Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease — carried by many wild and domestic animals — that can cause kidney and liver failure. Even urban chickens, although not a carrier of this disease, can attract rats or other small mammals that may increase the risk of your pet’s exposure to leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is transmitted to dogs through direct contact with contaminated urine, water or soil. The bacteria can survive in water or moist soil for a long time, sometimes for many months, and infected dogs can continue to shed bacteria in their urine for years. What many pet owners don’t realize is that leptospirosis, when left untreated, can be fatal.
Some dogs are at a higher risk of leptospirosis infection than other dogs. Dogs at higher risk include:
- Dogs that hike, wade or swim in and/or near natural water
- Hunting dogs
- Dogs that are frequently exposed to flooded areas
- Dogs that reside in rural areas where they could encounter wildlife or wildlife urine
- Dogs that have frequent exposure to other dogs and dog urine at places like dog shows, dog parks and pet boarding facilities
- Dogs that travel widely and have contact with other dogs and/or other animals (including chickens)
We highly recommend having your dog vaccinated against leptospirosis before you spend more time outdoors this summer. Vaccination consists of an initial vaccine, a booster 2-4 weeks later, and an annual booster after your pet’s initial sequence of vaccines. If your dog is not currently up-to-date on their leptospirosis vaccine, please contact us at 503-636-2102 to schedule your next appointment.