An Associate Professor of small animal internal medicine with the Atlantic Veterinary College at UPEI is making pet owners aware of a condition called Leptospirosis.
It is a disease that caused an outbreak in Nova Scotia last year, and pet owners should be on alert and watch for symptoms in the case their dog is infected.
Dr. Michelle Evason says the bacteria that causes Leptospirosis can be found not far from your home.
“Those reservoir hosts are animals like rodents. So that includes rats, mice, and raccoons who carry the bacteria in their body, without having illness associated with it and then they shed it in their urine and it can go into puddles,” Dr. Evason says.
Dogs can contract it, if they have a cut, or if they lick their paws after they have come in contact with infected water.
Symptoms can include a dog who is lethargic, drinking more, throwing up and not wanting to eat.
If it is caught quickly, it can be treated, but in some cases it progresses to kidney failure, and can be fatal.
Dr. Evason says Lepto has been around for awhile, but the demographic and who gets infected are changing, “So, we are seeing Leptospirosis in dogs, in places where didn’t see it before. The disease is what we call emerging. It is now showing up in places including Ontario, as well as in Nova Scotia and in other parts of Atlantic Canada.”
There is a vaccine available. Dr. Evason suggests for more information, talk to your veterinarian.
“This tends to be a seasonal disease, unusually late summer or fall, but last year, we did see some cases in December, which I believe is due to climate change. The bacterium is usually found in puddles, so stagnant water is needed to keep that bacteria alive, and so now that the temperature has changed, a lack of ice is something we are seeing later and later in the year,” Dr. Evason says.
Humans can also contract Leptospirosis, but Dr. Evason says they won’t usually catch it from their pets.