Protect your pet from Leptospirosis

This uncommon disease has been detected in some areas of Melbourne and Sydney. The disease, known as Leptospirosis, took the lives of dogs in Sydney and Melbourne in late 2019 and most recently there has been an outbreak in Sydney’s Inner West (August 2020).

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. Signs may appear mild at first, but please don’t delay. A quick response could make all the difference.

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. Make sure you visit your vet if your dog shows any signs of illness e.g. not eating, lethargy, vomiting or diarrhoea.

Don’t delay treatment even if signs are mild.


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What can I do to protect my dog?

You can help your dog by speaking with the professional team at your local Greencross Vets clinic to discuss vaccination. There is a vaccine available to protect against a common strain of this disease. This is an additional vaccine that often is not part of the standard vaccination protocol for many pets so please ask your vet about it if you live in an area where Leptospirosis has been detected.

If your pet visits areas where Leptospirosis has been detected, or locations where there are a lot of rats, we strongly recommend vaccination to protect your pet from Leptospirosis. 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 and included as part of your pet’s membership.

We recommend the following to keep your pet safe:

  • Vaccinate your dogs, especially in high risk areas – vaccination is the best prevention
  • Walk your dog on a lead in high risk areas- especially those dogs that love chasing rats and those that like swimming in ponds/rivers
  • Don’t allow your dog to drink from stagnant water that may be contaminated e.g. ponds, lakes or puddles
  • Don’t leave lots of food out for your pets, not only does it attracts rats but it is wasteful. Obesity is a common condition we see in dogs.
  • Clean up rubbish around the home and yard
  • Don’t use rat baits at home – dogs are attracted to these and they are poisonous
  • Make sure you visit your vet if your dog shows any signs of illness e.g. not eating, lethargy, vomiting or diarrhoea. Don’t delay treatment even if signs are mild.

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.


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