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How to protect your dog from a disease "on an uptick"

Protecting your dog from a disease "on an uptick"
Posted at 6:07 PM, Oct 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-28 18:07:33-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that infects all of a dog's organs. Dr. Reed Stevens, the director of Ellicott Small Animal Hospital in Buffalo, said they've seen an uptick in Lepto cases this year. Three dogs the hospital treated with Lepto in the past two months died from it.

"Leptospirosis should be more concerning to people than Lyme disease, more concerning than heartworm disease," Stevens said.

Stevens said the wet fall weather is a perfect breeding ground for it.

"The most common way to get it is exposure to a water source that's contaminated with urine of one of the animals that carries it," he said.

That means your dog could get it by licking a puddle, or stepping in wet grass and then licking themselves. It's not only dangerous for dogs, but it's also dangerous for humans.

"If you have a young puppy at home and young children, and this puppy is urinating on the floor, and he's been outside and drank from a puddle that has urine in it, your family's got a problem," Stevens said. "It's a family problem."

If Lepto is caught early enough it's simple to treat, the challenge is catching it because the symptoms are so vague.
Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • dehydration
  • lethargy

The only way to know for sure if your dog has it is to bring it in to a vet for a test.

The best way to avoid a trip to the hospital, however, is to make sure your dog got its Lepto vaccine. Different shelters have different policies, so your dog may or may not have received it. Stevens said it is also important to update the vaccine annually.

"Nearly 100% of the dogs that are current on the vaccine do not get this disease," Stevens said.