Do I recommend the Leptospirosis vaccine? Personally, NO! I choose to focus on keeping my dogs healthy by allowing them to be exposed to the great outdoors, eat wholesome foods and forage to build natural immunity. In practice, I routinely discuss the disease with my clients. I want them to completely understand what the signs are and be prepared to seek medical help if they notice the signs. Most of my holistic clients choose not to vaccinate. If infected, I suggest hospital care, a laser treatment to activate ATP in their bodies and inhibit inflammation, and I start them on Detox Blend by Animal Essentials. Please consult with your veterinarian if your pet has symptoms of Leptospirosis. For more information on the disease, please read further.
This vaccine is controversial. There are over 180 serotypes (varieties) of this bacteria. Although eleven serotypes are found in mammals, the vaccine protects only four serotypes. There is some cross protection among the serotypes that are not found in the vaccine, but the protection is only moderate, so the vaccine protects only some of the infected dogs. Some literature suggests titers are high (and thus provide protection) for only a few months after vaccination, while others suggest one year of protection. Here’s a tricky part…a positive titer may mean your dog has an active infection, a previous infection, a recent vaccine or natural immunity. So diagnosing the disease and interpreting titers can be difficult.
This disease has two phases: (Small Animal Internal Medicine, 1998)
Acute phase – Your dog is fine one day, then really sick the next. An infected dog doesn’t want to eat, doesn’t feel like moving, seems depressed, lethargic and has a fever. Then vomiting and diarrhea begin and he will start drinking and urinating more frequently. His abdomen becomes painful, eyes look inflamed, and even bleeding can occur from nose or stools. With appropriate treatment, most infected dogs survive. Veterinarians treat them with IV ampicillin and supportive care. I believe mostly immune-compromised dogs get the acute phase. This phase happens to only a very small percent of the dogs infected; it’s actually quite rare! Death may occur but that is more common if the dog is not treated. Treated dogs rarely die from this disease. The main problem I see is that the signs mimic so many other illnesses that the appropriate diagnosis or treatment be delayed if Lepto is not suspected early enough.
Chronic phase – begins 6-10 days after the acute phase; once the dog’s antibodies kick into high gear and begin to fight the disease. A shift happens, there’s a drop in temperature, your dog is more depressed, breathing becomes labored, and thirst increases even more. The bacteria have moved to the liver and kidneys, and your dog will begin to pass the organism in the urine. Treatments with doxycycline will prevent damage to these organs and stop the shedding of the bacteria in the urine. The dog usually clears the infection and recovers well if treated.
Most dogs that contract Leptospirosis get the illness and clear it without detection. These dogs have strong immune systems and are able to fight it off without treatment. I consider this natural immunity. They may show positive on a titer test because they mounted their own defense and healed from the illness themselves.
Which dogs are most likely to contract Leptospirosis?