Canine leptospirosis is a potentially life-threatening infection that your dog could be vaccinated against, if they're at risk. Read this post to learn if your dog is at risk, whether to get them vaccinated, and what to do if they get the infection, including how CBD oil can help.
What is Canine Leptospirosis?
Canine leptospirosis is a bacterial infection from one of several subspecies of Leptospira.
These bacteria have a unique spiral shape that allows them to burrow into the skin and then enter the bloodstream. They can also enter through mucous membranes. Once in the bloodstream, the bacteria travel throughout the body and eventually take up residence in the liver, kidneys, central nervous system, reproductive organs, and eyes.
The dog should be able to rid itself of the disease within a period of days or weeks, but that doesn't mean they don't need prompt medical treatment.
What Causes Leptospirosis?
Contact with certain bacteria causes the disease, and it can most often be transmitted to dogs through the urine of an infected dog or wild animal. The dog can come into contact with the pee directly or by touching bedding, rugs, hard surfaces, soil, or water sources that have been contaminated with infected pee.
Canine Leptospirosis SymptomsYou can recognize that your dog is coming down with leptospirosis if they display some of these symptoms:
- vomiting blood
- blood in poo
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain
- difficulty breathing
- avoidance of movement
- muscle pain
- joint stiffness
- increase in urine output
- blood in urine
- bloody vaginal discharge
- increased thirst
- swollen lymph nodes
- inflammation around the eyes
Preventing Canine Leptospirosis
Prevent it from spreading
If you know or suspect that your dog has the disease, put on a face mask and gloves before trying to clean up anything because it can spread between dogs and humans. Keep uninfected dogs away from the area, wash the areas the infected dog has come into contact with, and wash any skin that may have come into contact with the bacteria. You should also take yourself and your dogs to an appropriate veterinarian.
Prevent a dog from getting it in the first place
Leptospirosis spread outdoors in subtropical, tropical, and wet climates and can be found in contaminated soil and bodies of water. Bodies of water, particularly still bodies of water, are the most common of the two places to encounter Leptospira. Also, the more wild animals are in the location, the more likely exposure to the bacteria can occur.
It is possible for your dog to contract dog bacteria leptospirosis from any place many dogs pass through such as kennels, doggy daycares, dog parks, and shelters. This will be more common in rural areas and warmer climates.
People who live in cooler climates do not have to worry much about the disease and prevention may just involve avoiding dogs who may be infected from indoor environments.
Pet owners with dogs in warm and tropical climates may be glad to know that there are vaccines for several strains of canine leptospirosis.
It is of greater importance for a dog to get the vaccine if they live in an area where they may be more frequently exposed to wildlife than the average dog. This may include dogs who live outdoors, dogs in rural environments, hunting dogs, and dogs you take camping.
If you feel your dog has more than a freak risk of getting canine leptospirosis, contact your dog's vet to discuss the benefits and risks of the vaccine and compare them to the dog's individual risk factors.
Of course, the main benefit is that you can protect your dog from a life-threatening illness.
The downside to the vaccine is that it can cause side effects ranging from unpleasant to life-threatening. Most of them come from an allergy, so they will not be common, but they are possible.Potential side effects of the vaccine include:
- pain at the vaccination site
- redness at the site
- soreness at the site
- swelling at the site
- loss of appetite
It will be up to you and your vet to determine whether it is safer for your pet to be vaccinated or not. One additional consideration: they will require annual boosters.
Diagnosing Canine Leptospirosis
The vet will want to know all you can report to them about the dog's behavior and symptoms as well as anything that has happened lately that may have put the dog into contact with leptospira bacteria.
If they suspect leptospirosis, they may do a blood test, urine test, and electrolyte panel. Some vet clinics are able to examine their own bacterial cultures.
They may also conduct a DNA-PCR test to determine where the bacteria are attacking the body or a MAT test to detect antibodies in the dog's body.
