Leptospirosis is enough to strike terror into many dog owners. We are warned that Lepto abounds and Lepto kills and we need to vaccinate for it. If you are considering vaccinating for Lepto, you might want to first read this article: Smoke and Mirrors.
Regardless of whether you vaccinate for Lepto or not, your dog can be susceptible. Despite the dire warnings, up to 90% of infected dogs survive Lepto while the vast majority of dogs testing positive for Lepto are subclinical. Given the dangers of the Lepto vaccine, your best defense is to recognize the symptoms of Lepto and have remedies on hand so you can act immediately if your dog suddenly becomes ill.
Leptospirosis is caused by infection with serovars of the spirochete Leptospira interrogans sensu lato, of which eight can infect dogs and cats. Leptospira cannot replicate outside of a host which acts as a reservoir, shedding the bacterium intermittently.
Leptospira are passed in urine and penetrate mucous membranes or abraded skin and multiply rapidly upon entering the blood vascular space. The bacterium continues to spread within the body and replicates further in many tissues including the kidney, liver, spleen, central nervous system (CNS), eyes, and genital tract. Thereafter, increases in serum antibodies clear the spirochetes from most organs, but bacteria may persist in the kidneys and be shed in urine for weeks to months. The extent of damage to internal organs is variable depending on the virulence of the organism and host susceptibility.
Many animals carry Lepto, especially rodents and racoons, and pets can catch it by drinking water contaminated with urine.
The clinical signs of Lepto in dogs depend on the age and immunity of the host, environmental factors affecting the bacteria, and the virulence of the infecting serovar. Young animals are more severely affected than adults.
In acute infections a fever of 103-104°, shivering, and muscle tenderness are the first signs. Then vomiting and rapid dehydration may develop. Severely infected dogs may develop hypothermia and kidney or liver failure can develop.
In subacute infections, the animal usually develops a fever, anorexia, vomiting of bile, dehydration, and increased thirst. Animals with liver involvement may develop jaundice. The dog will also be in pain and be reluctant to move. Dogs that develop kidney or liver involvement may begin to show improvement in organ function after 2 to 3 weeks or they may develop chronic renal failure.
The majority of Lepto infections in dogs are chronic or subclinical. Dogs that become chronically infected may show no outward signs, but may intermittently shed bacteria in the urine for months or years.
- vomiting with bile
- loss of appetite
- harsh and dry coat
- pain and stiffness in sacral area
- abdominal pain
- ulceration of mucous membranes
- dark brown or blood-tinged stools
- greenish bile in stools
- dark, bile stained urine
To be successful, homeopathic treatment should be initiated as soon as possible. The following remedies may be considered, depending on symptoms:
Aconitum napellus 12x: this remedy should be given first to prevent shock and limit the progress of the disease
Arsenicum album 30c: this will help control GI symptoms and help resolve dehydration
Mercurius corrosivus 30c: to be given if ulcerations of the mucous membrane appear and to treat bloody diarrhea
Baptisia 30c: will help with muscular soreness and depression. Putrid excretions are indications for its use.
Crotalus Horridus 30c: will help if jaundice appears. This will support the liver and control bleeding.
Phosphorus 30c: if there is associated coughing. Phosphorus will also benefit the liver and reduce vomiting.
Berberis vulgaris 30c: will also support the liver and should remove bile from the urine. Will also relieve sacral pain.
Lycopodium 1m: for chronic cases with wasting and lack of appetite. This remedy has a long-term beneficial action on the liver.
Leptospirosis Nosode 30c: should be given alongside any other remedies. The nosode will help to prevent the build up of leptospirae in the kidneys.
The Leptospirosis nosode may also be helpful as a part of a prevention program.
If Lepto is prevalent in your area, you will want to have these remedies on hand or be able to access the remedies or a homeopath quickly. If you choose to have a homeopath do a phone consult, it will help to have the remedies ready so you can access them quickly.