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Dogs with acute severe disease should be hospitalized. Fluid therapy will be the primary treatment, in order to reverse any effects of dehydration. If your dog has been vomiting, an anti-vomiting drug, called an antiemetic, may be administered, and a gastric tube can be used to nourish your dog if its inability to eat or keep food down continues. A blood transfusion may also be necessary if your dog has been severely hemorrhaging.
Antibiotics will be prescribed by your veterinarian, with the type of antibiotic dependent on the stage of infection. Penicillins can be used for initial infections, but they are not effective for eliminating the bacteria once it has reached the carrier stage. Tetracyclines, fluoroquinolones, or similar antibiotics will be prescribed for this stage, since they are better distributed into the bone tissue. Antibiotics will be prescribed for a course of at least four weeks. Some antibiotics can have side effects that appear serious, especially those drugs that go deeper into the system to eliminate infection. Be sure to read all of the warnings that come with the prescription, and talk to your veterinarian about the indications you will need to watch for. Prognosis is generally positive, barring severe organ damage.
Living and Management
A vaccination for the prevention of the leptospirosis infection is available in some areas. Your veterinarian can advise you on the availability and usefulness of this vaccine. Make sure to inspect kennels before placing your dog in one – the kennel should be kept very clean, and should be free of rodents (look for rodent droppings). Urine from an infected animal should not come into contact with any other animals, or people.
Activity should be restricted to cage rest while your dog recovers from the physical trauma of this infection. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, transmissible to humans, and other animals via urine, semen, and post-birth or post-abortion discharge. While your dog is in the process of being treated, you will need to keep it isolated from children and other pets, and you will need to wear protective latex gloves when handling your dog in any way, or when handling fluid or waste products from your dog. Areas where your dog has urinated, vomited, or has possibly left any other type of fluid should be cleaned and disinfected thoroughly with iodine-based disinfectants or bleach solutions. Gloves should be worn during the cleaning process and disposed of properly after.
Finally, if you do have other pets or children in the home, they may have been infected with the leptospira bacteria and are not yet showing symptoms. It may be worthwhile to have them (and yourself) tested for the presence of the bacteria. And, it is important to keep in mind that leptospires may continue to be shed through the urine for several weeks after treatment and apparent recovery from the infection. Appropriate handling practices will be the best prevention of the spread of infection, or of reinfection.