In 2017 South Davis Veterinary Center diagnosed more cases of bacterial Leptospirosis than Parvovirus. Worldwide, Leptospirosis sickens many mammals including people. It is easily transmitted via contact with infected water or mud. An infected animal, usually a rodent or raccoon here in Davis, will pass the bacteria in urine. The contagious leptospires persist in water or mud and enter the body through open wounds, ingestion or contact with mucus membranes.

Because leptospires live for an extended period of time in a moist environment, Northern California veterinarians diagnose more cases in the winter and spring. September and October are optimal months for vaccination against leptospirosis as this is just prior to our most rainy time of the year. Our local creeks, greenbelts and even your suburban yard are places where wildlife and rodents urinate and shed the bacteria that is transmissible to your dog.

Once the bacteria enter the body, they travel through the bloodstream to the kidney and liver potentially causing significant damage. Signs of disease include fever, lethargy, pain, appetite loss, vomiting, kidney failure, and jaundice. Dogs with mild disease are very difficult to diagnose while others develop severe symptoms and succumb to their infection. If identified early, the disease is treated successfully with antibiotics. Dogs with kidney failure require hospitalization at a referral center and sometimes dialysis in order to cure the illness.

We are lucky to have the infectious disease specialists at the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital advising us about this disease and its transmission locally. They recommend Leptospirosis, Rabies and DHPP vaccinations for all dogs in Davis (“core” vaccines). We recommend that you take a moment to check your dog’s vaccination status. If he or she has never been vaccinated, now is a great time to start the series of two injections. If your pet has been vaccinated previously but has lapsed, then we administer a single booster.