Chris Burns, who runs the dog exercise and training service Dog’s Best Friend with his wife Natasha Hiden-Burns, e-mailed last week to pass along a warning he had gotten from Caldwell-based veterinarian John Fedina (full disclosure: He’s my vet, too). Lepto, as it is known, is a bacterial disease that can be found in most animals, livestock and wildlife, and is transmitted through their urine. A dog can become infected with Lepto by drinking, swimming in or walking through contaminated water. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through a cut in the skin or though mucous membranes around the eyes, nose or mouth.
Lepto can be transmitted from dog to dog and from dog to human. Its flu-like symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weakness, depression, lethargy and jaundice. Left untreated, Lepto can cause serious liver and kidney damage, and sometimes even death. The consensus in the veterinary community now seems to be that your dog should be vaccinated for Lepto as frequently as it is for bordatella.