Leptospirosis In Dogs: Diagnosis And Treatment

Did you know that your dog can experience a life-threatening situation because of urine? This can occur if your dog plays on the ground with the infected urine of other animals. Leptospirosis is a bacterial type of condition that can enter the body of both dogs and humans through open wounds or digging to the skin.

To find out how Leptospirosis affects the dog’s system and how to avoid and treat it, read this comprehensive guide.


How dogs get leptospirosis
Photo credits: PetCoach

Leptospirosis is popular as the most prevalent disease that can originate from animals. It is accompanied by numerous infections, especially if the dog’s body starts to deteriorate. However, determining risk in dogs continues to be challenging due to insufficient data on the occurrence of canine Leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is a disease that spreads throughout a dog’s whole body, multiplying in the organs like liver and kidneys, brain, and reproductive system.

Your dog will have an increase in temperature as a sign of infection. However, if the body is strong enough, this bacterial infection will disappear as soon as antibodies begin to generate. The amount to which this bacterium affects your dog’s organs can determine the strength of his immune system and his capacity to eradicate the illness.


When a dog is suffering from Leptospirosis, the following symptoms may be manifested.

🐕  Sudden fever and weakness

As mentioned above, sudden fever is a primary sign that something is going on inside the body. If your dog has Leptospirosis, it will have a sudden fever as a response to a bacteria. This is the way of its immune system to alarm the whole body that there is a foreign element in the body.

Your dog may feel weak because there is something in its body that eats all of the nutrients in the body. The bacteria will invade the organs responsible for the normal movement of the body. Then if the dog’s body is already weak, it will be affected by this inhabitation.

🐕  Muscle pain

Leptospirosis in dogs can result in being reluctant to move. This is because your dog is having muscle pain, specifically at the lower back and its calves. Muscle soreness happens because the bacteria causing Leptospirosis inflames the blood vessels. This is the reason why infected dogs do not like to move and are unlikely to be touched because of tender muscles. Because your dog cannot say that it is in pain, a good thing to observe is muscle stiffness. Your dog will possibly have stiff legs or stiff posture because it resists to move more.

🐕  Shivering

Shivering usually occurs in canine Leptospirosis if the fever has reached the highest temperature going to the brain. This is an autoresponse of the dog’s body to have a normal blood flow. Usually, shivering happens if your dog is cold. Nevertheless, if it is not but still shivers, that is a sign of a bacterial or viral infection. The dog’s body shivers while fighting off the bacteria by making the organs and cells move, responsible for the immunity.

🐕  Lack of appetite

Having no desire to eat has advantages and disadvantages during the case of Leptospirosis. Lack of appetite happens because this is what your dog’s brain wants to do. This is the first move of the brain to make your immune system stronger.

Sounds ironic, right? However, how is this process beneficial? When either a dog or a human loses appetite, the brain produces a specific protein called cytokines. These small proteins will double the force of immunity. So do not worry if your dog does not accept dog treats because it will recover as soon as possible once he fights the bacteria.

🐕  Increased thirst and urination

As mentioned earlier, when the bacteria causing Leptospirosis has entered the body, it will start to invade the organs. One organ that is highly affected is the kidneys. When the kidneys of the dog are invaded, dehydration will occur. That is why there will be increased thirst and frequent urination. If the kidneys are highly damaged, leading to failure, your dog will have difficulty in urinating.

🐕  Vomiting and Diarrhea

Vomiting and diarrhea, especially if it is red in color, is an alarming stage of Leptospirosis. There are many viable reasons why your dog vomits or has diarrhea. One of these is gastric irritation. Suppose the bacteria have already reached the gut and the liver.

In that case, your dog will automatically expel that irritation through vomiting or through its feces. Depending on the color of its discharges, you can determine if there is already an internal bleeding, especially if it is in a darker color.

🐕  Dark red gums and eyes

Signs of Leptospirosis in dogs are red eyes and gums. These occur if there is a hemorrhage, especially if your dog already has conjunctival suffusion or a widening of the vessels. This redness is like rashes that occur in the early stage of Leptospirosis.

