Some information about the leptospirosis vaccination
We do not recommend giving the leptospirosis vaccine to any puppy until their immune system is mature and only if you and your Vet feel your dog is at risk.
The American Animal Hospital Association considers leptospirosis vaccine a “non-core” vaccine for dogs. That is, they do not recommend pets receive it unless there is a good chance they will be exposed to leptospirosis. The main reason for this is that veterinarians see more vaccination reactions following the administration of vaccines containing leptospirosis than any other vaccines. These reactions range from the minor inconveniences of pain at injection site, facial swelling and hives to a fatal anaphylactic reaction. Which pet will experience them cannot be predicted.
The immunity that leptospirosis vaccinations give is short lasting – perhaps a year, perhaps less in some dogs. Occasionally, the vaccine does not protect at all. Vaccine manufacturers have known the drawbacks of their leptospirosis vaccines for years.
So you and your veterinarian must decide if your pet’s risk of catching leptospirosis justifies yearly vaccination. In making that decision you must ask if your pet frequents areas that may harbor leptospirosis. You must also know if leptospirosis is occurring frequently in your community.
You must also consider if your pet, or its siblings, have had previous vaccination reactions. Reactions also seem to occur more frequently in smaller breeds than larger ones.
If you decide to have leptospirosis vaccine administered to your pet, have it given as an independent injection, and not in a combination vaccine or multiple vaccines given on the same day. Wait at least two weeks between injections. And it is important that you and your dog remain in the Vet office for at least 20 minutes after the vaccination is given in case of a negative reaction.
More often, the leptospira are washed by rains into standing water. Then pets wading, swimming or drinking the contaminated water, develop the disease. Although this is the way that leptospira usually pass from animal to animal, they can also enter through a bite wound or through the pets eating infected materials.
Leptospira are very dependent on water, mud or damp clay soils to survive. That is because they do not possess a waterproof membrane to protect them from drying. Leptospira die almost immediately on dry surfaces - even if those surfaces could be contaminated with urine from other infected animals. Temperatures at or above 131F (42C) kill leptospira as well.
All common household disinfectants (bleaches, alcohol based products, vinegar, lemon juice etc. Porous items need to be completely submersed in solutions) kill leptospira quickly ; as does a liberal application of detergent or boiling for 5 minutes. Standing water can be disinfected using swimming pool chlorine tablets (but realize that those products are toxic to aquatic life). Common industrial chemicals are so toxic to leptospira that obviously polluted effluent water is not as much a leptospirosis threat to your pet as are lakes and streams with water that appears pristine.
Vaccination does not always prevent infection – but it tends to make the disease much milder, if infection occurs. There is the potential for vaccinated dogs that do become infected to become long-term carriers of leptospirosis. Some long-term carriers have a more frequent incidence of reproductive failure and stillbirths.