Leptospirosis is an infectious desease caused by bacteria. Transmission from animals to humans is possible.
The pathogen spreads through the blood and thus reaches various organs such as the liver, spleen, kidneys or lymph nodes. Within two weeks after the infection, symptoms such as lack of appetite, vomiting or fever occur. The animal is fatigued and lethargic. Shortness of breath may occur in some cases. If the pathogen nests itself in the kidneys, the dog urinates frequently and shows signs of pain upon palpation of the kidney region. Kidney failure is the worst consequence of this disease. Furthermore jaundice can occur which can be noticed by a yellowish discoloration of the eyes, mucuous membranes and the skin. If the pathogen infects other organs, occasionally bloody stool (as a consequence of a gastro-intestinal inflammation), trembling attacks or bleeding of the mucuous membrane of the muzzle may occur.
The bacterial agents are mainly discharged through the urine of infected animals. In this manner, the bacteria get into wet grounds and waters where they remain viable for a long period of time. The infection is caused by contact of the agent with the skin or the mucous membranes of a dog. In most cases dogs contract by drinking from puddles in summer months, the water of which is mostly contaminated by rat urine. The infection may, however, also be caused by bites or during the mating act.
The definitive diagnosis is obtained by verification of the causative organism in the dog's urine or blood. Leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics. Extensively advanced liver and kidney damages are to be assessed as problematic since not infrequently they may result in death or involve irreversible damages. The best is to vaccinate the dog against the disease which also prevents an infection of the human by the dog.
The disease shall be considered an emergency since possibly danger to life emanates from it. The dog needs to get as fast as possible to a veterinary hospital or a veterinarian. For the protection against the disease, dogs can be vaccinated, but the vaccination does not protect against all types of causative organisms of the disease and is consequently controversial. Furthermore, the immunization protection is shorter than with other infectious diseases. Your veterinarian will certainly advice you.