Leptospirosis is an infection of bacterial spirochetes, which dogs acquire when subspecies of the Leptospira interrogans penetrate the skin and spread through the body by way of the blood stream. Two of the most typically seen members of this subspecies are the L. grippotyphosa and L. Pomona bacteria. Spirochetes are spiral, or corkscrew-shaped bacteria which penetrate the system by burrowing into the skin.
Bacterial spirochetes spread throughout the entire body, reproducing in the liver, kidneys, main nervous system, eyes, and reproductive system. Soon after preliminary infection, fever and bacterial infection of the blood develop, but these symptoms quickly solve with the reactive boost of antibodies, which clear the spirochetes from most of the system. The extent to which this bacteria impacts the organs will depend on your dog’s body immune system and its ability to eradicate the infection completely. Even then, Leptospira spirochetes can stay in the kidneys, recreating there and contaminating the urine. Infection of the liver or kidneys can be fatal for animals if the infection progresses, causing severe damage to these organs. Younger animals with less industrialized immune systems are at the greatest risk for severe complications.
The Leptospira spirochete bacteria is zoonotic, implying that it can be sent to humans and other animals. Children are most at risk of obtaining the bacteria from an infected pet.
Symptoms and Types of Bacterial Spirochetes in Dogs
- Abrupt fever and disease
- Sore muscles, unwillingness to move
- Tightness in muscles, legs, stiff gait
- Lack of appetite
- Increased thirst and urination, might be indicative of chronic renal (kidney) failure, progressing to failure to urinate
- Rapid dehydration
- Vomiting, potentially with blood
- Diarrhea – with or without blood in stool
- Bloody vaginal discharge
- Dark red speckled gums (petechiae)
- Yellow skin and/or whites of eyes — anemic symptoms
- Spontaneous cough
- Problem breathing, quick breathing, irregular pulse
- Runny nose
- Swelling of the mucous membrane
- Mild swelling of the lymph nodes
Causes Bacterial Spirochetes in Dogs
The Leptospira spirochete infection generally occurs in subtropical, tropical, and damp environments. Leptospira spirochetes are more prevalent in marshy/muddy areas which have stagnant surface water and are frequented by wildlife. Heavily irrigated pastures are likewise typical sources of infection. The infection rate for domestic pets has been increasing in the U.S. And Canada, with infections happening most frequently in the fall season. Dogs will normally enter into contact with the leptospira bacteria in infected water, soil, or mud, while swimming, going through, or drinking contaminated water, or from entering contact with urine from an infected animal. This last approach of contact might take place in the wild. Hunting and sporting dogs, dogs that live near wooded areas, and dogs that live on or near farms are at an increased risk of acuiring this bacteria. Likewise at increased risk are dogs that have actually hung around in a kennel.
Diagnosing Leptospirosis in Dogs
Because leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, your veterinarian will be especially careful when managing your pet, and will highly advise you to do the exact same. Protective latex gloves need to be used at all times, and all body fluids will be dealt with as a biologically hazardous material. Urine, semen, post-abortion discharge, vomit, and any fluid that leaves the body will need to be managed with extreme caution.
You will need to give an extensive history of your dog’s health, consisting of a background history of symptoms, recent activities, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. The history you supply may provide your vet clues regarding what stage of infection your dog is experiencing, and which organs are being most impacted.
Your veterinarian will buy a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, an electrolyte panel, and a fluorescent antibody urine test. Urine and blood cultures will also be ordered for analyzing the occurrence of the bacteria. A tiny agglutination test, or titer test, will also be performed to determine the body’s immune reaction to the infection, by determining the presence of antibodies in the bloodstream. This will assist to definitively determine leptospira spirochetes and the level of systemic infection.
Treatment for Leptospirosis (Bacterial Spirochetes) in Dogs
Dogs with intense severe disease ought to be hospitalized. Fluid therapy will be the primary treatment, in order to reverse any impacts of dehydration. If your dog has actually been vomiting, an anti-vomiting drug, called an antiemetic, may be administered, and a stomach tube can be used to nurture your dog if its failure to eat or keep food down continues. A blood transfusion may also be essential if your dog has actually been badly hemorrhaging.
Antibiotics will be prescribed by your vet, with the type of antibiotic depending on the stage of infection. Penicillins can be used for preliminary infections, however they are not effective for removing the bacteria once it has reached the provider stage. Tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, or similar antibiotics will be recommended for this stage, because they are better dispersed into the bone tissue. Antibiotics will be prescribed for a course of a minimum of four weeks. Some antibiotics can have side effects that appear severe, especially those drugs that go deeper into the system to eliminate bacterial spirochetes. Make sure to read all the warnings that come with the prescription, and talk with your veterinarian about the indications you will have to watch for. Diagnosis is normally positive, barring severe organ damage.
Living and Management
A vaccination for the avoidance of the leptospirosis infection is available in some areas. Your vet can recommend you on the availability and usefulness of this vaccine. Ensure to check kennels prior to positioning your dog in one — the kennel must be kept very clean, and must be free of rodents (try to find rodent droppings). Urine from an infected animal need to not come into contact with any other animals, or people.
Activity needs to be restricted to cage rest while your dog recuperates from the physical injury of this infection. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, transmissible to people, and other animals by means of urine, semen, and post-birth or post-abortion discharge. While your dog remains in the procedure of being treated, you will need to keep it isolated from children and other family pets, and you will need to wear protective latex gloves when handling your dog in any way, or when dealing with fluid or waste items from your dog. Areas where your dog has actually urinated, vomited, or has perhaps left any other kind of fluid must be cleaned and sanitized thoroughly with iodine-based disinfectants or bleach services. Gloves need to be used during the cleaning process and disposed of correctly after.
Finally, if you do have other pets or children in the home, they may have been infected with the leptospira bacteria and are not yet revealing symptoms. It might be beneficial to have them (and yourself) tested for the existence of the bacteria. And, it is important to keep in mind that leptospires might continue to be shed through the urine for a number of weeks after treatment and evident recovery from the infection. Suitable handling practices will be the best avoidance of the spread of infection, or of reinfection.
Also read: Best and Safe Natural Antibiotics for Dogs