Infection with the Leptospira bacteria is what causes leptospirosis. While leptospirosis typically causes mild flu-like symptoms, such as headache and chills, a more severe form called Weil’s disease (named after German physician Adolf Weil who first described it) exists. Weil’s disease in pets and farm animals like pigs and cattle, whilst relatively rare today, can and still does occur.
Weil’s disease in dogs happens with relatively greater frequency compared to Weil’s disease in cats. Also, since this disease is zoonotic, you can also get infected if you’re caring for a pet that has Weil’s disease. If left untreated, it can lead to organ failure and even death.
To protect your pets and yourself from getting infected with this vile disease, knowing the right information is crucial.
In this post, you’ll find out more about this terrible affliction, including the symptoms of Weil’s disease in dogs, treatment and prevention.
Causes, symptoms and signs of Weil’s disease
There are several ways your pet can contract this disease. One way is if your pet ingests contaminated food, bedding or water while swimming in a lake, river, pond, etc. If they come into contact with bodily fluids (e.g., faeces, urine) of an infected animal, such as a rat, they can also contract the disease.
If you suspect your pet has been infected, here are Weil’s disease symptoms in dogs:
- Anorexia or lack of appetite
- Muscle pain
- Blood in the urine
Note that symptoms may vary, so your pup may experience one or more of the above.
Take your pet to the vet immediately, as the onset of the following symptoms can mean the disease has progressed and can lead to organ failure and death quickly.
- High fever
In cats, transmission of the disease through water is less likely, although contact with infected rodents can lead to them developing this illness. However, as mentioned, Weil’s disease in cats is quite rare, and it hardly exhibits any symptoms.
Weil’s disease treatment
After blood tests confirm the disease, treating shock and dehydration is the priority.
To stabilise your pet’s condition, the vet may recommend a transfusion of plasma or blood. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics like penicillin and then tetracycline to kill the bacteria.
Your pet may need intravenous fluids throughout their rehabilitation. Depending on the severity of your pet’s condition, the prognosis for a dog with Weil’s disease is typically uncertain.
Prevention better than cure
Vaccinating pets against the most prevalent leptospirosis strains helps. Vaccines do not, however, offer complete immunity against Weil’s disease.
Keep your pets away from water sources that could be contaminated, including wildlife reservoirs and animals that could be infected. Since pets can also contract various diseases through mating and fighting with other animals, it’s best to get yours spayed or neutered to eliminate such incidents.
Maintain clean surroundings at home so as not to attract rodents and to prevent the proliferation of germs that could make you and your pet ill.