Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease) in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment



Leptospirosis in dogs (Weil’s Disease) is one of the most common diseases in our four-legged friends.

Canine leptospirosis, or Weil’s Disease, is a bacterial infection in dogs that may have serious implications in pets; but it can also infect people and other dogs through different means, for instance urine.

The bacteria responsible for this disease is called Leptospira. Canine Leptospirosis is widely spread around the world and case numbers rise during Autumn.

How Can a Dog Get Infected with Leptospirosis?

Unfortunately, there are many ways a dog may contract this infection, some do through direct contact and others through indirect contact. For example, a dog can get infected through contact with host animals, or indirectly, through infected fluids.

Leptospirosis in Dogs: Causes

With the purpose to be more precise, we may list some animals that may transmit this disease: rats, skunks, bovines, and pigs. Contact with these animals might be risky.

Dogs are more exposed to contract Leptospirosis if they have wounds, bites, or lesions, where the bacteria might enter. These organisms firstly infect the mucous membranes and cutaneous wounds, and pass on to the bloodstream (leptospiremia, from 4 to 12 days). Then it infects the kidney epithelium and the liver. This infection may also harm the nervous central system.

Urinary transmission is the main route by which a dog can contract leptospirosis. You should also be careful with the water your dog drinks, which might be contaminated. The same happens with ingesting Lepto-infected meat, especially rats. It may be passed through the placenta.

After reading about the main transmission routes for leptospirosis, you will understand the risks are quite nearby, even more so in places laden with animals, like kennels.

In this article, we will try to provide a few tips on how to prevent and treat Leptospirosis in dogs. You will know how to identify symptoms if your dog is infected, especially how to treat it on time.

Leptospirosis in Dogs: Symptoms

What are the effects of these bacteria in the dog’s body? Which organs are hurt the most? Leptospirosis mainly affects kidneys and the liver.

These are bacteria with low resistance to cold; They do not survive under 0 °C (32 °F), so winter cases of Weil’s Disease are low, since these organisms prefer to “attack” from late Summer to late Autumn.

Unvaccinated dogs or pups under one year of age are more susceptible to contract Leptospirosis; there are exceptions, of course. In this case, their immune system is more deficient than the average, and the animal becomes an “easy prey” for the bacteria.

Weil’s Disease may occur in mild and severe forms. The symptoms vary in intensity, but there are some differences.

In mild cases, the dog may vomit or cough. Nausea is often accompanied by lack of appetite. Sometimes, eye disorders may affect the dog.

In more severe cases, besides the vomiting, fever, trembling and dehydration may occur.

All these symptoms vary in intensity, depending on external factors, like the dog’s size, medical record, its general health state, and the environment where the dog spends most of its time.

Leptospirosis in Dogs: Care and Prevention

How does Leptospirosis manifest in the dog? The most acute stage of this canine Leptospirosis may last for as long as 10 days, However, completely eliminating the bacteria from the dog’s organism may take months.

So, how can it be treated? Or, better yet, how can it be prevented? Besides making sure your loyal 4-legged companion is properly hydrated by always having fresh water at its disposal, the most effective method to prevent Leptospirosis is vaccination, with its yearly vaccine schedule.

In any case, our advice is to always call your vet so he or she can clarify and assess your dog’s medical state and history.

Finally, but also most importantly, an essential warning: remember Leptospirosis can infect humans and it is potentially dangerous.

Be careful in your preventive measures, detecting early symptoms in your dog on time, you may be saving not only your dog’s but also your family’s lives.

If you have more doubts, you may consult a professional near your house, who will provide the best service and answer all your questions.

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