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The Problem with the Leptospirosis Vaccine

by: Patricia Jordan DVM

March/April 2010 Issue

Over the years I have attended numerous lectures on vaccines, detailing the most current information from leading immunologists such as Dr. Ronald Schultz and experts  on infectious disease such as Dr. Richard Ford.  It is surprising to many that these researchers do not include Leptospirosis as a recommended vaccine. In fact, Dr. Schultz resides  in a Leptospira  endemic area of the country and not only does he not recommend the vaccine for others, he does not vaccinate his own dogs for Leptospirosis.

Within 14 days of receiving the Leptospirosis vaccine, this dog developed multiple tumors at all lymphatic drainage points on his body. The disappearance of muscle mass and connective tissue in his rear legs took only 10 days post vaccination to evolve. This dog was euthanized 14 days after vaccination as he devel- oped numerous generalized mast cell tumors.

Intrigued with the concept of foregoing Leptospirosis vaccination, I began to focus on how best to create a prevention program for our veterinary clinic. I began with the CDC website on the disease of leptospirosis as it stands here in the United States. The most current CDC fact sheet reveals that leptospirosis in humans  is not a reportable disease in the United States. The few cases that do occur are mostly traced to Hawaii which is not part of the continental United States. The disease does occur more in tropical climates and is reported to have a human fatality rate worldwide of between 1% and 5%. With most of the cases in the US occurring in Hawaii or in travelers returning from tropical destinations, I began to put the exposure of leptospirosis in the US into proper perspective.

Shortly afterward, I travelled  to Massachusetts for a lecture promoting leptospirosis vaccination for dogs.  While there, I requested the epidemiological information on leptospirosis in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and found that Massachusetts had never had a single case of leptospirosis reported in humans since they began reporting leptospirosis.    There were no confirmed documented reports of leptospirosis in dogs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

I then decided to focus on the areas of the world which are trouble spots of leptospira  exposure, notably Okinawa, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala and Borneo.  Most of the areas that suffer from this disease in a natural  setting have a number of common environmental parameters. One is standing  water or flooding, including post hurricane flooding and tropical areas of increased water fall. In fact, US military personnel have seen infections with leptospira  when at duty in stations in such locations. Another factor associated with increased leptospirosis exposure is the presence of rat infestations. Such infestations can be commonly found in areas such as the slums of Brazil, the crowded alleys of the NY Bronx, and the rat infested prisons  of Malaysia. Not surprisingly, Chinese sewer workers are frequently exposed to leptospirosis.

Exposure to leptospirosis is also of greater threat in the autumn. Back here in the United States, leptospirosis may infect ponds and smaller lakes:  hunters and swimmers who use these selected reservoirs may be exposed to pathogenic serovars of leptospira. People who work with animals, such as butchers and slaughterhouse workers, veterinarians and farmers  are also at increased risk. Interestingly, a dairy maid in the UK lost a pregnancy  at 23 weeks due to the first known case of human intrauterine exposure to leptospirosis.    A newly reported reservoir of leptospira  in bats is also a matter of study .California sea lions and harbor seals have been found to carry leptospira  and Japan has found leptospira  in flying squirrels imported from the United States as pets from Texas.

In the United States, it is clear that exposure to a pathogenic serovar  of this organism  is not a considerable risk for the typical dog, especially as the risk of exposure is clearly defined and easily avoidable.  Despite this, leptospirosis has been labeled as the most rapidly growing zoonosis in the world.

With the exception of a few weak references of sewer workers and agricultural workers in Asia, people who are at a higher risk for leptospira  infection are simply not vaccinated against leptospirosis.  The reasons are:

1.       the disease is treatable

2.       the vaccine is ineffective

3.       the vaccine is associated with adverse events


Leptospirosis is often easily treated. Doxycycline is the antibiotic of choice and has the ability, even in renal compromise, to effectively rid the urinary  tract of leptospira infection. Doxycycline can be safely administered to dogs with renal insufficiency and will clear the organism  from the kidneys, making it effective in both the infection of the blood and urine

This dog presented 24 hours after Leptospirosis vaccination. Note the poster in the background.

Last year, the predictable season of post hurricane flooding and leptospira  exposure  in Cuba was readily handled with the use of homeopathy. The success of this public health program is well documented with over 2.4 million people in Cuba administered two doses of homeoprophylaxis in 2007 by the Ministry of Health in Cuba. The doses of leptospira nosode had been prepared at the Finlay Institute, a center dedicated to development and production of vaccines.

Finlay Institute is a WHO qualified facility dedicated to research, production and development and produces high quality homeopathic products in addition to vaccines. Understanding that there are much safer ways to address exposure to Leptospira  in the example of a chemoprophylaxis is important to note when the record of adverse events from leptospira  vaccines are discussed.


There are over 230 serovars of leptospirosis,  only a few which are pathogenic. Leptospirosis vaccines are serovar specific and several factors are impacted  by this information. Any vaccine administered for specific serovars will only create agglutinating antibody to those specific serovars.

