Do Chihuahuas Need Lepto Vaccines?

 |  May 31st 2008  |   12 Contributions

Dr. Barchas,

My two one-year-old 5.5 lb.
Chihuauhuas are due for their distemper booster
soon. Do you feel the lepto vaccine added into the
distemper vaccine is necessary? Or do you think it
is too much of a risk for a Chihuahua to get this

Thank you,


Leptospira, also known as lepto, is a bacteria that infects the kidneys. The bacteria is present in the urine of infected animals. Pets and humans can become infected if they come in contact with the urine of an infected animal, or if they drink water that is contaminated with urine. Any pet or person that is infected with lepto may suffer kidney failure.

The vaccine for lepto is controversial. There are several different types of lepto, and the vaccine protects against only a few of them. As well, conventional wisdom in the veterinary community holds that the lepto vaccine causes a disproportionate number of adverse reactions in pets. I have yet to see any hard proof of this second issue. Nonetheless, many vets believe it.

My attorney recommends that I vaccinate all dogs against Leptospira. She fears that if I dont, and a person contracts the disease from one of my unvaccinated patients, I will be sued.

However, the fact is that some dogs are at higher risk for the disease than others. Dogs that roam freely in rural areas and drink from ponds or puddles in which wild animals may have urinated are at high risk. They should definitely be vaccinated, for their safety as well as that of the people who live with them.

Dogs that live in urban areas, dogs that rarely go outside and dogs that never drink from puddles or ponds have a low risk of contracting lepto. Most Chihuahuas fall into one or more of these categories.

Ultimately, you must be the one to decide whether your dogs are vaccinated against lepto. If you elect to vaccinate them, you must be prepared to accept the risk of adverse reactions. If you choose to forego the vaccine, you must make that decision with the knowledge that lepto is a disease that could potentially spread to you.


Tip: Creating a profile and avatar takes just a minute and is a great way to participate in Dogster's community of people who are passionate about dogs.

blog comments powered by Disqus