🐕  Yellow skin and eyes

In the early stage of Leptospirosis, your dog may have red eyes or conjunctivitis. Nevertheless, if the bacterial infection progresses, it may change to yellow skin and eyes. This is called jaundice.

It happens if the liver is over-damaged, which makes it produce bilirubin or the yellow waste body product. Yellow discoloration happens if the bacteria have killed the cells that protect the liver, causing it to leak the wastes.

🐕  Spontaneous cough

Coughing is an unusual sign of Leptospirosis. It can also occur if the bacteria has traveled to the lungs of your dog. This may be hard to tell if your dog has Leptospirosis or flu because of having the same attributes like runny nose and coughing.

However, if your dog starts to cough with blood or sticky discharges with a foul odor, you need to run to the vet immediately. As your dog coughs frequently, it may also experience difficulty in breathing with an irregular heartbeat.


Photo credits: Animal Clinic Of CB

💦 Water therapy

As mentioned above, dehydration can occur if the kidneys are well affected. So you need to provide your dog water to replenish its hydration. There are also available electrolyte drinks but consult them first with your vet.

🩸 Blood transfusion

Red eyes and gums are a result of hemorrhage. If the rupture of your dog’s veins is getting worse, expect a blood transfusion as an emergency measure. Leptospirosis can also cause anemia that makes your dog weaker and paler. So, go to the vet and have your dog checked if there is already a rupture inside its body.

💊 Antibiotics

The vet will recommend antibiotics depending on the phase of the infection and the severity of the infection of Leptospirosis your dog has. Usually given up to four weeks, the vet will administer it as a treatment regimen. However, a number of antibiotics can cause adverse effects that seem to be life-threatening, particularly those that go farther into your dog’s system to remove the infection. So follow what the vet has instructed you, especially the time when to give the medicine to your dog.

💉 Vaccine

Vaccination is vital to dogs in terms of Leptospirosis. This may not be 100% protection but can lessen the severity of the signs and symptoms. Your dog must have its lepto-vaccine as early as 12 weeks old and will have a course duration every four weeks, depending on its breed. Therefore, it is advisable to vaccinate your dog every year. Then again, if the dog has a missed dose, you can ask your vet for a booster shot.


This time, it is your part to save your dog from Leptospirosis.

❤︎ Let your dog rest

Leptospirosis is a condition that can make your dog’s body weaker. So, please do not force your dog to play with you as soon as it receives a treatment in the vet clinic. Instead, let your dog rest for a while and regain its energy.

❤︎ Clean your dog

As mentioned before, Leptospirosis can enter the body through open wounds. So, always maintain your dog’s physical wellness. Do not let your dog overplay outside, especially without your supervision. It is advisable to let your dog play within the vicinity of your house to avoid him acquiring such diseases.

❤︎ Healthy foods

Leptospirosis’s greatest enemy is your dog’s immune system. So before your dog have it, strengthen its body by giving it healthy foods responsible for immunity. Such vitamins you can give is a food rich in Vitamin C that fights off oxidants or foreign bodies.

❤︎ Clean your surroundings

This is the fundamental way to avoid this phenomenon. Your house is the safest place for your dog so, always maintain cleanliness to avoid having infections. This is beneficial not only for your dog but for the whole family. Avoid also letting other animals stay in your yard, especially if you do not know them personally.


The bacteria causing Leptospirosis is known to be zoonotic. This means that it is possible to humans to have it also. Leptospirosis is not only happening to dogs. Humans usually get it from submerging their feet with wounds in infected water like floods. Leptospirosis in humans typically comes from the urine of rodents. So regardless of what animal source it is, YES, humans can get Leptospirosis from them.


For the diagnosis of Leptospirosis, a variety of tests have been developed. The highest degree of accuracy is attained by the use of a combined application of these tests. Blood tests, urinalysis, x-ray and imaging, and a variety of other procedures fall under this category. Despite the fact that many affected dogs require intensive treatment, the prognosis is often favorable if the proper care is offered.

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