Should I give my dog Lepto vaccine?

Recently I have seen a big outbreak on Twitter about the lepto vaccine. So I’m sitting here asking myself “should I give my dog lepto vaccine”, If so, what are the risks involved.

I also saw a lot of others asking about this in the forum I am currently a member of. There are so many people looking for answers on this, including me.

Which is why I set out to find them and share them with you too. I’ve heard such mixed messages about the lepto vaccine.


The Research

From my research, I can say that it is super important that you whey the risks up against the reward very carefully. I have heard stories going as far as saying that dogs have died because of this vaccination.

But if that’s the case then why would the vets still be recommending it for our dogs. Keep reading to learn some interesting facts about this vaccination.

So that you can then make an easier decision on whether you think this is suitable for your dog too.


What is the lepto vaccine 

The term lepto is used in short for the word leptospirosis. This is the name given to a bacteria called Leptospira that dogs can catch from the infected urine of wild animals.

The infection enters the body by penetrating the skin and spreading through the bloodstream. Which in turn can be fatal to your pup.

This type of infection can enter the body in many ways such as through wounds, cuts, infected soil, a bite from an infected animal and much more.

The vaccination is the remedy that is given to dogs to help them build an immunity to becoming infected by this bacteria.

Is leptospirosis in dogs fatal?

In some severe cases, this infection can be fatal. Resulting in dogs dying from the damage that is caused to the kidney and liver. It is not as common for this to be the danger with older dogs becoming infected.

However, for dogs that are under 6 months old, this can be very dangerous because of the damage that is done these two organs. If it does not result in such dire circumstance then it may still have a huge effect on the long-term health of your dog.

In most cases, you will find older dogs to make a full recovery. However, in others, there are times when the disease can still remain present after treatment. In these dogs that continue to carry the disease, they are tagged with name ‘carriers’.

What are the signs of leptospirosis?

In most cases, you will notice that your dog becomes weak and lethargic. The symptoms do not usually become apparent in your dog until around 12 – 14 days after coming into contact with the infection.

A few other symptoms to look out for are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Increased urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in urine

Whilst symptoms can be apparent in some dogs. In others, it may potentially go undetected. So it is important for you as a parent to educate yourself as much as possible in order to spot the signs right away.

You will not find any indications in your dog from regular blood tests that take. However, the vet may get an indication to look into something further if they notice any unusual results.

There are 2 main tests that are supposed to be the most commonly used to detect the virus. Those are called the DNA, PCR and Microscopic Agglutination test (MAT).

Each test has its own pros and cons but in some cases, you may find that both tests have to be carried out in order to get the most accurate results.


Is leptospirosis vaccine necessary

Whilst this vaccine may be risky for your dog. The professionals recommend that you get the vaccine for your retriever at least once every six months. But form the overall research I have seen that the most commonly recommended amount of times per year is 1 time.

As this is a bacterial vaccination and not a viral one. It tends to only last around a year at max. This means that you will have to take your dog for this more often than usual for the jab.

But whether its suitable for your dog will be down to you and I have some following information that may bring some clarity to that.

It may not even work

Yes, you read the title correctly, this wasn’t a mistake. I was literally shocked myself when researching about this. Not only does this vaccination come with huge risks to your dog’s health. But there is also no guarantee that this will even work.

So there a supposed to be around 200 different species of the bacteria and unfortunately, there has not been vaccinations yet made to cover all. That means that even after your dog has been treated.

There is still no guarantee that the bacteria they may come into contact with will provide the required protection. Like I said all I am here to do is present you with the information that I found from the research and then let you make a decision.

This post is not a bias opinion but more designed to provide with an accurate presentation of the facts on the market. But what about our goldens specifically because we need to know how this affects our dogs in particular.

leptospirosis vaccine for golden retrievers

From my research, I have gathered that the vaccination that is provided to golden retrievers presents the same risk that it does to any breed. There was one specific piece of info that I have that kind of varied to everything else that I found online.

