If you’ve been in with your dog lately, you may have been asked if you’d like to have your dog vaccinated for leptospirosis. But what is leptospirosis? Leptospirosis or Lepto (as it’s sometimes called by people who tire of writing/saying extremely long words) is a zoonotic bacterial infection. That means it can be transmitted from animals to people. In fact, it is currently the most common zoonotic disease in the world. Counties in the US with the highest incidents of dogs positive for Lepto are found in West Virginia, Indiana, Virginia, Kentucky, and Oregon.

In our area raccoons, opossums, and rodents (even house mice) are the most common carriers of this disease. However, livestock, deer, dogs, and other animals are known to be carriers as well. The most common way dogs contract the disease is by contact with the urine of an affected animal. Because of this, we recommend that most dogs who live, walk, or play in areas where these types of animals may be present get vaccinated for Lepto. This includes dogs that visit trails, campgrounds, lakes, parks, and most backyards. Even dogs that walk through puddles in the suburbs can be exposed. Leptospirosis can become quite serious- causing liver and kidney damage and even death.

We recommend this vaccine to dogs over 6 months of age that have exposure to areas where Lepto may be present. Some breeders may advise not to vaccinate certain breeds for Lepto. This is because a former version of the vaccine sometimes caused severe vaccine reactions. Although reactions are possible with any vaccine, the current version is much safer.

I hope this article has helped you become better informed about Leptospirosis. We believe that client education can lead to healthier pets. If you have any questions about the health of your pet please reach out to us.