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Does Your Dog Need A Leptospirosis Vaccine?

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When you take your dog to the vet, chances are, the vet will generally make sure they are up to date on all of their vaccines. There are certain "core" vaccines that every dog should have. Rabies and distemper vaccines fall into this category. Then, there are non-core vaccines, which are vaccines that some dogs benefit from, but other dogs don't really need. One non-core vaccine that your vet may talk to you about is the vaccine for leptospirosis. Here's a look at what the leptospirosis vaccine for dogs is, and how to know whether your dog really needs it.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection. It is colloquially known as lepto. In its acute phase, it causes severe digestive distress including diarrhea, vomiting, and cramping. A dog with lepto will generally have a high fever, and they will often appear stiff, lethargic, and generally miserable. Most dogs refuse to eat, and some even refuse to drink. This is a serious infection, and while some dogs do recover with antibiotic treatments, it is not at all uncommon for dogs to die from lepto.

What dogs need the leptospirosis vaccine?

Dogs who have a substantial risk of being exposed to leptospirosis should be vaccinated for it. Lepto is largely spread by wild animals including foxes, wolves, raccoons, and even skunks. If an infected animal urinates or defecates in or around some water that your dog ends up drinking, then your dog will likely get lepto. Even if your dog does not drink water from puddles or streams, they may get lepto if they walk through contaminated water and later lick their fur.

If your dog will be around wildlife and natural bodies of water, then they are at risk for lepto and should be vaccinated. Therefore, vets generally recommend this vaccine for hunting dogs, those who hike with their owners, and dogs who spend time off-leash in wooded or natural areas.

Are there any risks associated with the lepto vaccine?

No, the lepto vaccine has been around for a long time and is generally safe for dogs. Some dogs do become a little stiff, sore, and tired after their shot. This is normal; it is a sign that their immune system is reacting and building immunity to lepto bacteria.

Now that you know a little more about lepto and the leptospirosis vaccine for dogs, you should be better prepared to discuss this matter with your vet. Reach out to a vet to learn more about pet vaccinations.