An uncommon disease has been detected in some areas of Melbourne. The disease, known as Leptospirosis, took the lives of seven dogs in Sydney in late 2019. Three cases were detected in Ringwood and Bayswater in November 2019.
Here’s everything you need to know to keep your pet safe:
What is Leptospirosis?
The disease is caused by bacteria that spreads through infected rat urine. Dogs can contract it via food, bedding, or most commonly stagnant water that has become contaminated. It enters the body by contact with the mouth, entering through broken skin or by swallowing infected water.
Cats can become infected too but it is rare. There have been no reported cat cases to date in these areas.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms are generally seen 7 days after exposure to the bacteria and include being off food, lethargic, vomiting, diarrhoea and yellow colouring to the whites of the eyes. In some cases, death can occur.
What do I do if my dog is experiencing the above symptoms?
The disease can be life threatening so please urgently contact your Greencross Vets or closest emergency vet if you suspect your pet is unwell.
What can I do to protect my dog?
You can help your dog by speaking with the professional team at your local Greencross Vet to discuss the pros and cons of vaccination. There is a vaccine available to protect against a common strain of this disease and if your pet visits areas where Leptospirosis has been detected, or where there are a lot of rats, we strongly recommend vaccination. Speak with your Greencross Vets team today to discuss your pet’s individual needs. If your pet is a member of Healthy Pets Plus this vaccine is available as part of your pet’s membership.
Rats are becoming more noticeable with a combination of infrastructure and rain. We recommend keeping your dog away from areas where rats frequent, keep your pet away from stagnant water and don’t let them drink from puddles. Exercising control methods around your home such as reducing household waste and cleaning up potential places for rats to live will help as well. There are products available to bait or humanely capture and relocate rats, but care must be taken so that your pets don’t contact the rats or the rat poison (if you choose to use rat baits).
Are humans susceptible?
Leptospirosis can infect humans, too. Care must be taken to reduce exposure to rats or to the urine from a dog infected with Leptospirosis. If you have any concerns, seek medical advice right away.
As always, please reach out to your local Greencross Vet with any additional questions or concerns.