What is important to note is that once vaccinated, the patient’s serum can no longer be a useful record for diagnostic tests.  The reason  is the serum antibody titer from the vaccine cannot be distinguished from antibody caused by natural infection.  This leads to interpretation problems when trying to diagnose the presence of infection or disease.

Multivalent vaccines lead to test results of antibody generation against serovars that were not even included in the vaccine to begin with.  This leads to problems using the MAT titer test to determine which serovar  is the serovar  of infectivity, if any.    Due to molecular mimicry with antigens, the unsettling factor for disease presence is complicated by cross reactivity of the antigens  with many different disease organisms  such as Syphilis, Lyme, Legionaries, HIV and autoimmune disease. Put simply, this means that it is difficult to distinguish  between antibodies within this range of diseases. Testing for leptospirosis is currently performed with the PCR DNA test for the actual organism retrieved from either blood or urine.  Oregon State Veterinary Diagnostic laboratory and IDEXX now both advertise this PCR testing on the DNA of the actual organism.

Picture 1: The Leptospirosis vaccine reactions seen here include gooey otitis and tumors in the inguinal and anal areas: all of those areas are sites of increased immune cell depositions. The Islets of Langerhans are concentrated in these areas, around the eyes and above all four feet and the pancreas which is why so many vacci- nated dogs and cats suffer from pancreatitis. The fight occurs in this part of the immune system as they drain via the lymphatic system toward the kidney and many animals suffer kidney disease as the hallmark of serum sickness or vaccinosis. This case was particularly dramatic in that the dog literally disappeared, losing muscle and weight rapidly within 10 days. (see Picture 2)

Another major problem  with the test is that any treatment prior to obtaining test samples will skew the test results: even one dose of antibiotics  is able to turn a positive case to negative on the PCR test. Treatment of any sort will also render a test taken at a later date as negative.


Vaccination with leptospira  is fraught with problems.  Of major concern is the fact that leptospira  vaccines do not protect  the dog from infection with leptospira  or of renal colonization. Leptospira  vaccines have little effect on the maintenance and transmission of the disease in the animal populations in which they are applied.   The ineffectiveness of the vaccine is due in part to the many leptospirosis serovars and variability of pathogenic  strains which are not addressed with vaccines.

Alarmingly, leptospira  can become a source of infection for the humans in contact with any dog vaccinated for leptospirosis. There are several cases of which I am personally aware where  I could say beyond any doubt that a leptospira vaccine administered to the dog was the cause of subclinical infection and therefore transmitted to  a human. Leptospira  can and will shed in a vaccinated dog and in turn, infect any humans living in the same household!

Leptospira  vaccines and the overuse of vaccines in our dogs is a direct obstacle to public health.  There is a reported case of a duck hunter contracting a case of leptospirosis in California:  the resulting  epidemiological field study undertaken by the state resulted in an inability to recover any leptospira from the bodies of water he frequented. The question that needs to be answered is whether the man became infected through  transmission of the leptospira  from his vaccinated dog.

There is great cost associated with monitoring the environment to continue to assess the extent of any purported leptospirosis serovars causing disease in a given population.

To date there are no such programs in existence because the scarcity of the disease economically does not make leptospira  a “priority” disease.  Note that this also means there is currently no need for human vaccination epidemiological investigation.

The crux of the problem is, veterinary doctors do not typically know that the leptospirosis vaccine does not confer immunity. Challenge studies are rarely done and most studies are ineffective in measuring immunity in vivo. Production of leptospira  vaccines is expensive and labor intensive for the drug companies  and the vaccines are already on the market:  why would they spend precious monies on further testing?

Further confusing the dog owner, most information available from self proclaimed  “dog experts” on the internet is false. The marketing misinformation that recommends this vaccine is everywhere. Unfortunately, this includes most of the advice found in veterinary run websites  on the internet as well as that found in veterinary office brochures. I found one very fair column on the subject of leptospirosis written by a retired veterinarian in Oklahoma and a great article that actually listed the contraindications for the leptospira vaccines in dogs by a veterinarian in Bali: an island with a serious leptospirosis problem.  Why is this information not better understood?  The truth  is that too many veterinarians  are painfully inept at discussing leptospirosis because the bulk of their information comes from the very drug companies  that stand to profit or at least recoup the many monies this troubled vaccine has cost their corporations.

Picture 2

Of serious concern is that veterinarians are actively marketing for the drug companies. I have seen misinformation published  not only in the local newspapers but also on the worldwide web.  A Reidsville, NC veterinary facility which promoted the leptospira  vaccine in partnership with Pfizeris just one example. The advice of our professional medical experts is seriously compromised and devalued when they do not perform  due diligence before advocating this marketing material. Where is truth  in advertising?


There are many other important issues to consider when discussing the safety of vaccination in general. There is now a plethora of research implicating vaccines in the creation of immunopathology. The immune response to the chemical soup delivered  through  vaccines results in autoantibody production. Microbial antigens can also elicit autoantibody production. Indeed vaccines are now found to be responsible for autoantibody production, autoimmune disease, and cancer!

