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Leptospirosis, oh, how you plague me.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection. This particular bacteria is transmitted in the urine of mice, rats, raccoons, deer, opossums, skunks, voles, and other critters scurrying through your back yard, peeing in your grass wherever they feel like it. Anywhere those critters pee, Leptospirosis could potentially be hiding. In water or soil, Leptospirosis can survive for weeks or months, so your dog doesn’t even need to come in contact with the critter, just last week’s critter pee in your lawn.
Leptospirosis bacteria can enter your dog’s body through skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, or mouth), especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch. Walking through Lepto-contaminated soil and then licking off your feet counts.
Or, if you’re a hiker, your dog could get it from walking through or swimming in contaminated water.
To add extra pain to this story, humans can get Leptospirosis too; either from contact with that same contaminated pee in the environment, or from contact with your own dog’s pee if she has Leptospirosis.
Getting grossed out yet?
The most reliable method of Lepto prevention, is to never come in contact with critter pee. Unfortunately, since your dog probably pees outside, that may not be an option for you. Unless your Maltese lives in a 20th floor apartment and pees in her own litterbox, pretty much every dog in Indiana is at risk for Leptospirosis exposure.
Prevention, therefore, is primarily through a series of vaccinations.
Did I say a single shot of Lepto vaccine and you’re fine? I did not. Leptospirosis vaccines, like most others, need to be given at least TWICE within a three week period, then boostered yearly.
Here’s where the “plaguing me” part comes in.
No, not all Lepto vaccines are the same.
Reason being, there are at least 300 different varieties of Leptospirosis that affect different species. As of 2013, four of those are known to cause the majority of disease in dogs. To prevent Leptospirosis, then, you need to use a vaccine with ALL FOUR COMMON VARIETIES (serovars) of Lepto in the vaccine. These four “serovars” are usually given in combination with the distemper and parvo vaccine at your pet’s yearly booster.
If your vet uses a Lepto vaccine with only two serovars, your dog is still at greater risk.
Every vet clinic in Indianapolis seems to use different language to describe their vaccines. Off the top of my head, here’s the ones I can think of:
DHPP: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo
DAPP: Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Parvo
(Adenovirus is the virus that causes Hepatitis)
DHCPP: Distemper, Hepatitis, Coronavirus, Parainfluenza, Parvo
DACPP: Distemper, Adenovirus, Coronavirus, Parainfluenza, Parvo
If the cryptic code your vet uses has an “L” in it, that vaccine probably has at least two serovars of Lepto in the vaccine:
DHLPP: Distemper, Hepatitis, LEPTO, Parainfluenza, Parvo
DAPP-L: Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Parvo, LEPTO
…you get the idea.
Well, you’re gonna have to call them and ask. Sorry, no easy answers here, but it’s really important your pet get all four serovars, if you’re going to bother getting your pet vaccinated for Leptospirosis. DO IT NOW. Call your vet, or get a copy of the records, and check.
Leo’s Pet Care has been using 4-serovar Leptospirosis vaccines since we opened in 2010.
Leptospirosis vaccine causes more allergic reactions than any other vaccine we use.
And it likes to sometimes, randomly leave a lump at the vaccine site. Forever.
Lepto, oh how you plague me.
There are even some breeders and fear-mongers who insist “NEVER GIVE ANY DOG LEPTOSPIROSIS VACCINE” because of the increased risk of reaction.
In my humble opinion, yes.
We used to use a four serovar vaccine from Fort Dodge called Leptovax-4, that I didn’t like very much.
Now, I’m using a Pfizer product called Vanguard L4 that I like better. [knocks on wood] I haven’t had a vaccine reaction from this product in almost two years of using it.
The CDC recommends you get your dog vaccinated for Leptospirosis, and I agree.
If you live in Carmel or Indianapolis, and you think your pet needs a Lepto vaccine, or better yet, if you aren’t sure and you want help looking over your pet’s records, please call Leo’s Pet Care at (317) 721-7387.