What is leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection in dogs that is difficult to diagnose, may be costly to treat and can be fatal. Recent scientific advances in the study of Leptospirosis have indicated that new strains of the disease have developed that are not covered by existing vaccines.
Leptospirosis is a real threat to canine health; it is under-diagnosed and difficult to treat once the disease is past the early stages. Research indicates that the infection threat has changed and that traditional vaccines that protect against only two strains of the bacteria are no longer sufficient.
In dogs, in its early stages, it is often hard to diagnose. But if left untreated it can progress to potentially fatal liver or kidney failure.
Even if successfully treated, infected dogs can shed the bacteria in their urine for a considerable period of time
Is my dog at risk?
Leptospires, the bacteria that cause the disease are found throughout Europe. They thrive in wet, humid conditions. Infected animals - dogs, wild life (especially rodents), shed the infectious agents in their urine and they remain active in the soil or bodies of water for months - ready to infect unprotected dogs.
Dogs at risk include any pet or working animal in a rural or urban environment, especially those that come into contact with stagnant water or wildlife which carry the disease.
Can leptospirosis infect humans?
Leptospirosis is also a ‘zoonotic’ disease, which means it can also infect humans. In humans, as in dogs, leptospirosis is a potentially life-threatening disease. Therefore, it’s very important to prevent your dog from becoming infected and shedding the bacteria in its urine to minimise any risk to human health.
How to protect your dog?
By far the best way to protect your dog from leptospirosis is to vaccinate. Vaccination also helps prevent shedding of the bacteria in the animal’s urine. So it not only provides immunity for your pet, it also helps protect you and your family from potential exposure to the disease. Vaccines against leptospirosis provide immunity from disease for one year, but that immunity is likely to wane thereafter. The vaccines are typically administered alongside other routine vaccinations as part of a regular booster regime.
A new vaccine has now been launched to cover the new strains, which is therefore more effective than the ones traditionally on the market. This new generation of vaccine offers your pet improved protection, with cover for a full 12 months.
Unvaccinated dogs are at risk and could spread the disease, as could dogs which have been vaccinated but have not maintained immunity between vaccinations.
New puppy owners should also talk to their vet about vaccination against Leptospirosis when they collect their new puppy to make sure it’s covered. Existing owners need to ensure that they discuss Leptospirosis vaccination with their vet during their dog’s annual health check or sooner if they haven’t maintained their annual Leptospirosis booster. Some traditional vaccines may not maintain full immunity for a full year.
Dog owners need to talk to their vet to ensure that their pets are adequately protected against the emerging strains of the disease.
To arrange a booster vaccination, contact us.