The immunogenetics of autoantibody and autoimmune diseases are under genetic control; however the vaccine itself elicits genetic response in its wake.  Vaccination leads to mutations of the genome:  autoimmune disease in one generation will create genetic disease in the next. Thus, vaccines generate a genetic impact that not only determines  the severity of the immune response in natural infections but also dictate the expression of autoimmune disease with repeated exposure to antigens with subsequent vaccine administration. The histocompatibility markers on the tissues are also reactive to the vaccine.  The genetic compromise that occurs to the genome has never been researched by the vaccine manufacturers that produce vaccines.  This should be a requirement for vaccine safety and efficacy claims but has never been determined by govern- ment regulatory agencies that license and approve  these products for the unsuspecting population.

Research shows that the histocompatibility sites of human and animal tissues are reacting with vaccine antigens  which in turn are responsible for a plethora of adverse and potentially lethal disease pathology. In fact, there are documented  examples of the antigen for both leptospira  and Lyme disease vaccines producing the same pathology as the natural infection itself.  Simply stated, these vaccines can cause the very disease that we are attempting to vacci- nate against. In some cases, viral vaccines can even result in the viral disease itself.

This is summarized in Judith A. DeCava’s book ‘Vaccination Examining the Record’  She states “a person not vaccinated has ONE RISK, catching the disease, where a vaccinated person has TWO RISKS; catching the disease and damage from the vaccine”.

The exaggerated reactivity to vaccines is easily seen in the spectrum of adverse events and diseases which commonly follow vaccine administration. Anaphylaxis, anorexia, fever, dehydration, autoimmune disease, digestive issues, limping, loud vocalization following vaccination, acute organ failure, renal failure, liver failure, pancreatitis, death, dermatitis, puritis, cancer, degeneration of soft tissue:  all of these have been reported following administration of the leptospira vaccine.

In dogs that present with leptospriosis, the severity may be associated with vaccine history and less likely, previous natural exposure  which can create an exaggerated humoral immune response.  Every single vaccination will impact the genetic environment by overly sensitizing the T cells and immune complex against the leptospirosis antigen, making future vaccination for leptospirosis and even natural exposure of grave danger due to the creation of this “super antigen”.  Vaccinations prime the immune system for over-reaction  which leads to dangerous cytokine cascade and tremendous  immunopathology.

In the rare case of exposure to leptospirosis, this “super antigen” reaction  has the potential for lethal consequences from renal failure.  The same danger exists with each and every vaccination and the likelihood and severity of reaction  increases exponentially with every shot given (which in the case of leptospirosis, may be twice a year).  In fact, some dogs who are vaccinated with leptospirosis die of renal failure within 48 hours:  the same type of pathology that the actual disease could create.  Dr. Ronald Schultz recognizes this risk and advises that you better be sure of the reason you are injecting because any time you inject, you could kill the patient.

It appears that microbiologist Antoine Bechamp was correct about disease and the theory of “terrain”.  Terrain theory states that it is the individual’s system that determines disease and the individual response to antigen within the patient’s immune cells. Multiple administrations of vaccines over sensitize the patient  to a real crisis, and when antigen and immune cells collide, disease results.

Pfizer sponsored ”scientific” papers  on leptospira  are sponsored with educational grants in order to produce  recommendations for vaccination of the dog without  proof that the vaccine is safe or effective. They use words like “likely” and “appears’ to expotentialize the nonexistent benefit of vaccination. They are reaching in their efforts to provide a reason  for vaccine use. They say these vaccines “appear” to be effective. They write off any adverse events from the vaccines stating “published data to validate these concerns are lacking because there is no independent mechanism to report vaccine reactions in the US”. The drug companies and the veterinarians can all hide behind this statement and adverse reactions to vaccines continue to go unreported.

When I pressed for the proof from Merial that their leptospira vaccines did indeed provide an entire year of “immunity” they finally sent me an article that did not even test their vaccines. The company forwarded work from Intervet in the Netherlands. Intervet is the source of much conflict in the UK for mounting yearly marketing campaigns in order to advocate yearly vaccinations  of pets, despite the fact this is not a recommendation from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association or our AVMA or AAHA, or in Australia. The paper that was supposed to prove the worthiness of the leptospira  vaccines failed to properly test vaccinates in a method that would prove immunity.  Merial vaccines were not even used in their study, performed by the Dept. of Bacteriological R & D for Intervet International BV in the Netherlands.  A Shot in the Dark accuses drug companies  of conspiring to format a market  for their product with only anecdotal  evidence of the existence of any leptospirosis problems.

