Lepto - The Hidden Danger

Lepto - The Hidden Danger

Leptospirosis is one of those words that people hear about when they take their animals to the Veterinarian, but really what is it, and why are we so adamant about vaccinating against it?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can affect both animals and human. Leptospira bacteria are shed in urine and are found throughout soil and water. It can be transmitted when infected water or soil contacts the mucous membranes of a mammal (mouth, eyes, nose, or wounds). Many times, wildlife such as squirrels, deer, and racoons are the usual carrier animals. Dogs allowed to drink from lakes, rivers, ponds, or puddles can be the ones with the most risk. However, lepto carriers can reside in all locations, so pets living in urban and suburban areas are also at risk. We are most likely to see Leptospirosis in Spring, Summer, or after flooding, which is especially prevalent in Oklahoma this time of year. Lepto can affect dogs, livestock, and humans. It can be universally deadly through multiple species. The primary mode of transmission of leptospirosis from pets to humans is through direct or indirect contact with contaminated animal tissues, organs, or urine.

Infected pets can develop kidney and/or liver failure, lung disease, severe bleeding, and fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen, or legs. Many infected dogs become mildly ill and recover, while others can become seriously or fatally ill. Symptoms will typically appear between 4 to 12 days after exposure. So what should you look for? Signs and symptoms of leptospirosis are:

  • Fever or shivering
  • Soreness, stiffness, or reluctance to move
  • Dehydration and increased thirst
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in frequency or quantity of urination
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin, eyes, or mucous membranes)
  • Evidence of blood in vomit, urine, saliva, or stool
  • Red speckling on gums or other mucous membranes, or on light-colored skin


If leptospirosis is suspected, get your pet to us as soon as you can. We will perform a physical exam and possible blood tests. Dogs that are seriously ill must be hospitalized. Less severe cases of lepto may be treated with antibiotics. Proper care and hygiene are a must since this disease is highly contagious. When diagnosed early and treated aggressively, the chances for recovery are good. Vaccinations are crucial to the prevention of this disease. You can reduce your dog's exposure to sources of Leptospira bacteria by not allowing them to drink from questionable water sources. It is also important to control wildlife in and around your home. Make sure to call us and ask about annual vaccinations for your pets.

Tulsa: 918-492-2674
Broken Arrow: 918-355-5662

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Tulsa Office

Monday

7:30 am - 7:00 pm

Tuesday

7:30 am - 7:00 pm

Wednesday

7:30 am - 6:00 pm

Thursday

7:30 am - 6:00 pm

Friday

7:30 am - 6:00 pm

Saturday

8:00 am - 6:00 pm

Sunday

Closed

Broken Arrow Office

Monday

7:30 am - 6:00 pm

Tuesday

7:30 am - 6:30 pm

Wednesday

7:30 am - 6:00 pm

Thursday

7:30 am - 6:30 pm

Friday

7:30 am - 6:00 pm

Saturday

8:00 am - 1:00 pm

Sunday

Closed

Tulsa Office

Monday
7:30 am - 7:00 pm
Tuesday
7:30 am - 7:00 pm
Wednesday
7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday
7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Friday
7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday
8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Sunday
Closed

Broken Arrow Office

Monday
7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Tuesday
7:30 am - 6:30 pm
Wednesday
7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Thursday
7:30 am - 6:30 pm
Friday
7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday
8:00 am - 1:00 pm
Sunday
Closed