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Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of dogs and other mammals that affects the liver and kidneys. There are many species and strains of leptospirosis. Leptospirosis bacteria are carried by most mammalian species, including humans. Infected or recovered "carrier" dogs can also act as a source of infection. The virus is spread through the ingestion of infected urine that can be present in any large or small body of water, including puddles and rivers. Some forms of the bacteria can even penetrate damaged or thin skin, infecting canine swimmers.
Clinical signs are variable and easily confused with other diseases concerning the liver and kidneys, however a definitive lab test can be undertaken when leptospirosis is suspected. Treatment is affective if begun early and most dogs require intensive veterinary care.
There is a vaccine available to prevent against leptospirosis, however it is not always part of the routine vaccination program for all dogs. The doctors at Jane Animal Hospital will consider the risks and options for your pet and annual boosters may be needed to maintain best immunity.