The Importance Of Lepto For Your Dog, And Family
If your dog is a member of the Canine to Five pack, then you may be familiar with the Lepto vaccination (or at least our friendly reminders to have your dog’s Lepto vaccination updated), but do you know what it is? Do you know what risks your dog is exposed to without the vaccination? Did you know a dog with Leptospirosis can infect humans?
It’s one of the vaccinations we require for dogs in our daycare pack or boarding with us even though other facilities don’t because it’s such an important one. So to answer your questions, we chatted with Veterinarian, Dr. Glynes Graham of Patterson Dog & Cat Hospital in Detroit about Leptospirosis and the Lepto vaccine.
CANINE TO FIVE: What is the Lepto vaccination and why is it important for our dogs, specifically in Michigan?
Dr. Graham: Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that is carried by wildlife. Most pets that are exposed in Detroit are exposed by rat urine, though raccoons and opossums can also carry it, and are moving into the city in increasing numbers. Dogs that spend most of their time outdoors and are fed and watered outside are at a higher risk, but exposure happens to pets that drink out of puddles or ponds, chew grass that rats might have urinated on, or walk in damp areas and then lick their feet or fur. The vaccine provides protection from four different serovars – there are other serovars but these are the most common.
CTF: How often should a dog get a Lepto vaccination?
Dr. Graham: It is not a long acting vaccine and needs to be boosted yearly to keep protection high.
CTF: What risks are there if dog owners decide not to keep their dogs up-to-date?
Dr. Graham: The primary risk to pets is kidney failure, though liver failure can occur, too. An affected pet can carry and infect an area that it is spending time in, and so put other pets at risk. Leptospirosis is also a risk to humans, and affected pets can share the disease with people through their urine. Leptospirosis is a reportable disease in Michigan, which means I have to report any case that I diagnose to the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
CTF: When looking into dog daycare and dog boarding facilities, should readers make sure Lepto is required of all dogs? Why or why not?
Dr. Graham: I wouldn’t board or daycare my pet at a place that doesn’t require the leptospirosis vaccine. For the same reason, I don’t take Sophie to public dog parks that don’t have a vaccine requirement – she has a high enough risk just from living in my neighborhood. I’ve diagnosed leptospirosis in neighborhood dogs before. It just makes sense to me that if I am going to protect Sophie from Lepto I want her friends to be protected, too!
A big thanks to Dr. Glynes Graham. Check her out at Patterson Dog & Cat Hospital in Detroit, and be sure to help educate other dog owners by sharing this post on Facebook or Google+.