While waiting for the results from tests that can't be completed at the office, the vet will probably prescribe antibiotics or other treatments even before receiving the official answer. This is to prevent the disease becoming worse, if they do have it, and to protect the other pets and people in the household.
Can I get leptospirosis from my dog?
After your dog has been diagnosed with canine leptospirosis, all members of your household should also go to their respective doctors to ensure they have not also been infected.
Canine Leptospirosis Treatment
Antibiotics are given to help dogs before the bacteria have started damaging their organs. After that point, the dog may need to be hospitalized to receive fluids.
This is one of those diseases where time is critical. If you suspect your dog may have come into contact with Leptospira or contracted leptospirosis, seek vet care as soon as possible.
It is possible for a dog's body to sometimes clear the infection themselves, but it isn't wise to let them try because they can easily give the disease to others and the long-term damage to the organs and risk of death if they can't clear it are too great.
While at home, keep the dog separate from your other pets, wash your hands and skin often when in contact with the sick pet, and keep the area they are staying in as clean as possible.
How CBD Oil Can Help with Canine Leptospirosis
CBD oil dog products may prove to be helpful with the symptoms of leptospirosis as well as the side effects of traditional treatments for the disease.
Antibiotics can cause side effects that exacerbate or add to the dog's symptoms. Some may be bad enough to make the dog unable to take the medication.
Side effects of antibiotics include:
Some of the best dog CBD oils can help with these side effects as well as the ones from vaccination boosters, making these medications feasible and less unpleasant for more dogs.
One symptom of the disease that has not already been covered by the side effects of the treatments are muscle pain and stiffness. CBD oil may be able to provide relief from these as well.
Science is finding that CBD oil shows great promise for helping with a staggering amount of health problems. This is because dogs and humans have an endocannabinoid system that actually manufactures and runs off of its own cannabinoids. External cannabinoids like CBD oil from hemp work with the endocannabinoid system to help it do what it already does better. This is in contrast to how many drugs work where they force the body to do something aggressive.
Using CBD Oil to Help with Canine Leptospirosis
CBD oil is the name of products made with cannabidiol.
- extract concentrates that contain only cannabidiol
- oil tinctures mixing cannabidiol with a carrier oil, and often flavorings
- Hemp capsules of cannabidiol and ingredients to make it dissolve properly and be contained in a capsule
- CBD dog treats made with cannabidiol and more solid, edible ingredients
- topical lotions and creams that contain cannabidiol and other carrier ingredients that may also provide soothing and potentially healing benefits
Oil tinctures are one of the most popular types of CBD oil products because they are tasty when flavored, easy to administer, and provide a lot of dosage control. Hemp has a strong taste that may be off-putting, so a flavored option helps overcome the taste hurdle in medicine giving. Oil tinctures also come with convenient droppers or sprayers that allow you to put the oil directly in the dog's mouth or in their food. It is also often quite useful to be able to measure out the exact dose you want to give your dog, should you be varying the dose or needing a specific dose that a more general product can't provide.
Extract concentrates are also great for finding an exact dose and they contain nothing but cannabidiol, so they are both pure and cost effective. They also taste exactly like hemp, so if your dog doesn't like the taste, you'll have to mask in it food or beverage. Concentrates come out in little beads, so you just have to measure the beads and compare it with our comprehensive dosing guide to find the dose you want.
Capsules are easy delivery methods for dogs who take pills readily. This way you avoid the taste issue. There is one set dose for the capsule, so if the dog needs more, you'll have to give them another capsule.
Treats are the easiest way to get your dog to take CBD oil because they're treats. What dog doesn't love treats? They even come in crunchy and chewy varieties. Like capsules, they have a set dose and you can vary it by giving more treats where possible.
Topicals are helpful for localized and external issues say, for inflamed skin or a sore joint. They may also treat external bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.
