Leptospirosis Vaccine

It might be frightening to hear that a fun swim in a watering hole can hurt you, as well as affecting your beloved dog. But it is true. This terrible illness is called leptospirosis that's caused by a bacteria spread through water, soil and the urine of other infected animals. It is possible to treat your dog since there's a vaccine available for the bacteria, but it's effective only when the disease is diagnosed early. Keep reading to find out more about leptospirosis and leptospirosis vaccine.

What Is Leptospirosis?

As mentioned already, leptospirosis is the outcome of an infection caused by Leptospira interrogans. It most commonly infects dogs, but it can also infect humans as well as domestic animals. It spreads when an infected animal contaminates water or soil with its urine. Exposure to reproductive secretions as well as the consumption of infected tissues can also spread the infection. Some of the most common carriers include opossums, raccoons, skunks, rodents and dogs.

Once exposed to the organism, it quickly enters the bloodstream and produces symptoms such as joint pain, fever and general malaise. Inflammation in kidneys is common because the bacterium settles in the kidneys – it may even lead to kidney failure in some cases.

What Is Leptospirosis Vaccine?

Leptospirosis vaccine is available to help treat the illness. Not all dogs need this vaccine because it's a non-core vaccine. Veterinarians usually determine if your dog needs the vaccine. Your young puppies may receive the first shot of the vaccine when they turn 12 weeks and the second one 2 to 4 weeks later. Mature dogs may require a couple of doses of the vaccine which will be spaced between 2 and 4 weeks if they have not received a dose already when they were four months old.

Some dogs have higher risks of developing the infection, so they require a dose every year. They should receive vaccines after every six or nine months. In fact, many veterinarians now use the vaccine only for dogs with higher risk. You also need to know that the leptospirosis vaccine works quite well to protect dogs from being infected, but it doesn't work in all cases because some subtypes of the bacterium are resistant to the vaccine.

What Are the Possible Reactions and Side Effects of Leptospirosis Vaccine?

Although the leptospirosis vaccine proves quite effective, it also causes several side effects due to the type of dog. The most common side effects include loss of appetite and reduced energy. Some dogs may develop skin rashes on parts that lack hair. Some dogs may experience shock responses – that is more common in toy breeds. Similarly, some dogs react negatively to an allergen, which leads to a condition called anaphylaxis. You will notice certain symptom when your dog is experiencing an anaphylactic shock. The most common signs include passing stools, urination, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, salivation, itching, coma, problems breathing, seizures, coma and even death. Consult with a veterinarian if you notice these signs and symptoms after giving your dog the leptospirosis vaccine.

When Is the Vaccine Not Recommended?

Due to certain side effects, the vaccine is not recommended for all dogs. Veterinarians sometimes advise against vaccinating animals that may be pregnant, sick or have weakened immune system. Your veterinarian may not recommend the vaccine if you own a toy breed because they are more susceptible to anaphylactic reactions.

Remember to Protect Yourself

Since the infection can also affect humans, while it is true that the chances of you contracting an infection from your dog are very low, it is important to take steps to protect yourself when your dog is infected. Below are things you should know:

  • ŸDon't let the urine of your dog touch your bare skin.
  • ŸAlways remember to wear rubber gloves when cleaning up surfaces contaminated with your dog's urine.
  • ŸIt is important to take these precautionary measures even if your dog is immunized to the illness because they can still spread infection through their urine. 
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