Travel Pet Health: Leptospirosis

Best Places on Earth – Hidden Risk for Pets






Lots of camping, woods, wildlife, wilderness, and other wise wonderful places can have some hidden risks for your pet as you travel.


  • What is it?
  • How common is Leptospirosis?
  • Who is affected?
  • How do they get it?
  • What are the signs?
  • How is it diagnosed and treated?
  • How do we prevent leptospirosis?
  • Risk of zoonosis
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What is it? Bacteria that is an aquatic spirochete (PIC). Means it needs high moisture, lives in fluids, such as rivers, streams, carried and passed in the urine.

Don’t have to be with an animal carrying lepto, just where thye have urinated, in moist soil, etc.

How common? Uncommon in areas with high rates of vaccination, but typically traveling where there may not be a lot of vaccine (wildlife)

Who is affected? Mostly carried by rodents and other small wildlife, dogs, people, and most mammalian species. Cats do not get a clinical disease with lepto.

How do they get it? Usually through ingestion of rodenta contaminated garbage, or urine contaminated substances. Can go through damaged skin, exposure to contaminated water source (swimming, drinking).

What are the signs? Affects the kidneys and/or liver. Vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, changes in urination, fever, bleeding.

How is it diagnosed and treated? Bloodwork, urinalysis, urine PCR, titers. Antibiotics, usually need to be hospitalized d to organ failure.

Prevention – vaccine. The only one recommended is the four strain vaccine, not the two strain. Discussion about vaccine, bacterial vaccine. To vaccinate vs not vaccinate, vaccine processing has changed to make less reactive.

Risk of zoonosis.