Lepto and Norwich terriers

Leptospirosis ("lepto") is an infectious bacterial disease that causes serious illness in dogs and people. Initial signs of leptospirosis include fever, lethargy, and lack of appetite. There is a lepto vaccine but it is considered a "non-core" vaccine (meaning that it is not recommended for every dog). It is unclear whether to recommend the lepto vaccine for Norwich terriers:

1. Norwich terriers have died from lepto, including a dog that I have bred - seven-year old Hobbes ("Shaksper Titus Andronicus").

2. Norwich terriers have also been reported to get ill and even die from the lepto vaccine. In a 2017 survey of members by the Norwich Terrier Club of America, among those who gave the lepto vaccine to their Norwich, 22 percent reported an adverse reaction ([1]). A Norwich breeder who I personally know reported the death of a Norwich due to the lepto vaccine ([2]).

Many vets automatically recommend the lepto vaccine, because of the zoonatic nature of lepto (humans can get lepto). My recommendation is to have a discussion with your vet about the lepto vaccine, but to not defer to your vet regarding the decision about whether to give the lepto vaccine to your dog. In particular, ask your vet how many cases of lepto the vet has personally seen in the last year. Then after considering the risk, make your own decision about whether to give the lepto vaccine to your Norwich.

For more on lepto, see [3] and [4].

Blair Kelly

[1] Lepto-Survey-Results-5-25-17.pdf

[2] Anaphylactic-Reaction-to-Leptospirosis-Vaccine_Health.pdf

[3] Hotspots of canine leptospirosis in the United States of America, White et al., The Veterinary Journal, 2017.

[4] 2010 ACVIM Small Animal Consensus Statement on Leptospirosis: Diagnosis, Epidemiology, Treatment, and Prevention, Sykes et al., J Vet Intern Med, 2010.