Leptospirosis also called lepto is an infectious disease that causes serious illness in dogs, other animals, and people. This disease is caused by the bacteria called leptospires that live in water or warm, wet soil. Leptospirosis can be a life-threatening illness that affects the kidneys, liver, brain, lungs, and heart.

The most common way that dogs become infected with lepto is by coming into contact with urine of an infected animal, which is usually in water or on the wet ground. Dogs will become infected by drinking contaminated water, walking through a puddle that is contaminated then licking the feet or by playing in areas where infected urine is present. Leptospires enters the body through the dogs eyes, nose, cut in the skin, or mouth.

If the dog is infected with lepospires in begins to multiply and spread to other parts of the body. If the infection reaches the kidneys and bladder the dog with begin to spread the bacteria each time the dog urinates. Call your veterinarian if you notice: fever, loss of appetite, loss of energy, vomiting, dehydration, or jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes). It can be difficult to diagnose by its clinical signs alone so your veterinarian will need blood and urine to diagnose lepto. If treatment is started early enough dogs can recover after 2 weeks.

To help prevent your dog from contracting leptospirosis it is best to limit exposure to potential sources of contamination. The best way to protect your dog is with an annual vaccination that protects against the leading causes of leptospirosis.