It said that you should not give the vaccination to any retriever under 12 weeks old as it presents a large risk to their health. Apart from that everything else remained the same and as mentioned previously the vaccination is recommended 1 time per year for this breed too.

history behind it

A little behind this vaccination

It’s reported that this bacterial disease was first identified in the early 1900s. However of course at the time there was no vaccination. Back then it was rare for a dog to suffer from such infections.

Eye infections have also become more common in the newer years. Studies show that now it has become more of a common occurrence for dogs to come into contact with Leptospirosis.

There is no definite answer as to why this is the case, but form just basic knowledge I can say it will be from the change in environment. As we evolve as a civilization who knows what may come of the future. Next well dig into the possible side effects of this vaccination.

side effects

Lepto vaccine side effects 

Now, this may have been the sole reason that you came to read this post. Well, I can honestly say that this was my main reason for researching and writing it.

I don’t think apart from this that I have ever come across such ambiguous information from professionals. I mean, there is no definite answer on whether this vaccination is fake or not but I still seem to find lots of encouragement to do it.

Before I get into what I think about that, let me first give you some of the actual side effects that can be caused by this treatment.

Here is the long old list:

  • anaphylaxis
  • Anorexia
  • Dermatitis
  • Infection with flesh-eating bacteria
  • Uncontrollable pruritis (itching)
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Lameness
  • Vocalization
  • Fever
  • Dehydration
  • Polyarthritis
  • Kidney Failure
  • Liver Failure
  • Pancreatitis
  • Mast cell disease
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Diarrhea
  • Chronic weight loss
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Cancer
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Death

And the list goes on…

In most cases, you’ll find that the majority of dogs that fall victim to this disease have all been treated with the vaccination too. All of the dogs that had caught the disease had caught it right after being treated too. Now, this could be just a coincidence but to have such strong results may be worth making you reconsider your decision.

So if you find that you are wanting to go ahead with the vaccination then here is the schedule that you can expect to follow.


Leptospirosis vaccine schedule 

The most common schedule that I could find for vaccination was: One vaccination when a pup reaches 12 weeks old and then repeated at 2 to 4 weeks later. When it came to older dogs I found that two doses were needed on the initial vaccination that would be spread 2 to 4 weeks apart.

That’s all for the initial vaccinations, but what about the regular visits you can expect to make after. As I quote the experts say that this vaccination is “not 100% effective”.  It is recommended that you pay the vets a visit at least 1 time every 6 months by the experts.

This is because the expected life length of the vaccination only lasts for around 1 year. And whilst it is not 100% effective. I assume would be the reason why they expect you to show up more often than not.

Now we have spoken about how this can affect dogs. So the question you may be thinking of now is, how does this affect us. Continue reading to find out.

lepto vaccine for my dog

Lepto vaccine dangers for humans

Now, this may be the last thing that you wanted to read to today but the crazy part about this whole disease is that we can also catch it. Whilst there is a potential cure for dogs, there isn’t, however, anything for us to prevent the bacteria from entering our body.

If you find that your dog has Lepto then make sure to at all costs void them coming into contact with children. Because of the usual play habits of children being touchy-feely. This can be a surefire way of them catching the disease.

If you find that you feel you have caught Leptospirosis then you should seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY.

Final thoughts 

It is clear that Leptospirosis is a very dangerous disease to catch. From the research. I can see that the vaccination is just as dangerous too. Whether you choose to take your dog in for this is totally down to you.

I hope that I could bring some clarity to you in making that decision. For me personally, I DO NOT take my dogs in for a Lepto vaccination. As we know the vaccination is not expected to last any longer than this so it is important to top up around this time at a minimum.

If you find that you have come into an animal with Lepto and you suspect symptoms of the disease in yourself. Then seek medical attention immediately.

Just be sure that you are not taking in any dogs under 12 weeks for this treatment and that you are aware of the potential effects.  

Rachael Summers

Rachael Summers

Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Dig Doggy. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! Rachael also loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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Rachael Summers

Rachael Summers

Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Dig Doggy. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! Rachael also loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

About Dig Doggy

DigDoggy® is a free resource for dog owners, with everything from expert product reviews to trusted pet care advice.

All of our reviews and recommendations are based on unbiased research by our editorial team. Read more about us.

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