Vaccine induced vasculitis

Drug companies  create a market  for their product even though the risk for the disease is practically nonexistent and the vaccine is highly dangerous for animals. Human medicine is not exempt from this travesty with the Glaxo Smith Kline Hepatitis B vaccine, the Merck Gardasil vaccine, the Bird Flu and the Swine flu vaccines all resulting  in calls for investigation and criminal charges to be brought  against the WHO.   WHO Vaccine Advisor, Juhane Eskola made over 6 million Euros researching vaccines for the recent swine flu “pandemic”. Similarly, the CDC Childhood Vaccine Advisor, Dr. Paul Offit made so much money with Merck making a rotavirus vaccine that he said “it was like winning the lottery”. US courts ordered the recall of the Lymerix vaccine based on adverse  events and subsequently stated that federal employees  should never be allowed to consult in areas where they set federal policy. In veterinary medi- cine, many researchers are paid employees of the pharmaceutical companies. Despite being on faculties of our leading veterinary institutions, many have their research grants supplied to them from the pharmaceutical industry.   Vaccine adverse  events will remain anecdotal  so long as government and industry continue to protect vaccine use. Vaccine safety and efficacy continue to be determined by those who stand to profit from their sale and use.

In light of this, the vaccine manufacturers continue their marketing efforts for ‘better’ and ‘safer’ vaccines.   Pfizer provides  ‘immunization support guarantees” and this says, ‘buy ours, it is the best”. They temper this with talk about “serovar shifts” and the fact that “diagnostic assays are wrought with problems” and they cannot explain how high MAT titers are obtained against serovars not contained in the vaccines and that the vaccine itself can produce  disease in dogs. Indeed, there are many ways to beat their‘immunization guarantee”.

Cornell states they have a more effective leptospira  vaccine and they warn that the aluminum adjuvant used for five decades is now known to be ‘unreliable’. Aluminum is contained in all the leptospira vaccines even now; despite  the fact that it causes cancer.  Cornell states aluminum “destroys the antigen’s structure” and “degrades amino acid sequence “.  This is apparently the case as the WHO in 1999 declared  these adjuvants (which are found in children’s vaccines), as “carcinogenic” in the IARC.

Cornell wants to take a whack at putting yet another Leptospira vaccine out there. Cornell’s Baker Institute of Animal Vaccines will make yet another type of vaccine and this one will be better.  This one is made with genetically engineered bacteria genes from E. coli and this one will be safer:  try this one.

Despite the vast amount of money spent of vaccine research, there is still no proof that vaccines create immunity. Vaccines are however, proven to create generations of immune reaction diseases that now plague highly vaccinated populations. As my colleague Dr. Stephen Blake has said over and over, ”never before in the history of man has there ever been a greater medical assumption more responsible for the death and disease than the use of vaccines as we know them today”.

In summary, know the risks for natural leptospirosis infection and seek immediate treatment if your dog becomes ill. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms  of leptospirosis and save your dog from the risk of vaccine induced renal failure or years of dermatitis and puritis. Antibiotic treatment is quickly effective for Leptospirosis, as is the  use of homeopathy.

You must realize however that the germ is not the problem: the individual’s immune system is the determinant.  Optimal nutrition is the key to immune health and prior genetic damage from vaccines is also of consequence.   In regard  to the leptospira vaccine, the new genetically engineered products will not be proven any safer than earlier products. They will unleash this vaccine without really knowing if the vaccine is safe or effective, just as they have for all the vaccines that have come before.

Intervet Schering Plough is revving up for their annual vaccine marketing campaign in the UK, promoting their vaccines on the questionable need for the vaccine in the first place. The only protection from this marketing mania is to know the lack of science behind both the manufacturing and administration of these vaccines:.  Although drug companies are responsible for vaccine safety, they are not held accountable and there will be no recourse against these marketing giants if your pet becomes ill: a practice which Dr. Ron Schultz calls indefensible.

For full references, please go to www.dr-jordan.com


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46 Responses to SMOKE AND MIRRORS

  1. Anthony Matthews

    I am a practicing Vetetinarian. I have only had two dogs that were properly vaccinate contract parvo. Both survived. I have see numerous unvaccinated dogs die from parvo despite excellent treatment. I was a child when we had the first parvo outbreaks and I watched my dad ( who is also a Vet)try to treat the pets that contracted the virus. Most of these cases died quickly so no one could ever convince me that parvo vaccine poses a threat to your pet compared to the disease itself.

  2. Nova

    I went to the vet today to get my dogs rabies and parvo vaccine. The vet told me that the parvo vaccine was administered with a couple other ones that protect my dog, so I agreed. When I got home I looked over the papers they gave me and looked up what my dog was given because I was under the impression that it was just for parvo, bortedella and distemper. The papers said canine DHL/P vaccine, I didn’t know what the “H” or “L” stood for and to my horror one of them is Leptosperosis. This is the first time she has ever been given this shot, it was given to her mixed with three other vaccines. I’m so afraid now, I feel like such an idiot for allowing the vet to give it to her without doing research first. I’m actually tearing up now out of fear. My dog is my world, she’s my best friend, I love her like she’s my child. I’m beyond worried now about this vaccine. My question is will this one time have the effects on her that is has had in the past on other dogs?

