Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease in pets that is caused by a bacteria known as spirochetes. Your pet can develop this infection when the bacteria penetrates their skin and enters the bloodstream. While spirochetes are typically spread through urine, they can also be found in infected soil or water. 

Leptospirosis

How it Affects your pet

Leptospira spirochetes can spread throughout your pet's entire body including the kidneys, liver, eyes, reproductive system and central nervous system. Soon after your dog or cat becomes infected, it may develop a fever and/or a bacterial infection in their blood. Typically, your pet's antibodies can clear away much of the infection; however, in some cases they cannot. Even so, leptospira spirochetes are able to remain in the kidneys and reproduce. If your pet is unable to ward off the infection, it can cause serious damage to the liver and/or kidneys, which can result in death.

Common symptoms

The symptoms that your pet will experience if it has leptospirosis may vary depending on which organs have been affected. Additionally, it may take anywhere from four days to two weeks for symptoms to surface. However, if you notice any of the following warning signs in your pet, you should take it to a veterinarian right away. Symptoms of Leptospirosis in Dogs and Cats: Vomiting and/or Diarrhea (With or Without Blood), Abdominal Pain, Loss of Appetite, Muscle Pain/Stiffness, Generalized Weakness, Fever and/or Shivering, Jaundice, Depression, Refusal to Drink or Excessive Thirst, Inability to Urinate, Dehydration, Bloody Vaginal Discharge, Occasional Coughing, Difficulty Breathing, Irregular Pulse, Runny Nose and Swelling of the Lymph Nodes.

Treatments

If your dog or cat is diagnosed with leptospirosis, it will need to be hospitalized. IV therapy will be necessary to treat dehydration, and an antiemetic drug may be administered if your pet has been vomiting. If your cat or dog cannot eat on its own, your vet may use a gastric tube for feeding. In severe cases of anemia, a blood transfusion may be necessary. Tetracyclines or fluoroquinolones will be prescribed to help fight off the infection. These drugs will be necessary for at least one month. Since leptospirosis can be easily spread to other pets and even humans, it is extremely important to handle infected pets with care.

Breeds Affected

Leptospirosis can affect many different species including dogs, cats, horses, cattle, sheep, pigs, goats and humans. However, it is most common in canines. The following conditions can encourage the development of leptospirosis: compromised immune system, failure to vaccinate your pet against the disease, exposure to contaminated soil or water, drinking contaminated water, exposure to infected urine, pets kept outdoors, unsanitary living conditions, cramped living conditions, pets that live alongside livestock or wild rodents, exposure to wild animals such as skunks and raccoons or opossums.

Leptospirosis Affects

  • Leptospira spirochetes can spread throughout your pet's entire body including the kidneys, liver, eyes, reproductive system and central nervous system. Soon after your dog or cat becomes infected, it may develop a fever and
  • or a bacterial infection in their blood. Typically, your pet's antibodies can clear away much of the infection; however, in some cases they cannot. Even so, leptospira spirochetes are able to remain in the kidneys and reproduce. If your pet is unable to ward off the infection, it can cause serious damage to the liver and
  • or kidneys, which can result in death.

Similar conditions

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