Leptospirosis and Dog Flu: SPCA LA Says Vaccinate


It’s bad enough what we’re dealing with our own health regarding sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) CoV-2 which causes COVID-19.  The canine influenza virus (dog flu) still rears its ugly and very contagious self all the time.

Dog flu good news: There is no overwhelming nationwide outbreak.

If your dog is social, talk with your veterinarian about the dog flu vaccine

Dog flu bad news: There are regional outbreaks.

And nationwide leptospirosis is on the rise, and that is bad news.

Los Angeles County Veterinary Public Health officials have warned of an outbreak of both dog flu and also leptospirosis, not a good twofur.

Fresh water may mean leptospirosis thrives there, and dog flu can be spread in social canine settings

Regarding vaccines, adult humans, of course, decide for themselves on what they want to do. However, dogs are not so capable of making these decisions. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA) is now urging dog owners to get their dogs vaccinated, especially if they participate in group activities, visit dog parks, go to pet stores where there are other dogs or spend time at boarding or grooming facilities.

“Now that we’re traveling and going back to in-person work or school, our ‘pandemic pups’ are heading to daycare and kennels, which is driving these outbreaks,” spcaLA President Madeline Bernstein said in a statement. “Getting your dogs vaccinated not only protects them, but can save you time, money, and grief in the long run.”

According to L.A. County veterinary health officials, the current canine influenza outbreak is both wider spread and less controlled than an outbreak back in 2017, which was linked to the importation of dogs from out of the country by a rescue group, and spread from there.

Leptospirosis could be lurking in this water

In dogs, there are two strains of flu in the U.S. (H3N2 and H3N8). So far, L.A. is dealing with the more virulent H3N2 strain, which tends to make dogs sicker compared to the H3N8 strain. True enough not all dogs infected with dog flu get sick but most do. Some dogs get really sick, and all dogs are extremely contagious to others. A small percent of dogs do die from dog flu. Yes, the percent is small but that is inconsequential if it is your dog. The L.A. outbreak follows a Florida outbreak of dog flu, which has now apparently been contained.

Leptospirosis is a water loving bacteria spread via the urine of infected animals. The roster of critters carrying lepto is really long, ranging from rodents (prominently city rats) to farm animals to racoons, skunk and the list goes on an on to include wild canids (wolves, coyotes, fox) and unvaccinated dogs which may urinate in any body of freshwater, from a lake or river to even a puddle. For reasons unknown, some dogs just don’t become ill, but they remain contagious. Other dogs do get sick and many require hospitalization; sadly too many ill with lepto never make it out. All this is prevented by vaccination.

Vaccination, not only to protect your own dog, but also to help to limit community spread.