Leptospirosis is currently having a breakout in the greater San Diego area. Here's a quick video to give you a look into what is Leptospirosis.


There are over 20 different serovars that are infectious to dogs. A serovar is a distinct variation within a species of bacteria or virus. It is important to consult with your veterinarian regarding how many variations the Leptospirosis vaccine covers.

Leptospirosis is caused by a spiral-shaped bacteria called Leptospira. 

I became interested in finding out if Leptospirosis can survive in salt water because my research lead me to believe that the bacteria has a hard time surviving in salt water. 

Leptospirosis can survive in these conditions below:

  • Contaminated soil 
  • Fresh water
  • Streams
  • Lakes
  • Slow-flowing rivers, ditches and pools
  • Underground caves, sewers and drains
  • Marshes and permanently wet soil
  • Ponds and moats without disinfection equipment
  • Any form of Stagnate water

Other forms of exposure

  • Roaming on rural properties (because of exposure to potentially infected wildlife, farm animals, or water sources)
  • Exposure to wild animal or farm animal species, even if in the backyard; and contact with rodents or other dogs.

Leptospirosis can survive for up to 6 months in fresh water (such as lakes and ponds). However, leptospirosis requires fresh water to remain viable and few strains can survive for a couple of hours in salt water. The longevity of leptospirosis depends on sea surface temperatures.

Leptospirosis enters body thru: Small cuts or abrasions, through mucous membranes such as the conjunctiva and through wet skin.

Given that most strains aren't covered by the vaccine it is important to watch for symptoms of Leptospirosis infection. Healthy dogs with a good immune system may not exhibit any symptoms but can spread the virus up to 1 year thru urine. However, vaccinated dogs can shed the virus but the length of time is currently unknown. 


  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Jaundice – a yellowing most easily seen in the whites of the eyes

Questions to ask your veterinarian?

How many strains does this vaccine cover?

Is my dog still able to catch Leptospirosis even if vaccinated?

How long will my dog shed the virus after vaccination?

What are the side affects to the vaccine?

How can I protect my dog?

How can I improve my dogs immune system?

In some dogs an anaphylactic shock-like reaction may occur shortly after vaccination. Miniature Dachshunds and West Highland White Terriers seem to have slightly increased risk for this type of reaction. Other dogs may develop a skin rash (urticaria), apparent on hairless areas. - 

How can I boast my dogs immune system? - Click Here





This article was written in the interest of seeing how different environments make the bacteria thrive. This information does not replace the guidance of your trusted veterinarian. 


Sources: Merckmanuals VCAhospitals US Library of Science Integrative Veterinary Care DR. JEAN DODDS' PET HEALTH RESOURCE BLOG AVMA JAMA Waterpathogens

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