Canine Leptospirosis


  • Sudden fever and illness
  • Sore muscles, lack of movement
  • Stiffness in muscles, legs
  • Shivering
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased thirst and urination, (may be indicative of chronic kidney failure and later the inability to urinate)
  • Rapid dehydration
  • Vomiting, possibly with blood
  • Diarrhea – with or without blood in stool
  • Bloody vaginal discharge
  • Dark red speckled gums 
  • Yellow skin and/or whites of eyes 
  • Spontaneous cough
  • Difficulty breathing, fast breathing
  • Runny nose

How is it spread?

Dogs will typically come into contact with the leptospira bacteria from coming into contact with urine from an infected animal, infected water, soil, or muddy areas which have stagnant surface water and are frequented by wildlife.

This can occur while swimming, walking through, or drinking the contaminated water.

What is Leptospirosis?

Canine Leptospirosis or lepto, is caused by the zoonotic leptospira spirochete bacteria. This means that the disease can be transferred between animals and people. 

It causes flu-like symptoms and the bacteria can penetrate damaged skin or intact mucosa (e.g. lining of the mouth) and in more serious cases possibly liver or kidney disease. 

At Risk

Children are most at risk of acquiring the bacteria from an infected pet. 

Unvaccinated Dogs and dogs that have spent time in a kennel.


The Current available vaccines effectively prevent canine leptospirosis and protect dogs for at least 12 months.

*Annual vaccination is recommended for at-risk dogs. ( Read vaccination concerns below )

Reducing your dog’s exposure to possible sources of the Leptospira bacteria can help to protect them.

*You may like to consider a Titre test before you revaccinate.

Cases are rare in the UK, and it is worth checking with your vet, just how many cases of canine Leptospirosis have been treated, if any, when making your vaccination decision.


Symptoms of leptospirosis vary from very mild or non-existent, to a rapidly progressing fatal disease.


A vet will take into account the dog’s history of exposure, and the signs its exhibiting. Diagnosing canine leptospirosis however, can be difficult, as many of these signs could be related to other diseases.

The vet will carry out a physical examination as well as  x-rays, blood and urine tests and an ultrasound examination.


Leptospirosis in dogs is generally treated with antibiotics and supportive care.

When treated early and aggressively, the chances for recovery are good but there is still a risk of permanent residual kidney or liver damage.


vaccination Concerns – Following media reports of serious adverse events in dogs given the vaccine containing four strains of Leptospira bacteria. The VMD (Veterinary Medicines Directorate) would like to assure both vets and dog ownerswith the following:

“The VMD has received fewer than 2 adverse reactions for L2, and fewer than 7 for L4, for every 10,000 doses sold. This includes every suspected adverse event reported, even cases that were considered unclassifiable or were later found to be unrelated to the vaccine.

The overall incidence of suspected adverse reactions for both L2 and L4 vaccine products is therefore considered to be rare.”

Further Information

Learn more from the vetmed academy

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Core Vaccinations

Non Core Vaccinations