Urgent warning for dog owners in Australia over deadly 'problem'

·2-min read

Following the wet start to the year, pet insurers are warning dog owners to be careful after a rise in claims regarding a bacterial disease dogs can catch from ponds and puddles.

Leptospirosis is a disease that can cause severe health complications in both humans and dogs.

Rodent urine carrying the disease contaminates ponds and puddles, and when dogs drink from or splash in the contaminated water, they can get quite sick.

Early symptoms include fever, vomiting and diarrhoea or shivering, though Leptospirosis can cause more serious health issues.

“There has been an increase in cases of Leptospirosis in dogs,” Nadia Crighton from Pet Insurance Australia says.

“This is very concerning for a lot of pet owners, particularly those that have been affected by heavy rainfall.”

There's been a rise in Leptospirosis claims, likely due to the wet weather on the east coast. Source: Getty Images
There's been a rise in Leptospirosis claims, likely due to the wet weather on the east coast. Source: Getty Images

You can get your dog vaccinated against Leptospirosis and Ms Crighton strongly urged people who live in rain-affected areas to seek out the vaccine from their veterinarian.

"This is certainly becoming a big problem and pet owners do need to be vigilant in keeping their pets safe," she said.

Some of the claims Pet Insurance Australia received over the last year have been up to $3000 to treat the disease in dogs.

Though it's not just the dogs who need to be careful, when wet weather sparked last year's mice plague in rural NSW, health services saw a spike in Leptospirosis cases in humans.

The disease can lead to kidney failure and meningitis in humans and people can catch it the same ways as their four-legged friends: in contaminated water and mud.

The bacterial disease can cause serious health problems for both dogs and humans. Source: AAP
The bacterial disease can cause serious health problems for both dogs and humans. Source: AAP

To ensure your dog doesn't contract Leptospirosis Pet Insurance Australia suggests:

  • Keeping dogs on a lead

  • Do not allow your dog to play in ponds or puddles

  • Keep your pet’s area rodent-free

  • Stay away from flooded parks and muddy areas

“Leptospirosis can be prevented,” Ms Crighton says.

“If you are concerned or are living in a high construction area where rats could be prevalent seek out a vaccination to protect your dog.”

In 2019 there were several dogs in Sydney that died after contracting the disease.

Among the dogs to fall victim to the disease in 2019 was Allan Quinnell’s support dog, nine-year-old Bu, who died just days after first showing symptoms.

“She was my girl. She was my care dog,” he told Yahoo News Australia.

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