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Atrocious Leptospirosis

Published on October 12th, 2018

Living in the beautiful city of Chicago has a lot of perks: the bean, deep dish pizza, Garrett’s popcorn, and so much more. But there is something else lurking that we don’t necessarily want – raccoons and rats. Although Pocahontas and Ratatouille are great Disney films that teach us that Meeko and Remy are friends to humans, they also fail to mention that they unknowingly are the main characters in the potentially deadly story of Leptospirosis or Lepto.

Leptospirosis is a disease that is transferred through bodily fluids, most commonly urine, by rats and local wildlife. The rainy season is one reason for the disease sticking around. If an infected animal urinates or transfers bodily fluids into a puddle, body of water or wet grass, the Leptospirosis bacteria can live in the moisture for months. This makes it easy for your dogs to pick up the disease when swimming or walking through contaminated water and yards. The other scary thought is that YOU can catch Leptospirosis from your dog.

Some signs your dog may be infected with Lepto are fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Severe cases can lead to kidney and/or liver failure and even death. Treatment can be expensive and extensive depending on how soon it’s caught.

Now all this scary stuff might want you to lock up Fido, but there are easy things you can do to help prevent this from happening.


There is a vaccine that can help prevent your dog from getting Leptospirosis. It’s one of the core vaccines we at Portage Park Animal Hospital recommend every dog receive. While vaccinating your dog doesn’t give him/her 100% protection to Leptospirosis, building immunity to this disease is a vital role in your dog’s health. With Lepto being prevalent in Chicago, it’s much safer to get the vaccine than to risk getting the disease.


Always wash your hands after handling your pet’s excrements, and make sure to bathe your animal after a fun day of swimming at the lake. Leptospirosis can be transmitted from pets to humans so it is important for us to practice clean habits as well.

Fight the Trash Pets

Although your furry friend might be a great form of animal control, it might not be the best idea to let them chase after these outdoor critters. Controlling the rodents as much as you can help minimize the likelihood of a contaminated animal coming into contact with your dog.

Leptospirosis is scary, but it’s preventable. If you’re not sure if your dog is vaccinated against Lepto, give us a call.

For more information on Leptospirosis:

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