A Florida resident and dog owner was recently shocked when she learned that her dog had caught a deadly disease from the canal near her home. Sherri Monaco noticed her dog, Nija, wasn’t eating and that she had yellow eyes and jaundice in her mouth, she rushed her dog to the vet. There, she got terrible news, her dog had leptospirosis (“lepto”) and that it had progressed past the stage of treatment.
Leptospirosis is a serious disease of dogs and people caused by the leptospira bacterium. The disease is carried in the bodies of livestock and wild animals (such as skunks, raccoons, and rodents). Dogs typically become infected when they drink from puddles, rivers, streams, and ponds that become contaminated by the urine of infected animals.
With increased encroachment of wildlife in urban areas, research is indicating that new strains of leptospira are emerging across North America. Also an increase in rat populations in urban areas is spreading the disease.
Due to the life-threatening nature of the disease, it’s becoming a concern for anyone owning a dog. If a pet gets infected by lepto, the bacteria attacks the liver and kidneys which results in organ damage and failure.
There is also a danger that they can pass on the bacteria to their humans. Unfortunately, leptospirosis is not easy to detect or diagnose in its early stages because it is easily confused with other diseases.
Symptoms can include fever, vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain and increased urination. The good news is that if a veterinarian catches the infection early enough it can be treated without causing permanent organ damage. Also there are vaccinations that offer protection against the disease, which are helpful to “at risk” dogs, who may live in areas that have higher instances of the disease.
Sherri was devastated when she realized she would have to put her beloved dog down and says that she plans on vaccinating her other dogs against the deadly disease.
Another precaution to help prevent your dogs from potentially catching the bacteria is to keep them from drinking puddles, ditches and slow-moving creeks when outside.
Share this important health information with the pet parents you know!