Leptospirosis has been linked to dead seals, but now it’s in the parks too!

Biologist Therapy for DogsPosted by the San Francisco Dog Walker

Five documented cases of Leptospirosis in the past two months!  Don’t let your pets near muddy puddles in the parks or dead seals on the beaches!  Leptospirosis is rarely seen in San Francisco’s dog population, but this year, it’s rampant.

This potentially fatal bacteria is spread through the urine of infected animals, particularly wildlife like raccoons, skunks and coyotes.  If excreted in standing water, it can live for weeks if not months, infecting dogs and other animals tramping through or drinking from puddles.  This year’s marked increase in leptospirosis cases is likely due to the mud and puddles left by the rains.

When the disease is caught in time, most studies show a 75 percent survival rate. Unfortunately, the initial symptoms can be hard to recognize. Symptoms are often non-specific and variable, and can include lethargy, decreased appetite, increased drinking and/or urination, vomiting or diarrhea.

Leptospirosis is preventable: the canine DHLPP vaccine protects against the bacteria, as well as against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and parainfluenza. Though the vaccine is not 100 percent effective, it is a dog’s best defense.

If your dog seems to be under the weather, “it is important to bring up to your veterinarian that your dog is out at the park or swims a lot, as these lifestyle components increase exposure to leptospirosis.

The DHLPP vaccination is available at any veterinary office.