First, let’s talk about Leptospirosis as a disease. It is a bacterial infection of the internal organs that can be fatal if not treated, in dogs and people can catch through exposure to urine from infected animals such as dogs, livestock and wildlife.

Now, let me ask you this; does your dog go outside? If the answer is yes, you should be vaccinating for lepto. Let me tell you why!

Wildlife, like raccoons and skunks, which carry disease, can infect dogs indirectly through soil and water. Meaning, dogs can get sick even if they never come into direct contact with infected animals.

For a dog to become infected with lepto they would have to come into contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food or bedding. Your pet can also catch this disease through a bite from an infected animal; by eating infected tissues or carcasses; and rarely, through breeding. So, lepto could be just about anywhere, including your backyard or even the sidewalk!

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread from animals to people. Infection in people can cause flu-like symptoms and can cause liver or kidney disease. In the United States, most cases of human leptospirosis result from recreational activities involving water. Infection resulting from contact with an infected pet is much less common, but it is possible and is reason enough for me to vaccinate!

Sarah Clements, DVM

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