Leptospirosis Vaccine for Dogs

In addition to administering regular rabies and distemper vaccinations, your veterinarian may recommend a leptospirosis vaccine for your dog. Although leptospirosis is an uncommon bacterial disease, you may want to vaccinate your dog against it as a preventative measure, especially if you live in an area that has confirmed cases of infection in animals or humans.

Symptoms of the disease in dogs include loss of appetite and decreased physical activity in addition to diarrhea or the presence of blood in the urine.

Symptoms of leptospirosis infection normally become noticeable within one to two weeks of contracting the bacterial infection. If left untreated, this disease can cause your dog’s kidneys to shut down which can lead to death. 

Leptospirosis Risk Factors

Dogs that have access to fresh water sources, like streams or ponds, can contract leptospirosis while drinking water that contains animal urine. Your dog can also face exposure to leptospirosis bacteria when sniffing vegetation that a wild animal has recently urinated on. The bacteria can enter your dog’s body through mucous membranes contained in the nose and mouth or through an open wound.

This bacterial disease is more common in areas that have warm temperatures year round but can be active in any environment that experiences warmer temperatures during the spring, summer or fall months. If you take your dog hiking or camping, the risk of contracting this disease increases due to the abundance of wildlife species inhabiting non-commercialized areas.

Leptospirosis Vaccination Schedule

Dogs receiving leptospirosis vaccinations normally receive a vaccine annually, and your veterinarian can administer this vaccine along with any other vaccinations due during your dog’s annual wellness check-up. However, if your dog has experienced an allergic reaction to vaccinations in the past, your veterinarian may recommend administering the leptospirosis vaccine during a separate appointment to decrease the chances of an adverse side effects occurring. Your veterinarian may recommend that your dog receive a leptospirosis vaccination more than once a year, depending on your region.

Leptospirosis Vaccination Side Effects

Your veterinarian will administer the leptospirosis vaccine as an intramuscular injection, which means that the injection site may remain sensitive to the touch for a few days after the vaccination. Your dog may experience swelling or a desire to itch immediately after the injection, and these side effects can last for two to three days. Severe allergic reactions to the canine leptospirosis vaccine include swelling of the face which can impair your dog’s breathing.

Leptospirosis Vaccination Effectiveness

Although leptospirosis vaccinations for dogs are normally given once a year, the effectiveness of the vaccination may not provide protection for an entire 12 month period. There are approximately 200 varieties of bacteria that can cause leptospirosis infection, and currently canine leptospirosis vaccines only protect dogs against the four most common bacterial carriers. It is still possible for your dog to contract this disease even if regular leptospirosis vaccinations have been administered.