Focus on Health: Canine Leptospirosis

December 10, 2017 at 3:57 pm

By Brenda Eisenhauer, DVM
Founder and Owner of Parkside Animal Health Center


What Is Leptospirosis?

Lepto is a bacteria that can infect the kidneys and vital organs of dogs, humans and other mammals. Because lepto can be transmitted from domestic or wild animals to humans lepto makes the local news more than many other animal diseases. The disease is present across Colorado and the Denver metro area, but the chances of contracting the disease from your dog are generally low.


How is Lepto spread?

Leptospirosis is spread through the urine of infected animals or through contaminated water. Households with multiple dogs, other pets or young children may be at more risk for the disease spreading. In addition, households where family members spend significant time with their dogs in wildlife areas (camping, hiking, etc) are at an increased risk.


If infected urine is directly ingested by another mammal there is a chance of infection. This can happen more often than you think! While dogs that have interactions with raccoons or other wildlife are most at risk, dogs can come in contact with the bacteria through interactions with mice or other small mammals that make it indoors.


However, the more common route of infection for humans and dogs comes from exposure to leptospirosis contaminated water. The lepto bacteria can stay active as long as its environment is moist. This means that bacteria in standing water, especially smaller pools of standing water like puddles, can be transmitted to dogs. I think we are all familiar with the look of happy surprise our dogs show when they find a puddle on a hot day. They seem convinced that the puddle was put there just for them!