Everyone loves a cool dip in the water on a hot summer’s day – including our pets. Some pups love nothing more than to splash around; it’s a great workout and a fun way to escape the blinding heat of the summer. Unfortunately, the water might not always be loving our dogs back. Diseases caused by water spike in the summer, and it’s not fun for pets or their owners. In particular, leptospirosis has caused a scare, a waterborne illness that has been on the rise in Charleston. Here’s what we know about leptospirosis:
What is it?
A bacterial disease that affects the liver or kidneys of dogs and other mammals. There are several strains of leptospira, some of which dogs are already immune to. However, those that have not been traditionally recognized in dogs, therefore not included in the vaccine, can cause the illness. The bacteria are carried mainly by rats and other rodents, but it can affect essentially all mammals, including humans. Ingestion of infected urine or rodent-contaminated garbage are the most common means of infection, but it can penetrate through the skin, too, which is why swimming in contaminated water can cause a problem.
The three main forms are
- hemorrhagic (bleeding)
- High fever, lethargy, bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite with small hemorrhages in the mouth and eyes
- icteric or jaundice (liver)
- Similar to hemorrhagic, except for yellow color of moth and whites of the eyes
- or renal (kidney)
- Very lethargic, anorectic, vomit, bad breath, tongue ulcers, diarrhea, excessive drinking, and excessive, bloody urination
How can you treat it?
The best way to treat leptospirosis is with a vaccination. There are a few risks and potential reactions to the vaccine, which can be controlled medically. Antibiotics can help if your dog has contracted the disease and treatment begins relatively early, but most require intensive care in a veterinary hospital.
Prevention is always key, so try to avoid bodies of water where you don’t know where the water comes from and always rinse your dogs off after they come out of the water. If they have a cut, don’t let them swim until it has healed. If you have any questions, or if you think your pet may have fallen ill, don’t hesitate in coming down to see us!