We’ve noticed that many of our furry friends who visit us this time of year seem to wear the same “doggy perfume”. Unfortunately for the pet parents, this is usually a sign that our patients have met their new neighbours: skunks.
As a result of urban sprawl, an increase of “woodland” animals, like skunks and raccoons, have moved into the city. Now, even city dogs find themselves sharing a backyard with these critters. This means that more pets are getting sprayed! However, it also means that more pets are getting sick with the illnesses these creatures transmit, and as a result we’re especially seeing an increase of Leptospirosis in London and surrounding towns.
Even dogs who are rarely outside or are always carefully monitored are at risk. Affected animals transmit the Leptospirosis bacteria through their urine, which can linger on organic material or make its way into stagnant water, where it can live for months. On a hot summer day, it’s easy for a thirsty dog to ingest contaminated water, even under supervision.
Because it is transmitted from animal-to-animal through urine, any place where pets or wildlife have been is potentially dangerous, including sidewalks, trails, puddles and dog parks.
What starts as lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and frequent urination can quickly lead to kidney failure, liver damage, and whole body inflammation. Although it’s rare, cats and humans can also contract (and spread) Leptospirosis. If caught early, it can be treated with supportive care and antibiotics, but it is extremely uncomfortable and can be fatal.
To prevent Leptospirosis, always be wary of any water which may contain urine and alert city officials of anywhere that is not draining properly. We’re even seeing an increase in Leptospirosis in small lap dogs who spend most of their time in their parents’ arms! Most importantly, all dog parents should have a conversation with their veterinarian about the Leptospirosis vaccine and should consider vaccination.
Leptospirosis is a threat that is quite literally “in our own backyard!” Fortunately, there are ways to prevent it. Although we might not be able to stop the backyard bandits and striped stinkers from sharing our neighbourhoods, we can protect our pets by knowing the risks that come with them.
Now, if only we could stop them from getting sprayed!
Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at danielle@NeighbourhoodPetClinic.com. Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.