There are two phases of treatment for leptospirosis. The first is to ensure that bacteria are killed in the acute phase of treatment. Penicillin is one of the most common antibiotics to help get treatment started. After that, antibiotics like doxycycline are prescribed to help with the rest of the infection and to help prevent a lifelong carrier status.
If the kidneys and liver are impacted, your pup will need aggressive supportive care to prevent long term damage to his internal organs. This may require days of intravenous fluids and additional treatments based on clinical signs. If your dog is not treated, leptospirosis can cause irreversible kidney and liver damage, both of which can be quickly fatal.
There is a vaccine available for leptospirosis which covers four species ofLeptospira bacteria. It is very effective and can also decrease the severity of clinical signs if an infection does result. This should be repeated annually, especially if you live in an area where there is a higher risk of exposure. However, it is interesting to note that even non-rural places like New York City can have leptospirosis outbreaks. There have been reports where indoor-only dogs who live in apartments have been exposed toLeptospira bacteria thanks to the presence of rats in the building!
Since leptospirosis is transmissible to other pets and people, it is important to keep infected pups separated from everyone else. Hygiene is essential, especially if you have been exposed to urine, and be careful around sick pups if you have any wounds or cuts in your skin.
Leptospirosis is a highly transmissible bacterial disease that can be spread via wildlife and then passed on to pets and people. Because of the seriousness of the disease’s clinical signs, leptospirosis is a public health hazard that can be mitigated by the routine vaccination of our dogs. If you’re not sure about your pups risk of leptospirosis, ask your veterinarian if the leptospirosis vaccine would be a good idea!