Leptospirosis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that affects canines by spreading in all parts of the body through their bloodstream. A serious and sometimes life-threatening disease, dogs catch this ailment from puddles, muddy water bodies, or marshy areas that have stagnant surfaces and are frequented by wildlife with traces of urine from infected wildlife.
Causes of Leptospirosis in Dogs
More prevalent in places like heavily irrigated pastures and unhygienic marshy areas, dogs typically contract leptospirosis through direct contact with urine from an infected animal. The bacteria get inside their body through the skin. Dogs that are most at risk for getting infected with leptospirosis include hunter breeds, dogs that live near forest areas, and the ones who live on farms.
If your dog gets inside the infected water, consumes it, or sits on infected soil or mud, they are at a very high risk of catching an infection. Moreover, open sores can increase the chances of contracting this serious form of illness. The cause of this infection-Leptospira spirochete bacteria is zoonotic which implies that an infected animal can transmit it to humans and animals. Kids are at an increased of acquiring bacteria from an infected pet.
Symptoms of Leptospirosis in Dogs
The following symptoms are evident in dogs infected with leptospirosis: sudden high-grade fever and illness, soreness of muscles with stiffness, shivering and fatigue, lack of appetite, increased thirst and urination, acute dehydration, allergy in pets, swelling in the lymph nodes, blood in vomiting, diarrhea, chronic cough with a runny nose, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the mucous membrane.
Though the extent to which this bacteria affects the organs will depend on its immune system, leptospirosis can cause severe damage to the liver, kidneys, eyes, nervous, and reproductive systems. Leptospira spirochetes stay in the kidneys after the initial treatment has begun, reproducing, and causing further infection in the urine. Liver or kidneys infection can be fatal if the condition progresses. Younger animals have less developed immune systems, thus they are at the highest risk for severe complications. Dogs with acute severe disease should be hospitalized at the earliest.
Diagnosis of Leptospirosis in Dogs
The veterinarian will take a history of the pet’s health, check for symptoms, and possible incidents that might have caused leptospirosis. A complete blood count, urinalysis, electrolyte panel, fluorescent antibody urine test, and urine and blood cultures will also be done to check the prevalence of the bacteria. All these will help to identify the level of systemic infection and the presence of the bacterium in the dog’s body.
Treatment for Dog Leptospirosis
The initial treatment for treating leptospirosis in dogs is fluid therapy. It is done to reverse the effects of dehydration. If your dog has been vomiting, an anti-vomiting drug will be administered, and food may be given via the gastric tube. A blood transfusion may also be necessary if there has been severe hemorrhaging. Antibiotics are prescribed by the veterinarian depending on the infection stage, for about four to six weeks.
Prevention of Leptospirosis in Dogs
The best way to cure this serious ailment is to reduce your dog’s exposure to possible sources of stagnant water areas to reduce the possibility of your pet catching this infection. A dog bath can be helpful in case the pet has visited any muddy puddles. The leptospirosis vaccine is also available, and it is also an alternative to protect your dog. Still, it should be done after consulting with a veterinarian to check if it can be safely administered to the pet. The only drawback of the vaccine is that it covers only some strains of leptospirosis. Therefore, the effectiveness of this vaccine is not guaranteed in every leptospirosis case.
Since this pet disease can remain underdiagnosed, it is essential to watch your dog in case you see any of the above symptoms and get it diagnosed and treated at the earliest.
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News Source : Preeti Sharma
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