Working Dogs May be Exposed to Diseases in the Field

Enthusiasts can help make their fall hunting season a rewarding and enjoyable experience by being cautious of potentially dangerous diseases found in the field. It is important to know your dog well and be able to readily recognize signs of something wrong. Be sure to carry a first-aid kit to treat minor injuries and be prepared to take your dog to a veterinarian for more serious injuries. Here are two diseases to be aware of when working in the field this fall.


Active dogs that spend time outdoors, especially in areas with high annual rainfall and warm climates, are at increased risk for leptospirosis, commonly known as lepto disease. Lepto is spread through the urine of infected animals, getting into water or soil where it can survive for weeks, even months.
The Leptospira spp. bacteria can cause kidney or liver failure, the eye disorder uveitis and hemorrhage of the lung. Signs include fever, lethargy and vomiting. Diagnosing leptospirosis early before a dog goes into renal failure and treating with fluids and antibiotics are key to a positive outcome. Dialysis may be necessary later, reducing the chances of a successful outcome.
Although there is a vaccine to protect dogs from leptospirosis, it is not a core vaccine and is not widely used.


A disease that is believed to be increasing, especially in the Southeastern United States, ehrlichiosis is a tick-borne illness caused by different species of Ehrlichia bacteria.
Affected dogs can develop chronic inflammatory disease, bleeding problems and kidney damage. Owners may notice their dogs having fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss, and abnormal bleeding. Antibiotic treatment can be successful, though reinfection may occur because immunity is not long-lasting.
If you find a tick on yourself, odds are there is at least one on your dog.  Veterinarians suggest storing removed ticks in a plastic bag in your freezer with the date and location where you were. If signs of ehrlichiosis develop within two weeks, knowing the species of tick may help with the diagnosis.
Recognizing the signs of dangerous diseases your dogs may be exposed to while working will help ensure you and your canine companion have a safe hunting or field trial experience.