    • The rabies vaccine should never be given with other vaccines, even just one. Unfortunately, rabies and lepto are the two most harmful vaccines and giving them together is not a good idea at all! Will it affect her? Yes, most definitely. How much and when? That’s anybody’s guess. You just have to cross your fingers and wait and see. If you see anything different in your dog, consult with a good homeopathic vet ASAP to treat those changes and that will definitely help. Vaccination is like playing roulette – you may be just fine and or may not be. There’s no telling and the more vaccines given at one time, the greater the potential for trouble. Best of luck – hopefully your dog is one of the lucky ones and doesn’t show overt symptoms.

  3. Rhonda

    I live in Washington Pa and in November of 2012 my 7 year old Golden Retriever had the Lepto vaccine with the rabies vaccine and died suddenly within 48 hours. My vet assuredly it was not from the vaccinations but, my instinct is telling me differently. My dog was very healthy and we are still devastated
    over her death.

  4. KL

    As someone who had a 3 month old puppy die of lepto after over a week in vet intensive care, I’ll add another data point that it’s not “easily treated”. That alone make it hard to take any advice this article gives. It occurred in the midwest, in the winter, in a suburban neighborhood, on a “natural” diet (commercial dog food).

  5. Patsy

    Your article states “There were no confirmed documented reports of Leptospirosis in dogs for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.” My dog tested positive and was treated for leptospirosis. We live in Massachusetts. There’s even a flyer from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health dated 2004 for people whose dogs have tested positive for leptospirosis. While it sounds as if there could indeed be a problem with the leptospirosis vaccine, your data regarding the disease appears to be intentionally biased/flawed.

  6. Denise Bishop

    I recently had my 2 1/2 yr. old Akita vaccinated w/ the lepto vaccine. Within a hr. of bringing him home he was acting very lethargic and uniterested in doing anything but laying down. He has NEVER acted this way. While being told that this reaction to vaccines is “Normal”; I do not believe it was a good sign and was NEVER warned by my vet that this could be expected. I honestly tho’ my dog was dying. I called to ask what I should do;bring him there or take him to the Emergency animal hospital, I was simply told to give him 2 benedryl tablets @ 25mg ea. This seemed odd,believing that this would make him go to sleep & I would be unable to notice if he was sick.I called another vet for a 2nd opinion before giving him the 2 benedryl – she agreed this was the correct advice. I gave him the benedryl reluctantly. He did lay down & went to sleep, but I continued to check on him throughout the evening.About 24 hrs. passed before he regained any of his normal dog traits.I am supposed to take him in the morning for his “booster”lepto shot. After reading all the articles & blogs on this web-site, I have come to the conclusion that my dog is not at a high risk for leptospirosis and do not wish to take the chance of an anaphylaxic reaction to a vaccine that does not protect against all strains of lepto.The very vaccine intended to prevent harm could very easily cause harm. Thank You !

    • You are certainly welcome!

      • Shelly Bankston

        My 7 yr old deaf dalmation received a (2or3rd)dose of leptospira vaccine on the state of Louisiana. After the first dose she developed butt infection and tail infections. No vet put the two and two together and gave her yet another leptospira vaccine. She is a house dog although in a highly endemic area. She did not need the vaccine. With 12 hrs she was limp. Within 3 days she could not walk. She was put on steroids and antibiotics and died 7 please cweeks later. Trying valiantly to stay alive. 2252640390

    • L

      Lethargy is an extremely common, non-serious response to many vaccines. Hence why you are encouraged not to drive, take vigorous exercise, etc after many vaccines that YOU would receive. Your dog was fine, I don’t see how this proves in any way that getting your dog vaccinated is dangerous.

  7. CD

    As I lost my beloved puppy to lepto (and then suffered through it myself), and after many many hours of discussion with many vets, I feel obliged to reiterate that while there is or may be a risk, considerable or not, to most, if not all vaccines, one must very seriously consider the risk -vs- benefit.

    While I cannot speak for the rest of the country, in Manhattan I took my pup to four vets over the course of five days before receiving a correct diagnosis. With the same bloodwork, three of them insisted that she would be fine in a day or so, and only treated the symptoms. The fourth guessed correctly, but by then it was too late.

    Even when I showed symptoms and my doctor urged me to go to an urgent care clinic, the MD I initially saw had no idea what I was talking about; I had to bully him into getting a more experienced physician to see me.

    While I do agree that, in general, our dogs and cats (and even people) are over vaccinated, if the illness is uncommon enough that one of the vets and the first physician that I saw were completely unwilling to even consider the possibility that it was lepto, vaccination may be a better option ( statistically) for those in high risk areas.

    • If the disease is relatively uncommon, the vaccine is not really effective compared to other vaccines, and the risk of adverse events from the vaccine are very high, are you sure that vaccinating in this case is a good idea?
      I know you and your dog suffered but not everything in life is preventable and, in the case of lepto, the vaccine is not all that effective and is one of the more dangerous vaccines.

