What is Leptospirosis in Dogs?


Have you heard of leptospirosis? You may have recently read news articles with cases increasing in dogs. With the recent mouse plague across rural NSW, and the number of building developments across Sydney unearthing burrows of rodents, this disease affecting dogs has been on the rise.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can be spread by coming into contact with contaminated water or soil with rat urine. If you live in the high-risk area in Sydney (5km radius from Surry Hills) it is important to have your dog vaccinated against this serious disease as it can also be passed on to humans.

How  can dogs become infected?


  • By ingesting or coming into contact with contaminated water, food or soil.
  • Bitten by an infected rat.
  • Eating the carcass of an infected animal.
Dog’s  may be at higher risk when they:


  • Drink or swim in infected water, pools or waterways.
  • Coming into contact with rodents or farm animals.
  • Live in humid or hot climates.
What do symptoms include?


Symptoms of leptospirosis are generally non-specific and vary in severity. Symptoms can be mild, severe and in many cases fatal.


Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Yellow gums/skin/eyes


Early intervention and treatment is key in preventing severe symptoms. Diagnosis will involve blood and urine tests. Depending on the stage of infection hospitalisation (IV fluid therapy, antibiotics, blood transfusions) may be required for advanced and severe cases. Most cases are diagnosed in hospital.

In Sydney, there have been many cases in the Inner West area surrounding Surry Hills. Unfortunately, most dogs have died before adequate treatment could be performed.

What can you do to prevent leptospirosis?


Vaccination is the most effective way of preventing leptospirosis infection, particularly if you live in/near the Inner West of Sydney. You can also reduce your dog’s risk by minimising their potential exposure. Try and prevent your dog from drinking from or rolling in puddles or swimming in stagnant waterways. Try not to allow your dog to pick up things from the park and eat them. Also, use appropriate pest control safely around your home if you have rats