PEI

Vet urges Islanders to monitor their dogs for leptospirosis

A veterinarian is asking Islanders to monitor their dogs after an emergency animal clinic in Nova Scotia says it's been "overrun" by a recent outbreak of leptospirosis.

AVC vet says to keep an eye out for dogs with low appetite and energy

Pippin, a therapy dog that visited kids at Ronald McDonald House in Halifax, died earlier this month after contracting leptospirosis. (Submitted by Brenda Potter)

Veterinarians are asking dog owners to monitor their pets after an emergency animal clinic in Nova Scotia says it's been "overrun" by a recent outbreak of leptospirosis.

Earlier this month, a Halifax woman's therapy dog unexpectedly fell ill after coming into contact with the infectious bacteria — the dog's kidneys began to fail soon after, forcing the woman to say goodbye to her companion.

Dr. Peter Foley, small animal medicine specialist at the Atlantic Veterinary College, says there are no reported cases of leptospirosis on the Island but people should know about the disease and how to spot it.

"Some dogs can have no clinical signs at all, they have no symptoms, other ones can become very seriously ill in a short period of time," Foley told CBC News' Compass.

How to spot it

One sign in spotting the disease, he said, is when a dog begins dismissing its food.

"Dogs like eating so much so when they stop eating it's a real sign that something is seriously wrong in the dog," he said.

Foley also urged people to look specifically for their dog showing a poor appetite, a lack of energy or even vomiting.

Peter Foley, from the Atlantic Veterinary College, says some dogs show no clinical signs of illness at all while others can become very seriously ill in a short period of time. (CBC)

If you've noticed your dog is ignoring their food and is displaying a lack of energy, it's time to visit the vet for the assessment, Foley added.

Vaccines are also available for dogs that don't yet have the disease.

"If you're in an area where it's not very prevalent, you really have to have a discussion with your vet about the risks and benefits about giving the vaccine," he said.

"It covers a lot of different strains of leptospirosis, like all vaccines it's not 100 per cent effective."

Where it comes from

Foley said the disease is often carried in wild animals like rats, who spread the bacteria around in their urine.

If a dog comes in contact with the urine, whether it's in standing water or grass, it could catch it that way.

The disease can even spread to humans as well, Foley added, so people should be watching out for flu-like symptoms in themselves.

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said dogs showing signs of leptospirosis should be taken to the vet for vaccination. In fact, they should be taken to the vet for assessment.
    Oct 25, 2017 11:31 AM AT

With files from CBC News: Compass

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