Bodie's Story: Recovering from Leptospirosis
|Bodie with Dr. Stephanie Wan.|
A 6-year-old Old English Sheepdog named Bodie was presented to VRCC back in November of 2013 for a suspected abdominal mass. His owners noticed he had been more lethargic, had little appetite and had vomited several times the week before he was seen by his primary veterinarian. Dr. Stephanie Wan, one of our internists, saw Bodie.
Upon entry Dr. Wan performed several diagnostic tests including abdominal ultrasound, blood work, and a urinalysis, which showed that Bodie had acute kidney injury. This means that his kidneys sustained an insult and were not functioning well to filter blood, as they should. This is reflected by increased kidney values (azotemia). He also had a very low platelet count and protein in his urine. Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) and Leptospirosis immediately became our main concerns and Dr. Wan submitted a urine culture and Leptospirosis titers (blood test for Leptospirosis infection).
While we waited for Bodie’s test results, Dr. Wan started aggressive intravenous fluid therapy and antibiotics to treat his dehydration and possible kidney and Leptospirosis infection. Over the next few weeks, Bodie's life was in a delicate balance. Despite fluids and antibiotics, Bodie’s kidneys did not respond to treatment and they stopped making urine. Dr. Wan then started additional medications to promote urine production. After several days, Bodie finally started to make urine! Since he was not interested in eating, we placed a feeding tube in his esophagus to give him some nutrition, which we hoped would improve his appetite.
After a week, Bodie’s Leptospirosis titers returned and showed that he was positive of Leptospirosis infection. Now that we had determined the cause of Bodie’s acute kidney injury, we felt confidant in continuing Bodie's treatment for Leptospirosis. By the following week, he started to show some improvement in his energy level, even gracing us with a tail wag and showing enthusiasm on his walks!
After three long weeks in the ICU, Bodie was finally ready to go home. With his feeding tube still in place, Dr. Wan sent him home with oral medications that his family administered through the feeing tube at home and fluids that they gave under the skin to ensure that he was properly hydrated.
Bodie continues to have problems with his kidneys as Leptopirosis infection left him with permanent and irreversible kidney damage, which is called chronic kidney disease. He has been hospitalized with VRCC a few times since the initial incident for his kidney disease, but is overall doing much better. We still see him every few weeks to keep him on track with his medications and to recheck his kidney values to ensure he remains healthy and happy!
Leptospirosis is an infectious disease that affects humans and animals alike. It is caused by Leptospira, a group of bacteria that is spread through the urine of infected animals, most commonly wildlife. The bacteria can live in water or soil infecting other animals that come into contact with it either through drinking the water or through cuts on the skin. The kidneys are the primary organs affected by Leptospirosis infection.
Clinical signs of the disease vary from case to case with some animals exhibiting no signs of illness at all. The common clinical signs that have been reported in dogs include:
- Abdominal Pain
- Muscle Pain and Joint Stiffness
- Increased drinking and urination
According to the CDC, younger dogs are generally more affected than older dogs. If your dog is suspected or diagnosed with Leptospirosis, immediate treatment is crucial to prevent any further damage to the kidneys.
To prevent infection, there is a Leptospirosis vaccine; however it is not 100% effective as there are many strains of the bacteria and the vaccine does not cover all of them. Pet owners can also try to prevent their dogs from drinking out of puddles, creeks, or any bodies of water outdoors, where other animals may urinate.
In Bodie's case, he was very lucky that his family picked up on his clinical signs and sought medical attention for him immediately. He had a long road to recovery, but today he is doing well and acting like a normal dog again.