Skip to main content

Leptospirosis in Markham Update 2017

By November 7, 2017 February 28th, 2019 Uncategorized

We just received confirmation that Leptospirosis is active in the Region. A dog died over the weekend from acute liver and kidney failure. It was a very painful death. Please make sure your dog is vaccinated. Many clients read about side effects of vaccinations on the internet, but reality is: the disease is worse than vaccines. Please call us for any questions. 905-477-2323

We wrote on November 22, 2015:

A few weeks ago we diagnosed the first case of Leptospirosis in Unionville. This potentially fatal disease has seen an upsurge in Ontario over the past decade and has now arrived right here in town.

It affects many species including dogs and may also infect people. In its acute form, it causes death from acute kidney failure, liver failure, or bleeding disorders and requires intensive, fast treatment. The disease is spread by wildlife including raccoons, rats, squirrels and opossums among others.  Which unfortunately means your dog can get infected even if she has never left her backyard.

Infection can occur when you or your pet come into contact with the bacteria that causes leptospirosis in the environment or are exposed to the urine of infected animals which can get into water and soil.  The bacteria can enter the body through skin or mucous membrane (eyes, mouth, or nose) especially if the skin is broken from a cut or scratch.  Your pet may have been drinking, swimming, or walking through contaminated water.  Although dogs can pass the disease to each other, this happens very rarely.

The clinical signs of leptospirosis vary and are nonspecific. Sometimes pets do not have any symptoms. Some common clinical signs that have been reported in dogs include:

  • fever
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • refusal to eat
  • severe weakness and depression
  • stiffness
  • severe muscle pain
  • inability to have puppies.


Leptospirosis is treatable with antibiotics. If an animal is treated early, it may recover more rapidly and any organ damage may be less severe. Other treatment methods, such as dialysis and hydration therapy may be required.

The time between exposure to the bacteria and development of disease is usually 5 to 14 days, but can be as short as a few days or as long as 30 days or more.

If your pet has been confirmed by your veterinarians in Markham as having leptospirosis, the appropriate action to take will depend on the nature of contact with your pet. Normal daily activities with your pet will not put you at high risk for leptospirosis infection.  If common symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches, and headaches, occur within 3 weeks after a high-risk exposure, see your physician. Tests can be performed to see if you have this disease.

Prevention in Pets

If you think your pet may have leptospirosis, contact your veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarians in Markham can perform tests to determine whether or not your pet has the disease.

It is important to get your pet vaccinated against  leptospirosis. Vaccines need to be given in two injections 2-4 weeks apart and then one refresher vaccine every year. We recommend that you make an appointment now with your Veterinarians in Markham and get started with the immunization. If you wait until your pet’s next annual physical visit we will give the vaccine then and a booster 3 weeks later.

To help prevent leptospirosis infection, keep rodent problems (rats, mice, or other animal pests) under control. Rodents can carry and spread the bacteria that causes this disease.

In addition, be sure to follow the below prevention guidelines:

  • Do not handle or come in contact with urine, blood, or tissues from your infected pet before it has received proper treatment.
  • If you need to have contact with animal tissues or urine, wear protective clothing, such as gloves and boots, especially if you are occupationally at risk (veterinarians, farm workers, and sewer workers).
  • As a general rule, always wash your hands after handling your pet or anything that might have your pet’s excrement on it.
  • If you are cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated or have urine from an infected pet on them, use an antibacterial cleaning solution or a solution of 1 part household bleach in 10 parts water.
  • Make sure that your infected pet takes all of its medicine and follow up with your veterinarians in Markham.

If you found this blog informative, please share it with your friends on Facebook.


Dr. Ernst Marsig, veterinarian in Markham

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Markham for a Long and Happy Life of ALL Your Pets.

Animal Hospital of Unionville, a veterinary clinic on the north side of Hwy 7, serving all pets in Markham, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Stouffville, and North York since 1966. We are your family vets for dogs, cats, pocket pets (rabbits, chinchillas, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, skinny pigs, etc.), ferrets, and birds (budgies, cockatiel, parrots, amazon, cockatoo, love birds, conures, African greys, finches, canaries, etc.).

Disclaimer: No part of this website constitutes medical advice. Readers are advised to consult with their veterinarian.

Leave a Reply