospirosis as a matter of routine.  The vaccines of the day caused soreness at the injection site, sore legs, swollen faces and other minor vaccine reactions.  Many dogs had no reactions to the vaccine, while some did and ended up at Emergency services the night after they were given the vaccine.  Because of the reactions of the day and the rarity of the disease, most veterinarians stopped vaccinating for Leptospirosis. Today’s vaccine is much more mild making reactions in our practice  nonexistent. Be that as it may we pre-treat every Leptospirosis vaccinated pet with an NSAID to prevent the potential “sore arm”.
Veterinarians and public health professionals are worried about the recent cases here in Tucson, because Humans are also susceptible to Leptospirosis. Vaccination protects not only your pet, but the humans in the household as well. The recent outbreak makes Leptospirosis vaccination nearly as important as Rabies vaccination.
How would my pet catch Leptospirosis?
   A. Rats, raccoons, and opossum can be carriers, and spread the disease in their urine. Catching these animals or being exposed to the places that they live, expose dogs to the disease.
   B. Raw sewage and contaminated water can harbor the Leptospirosis bacteria. Dogs exposure to these can be a source of Leptospirosis.
   C.  Drinking form common watering bowls contaminated by dogs that have the disease.  Many of the recent cases in Tucson were traced back to contaminated dog water fountains at Udall dog park.
What does the Illness look like?
   A. Fever, dehydration, shock, bright red gums, jaundice, intestinal symptoms, the strong smell of ammonia on their breath.

   B. Liver failure (jaundice) and kidney failure (dehydration and ammonia smelling breath) are the result of contracting Leptospirosis for dogs. The infected dog can then spread the disease to other dogs (or Humans) through contact with their urine or saliva directly, or through indirect contact with contaminated bedding, water or food sources.

If you suspect your dog has Leptospirosis, call us immediately for an appointment.

Further Reading:

New case of leptospirosis confirmed in dog in Pima County – Arizona Daily Star

Potentially deadly disease making its way around dogs in Pima County – Tucson News Now

Get Your Pet Vaccinated. It’s quick and it’s the simplest way to protect your dog! Call us at (520) 296-2388 for an appointment.

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