  8. D.W.

    The comment about unvaccinated parvo puppies responding better to treatment is so far off base and misleading that I feel like it warrants comment. The amount of puppies that NEVER contract parvo in the first place due to the fact that they are vaccinated by far and away outweighs any “significant” (and I use the word significant as loosely as possible in this instance, because the plural of anecdote is not data. At least not last time I tried to get any of my anecdotes published in a scientific journal) difference in treatment outcomes. Like was previously addressed earlier, often dogs that do not respond to vaccination have an underlying immunodeficiency, hence the fact that when they do contract a serious disease, they do not respond to treatment as well. I just stumbled onto this site by chance, but this article really worries me. Lots of bad info being disguised as science solely because the author is a veterinarian.

    Also, the comment about Lepto being easily treatable is just plain distortion of the truth. Yes, some cases respond well to doxy and the dog goes home perfectly normal. But some dogs have irreversible renal damage by the time we get them. In those cases, it makes absolutely no difference how “easy treatable” the actual bacterium is, the damage is done and most dogs will die from acute renal failure.

    I’m sure that your heart is in the right place Dr. Jordan, but I think an unbiased article that clearly states all the risks and benefits of vaccination would do the public a much greater service.

    • Hi DW
      Three quick responses.
      1. We have statistical data to back up our claim that unvaccinated puppies respond better to parvo treatment. See our Parvo article series for more information.
      2. Many puppies do not respond to vaccination until 12 to 16 weeks of age and you and I both know that is well recorded. Vets however insist on vaccinating them before that age and vaccines, especially the adenovirus component cause immunosuppression in puppies. Also well documented and you may email me or Dr. Jean Dodds for more information on this.
      3. You may contact Dr. Jordan for references as this original article was fully referenced.

  9. Victoria

    Lepto is NOT easily treatable! I lost my 2 yr old GSD to Lepto!!!! He had never been vaccinated (wish he had!!!) He spent about a week in the ER and never made it back home….. :-( All of my other dogs have now been vaccinate with the Merial Lepto vaccine and have NEVER had a vaccine reaction!

  10. Susan

    Hi, I live in Seattle and we have lots of raccoons and rats in the neighborhood. I see the raccoons all the time and our cats are constantly catching and killing rats. My next door neighbor’s two Papillions became very ill last year and one almost died. It turned out that they had lepto. My neighbor was very distraught that she had never been told about the vaccine. Luckily, her two Papillions survived but it ended up costing her thousands of dollars. We are getting a Pomeranian puppy and I am very worried about her being exposed to lepto. So I am wondering, which is worse? The vaccine or the disease? Thanks.

    • Dogs Naturally

      This is my two cents only. If you don’t vaccinate, you only have to worry about the risk of lepto. If you do vaccinate, you have to worry about vaccine damage and still getting lepto.

  11. I live in Oregon and hardly anyone vaccinates regularly for lepto. We had a large sea lion die off in some coastal areas in 2010 from lepto from serotypes that are in the vaccine. Since my mom lives in that area, I had the dog who regularly swam and splashed there with my mom’s dog vaccinated but didn’t bother with the other one. The one I vaccinated had a small localized reaction but was fine after some benedryl. I’ve never heard a recommendation here (and I’ve had 4 different vets) to vaccinate except very selectively for lepto. It always surprises me when I talk to friends from other parts of the country where there isn’t even much risk and everyone seems to use it as a matter of course. However, as several people have noted, the symptoms of lepto can be hard to catch in a timely manner in dogs. I think the vaccine is useful, but often overused.

  12. Erica

    You really should consider including citations in these articles. They would be so much more useful with the proper backup. I did email Dr. Jordan, but it would be nice to have them here.


    Where are all the references to the peculiar statements made all through your magazine article?

    • Dogs Naturally

      Please email Dr. Jordan directly and she will provide all of the references you require. We did not include the references in the article.

  14. RP

    I agree the odds are that in many areas of North America your pet will not likely get leptospirosis or heartworm (or at least not show clinical signs of heartworm with small worm burdens) BUT as a veterinarian in a multi vet practice I see those dogs who get heartworm and lepto, both of which are difficult to treat. As long as you are willing to accept the risk that your dog may be one of the unlucky ones that is your decision, just do not compain to your vet when your pet is extremely ill, or the costs are high for treatment for a disease that is often preventable.

  15. hello
    thanks for you amazing website and all the infos
    I refer it to all my clients ans friends.
    Ive been living in the woods for 9 years now ans I never treated my dogs for lepto, or heart warm.

  16. Misty

    We just made an emergency trip into the vet this morning. My dog got the Canine Spectra 7 vacc. Yesterday. Today she woke with hives and terriably itchy.I took her straight in to the vet, who gave her a shot, and said he thought she was having a reaction to the “Lepto” in the vaccine. I am terrified she may not make it thru this and that my family is going to now get sick with Lepto.
    any one have any advice or knowledge to share?

    • Dogs Naturally

      Yes, find a classically trained homeopath to treat both your dog and your family. Please read how effective the lepto nosode can be: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/homeopathy-and-lepto/
      The vaccine will cause not only symptoms visible on the skin, but internal damage as well. A good homeopath can help to limit the damage.
      Please let us know how your dog is doing. We wish her a fast and full recovery.

