Many dogs develop Leptospiral infection without showing clinical signs. They become carriers, spreading the disease. When illness does occur it causes kidney inflammation (nephritis) or more generalised disease involving the liver. Generalised disease is often accompanied by blood in the urine. Clinical signs include lethargy, fever, perhaps jaundice and vomiting and a yellow or redness to the mucus membranes.
A blood profile usually reveals increased white blood cells, reduced platelets and kidney involvement. Serum samples show an increasing level of antibodies. Sometimes the bacteria themselves may be seen microscopically in urine or tissue samples.
Support therapy including intravenous fluids is given according to the clinical signs. Appropriate antibiotics are given for at least three weeks, often longer. This bacteria is spread in the urine of carrier animals such as rodents and can contaminate water where animals congregate. Dogs that exercise in any of the Royal Parks where Leptospirosis is a potential rat problem are routinely vaccinated. Leptospirosis vaccine does not guarantee protection. Rather it protects some dogs and reduces the seriousness of infection in others. Present vaccines provide immunity lasting up to 18 months. Routine yearly booster inoculations should be used. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, transmissible to us. If your dog develops this infection ensure strict hygiene during her treatment phase.