Let's talk about Lepto

So, getting a new puppy. And you have to make decisions again. My breeder is not one who makes excessive demands on her puppy buyers. But in her vaccine information sheet she says she doesn't give Lepto. That it's the one that sometimes has very bad reactions. I know this. But I've also given the lepto vaccine to all of my dogs without any problem. The breeder doesn't say that I'm not allowed to give the Lepto vaccine, just that she doesn't do it.

My vet is adamantly pro Lepto vaccine. He says it's a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted to humans, and it can be difficult to diagnose. I know it's treatable, but Lepto is pretty nasty. I am generally pro vaccine. My dogs are vaccinated for everything (though not yearly, I try to spread it out.) And he's not generally adamant about things - except this and HW/Flea/Tick prevention year round. 

I feel like whichever choice I make I'm putting my puppy in danger.

So to lepto, or not to lepto. That is the question.

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  • I don't do lepto, I never have and I doubt I ever will. 

    Jasper's breeder does object to the lepto vaccine being given to her puppies. One of Jasper's brothers from an earlier litter did have a very bad, very scary reaction.
    But I wouldn't have given it to Jasper anyway. 

    I am "pro vaccine" when the benefits outweigh the risks and when there is no alternative. Titering is an easy  alternative to distemper/parvo vaccine in adult dogs. Three year versions of vaccines are a no-brainer to me. I believe in vaccines that are appropriate to the individual, and the fewer the better. 

    You say "I've also given the lepto vaccine to all of my dogs without any problem". 
    I say "I've never given the lepto vaccine to any of my dogs and also never had a problem", lol.

    Which is right? If Jasper gets lepto, you can say "See, you should have done the lepto vaccine." 
    If one of your girls has a bad reaction to the vaccine, I can say "See, you shouldn't have given the lepto vaccine." 

    That's not very helpful, is it?

    I am wondering why you are hesitating to give the lepto vaccine to the new pup when you have been giving it to your other dogs. It would seem you are comfortable with it for them, and I know you love them dearly, so why are you questioning it with the new dog? What is different?

    • No it's not very helpful! And that's exactly the problem. I'm torn in both directions.

      I titered Maggie and I will titer Willow next time. We know that the immunity from the vaccines lasts far longer than one year. We do studies in humans to show lifetime immunity in humans to things like Polio. I don't understand why we would vaccinate our dogs yearly. They have shown immunity to rabies at something like 7 years. They compromise and let you do it every three, when really they probably only need it once in their life. 

      I think for the last however many years that I've given Lepto I've known that while it is the vaccine that causes the most reactions, vaccine reactions are rare. And it's far more likely that they will be fine than they will have any problems from it. I think the only reason I question it now is because the breeder said it. It makes me second guess myself. I'm starting fresh with this perfect little puppy and I feel a lot of self inflicted pressure to do everything perfectly. She has good genes, a good start to life, no bad experiences. Anything that goes wrong here is on me. I worked really hard to fix Maggie. But I can only break this puppy.

      • Do your dogs do activities where they might encounter the bacteria?  That would be my final decider.

        • Yes. Jack's dermatologist told me that they need it if they go swimming or are ever in any bodies of water: lakes, rivers, streams, etc. 

          • We don't usually go to bodies of water.  But since my dogs aren't up to date on lepto, it also keeps me from going to bodies of water.  Catch-22.  I'm a fearful person at times and it's easier to NOT do something than make a decision.  

            Lepto is to a bacteria and for some reason I have this understanding that vaccines to bacteria are shorter lived than those to viruses...?

            • Yes, it has to do with the type of antigen in the vaccine. It's pretty complicated. But the bottom line is that the lepto vaccine must be given annually. 

              • My vet told me once that some of the hunting dog owners were giving Lepto twice a year like bordatella. For that reason, I assume.

    • Andie had no reaction to the Lepto vaccine but did have very frequent peeing for the 24 hours after the distemper vaccine on both occasions that I took him for it.  I live in the country in an area with a high deer population; cotton rats; ground hogs, skunks - you name it.    Lepto can be contracted from soil contaminated with wildlife urine, standing water etc.  It can enter the body through broken skin. I understand that if you dog puts his feet outside he should have the Lepto.

      • Some vets say that. Apparently, where years ago, they never saw a case of lepto in say, a Shih Tzu who stayed in his suburban backyard or walked on sidewalks in the neighborhood, they started seeing it in just such dogs. My vet blamed it on dogs drinking from contaminated puddles. His office was recommending the vaccine for all dogs back in maybe 2012, but because Jack was immune-compromised, he offered me the option and didn't push either way. I chose not to do it, and my vet did not disagree. 
        The topic hasn't come up with Jasper. Maybe some years are worse for certain diseases than others. 

  • Okay, I had to look this up as it is not common in mostly arid southern California to vaccinate for leptospirosis.  Although it may someday be, as the disease is becoming more prevalent.  Lepto, is a bacteria and thrives in wet, warm heavy rainfall condition.  it is transmitted by bodily fluids, urine, sweat, saliva.  It is possible to contract it from your dog, although uncommon. The vaccination is not a live vaccine and any reaction is from the dogs immune system at work. Lepto is becoming more common and is even seen in "purse dogs" who spend a lot of time is warm damp small areas.  You can ask your veterinarian to break the dosage up into smaller doses, especially for smaller dogs.  The disease is serious and difficult to diagnose.

    That said, if it is advised in your area of the country, I would vaccinate.  Symptoms are usually mild and the disease is not. Vaccinations have gotten a bad rap ever since the invalid (60participants), made up and completely debunked article submitted by a dishonest doctor, said there was a connection between vaccination and autism.  There was not.  Vaccines keep our populations, human and animal healthier and if given with care by a knowledgable practioner safe. 

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