Leptospirosis Vaccines - Furry Friends Friday

Dr. Stephanie Young
West Coast Animal Hospital

I'm Alex Steininger. Vaccines are an important part of ensuring the health and wellness of our dogs. In recent years, a new vaccine for leptospirosis has been added to the core set of vaccines recommended for all dogs. I'm joined by Dr. Stephanie Young from West Coast Animal Hospital to discuss this important new development. It's great to see you again, doctor.

Why is the lepto vaccine so essential?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can cause kidney failure in dogs. It's also zoonotic, meaning humans can contract it from animals. It's predominantly transmitted through infected urine and bite wounds and indirectly through contaminated water, soil, and food that's been contaminated with infected urine. San Diego used to have a very low prevalence of leptospirosis until a couple of years ago when we had a surge in cases. The recent surge is why we've become more proactive about recommending the lepto vaccine. It is very important that you get your dogs vaccinated for leptospirosis yearly to try and help reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

What are some of the common clinical signs that a dog has leptospirosis?

There are a wide variety of clinical signs, but the most common we see are vomiting, decreased appetite, lethargy, increased urination and drinking, weakness, and abdominal pain, to name a few. So if you notice any unusual symptoms, you should consult your veterinarian to determine if leptospirosis could be a possibility.

Are there any risks associated with getting the leptospirosis vaccine?

Over the years, they've worked a lot on the leptospirosis vaccine to try and help reduce the risk for vaccine reactions, and it's improved greatly. With any vaccine, there is a risk, but most commonly, we'll see decreased appetite and lethargy. The signs that we'd be most concerned about would be vomiting, hives, diarrhea, facial swelling, or difficulty breathing. If you notice any of those symptoms, you should contact your veterinarian immediately because your animal could be having a vaccine reaction.

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