  17. Dan Roveto

    I took my puppy in today and the vet recommended the Lepto vaccine. I live in Massachusetts and the vet said he saw two dogs lost to lepto last year which is why he started recommending it. Do you have any link to the information that says there have been no cases of lepto in dogs in Massachusetts? Just looking to verify some information. I still don’t imagine I’ll go with this vaccine as I just don’t think his risk factor is high in that he’ll be a show dog and not see time in the woods and around standing water.

    • Dogs Naturally

      There is a huge study being done, looking at the success that homeopathy had in place of vaccination for lepto outbreaks in people. In Cuba, the flood seasons cause a lot of human cases of lepto and the country did not have the ability to mount a widespread vaccination program – in place of this, they gave homeopathic nosodes to the people and the results were better than in vaccinated populations – plus there is no risk of adverse events with homeopathy, unlike vaccines. If you were worried about Lepto, I would consult with a homeopathic vet.
      More information: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/homeopathy-and-lepto/
      You might also find this article useful: http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/leptospirosis-vaccine/
      Lepto is around us, as are many other diseases. There is no getting around that. Having said that, the lepto vaccine is frought with dangers and adverse reactions and personally I would rather risk lepto than the vaccine.

    • Lola

      I had a champion show dog contract it at a show from walking over and sniffing thru wet grass that had been urinated on by an infected animal; no standing water was involved. We then had issues with our vet misdiagnosing her which led to kidney damage. She passed away 15 months later from renal failure.

      Given that a lot of dog shows are held at fairgrounds, the dogs face additional opportunity for exposure since both cows and pigs can carry it. In our case, the county fair had wrapped up the previous weekend, but also had a resident raccoon population due to the rural surroundings.

  18. Roberta Jamieson

    I want to say one thing: the microbe is NOTHING, the TERRAIN is EVERYTHING. We seem to forget that a properly functioning immune system, (well nourished and under reasonable stress), will work to keep the body free of dis-ease. Vaccines do nothing except set the body up for other dis-ease, most especially chronic illnesses. We KNOW that vaccine administration causes free circulating auto-immune antibodies. I would not trade chronic dis-ease for acute dis-ease. I have seen the damage that vaccines do, and i have dealt with the acute disease. I would take the acute ANY day v.s. the chronic debilitation caused by vaccines. This chronic dis-ease is also epigenetic and takes a minimum of 3 CLEAN N.R. generations to reverse. So yes, give me acute ANY day. We have great natural herd immunity here and our puppies DO get parvo….for less than 24 hours and generally they need no interventions because they continue to drink water and their symptom picture is that of a mild flu. I have not lost any puppies since our survivor bitches have been used in our breeding programs. Pups that have come here from other breeders who already vaccinated them, have died when they contracted parvo. It’s a pretty clear picture here. We live around plenty of water, we have waterfowl and our own birds, lots of wildlife, and our dogs are out in the fields and ponds all the time. We have never had a case of lepto and have not vaccinated since 1994. If one of my dogs got Lepto, you can be sure that I would be looking closely at that dog’s immune system function and addressing it fully.

  19. Wendy

    I read part of this article and just stopped reading…especially when I got to the part where it said Lepto in dogs was easily treatable. Dogs with lepto are not “easily” treated with Doxycycline. Lepto is a serious disease that commonly leads to death secondary to renal failure. I also want to point out that human diseases are reported to the CDC more than any pet related diseases. Many are not reported at all. If I see a dog that is confirmed to have lepto and it dies in a pet ER, I have not heard of any requirement that veterinarians report it to the CDC. Maybe some of the laboratory companies do this? Some of our cases are not confirmed by laboratories, and they die with only the suspicion of lepto. You must also remember that many owners are unable to pursue extensive and expensive tests on their pets. So, many times we do not make it this far.

    I think animals, like humans, are subject to the same effects of vaccinations…sometimes harm is done. But, you hope as a whole that we benefit from preventing these diseases that can kill us and our pets. I know it is a hard decision – no one wants a human or animal to suffer ill effects from any vaccine. But, on the other hand – what if these diseases were widespread because no one vaccinated? Unfortunately Lepto is a very deadly disease, and vaccination can help prevent it, but there is always a risk with any vaccine. Do your own research and make a decision that best suits you.

    Dr. Ellis

    • Dogs Naturally

      Thank you for your input Dr. Ellis. It is our opinion and experience that dogs who are not subjected to vaccination are much more easily treated because their immune systems have not been reversed to humoral bias through vaccination. This has certainly been shown with Parvovirus, with unvaccinated puppies having a much higher survival rate than vaccinated puppies.
      It is also important to consider that there are many cases of renal failure from the Lepto vaccine, one of which is reported on our site.
      We absolutely agree that everyone has to make their own vaccine decisions because there is risk associated with both approaches. What it boils down to is what risk pet owners are willing to live with.

