Skip to main content
Yellow lab laying on floor ill

Dog leptospirosis treatment and prevention

Q: Our dog Bear is sick with leptospirosis, but the veterinarian is optimistic he will pull through. She said there are many strains of lepto, and when he’s better, she recommends vaccination to protect him from getting the disease again. Please educate me about leptospirosis.

A: Spiral-shaped Leptospira bacteria cause leptospirosis, or lepto, in over 150 species of mammals, including humans and canines. Lepto occurs in all 50 states, and its incidence, which is increasing, is highest from July through November, particularly after heavy rains or flooding.

Carriers, including raccoons, skunks, small rodents and livestock, don’t get sick but do excrete the bacteria in their urine. The bacteria flourish in moist, warm soil and stagnant water. Dogs are infected when bacteria enter through the skin, mouth, nose or eyes.

Lepto is characterized by kidney and/or liver dysfunction. Mildly affected dogs experience decreased appetite, vomiting, weakness, fever, jaundice, and excessive drinking and urination. Severely affected dogs develop multi-organ disease with lung problems, bleeding, muscle pain and neurologic abnormalities.

With antibiotics, most dogs recover, although some never regain normal kidney function. The prognosis depends on how quickly the disease is diagnosed and treated. Avoid contact with Bear’s urine, and talk with your veterinarian about additional measures to protect the humans and any other dogs in your family.

To prevent lepto in the future, keep Bear away from puddles, slow-moving water and areas with extensive rodent populations. The leptospirosis vaccine protects dogs from four of the most prevalent strains and lasts for 12 months, so you’ll need to have Bear vaccinated every year.


Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine. Contact her at askdrlee@insurefigo.com.

dog out for walk in nature

After a long winter indoors, most of us...

dog outside chasing ball

Depending on where you live, it may not...

cute dog and cat

Folliculitis is a common infection that...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
Woman with two dogs checking her phone

Technology has changed almost every aspect...

Puppy crate training in progress

There are many tools I utilize when training...

Cat scratching on a cat post

You may have heard the phrase, “Cats can’t...

Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...

Kristin Levine with dog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

small dog playing with toy

Your dog won’t come up to you and say, “I’m...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Woman drinking coffee and holding small cat near

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...