Dog owners warned of deadly infectious disease
Published Monday, November 19, 2012 7:41PM AST
There are at least two confirmed cases of leptospirosis in dogs in Nova Scotia and the bacteria is suspected in another case in which the animal died.
Leptospirosis is bacteria that can be transmitted from pets to humans and veterinarians say it might be more common than we know.
Dog owner Kim Goulden says her dog Emma is on the mend after she contracted the serious infectious disease.
“When she stopped eating and she wouldn’t eat her treats, her really loveable treats, we knew, OK, something was up,” says the Upper Tantallon resident.
Symptoms of leptospirosis include vomiting, fatigue, loss of appetite, and excessive thirst.
It leads to kidney and liver failure and is typically transmitted on a walk through the woods.
“A wild animal, mostly raccoons, can urinate in the environment. If they’re infected with this bacteria, that urine can then find its way to a puddle, and a dog will be out for a walk. He then goes to drink from that puddle and then he’s exposed to the bacteria,” explains veterinarian Dr. Heather Mosher.
Dogs can then expose their owners to the disease. Mosher says people can contract it if they touch urine and then get it in their eyes, mouth, or in a cut.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen to Kim Goulden, but Emma ended up in isolation for three days.
“I got very emotional because I thought she probably wasn’t going to make it,” she says. “I thought we were going to say goodbye.”
Mosher says leptospirosis may be more common than we think and that we don’t often hear about it because an infected pet will often die before test results have been confirmed.
There are now two confirmed cases of leptospirosis in Upper Tantallon. A third dog died in another suspected case.
Mosher recommends dog owners try to keep their pets out of puddles and keep up-to-date on vaccinations to fight the bacteria.
She also says cat owners don’t need to be concerned as felines don't seem to be susceptible to the disease.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kayla Hounsell