Summer in the Midwest is a dog’s paradise. Long warm days, endless hikes and walking trails, and innumerable lakes for swimming. Adventures abound! Veterinary teams might have a different point of view that comes with these glorious sunny days: heat exhaustion, dehydration, ticks, dog bites, and last minute travel certificates often become the makeup for these warm sunny days. Something I’ve seen more commonly in the past two years working summers in an emergency clinic is leptospirosis infections.
Leptospirosis is a disease caused by bacteria that is transmitted through the urine of infected dogs and rodents. Puppies, older dogs, and dogs that may be immunosuppressed are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Although humans can be infected, it’s often dismissed as a cold. In dogs, however, lepto infections can be much more serious, landing dogs that are even suspected of having lepto infection in isolation. The symptoms don’t manifest for weeks after the dog has been exposed, and can cause lethargy, lack of appetite and more seriously, cause kidney failure. Dogs can contract lepto through drinking standing water in puddles or lakes that an infected animal may have urinated in. It is typically diagnosed through urinalysis or blood test. This summer might be particularly risky for a lepto infection since there has been so much precipitation in the Midwest.
It is always important to watch our pets in the water, and after a long day at the lake, a bath for your furry friend can go a long way! Happy swimming!