Leptospirosis in dogs

We love living up north but the high temperatures and humidity which are a natural part of life in the tropics can have a downside for our canine friends. These warm climatic conditions are ideal for the transmission of certain illnesses, so dogs who call the tropics home may be susceptible to more diseases and parasites than in other parts of Australia. One such disease is canine leptospirosis, a bacterial infection cause by the Leptospira species, which can affect your dog’s blood, liver and kidneys.

Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal disease which is spread mainly by the urine of rats, mice and native wildlife. It can also be contracted through cuts or scrapes, from bites from infected rodents or from eating infected animals. It’s a potentially fatal disease which may be transmitted to your dog if they drink water contaminated by the urine of an infected animal. Symptoms displayed by infected dogs may include lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea, followed closely by liver failure and often death. The onset of the disease is often sudden and dramatic.

How can I protect my dog?

The good news is that leptospirosis is preventable – your dog can be protected from this disease through vaccination. Your vet may recommend the leptospirosis vaccine following an assessment of your dog’s lifestyle and calculated risk of exposure.

When should my dog be vaccinated?

Two vaccinations 3-6 weeks apart are required initially (puppies will receive these at approximately 12 and 16 weeks), with a booster recommended every 12 months. There are different strains of Leptospira throughout Australia and different strains will be vaccinated for in different areas. Even if your pet has been vaccinated for a strain of leptospirosis elsewhere, they may still need to be vaccinated to protect against the local strain.
Vaccination decisions should always be made in consultation with your veterinarian. Please speak to us if you’re unsure about your dog’s vaccination requirements.