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I live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Should I have my dog vaccinated against leptospirosis?

Yes. Pittwater Animal Hospital made the decision to vaccinate all dogs on the Northern Beaches of Sydney in June 2021.  This was because

  • One of our local dogs died of leptospirosis in June 2021– The dog had not left the Northern Beaches so contracted the disease here. Further cases have been reported in the area in early 2022.
  • Leptospirosis is very difficult to diagnose early in the disease. Most dogs with leptospirosis are not diagnosed with the disease until they go into liver and kidney failure. At this stage most dogs die of the disease despite intensive treatment.
  • Leptospirosis can be spread to humans and can cause very severe disease. Humans and dogs develop leptospirosis after contact with an infected animal’s urine. If your dog develops leptospirosis it’s urine will be infectious to your family.
  • Vaccination is an excellent way to protect against leptospirosis. 

How do I have my dog vaccinated against leptospirosis at Pittwater Animal Hospital?

Most of our dogs were vaccinated to protect against lepospirosis after the outbreak in 2021. Any dog vaccinated at Pittwater Animal Hospital since June 2021 has been recommended to have the upgraded leptospirosis vaccination.


If your dog has not been vaccinated, it can be done at the same time as the regular vaccinations, or if these are not due soon, then vaccination can be done separately. 


Two vaccinations 2- 4 weeks apart are needed for protection. 


First vaccination: Can be lepto/corona alone or given with your dog’s regular vaccinations


Booster vaccination is a smaller charge two to four weeks later. 


Vaccination sessions are available throughout the week

  Make an Appointment with the Vet

or call us on 9913 7979



The costs of the vaccination vary depending on what you are having done.

Please email if you would like an estimate.


Is my dog already vaccinated against leptospirosis?

Most dogs have already been vaccinated against leptospirosis. These include

  • Dogs vaccinated in 2021 when there was an outbreak on the Northern Beaches.
  • Most dogs from overseas or Queensland where the vaccination is more standard.
  • All of our new puppies have been vaccinated since June 2021. The vaccination also covers for a cause of diarrhoea (corona virus), so we had made a decision to add this to our vaccination regime.

To check your dog’s vaccination status please email


How does my dog catch leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is caught from exposure to the urine of an infected animal. This is usually a rat or mouse.


We have always had rats and mice in this area, but now know that some of these animals have been infected with leptospirosis. The infectious organism can be present in wet soil, stagnant water, puddles and moist undergrowth.


Until your dog is fully vaccinated we advise to keep your dog on lead, away from wet areas and any areas that may contain rats and mice. This may be very difficult as there is a rodent plague at the moment.


Please wash your hands after handling your dog when they have been outside.


Can my dog contract leptospirosis from other dogs?

It is highly unlikely for your dog to contract leptospirosis from general contact with other dogs. 


If dogs contract leptospirosis, they are rapidly unwell and need urgent veterinary care.  Animals contract leptospirosis from contact with an infected animal’s urine – mainly the primary host – rats.  We have always had rats on the Northern Beaches but we now know that these rats have been exposed to the bacterial disease leptospirosis.


At this time, it is fine to have your dogs contacting other dogs, but it is best to keep them away from areas with wild rodents.


Can my family contract leptospirosis?

Yes. People can contract leptospirosis from any infected animals urine. It enters the body through mucous membranes such as gums but also cuts and abrasions.


There have been been outbreaks in humans on fruit picking farms. The combination of rodent urine and cuts and abrasions from fruit picking caused multiple human infections.



What area of the Northern Beaches was affected?

Our good client’s dog that contracted leptospirosis, was regularly walked around their local area of North Narrabeen and Elanora. The dog was not walked off lead but did like to snuffle in the bushes.

Is the leptospirosis vaccination safe?

The vaccination we use to protect against leptospirosis is a very standard vaccination which is regularly used in Queensland and the UK. There are no more side effects with this vaccination than our normal vaccination regime. Very few side effects ever occur.  

When will my dog be protected once the vaccination is given?

Vaccines take time to protect your dog. Your dog should be fully protected 10-14 days after the second vaccination.

What should I do with my dog before it is protected against leptospirosis?

Try to keep your dog on the lead and away from wet areas that may contain rat urine especially in the Elanora, Narrabeen and Warriewood area.


Generally when leptospirosis is detected in an area there are a cluster of cases. We would like to protect our animals until they are fully vaccinated.


What signs should I look out for if my dog may have leptospirosis?

Signs can start very vaguely with vomiting or diarrhoea and being slightly unwell.  Dogs will often run a mild temperature.


Symptoms of leptospirosis then develop which may include fever, shivering, extreme lethargy, vomiting, diarrhoea and jaundice (yellow gums). 


Intensive supportive care is needed to treat an infected dog. Rapid diagnosis is essential. 


Generally when leptospirosis is detected in an area there are a cluster of cases. We would like to protect our animals until they are fully vaccinated.


Do we expect more cases of leptospirosis?

Similar episodes of leptospirosis in Sydney have resulted in clusters of cases. The inner city outbreak started with one dog and resulted in seven known infections over three months.


A cluster in the late 1980s in western Sydney resulted in hundreds of infected dogs.  


Pittwater Animal is concerned that with the combination of increased moisture in the environment, as well as high levels of rats and mice, that further cases are very likely.  


We would like to protect our animals until they are fully vaccinated.


Is there a test for leptospirosis?

This is an extremely difficult disease to diagnose.


Unwell dogs can have a PCR test on blood and urine. This needs to be sent to an external laboratory and will take two days to receive a result. The cost for the test alone is nearly $200


There is also a serology test for well dogs that will test for any indication of exposure to leptospirosis. Some animals may have been exposed and have been asymptomatic. The cost for the test alone is nearly $300 and takes three days to receive a result.


In outbreak areas blood and urine tests that are indicating liver and kidney failure will give your vets a high suspicion of possible leptospirosis.


Can my cat contract leptospirosis?

It is possible for cats to contract leptospirosis but it is very rarely diagnosed, as diagnosis is very challenging.


There is no vaccination to protect cats from leptospirosis.


At this time, to avoid your cat coming in contact with this dangerous disease, it is best to keep them away from areas with wild rodents.


In areas where leptospirosis is regularly seen, it is very common in dogs but rarely seen in cats. 




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