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3rd December 2017

Leptospirosis – a Guide for Dog Owners

At Peel Veterinary Clinic, we strive to provide you with the best preventative healthcare for you pets. Vaccination is at the heart of preventative healthcare and not only provides your pet with protection against life-threatening diseases, but also ensures that your pet receives an annual health check with a Veterinary Surgeon.

As you may or may not be aware, vaccination schedules are changing for dogs in order to provide the best protection against Leptospirosis, one on the diseases we routinely vaccinate against. Please read on or speak to a member of staff who will be pleased to help you.

What is Leptospirosis (“Lepto”)?

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by a type of bacterium which likes to live in wet environments and spread via mammals, such as rats. It often causes sickness in animals that is not immediately obvious as Lepto, but which makes them poorly with symptoms such as vomiting. However, it also causes severe and life-threatening disease often including liver and kidney failure. Once diagnosed, it is often very expensive to treat with no guarantees of survival.

Why do the vaccines need to change?

Until recently, we have only been aware of 2 families of Leptospira bacteria causing the majority of disease in dogs. However, Lepto is a developing disease and we are now aware of 4 families of Leptospira bacteria which are common in the UK. For this reason, we need to update our vaccines to provide dogs with the best protection we can.

The “Lepto 2” vaccines we have used up until now cover your dog against the 2 families we have known about for a while. The new “Lepto 4” vaccines provide protection against all 4 families that we now know about.

How do I upgrade my vaccines and what does it cost?

In order to upgrade to the new Lepto 4 vaccine, your dog needs to be given two vaccinations 4 weeks apart. This can be achieved by having a second vaccination 4 weeks after the normal annual booster as a one off top up injection.

If you would like to upgrade your dog’s vaccines before he or she is due their annual booster, please speak to a member of staff and we can arrange for this for you in the best way for your individual animal’s case.

Is this upgrade really necessary and will it do my dog any harm?

We have had cases of the new Leptospirosis families in the area and indeed at our practice, so we recommend upgrading to the new vaccination. Please note that we only give your animal vaccinations that we feel are necessary for preventative healthcare.

There have been a lot of stories in the media in recent years about over-vaccination and the suggested dangers of this. We are aware that owners want to provide good protection for their animals without giving unnecessary vaccines and as such, we have tailored our vaccination programme to provide maximum protection for the minimum number of vaccinations we can. We are keen to encourage vaccination as the more animals that are vaccinated, the less disease will be able to spread in our community of dogs. We are also keen to protect our patients (and their owners) from the pain and suffering that these preventable diseases can cause.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to ask to speak to one of our vets about this issue.

What if my dog’s vaccinations are out of date?

It is easy and straight forward to re-start your dog’s vaccinations. Please book in for 2 appointments, 4 weeks apart, our receptionists will be happy to advise you.

What if I don’t want to upgrade my dog’s vaccination?

We now routinely use the Lepto 4 vaccination, however if you do not want to upgrade to Lepto 4, that is not a problem. When your pet comes for their annual vaccination, they will receive a single booster injection. This will contain the Lepto 4 vaccine, however this will only boost the 2 Lepto families your dog is already vaccinated against, it will not provide immunity to the new Lepto families. If you prefer that your pet does not receive the Lepto 4 vaccination at all, please call us to discuss this prior to booking your appointment so we can discuss the options with you.