With these products, you gain a natural treatment option that may:
- reduce inflammation
- alleviate pain
- kill infections
- boost the appetite
- reduce nausea and diarrhea
- provide a subtle increase in energy
- soothe skin irritations
- alleviate stress
- improve mood
- provide extra nutrition
Dosing CBD Oil
There is no exact science to dosing CBD oil because the science regarding cannabidiol is still so new.
It is recommended that you research the ailment and symptoms you want to use the CBD oil for and start with the lowest discussed dose. You want to start low because some ailments actually respond best to lower doses than higher ones. You'll also probably have to tweak the dose to find the right one and it's easier to find the right one by going up than by going down.
When tweaking the dose, be sure to do so slowly, a minimum of 2 to 4 days but hopefully more like a month. You see, cannabidiol can provide immediate CBD benefits, but it may not provide full benefits for a few weeks. If you tweak the dosage too often, you won't ever be able to tell which one worked and which didn't.
The exact dose will also vary by the size, age, and health of the dog.
You should discuss the proper dose with your vet. For one, they can help you find the right dose for your individual dog and their symptoms. There isn't a lot of time to play with here. You want quick results for your dog, so you want to start nearer the mark. The vet can help with that. Your vet also needs to know that your dog is ingesting cannabidiol because it may impact their treatments.
Risks Associated with CBD Oil
There are few risks, but it's wise to mention them.
There is no known instance of overdose on cannabidiol, but your dog can experience sedation, loss of appetite, or diarrhea if they get a very large dose.
Your dog's vet should know that you are giving them cannabidiol before they do anything to the dog or if they are currently on any medications because it can impact how other medications work. It changes how the liver processes things, so the normal dose for your dog may not work as the vet would expect. They need to calculate accordingly. You should also consult your veterinarian about CBD dosing.
Before trying cannabidiol to help your dog, be aware that it has not been approved by the FDA, and while science is finding some exciting things about it, no one can make promises about it yet. Traditional medications are scary sometimes, but vets also know what they can do, good and bad. Cannabidiol is a game-changing potential alternative when traditional medications cannot be used or cause disastrous side effects, but you should be prepared that it may be the miraculous aid your dog needs or it may not and plan a backup treatment, particularly for more severe ailments.
Purchasing CBD Oil
There are some things you should look for when purchasing CBD oil products.
The difference between full-spectrum and CBD isolate
CBD isolate is just cannabidiol. Full-spectrum CBD contains cannabidiol as well as other cannabinoids, terpenes, and nutrients from the hemp plant. Full-spectrum is actually the most popular option as people expect to get more benefits from it, but some people say CBD isolate works best for them. If your dog is suffering nutritional problems from lack of appetite or vomiting, then you may want to try full-spectrum first. If it doesn't work, before giving up on CBD oil, try CBD isolate.
Tragically, all CBD oil manufacturers are not sincere and their products may contain poor quality CBD oil, less CBD oil than advertised, or no CBD oil! Reputable CBD oil manufacturers provide third-party test results on their website, for each of their products. This means another lab that they have no control over has tested their product and proven its legitimacy. You can read the details of what they find yourself in the results so you can make an informed choice for your dog.
Extraction method matters
Choose products that say they use the CO2 extraction method. It is the safest and purest way to extract cannabidiol.
Where it comes from matters
Reputable CBD oil manufacturers will tell you where they acquired their hemp or cannabidiol. Some grow the hemp themselves and some purchase it or the oil from someone else. Either way, you should be told where it was grown so you can be sure it came from a country with safety regulations.
You want your CBD oil product to contain as few ingredients as possible and only ones that are necessary and safe. Most CBD oil manufacturers boast that their products are all-natural, but it's also quite possible to find ones that are all organic.
Innovations from Innovet
At Innovet, we specialize in addressing hard-to-treat pet ailments and how to best help your pet. This means looking at all the ways traditional and current solutions are not effective enough. If your dog with canine leptospirosis has a unique need that is not addressed by traditional treatments or CBD oil products that are already on the market, let us know so we can try to help.
Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.
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The Innovet Team
Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.
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