      • RP

        “unvaccinated puppies having a much higher survival rate than vaccinated puppies”. I would like to seee that from a reputable study not just the antedotal remarks that fill your discussion. Does it account as well for all the puppies that are protected from vaccination. Could it be the fatalities of vaccinated puppies is due to an inherited immune dysfunction not related to the vaccine. If you recall when parvo was first diagnosed many dogs died of all age groups, now I only see it in unvaccinated dogs, or very rarely those where maternal antibodies may have blocked the effect of the vaccine. I have practiced in Ontario and have seen cases of lepto, I suggest if you think it easily treated that you lack the clinical experience to make such a bold statement. Animals die with lepto, and at least get serious renal and hepatic damage. Your statements are dangerous, and lack basis in fact.

        • molly

          I know a lot of people who have vaccinated their puppies for parvo and their dogs still get it! just so you know!

  20. Chris

    I took my soon to be 11 yr old Black Lab female Morgan, in to my vet to have a Lepto vaccine. I could not remember if it was the regular routine or if it was something new, but I reluctantly let him administer the vaccine. That evening she was very lethargic and I called the emergency service. The vet on call said that if she wasn’t better in the morning take her back to my vet. She seemed fine for the next two days. On the third evening after her vaccine, she would not come in the house. I checked on her and her sides were contracting at a steady rate. I took her to emergency services at 7 pm. The vet on call diagnosed her with something I can’t remember at this point, but it required overnight on an IV with fluid and pain meds. The vet called me at around 9 pm to say she found out exactly what was going on and that was pancreatitis. She said the same course of treatment was required for that and we could see her in the morning. The vet called me at 5am and told me that my girl had passed. Talk about devastating! I have believed from day one it was from that vaccination. My vet did not mention anything about it of course. I know 11 seems old for a lab but she was in exceptional shape and looked to be about 7. We kept one of her sons and he had received the vaccine 4 days prior to her. He had no problems. I still will never have any of my dogs vaccinated for Lepto again!

    • Gerri Prentice

      Last year, my vet recommended the Lepto vaccine. I, too, didn’t realize how unnecessary it is in our area — we live in Maine! My 12 year old lab had never had this vaccine and I wouldn’t recommend it for an older dog without having blood work done to see if he has developed his own antibody to the disease). He immediately had a very negative reaction to the Lepto vaccine. He became lethargic that afternoon and the next day he could not walk. The vet said it had nothing to do with the vaccination, but there is really no other explanation. Whatever is in that vaccine attacked his joints and exasperated some MILD arthritis. We tried all kinds of NS anti-inflammatory medications and nothing helped. We finally took him to a holistic vet who administers acupuncture and chiropractic adjustments, which helps somewhat. It’s been a year now and my dog went from a frisky 12 year old to a lame old dog literally overnight. I will never ever subject another dog to this vaccine.

  21. Amy

    I’m from Hawaii, and used to work at a vet. Lepto is very common. The disease is treatable, however, it’s not as easy as this article states. If not caught within 3 days of contracting the disease, the treatment will have little effect. Without treatment death is imminent in about a week. Most people do not recognize the symptoms fast enough and the disease kills a dog fast under “unknown causes”. I’ve also known a human friend who contracted Lepto during her vacation to Hawaii. They went on a hike, and the hiking guide cut a coconut from the tree, and they ate it. Rats love coconut, and Lepto is transmitted through rat urine. Anyway, she went back home to Oregon, and soon after landed in the hospital with an unknown disease. The doctors did not know how to treat it, since they were unfamiliar with Lepto. Her organs shut down in a week, and she died the next week. They may not have reported deaths in the continental US because the doctors don’t really know what it is.

    Like any vaccine, you have to weigh the pros and the cons.

  22. Liz Hennel

    This article was a revelation – I read it with mounting horror and realisation. I have a 9yr old Border Terrier spayed bitch. At two yrs old she began to exhibit some of the symptoms shown in your phots – these symtpoms began shortly after a booster set of vaccinations, including Leptospirosis. Being a terrier who hunts and swims Ithought I was doing the right thing. A few months later she was itchy and pulling herself to shreds and diagnosed with multiple allergies. From what I have just read, I think I can now point the finger directly at the vaccines she had received. Actually those were the last vaccines she received – I shall not be re-vaccinating any of my dogs, and future puppies will have a very different start to their lives..
    Interstingly, at age 5yrs the same dog collpased with a serious liver problem – she was acutely and seriuosly ill for a period of about 4 days, and was not expected to survive. Blood tests were expected to reveal leptospirosis, but acvtaully no infection and no toxin was identified. There was no treatment my vets could offer, other than to love her until she died, which was expected to be imminent. However, I treated her homeopathically – and she was back on her feet a week later – after 3 weeks her bloods were all normal. We have no idea why or what happened. My vets are still mystified, but cannot lay the “cause” at my feet due to refusal to vaccinate! Could this be a case of the body finally rejecting the toxic vaccine material? Who knows? At the end of the day, we still have a happy, active and apparently healthy dog.


  1. Interesting and well-written article on lepto - Maltese Dogs Forum : Spoiled Maltese Forums - April 26, 2013

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