When dogs venture into the wild, they can encounter well-known dangers such as rabies, heartworms and Lyme disease. A lesser known (and luckily, less common) outdoor menace is leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is spread by contact with the urine of an infected animal. The hardy organism contaminates water and soil, making standing water, like ponds and lakes, a potential hotbed for hazard.
Once the organism contacts mucous membranes (like the mouth or nose) or wounds, it spreads rapidly. Worse yet, symptoms can be vague. Fever, lethargy and joint pain are common complaints for leptospirosis (but for many other diseases, as well). Ultimately, “lepto” can lead to kidney failure.
Fortunately, leptospirosis can be treated with antibiotics. And if caught early enough, treatment can be very effective, with little to no long term organ damage. Keeping your pet’s paws out of trouble starts with a few simple steps at home. Avoid contact with native rodent populations, which can spread disease, and keep an eye on pets outdoors, especially if they have access to standing water. As an extra preventive measure, consider getting your pet vaccinated against leptospirosis.
Two-leggers can contract leptospirosis, too. So if your pet shows symptoms, be sure to avoid contact with his urine to lessen your exposure and contact your veterinarian immediately.