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Leptospirosis in dogs

Leptospirosis in Dogs

Leptospirosis in dogs is caused by a spiral organism called spirochetes.

While it may be similar to bacteria, it has a wavy tail-like membrane called flagella, which helps it to wriggle and move in a spinning motion. While there are 230 strains of leptospira, most do no harm. Only a few have adapted themselves to cause disease in cats and dogs. These are the L.

pomona, L. grippotyphosa, L. canicola and L. icterohemorrhagiae.

Causes: Leptospirosis usually occurs in late summer, fall or after heavy rainfalls, when the germ breeds in greater numbers in dampness, mud and standing water.

The incidence of the disease is less in winter, when they are killed by freezing temperatures.

Leptospirosis is spread by carrier animals like skunks, raccoons and mostly rats. In the initial stages of infection, a carrier animal carries the leptospira in its eyes, genital tract, spleen, liver and kidneys. Gradually they are cleared from most of the organs, remaining only in the kidneys, and in the fine tubes that carry urine to the bladder. The urine of these carrier animals contains the leptospira, and when other animals, like your pet dog, sniffs or licks this urine, it may get infected. Sometimes, the leptospira gets washed by rain into puddles of standing water, contaminating it. When your pets wade, swim or drink this contaminated water, they may develop the disease. Sometimes, these contaminants may also enter through an open wound in the skin or by eating infected materials.

Symptoms: The disease has a range of varied symptoms. Leptospirosis is usually most severe in dogs which are not vaccinated, and are less than 6 months old. The infection may cause life-threatening damage to their kidneys and liver.

Symptoms of illness usually appear about 4 to 12 days after exposure to infection. During this time, the leptospira spreads quickly through the pet’s body, leading to joint pain, depression and high fever. The powerful toxins which are produced damage the liver and kidneys. Sometimes, the blood cannot clot normally, causing bleeding.

Leptospirosis in dogs symptoms
also include drooling and vomiting, while your pet may lose all appetite, and move around covering with the tailed tucked between the legs. The dog may also shiver and appear stiff. Sometimes, the high fever makes it excessively thirsty. As the disease progresses, the dog may get eye inflammations, pass blood-tinged urine and its skin may also take on a yellowish tinge.

Treatment: Antibiotics like erythromycin, tetracycline and penicillin work quite well. But leptospirosis in dogs treatments would also include fluid therapy to flush out the kidneys, anti-emetic medicines to stop dog vomiting and intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration.

  Submitted on May 27, 2010  

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