Why is Leptospirosis a Threat to Dogs?
In densely-populated areas like New York City’s East Village, your pet’s risk of infection is much higher than it would be anywhere else. The local wildlife, which includes rats and mice, further exacerbates this risk. Leptospirosis is a particular cause for concern because your dog can catch it very easily, and without treatment, this bacterial disease can cause serious health problems including:
- Kidney and liver damage
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease. If a person somehow comes into contact with urine from an infected rat, mouse, or dog, they could develop a high fever, muscle pains, a rash, and experience kidney and/or liver failure. Lepto can be found throughout the world and is responsible for as many as 100,000 human deaths every year.
How the Infection Spreads
Mice and rats can go just about everywhere in the city. Dogs tend to be nosy about their surroundings and because they are unaware of the danger, will happily stick their nose where it doesn’t belong. Puddles, as harmless as they seem, may be contaminated with urine from an animal infected with leptospirosis. If your dog has a small cut on their leg or paw pad, simply walking through one of these puddles can lead to infection. Drinking from a puddle or licking any surface that could be contaminated is also sure way for your pet to become infected.
How Your Pet Can Stay Protected
Due to the danger that leptospirosis poses, we highly recommend vaccinating your dog to protect against infection. The canine leptospirosis vaccine generally protects dogs against 4 strains of the Leptospira bacteria for up to a year. Puppies should receive the vaccine anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks of age, get a booster 3-4 weeks later, and then follow up with annual boosters.
You can also minimize your pet’s exposure to leptospirosis by keeping them from walking through or drinking from puddles they come across.
If you need more information about leptospirosis and would like to schedule a lepto vaccine appointment, just contact our animal hospital in the East Village and we’ll be glad to help you!