Danger to dogs from flood water

Vets warn of leptospirosis link to floods


Vets have warned pet owners in flooded areas to take extra precautions against Leptospirosis, a severe and often fatal water-borne illness caused by the bacteria Leptospira.

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can be passed between animals and humans. It is transmitted through contact with infected animal urine mainly from rats and it can contaminate puddles, rivers, ponds and flood water. In its early stages, Leptospirosis is often hard for vets to diagnose. But if left untreated it can quickly progress to potentially fatal liver or kidney failure.

Even if treated early with antibiotics, infected dogs can carry the bacteria in their urine for months or even years and spread the disease to other dogs and even you!
With water levels rising across the country - and therefore a larger likelihood of rats - humans and their pets are potentially at a higher risk of developing the condition.

MyPetonline vet Matt Brash MRCVS said: “It is vital to ensure your dog is vaccinated against Leptospirosis at the moment if they are being walked in flooded areas. 

Leonard Mutch, of  Abbeymoor Veterinary Centre in Sheffield adds: "Weil's disease typically enters the body through cuts and scrapes, or the lining of the nose, mouth, throat or eyes’.

"If you are in an area that has been affected by flood water, it is essential that your pet has any cuts and abrasions covered and avoids splashing and swallowing water.

"Where possible, you should thoroughly wash your pet after coming into contact with flood waters." 

Symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs:

Early signs of leptospirosis can be vague and non-specific making diagnosis difficult in the first phase of the disease. However developing symptoms can include lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea, fever as well as muscular pain with the dog appearing to experience stiffness or difficulty moving.

Treatment of leptospirosis in dogs

Dogs suspected to be suffering with leptospirosis are treated with a combination of antibiotics and rehydration therapy.  Care must be taken in handling a dog with leptospirosis and the appropriate protection, including facemask, disposable gloves and gown, should be worn at all times to prevent contracting the disease. 

Matt Brash adds: "A simple, painless injection is all that is needed to protect your pet against this potentially life threatening condition."

If you are concerned that your dog may be at risk of leptospirosis contact your vet for advice.

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Published: 04:35, 26 February 2014 | Updated: 03:43, 2 March 2014