Lepto vaccine ? for those in vet med

On our city’s Reddit page, someone posted not to take your dog to dog parks because a number of dogs are being diagnosed with lepto. I’m not a dog park person, but as far as my knowledge (and unfortunately, experience, which led to internal veterinary specialists) dogs can get lepto from anywhere that there has been urine from an infected animal that has not dried - including our yards, etc. I’m not sure why dog parks would be a huge common denominator, other than that since they get trampled over they may be muddy and have a lot of animal urine, but I digress.
Some clinics are posting on Facebook at the most important thing is to get the lepto vaccine. Because of the aforementioned experience, I absolutely do …. But there are posts saying, basically, “I work at a clinic with a number of positively, very sick and dying dogs that are infected and were vaccinated. There is thought that these strains are not protected and/or resistant to the vaccine.”
Sound true? false? My dogs don’t really have a lot of outdoor freedom, but one got infected anyway years ago.
How early would you vaccinate a puppy?

I am a vet, I have “never” seen a dog get Lepto that was vaccinated by us annually. I have seen sick dogs that got Lepto every 3 years, and I’ve seen dogs get Lepto that were given feedstore vaccine. We live in an area where lepto thrives and recommend annual Lepto vacc. We do not give vacc with Lepto to dogs under about 4 mos to decrease risk of adverse reaction. There are strains of Lepto in the wilds which are not in the vaccine, but there seems to be quite good cross-protection. Certain strains of Lepto can be devastating to dogs as well as humans so I do urge my clients to keep their dogs vaccinated, and I keep my own puppers vaccinated. This is just my recommendation, YMMV, and others are welcome to disagree


I would make sure your dogs have had a series of 2, four weeks or so apart, initially and then annually after. Sometimes it is given as a 5 way vaccine with distemper/parvo, just make sure the Lepto is bolstered annually ( the other parts are sometimes given on a 3 year booster protocol).

When I worked as a tech I have done it anywhere from starting at 8 weeks and bolstered twice at 12/16 (as part of a 5 way) but also split on its own and starting later, depending on the dog/risk etc.

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10-15 years ago, I felt that if a dog were going to have a vaccine reaction, it would react to lepto/the lepto component. I have no proof other than my own perception, but I think the vaccine manufacturers have done a good job of “cleaning up” the vaccine and I don’t see nearly as many reactions, even in tiny creatures. But I’m not in GP.

It is true that the vaccine is not labeled for all strains. It’s also important to know if your dog has been vaccinated for lepto (ever) because if it gets sick, knowing this info changes which diagnostic tests we recommend to screen for/diagnose lepto.

In a city, a common source for Lepto is rats. In fact, a few years ago my vet told me that incidences of Lepto were as high in cities as in rural areas. If dog parks include human and dog snacks, I wouldn’t be surprised if they attract rats after hours to scavenge for dropped food.

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I’m not a vet, but my girl had lepto in one of her puppy shots at 3 months old. It was the DHLP shot. She only had the DHP shot at 2 months, then when I had her booster a month later the vet gave her the Lepto in the combo shot, which I didn’t want at that time, but it was my fault for not asking. She had a very bad reaction later that day (couldn’t lift her head, was crying on and off for a day, wouldn’t/couldn’t move) and overnight, but seemed to bounce back the next day. Of all of my years in owning dogs, this was the first time I have given Lepto and the very first time I have ever seen an adverse reaction with any vaccine. At her 4 month old last set of shots, I did not include the Lepto again and she was totally fine. No reaction or issue (this was April last year so not too long ago). I then had her rabies at 6 months with no reaction as well.

Since my girl is a farm dog she could get Lepto from standing water around our farm, but she reacted quite badly to the shot and her breed is susceptible to epilepsy so I was going to avoid giving her the Lepto booster (or any other vaccine’s that she may not need, which I will titer for - DHP). But I have her spring blood work, heartworm, fecal, titer, and rabies appt coming up in April and I will discuss the Lepto shot again to see if its worth the risk on getting it.

I cross the border to the US so have to have the rabies no matter what. The vet suggest a titer for it, but its $400 alone.

And, if someone doesn’t pick up dog poo, they call it “rat caviar” for a reason. Yuck!

I would be willing to bet a small amount at least that all those dogs that were supposedly vaccinated for Lepto and are so sick now either weren’t, OR they were only given 1 dose, and no booster. My big guy will be two the end of June and he’s absolutely disgusting, so last fall at shot time I asked for Lepto to be included. The tech said, “He really should get a booster of this in 4 weeks but…” and I said, “Okay, put me down for 4:00 again.” and she was shocked. “Well, almost nobody ever does come back for the booster!”

When my dog had it the internist I saw said that she had diagnosed it in little bitty dogs whose feet barely touched the ground, and she said she did not personally vaccinate her own dogs. :woman_shrugging:
I had always been told that if a dog was going to have a reaction to one, it would be that one. However, my understanding is that in that regard, it’s much improved over what it use to be.
You could be right, but the internist that I said that the vaccine is definitely not 100 percent and to watch for symptoms.
That’s my main issue with some of the stuff that comes out - I would never assume that my dog didn’t have that because he was vaccinated OR because he didn’t frequent dog parks. I now go to the vet and ask for pre-surgery bloodwork if anything is off. Might be overkill in a lot of cases, but I’d rather that than let it get too far.

? If your dog has a reaction to the first shot does one proceed with the booster ?

never mind vet says Yes

It depends on the type of reaction and the pets risk level.

My dog was super painful for about 12 hours after her first lepto vaccine. For the booster I premedicated with benadryl and carprofen and she was just fine. I didn’t premedicate for her most recent annual and she had absolutely no issues.

If it had been an anaphylaxis I might have been more hesitant and/or opted for a heavier duty premedication protocol and hospitalized firbtje day after to monitor. My dogs are out and about in the woods, puddles etc and are up close and personal with my toddler so I’m not messing around with anything zoonotic.

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