Why we require a leptospirosis vaccine.

At Home Veterinary Care is special in a lot of ways: we offer every pet service you could need, we have our water park for dogs and playground. Though the most inconvenient thing we do is that we require a vaccine for Leptospirosis. We are the only veterinary hospital in the region that demands that each pet whom comes in our home for any service: medical care, Playcare, grooming, anything be vaccinated against Leptospirosis. Why do we bother with it if no other clinic in the area feels this vaccine is necessary? We bother with it because Leptospirosis is a horrific disease that kills painfully and miserably: anything we can do to prevent our patients form coming down with this disease helps us sleep better.

Leptospirosis exists around the world, but it prefers humid and warm climates. This makes the disease much more of a concern in Florida than other parts of the world. Most dogs are exposed to leptospirosis by the urine of wild-animal hosts like: raccoons, opossums, mice, voles, rats, skunks, squirrels, deer, and foxes. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that causes the kidneys and liver to fail; preventing the dog from removing harmful substances from their body, poisoning them with byproducts of body functions that they handle every day. Most untreated dogs suffer and die this way: the immune system often cannot rescue them. Even if the disease is caught early and a dog is cared for and treated exhaustively by a superb team of veterinarians 10-15% of victims will die. Organ failure is not the first sign of Leptospirosis though: the first signs are the nondescript symptoms of lethargy, change in appetite, change in urine production, vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms are another hurdle since they are symptoms of many more common diseases, and veterinarians will treat the pet for those more likely diseases than the rarer but malignant leptospirosis. Of course this means that it is even more difficult to treat the poor patient effectively, since the veterinarian will be led on a wild goose chase before diagnosing leptospirosis. The disease can also escape from the most skilled veterinarians since diagnosis requires the exact right type of test in the exact time of the disease progression.  This worsens things for the victim, who need as much care as possible as soon as possible. If the disease does not kill the dog, Leptospirosis can cause liver damage, uveitis, respiratory disease, vasculitis, and bleeding disorders. Even worse, the disease can be passed between dogs and people: putting whole families at risk!

All these reasons are why we feel it is critical to prevent; not treat, leptospirosis. Vaccines have made the disease rarer and rarer and we aim to eliminate it. Pet guardians can also prevent their friends from exposure to leptospirosis by preventing contact with urine. Raccoons, cows, pigs, skunks, opossums and rats can all carry leptospirosis and preventing contact with these animals will also prevent transmission. If you notice any of the symptoms associated with leptospirosis make an appointment with us immediately. Please tell your veterinarian if your pet is unvaccinated for leptospirosis: it is pivotal to their treatment and their health. The Leptospirosis vaccine can cause a mild reaction in some dogs, but it is far from life threatening and the vaccine is constantly improved to prevent adverse reactions; however, it is recommended that the Leptospirosis vaccine is given separately from other vaccines. We hope all dogs, cats and people too have a safe and fun holiday and come back to spend time with us at At Home Veterinary Care.