Understanding Leptospirosis

Leptospirosis (lepto) is an infectious disease that can result in serious sickness in both animals and people. It is caused by bacteria that live in water or wet, warm soil. If not treated, it can become life-threatening, causing serious damage to the pet’s liver and kidney. That’s why our team at Lenox Hills Veterinarians in New York is here to help. We provide lepto protection and treatment in the unfortunate event that your animal is infected.



Pets can become infected through direct contact with urine from an animal with leptospirosis. Pets can also be infected through contact with contaminated water or soil containing infected urine. Pets are often infected due to drinking or swimming in contaminated water. Leptospira can penetrate through mucous membranes or enter the body through broken skin due to a cut or scratch. Once inside the animal’s body, the bacteria can multiply in its bloodstream and move into the liver and kidney.


Signs of leptospirosis vary from patient to patient. However, we often see infected pets experiencing:

  • Anorexia
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Acute renal failure
  • Depression
  • Respiratory distress
  • Blood in urine, while uncommon, may still occur

Dogs that have access to lakes, streams, or ponds are more likely to be infected. However, pets can also be exposed to lepto in shelters or other pet care facilities. If you live around wild animals or a body of water, it’s crucial to ensure your pet is properly protected against leptospirosis.

Treatment and Prevention

If your pet is infected, our veterinarians can prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics are effective in treating leptospirosis, with most pets responding quickly once administered. The chances for recovery are very good if treated early and aggressively. However, permanent liver damage or kidney failure can occur, requiring intravenous fluid treatment or other possible therapies.

Vaccinations against leptospirosis can prevent your pet from being infected. Although the vaccine does not provide complete protection, it greatly reduces the possible chances of an infection. We recommend that at-risk dogs receive a vaccination for leptospirosis annually. The best way to prevent your dog from a leptospirosis infection is by reducing its exposure to sources of the bacteria.

Contact Our Animal Hospital for Preventative Care from Our Veterinarians in New York, NY

Although the risk of a dog passing the infection to a human is low, you should follow prevention guidelines to protect yourself and your family if your dog has been diagnosed with lepto. We can ensure you have the necessary information to protect your pet and family. If you are searching for an animal hospital in New York that can help, give us a call here at Lenox Hills Veterinarians to schedule an appointment today. Our veterinarians can run tests to determine if your dog is infected and prescribe the appropriate antibiotics.