The short story is this: The heavy spring rains are wrapping up, so Max and Bella are dying to go out for a long walk. And so are you, the heady petrichor luring you for a long adventure to explore the new buds of spring.
Those reviving showers have essentially served to bathe the streets in a wash of all sorts of things, including the rat’s leftovers, which you and your dog then traipse through your home. Then, in addition to the memories of a nice spring day, you may find you’ve brought something else home: leptospirosis.
Most city people with dogs have probably heard of leptospirosis. It’s a yucky viral infection that comes from an even yuckier source: rat urine. Why city folk? Well, we’ve just got more rats (why do think New Yorkers always drink soft drinks with a straw?).
But you should be aware that lepto isn’t just one of the unpleasant side effects of urban living. Because the main source of transmission of the leptospirosis virus is through water, it can be caught out in the suburbs or the most rural areas.
How to Avoid Leptospirosis
- Get your dog vaccinated. If your vet doesn’t offer to shot, ask for it.
- Get your dog vaccinated again in six months. The vaccines are only proven effective for about 6 to 8 months, so if you live in a place prone to lepto outbreaks, you should keep current.
- Keep out of the swimming hole. Swimming in a pond that has been infected with the lepto virus is the quickest way for your dog to catch it. As happy as he seems splashing around in the great outdoors, you need to be aware of health dangers to him, and to the rest of your family.
- Remember: You are the safety warden. If it just breaks your heart to keep Max from his long swims on Aunt Edna’s farm, it may help you toughen up to know that you and your family can contract leptospirosis from him.