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Vaccinations - Leptospirosis

Why should you vaccinate your dog to protect them against Leptospirosis every year?

Leptospirosis can range in severity from mild infections causing no clinical signs to severe infections which cause sudden kidney failure in dogs. When these severe infections occur some dogs may recover after prolonged intensive care in a veterinary hospital while others may not survive or survive with permanent kidney damage.

Leptospirosis can also cause liver damage, uveitis (severe eye inflammation), respiratory disease, vasculitis, and bleeding disorders.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread to humans. This means your family and friends are at risk of catching it too. The human form of the disease is normally known as Weil’s Disease and can be life threatening. It is usually not caught from infected dogs but from exposure to water contaminated from rodents or livestock. This is also the way that your dog would most likely catch the infection.

The vaccines that are available to help protect against leptospirosis do not last as long as the vaccines which protect against viral diseases such as Parvovirus and Distemper. This is because Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection and vaccines against bacteria often do not last as long as those which protect against viruses.

While the vaccines we give for Distemper, Parvovirus and Hepatitis only need to be boostered every three years, studiesInformative image: Leptospirosis dog vaccine rats water Lepto4 show that the vaccines available for Leptospirosis only provide protection for around one year.

There are over 20 different strains of Leptospirosis. The vaccines that we use provide protection against only a small number of these strains, the ones which are reported to be most likely to cause more severe infections in dogs.

Current World Veterinary Association guidelines recommend protecting your pet against leptospirosis yearly in areas where the disease is prevalent. In the UK the British Small Animals Veterinary Association recommends that leptospirosis vaccination should be considered for ALL animals and classes it as a core vaccine. By vaccinating your pet you will also be helping to protect people and everyone else’s pet too because the more animals that are immune to a disease, the more difficult it is for a disease to spread.

At Willow Vets we do recognise that people may be concerned about possibly adverse reactions to vaccines. Serious adverse reactions are very rare but if you have any questions or concerns we would be more than happy to discuss your dog's individual health status and whether vaccination against a particular disease is indicated for them based on their specific benefit/risk.

There have been a number of concerns over the last few months regarding the new Lepto4 vaccine. We have continued to use the Lepto2 vaccine which we have used for a number of years. This will not change until the situation with Lepto4 becomes clearer.  Please always discuss any concerns you may have with your veterinary surgeon.

What vaccinations should your pet have and how often?

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