A Teesside vet has warned of a “potentially-fatal” disease to dogs and these are the symptoms you should look out for.

Wear Referrals in Bradbury, Stockton, has seen a worrying spike in cases over the past few weeks of a disease called leptospirosis – an infection that can make dogs seriously ill.

The disease also carries the risk of being passed on to humans as Weil’s disease.

Dog owners are being asked to protect themselves and their pets by keeping annual booster vaccinations up-to-date.

The symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs may include the following:

  • Fever
  • Jaundice
  • Muscle pain
  • Limping
  • Weakness
  • Collapsing
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drinking more

Chiara Giannasi, head of internal medicine at Linnaeus-owned Wear Referrals, said the worrying amount of cases seen at the hospital in the past month could be attributed to the lack of vaccine.

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She said: “We have had four critical patients with leptospirosis in the past four weeks, who have all required intensive care with liver and kidney failure, sadly as a result of the disease.

“In my five years at Wear, personally, I have not seen dogs so sick with leptospirosis or such a high number of cases.

“Unfortunately, I think this rise in the number of cases we are currently seeing could be due to a change in the disease itself (a more aggressive process) and lack of vaccinations.

“A lack of vaccination is probably for a variety of reasons such as pet owners simply

forgetting appointments for booster jabs, a slight worry about the vaccination – although the risks are tiny compared to the risk of death from the disease – and some dogs also missed boosters during lockdown, too.”

Ms Giannasi said that if a pet owner suspects their dog has contracted leptospirosis, early veterinary intervention was crucial.

She added: “Unfortunately, the condition can be difficult to treat so prevention is far better than cure. For the sake of a booster jab, it can be largely prevented. 

“The disease is carried by rats so areas where there is standing water, such as farmland, stables and ponds in the park, are all high-risk.

“There are a number of non-specific symptoms which affected animals may display, including lethargy, vomiting and diarrhoea. They may also show signs of jaundice, depression, being off their food, and drinking or urinating excessively.

“It’s important to highlight that as well as making animals very unwell, leptospirosis can pass to humans and make them seriously ill. Leptospirosis in humans is known as Weil’s disease, and so preventing it in our pets has a wider implication for human health, too.”

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