Canine leptospirosis: know what it is, symptoms and how to treat

“The dog is man’s best friend” already said the saying. Most people who have pets at home value the pet’s health because, after all, it is also part of the family.

In addition, some diseases that can affect it can also be transmitted to humans, such as leptospirosis .

In this article, we will talk a little more about this disease that can be prevented and treated, but it is still very dangerous for you and your best friend.

What is canine leptospirosis?

Canine leptospirosis (known as rat disease), is considered a zoonosis, as it can be transmitted from animals to humans. It is a serious disease, which in some cases can cause the animal to die.

It is caused by the bacteria Leptospira, which develops in the organism of rats found in manholes, pits and sewers. The bacterium survives for about 6 months after being eliminated by the animal’s urine.

The transmission of the disease can happen through direct contact with the urine of the rat or by the water contaminated by it, propagated by rivers, streams, sewers and places with standing water in the streets or houses.

This bacterium can penetrate the skin and cause damage to several organs, mainly the kidneys and liver.

The immunity of a healthy dog, in general, manages to fight the infection. However, in cases of a young, sick or elderly animal, the organism may not be able to fight it, which leads to the manifestation of the disease in the pet and in some cases it can be fatal.

Is canine leptospirosis the same as in humans?

Leptospirosis in humans is similar to canine. It can be contracted not only by the urine of rats, but also by the dog itself infected with the disease, in addition to contaminated waters such as rivers and streams.

In humans, the disease can be mistaken for a common flu or even a case of dengue , due to the similarity of symptoms.

The main ones are: fever , headache , body pain, especially in the legs, vomiting, diarrhea and cough .

The disease in humans can also present severe cases and even lead to death. Therefore, it is important to prevent and have basic cleaning and hygiene care at home to prevent the proliferation of mice.

It is also important to avoid bathing in rivers or streams that are unsuitable for this, as they may be contaminated.

Leptospirosis is a curable disease, for which early diagnosis and treatment is the best solution.

Some precautions are recommended to avoid cases of leptospirosis in humans. Check it out below:

  • Avoid the accumulation of garbage and debris on the ground;
  • Wash food thoroughly, especially fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw;
  • Cap the water tanks tightly;
  • Try to use gloves and rubber boots to work in environments that rats may have gone through;
  • If you suspect that your puppy may be infected, wear gloves to contact him and take him to a veterinarian immediately.

Remember: do not self-medicate! If you have any suspicion of infection with the leptospirosis bacteria, see a doctor as soon as possible and report your suspicions.

Only exams can diagnose the disease to start treatment.

What are the symptoms of leptospirosis in the dog?

The symptoms of leptospirosis can be diverse and vary according to the organism of each pet. In some cases, the pet may have few or almost no symptoms and in others more serious, they may even die. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to your pet’s behavior to identify possible changes.

Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Fever;
  • Vomiting;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Increase from home;
  • Weakness and drowsiness;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Weight loss;
  • Tremors;
  • Muscle spasms;
  • Yellowish color in the eyes;
  • Blood in the urine, feces, vomit or saliva;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Cough;
  • Secretion in the eyes or muzzle.

Medicine: which antibiotic is indicated for the treatment of leptospirosis?

The treatment of canine leptospirosis is carried out with antibiotics that aim to eliminate the Leptospira bacteria from the dog’s organism. Antibiotics of the penicillin class are the most suitable to treat the disease. In the most severe cases that have already reached the animal’s kidney, the use of doxycycline is recommended .

It is indicated that infected dogs are hospitalized, according to the stage of the disease. They must be isolated from other animals in order not to spread the disease.

Is there a vaccine?

Yes, there is a vaccine. Prevention is very important to reduce the animal’s risk of contracting Leptospirosis and the most effective way is vaccination.

It should be done once a year or every 6 months, with multipurpose vaccines called V8 or V10. They protect dogs from seven diseases: distemper, canine infectious hepatitis, parvovirus , leptospirosis, adenovirus, coronavirus and canine parainfluenza.

Keep your pet’s vaccination card up to date, so that he is always immunized against the main diseases that can infect him, among them, the much feared leptospirosis.

Other ways to prevent

Some precautions can be taken to prevent the proliferation of the disease, which occurs more easily in pets that live in houses with a yard. Check out these precautions below:

  • After feeding your pets, keep the food jar in a closed place, so that there is no risk of rats urinating on them. This would be the worst type of contamination, as the bacteria would penetrate directly into the pet’s mucosa, such as mouth and tongue.
  • Change your dog’s water frequently. In addition to keeping the water always fresh for your buddy, you still keep it always clean, thus avoiding possible contamination;
  • Avoid walking your pet near large puddles, floods and floods, overflowing rivers and the like, especially during periods of heavy rain. These sites are a full plate for the spread of leptospira;
  • Keep the house always clean, avoiding the accumulation of garbage, food scraps and anything that can attract rats;
  • If any symptom is identified in your pet, try to take it immediately to a veterinarian to start treatment.

Leptospirosis is a disease that can be cured, but prevention is always the best solution.


Leptospirosis is a good example that prevention is always better than cure.

Maintaining basic cleaning care and vaccinating your dog, every six months or annually, prevents the disease from being contracted by your pet and also by other people.

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