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Pet owners urged to keep fido away from puddles

'Unusual' spike in cases of potentially fatal disease in dogs
Off leash dog park
Dog at off leash dog park. File photo

The Allandale Veterinary Hospital is cautioning dog owners about a potentially deadly bacterial disease that is turning up in Barrie area dogs.

"We have seen about five confirmed cases and we're actually working through diagnostics on a potential sixth case," said Dr. Alan Poon. "It's unusual because it's generally something that we see once or twice a year."

The disease - leptospirosis - has symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and fever. 

"It will look like anything ranging from a urinary tract infection or an upset stomach kind of thing.  As the disease progresses it will start to attack the kidneys and the liver and potentially end up with end stage kidney disease. It is potentially fatal," said Dr. Poon.

The disease is treatable and pet owners are urged to call their vet if their dog has symptoms. 

Leptospirosis is typically contracted through contact with water or grass contaminated with urine of infected wildlife.

"At risk dogs are pets that go to dog parks or walk in ravine settings.  Anywhere where you're going to have stagnant puddles of water around," said Dr. Poon. 

it can be passed on to humans by urine and Poon recommends frequent had washing to protect yourself and avoid dog bodily fluids.

The disease is not breed specific but is 'risk-based for dogs that go outside,' Poon said, adding vets are unable to pinpoint a specific part of the city where dogs might be at greater risk.

"We know that one dog contracted it while at a boarding kennel facility out of town.  It might just be the dogs are in contact with each other. They're passing it along from dog to dog. It's like catching the flu on the bus or  kids catching things at daycare. It's just due to close contacts," he said. 

"It's hard to tell people don't let your dogs outdoors and try to avoid dog parks but at least do so with an open mind that the leptospirosis is out there."

He says the best protection for dogs is to get them vaccinated.