Leptospirosis is an infection caused by Leptospira bacteria, found in soil and water. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread from animals to people, and it most commonly occurs in warm climates like the Valley.

While infected cats may experience mild flu-like symptoms, dogs are most commonly affected, and are at risk when they are exposed to or drinking from rivers, lakes or streams, or come in contact with wild animals or rodents. Infections develop when their mucous membranes or any exposed wound or scrape comes into contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food or bedding; through a bite from an infected animal; and by eating infected tissues or carcasses. It can also be passed through the placenta from the mother dog to the puppies.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis symptoms vary in dogs and can range from mile to severe and life-threatening.

Symptoms may include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • lethargy
  • fever
  • shivering
  • muscle tenderness
  • reluctance to move
  • increased thirst
  • changes in the frequency or amount of urination
  • dehydration
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes)
  • painful inflammation within the eyes

Kidney failure, liver failure, blood disorders, lung disease, and prolonged difficulty breathing are all common results of leptospirosis. Affected dogs can also develop swollen legs (from fluid accumulation) or accumulate excess fluid in their chest or abdomen.

Treatment & Prevention for Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is generally treated with antibiotics and supportive care.