Part of your yearly trip to the veterinarian’s office includes a physical examination and a series of vaccinations.
Depending on your dog’s exposure to certain risk factors, your veterinarian helps formulate the best protocol for your pet. Many dog owners are quite familiar with bordetella, rabies, and canine distemper vaccinations that are administered routinely.
A newer vaccination is available that dog owners might want to add to their pet’s vaccine regimen during that next trip to the veterinarian. There is a vaccination for leptospirosis that I highly recommend if your dog has environmental exposure to wildlife.
I would say this applies to all of our dogs in Lake County.
I recently spent time reading leptospirosis case studies on the veterinary information network (VIN). This is a resource for veterinarians to discuss interesting cases and receive feedback. As it turns out, many veterinarians are seeing cases of leptospirosis, not just in hunting dogs like Labradors, but in small dogs such as dachshunds and Yorkies.
- Check out the attached video.
There were even reported cases from multiple cities, not just the suburbs. It certainly is cause to revise which breeds we consider for this vaccination. I have always recommended this vaccine for medium- to large-breed dogs. More recently, I have made a point to include leptospirosis in my recommendations for small-breed dogs.
This is a vaccine I use with my own Westies because they tend to have their noses to the ground for the better part of a walk. When out in a yard, they also may dig and snuffle in the soil and garden beds. In Lake County, wildlife exposure is certain for our pets in our own backyards.
Leptospirosis is a bacteria that can be transmitted directly or indirectly to your pet. Exposure to the urine of infected wildlife can be a direct mode of transmission. An indirect exposure can occur when a dog comes in to contact with contaminated soil, water, or plants. Outbreaks tend to follow times of increased rainfall.
From my perspective, leptospirosis is a difficult disease to diagnose. This dog can come to the animal hospital with nonspecific symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Initially, I could notice changes on blood work, such as increased kidney or liver values on a chemistry panel.
With a specialized test, I can determine whether leptospirosis is the cause of illness. However, this is a disease that is underdiagnosed because of the nonspecific ways it can present. When correctly diagnosed, leptospirosis can be treated with supportive care and antibiotics.
If you would like to learn more about the vaccine or would like to discuss whether your pet’s day-to-day activities put it at risk, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian’s office for more information.