Vets warn dog owners about potentially deadly bacteria lurking in water

As warmer weather rapidly approaches, veterinarians are warning dog owners about a potentially deadly disease that their pets can easily contract through contaminated water.

Leptospirosis, more commonly referred to as Lepto, is a dangerous bacteria that can survive for weeks to months in water and can cause long-term kidney damage and even death in dogs, according to PetMD.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that once an animal contracts the disease, they can pass it to other animals -- and even humans -- through contact with the eyes, nose, mouth and other bodily fluids.

The CDC reports that Lepto can often be cured in humans with a simple dose of antibiotics such as doxycycline or penicillin -- but for our four-legged friends, the disease can present a much more serious threat.

"If they get sick, it can be very dangerous. Can go to their liver, kidneys, can cause renal failure," Erin Carey, a veterinarian at Back Bay Veterinary Clinic in Massachussets, told WFXT.

Should your pet become infected, the key to curing Lepto lies in early detection.

A list of possible symptoms a dog with Lepto may exhibit are fever, sore muscles, reluctance to move, shivering, weakness, a runny nose, increased thirst and urination and a lack of appetite.

More serious symptoms may also include vomiting blood, diarrhea, bloody discharge, dark red speckled gums, yellowing skin and eyes, difficulty breathing and swollen nodes.

Thankfully, there are measures pet owners can take to keep their water-loving dogs safe even before they come in contact with the bacteria.

"We recommend the vaccine for Lepto," Tracy Vitale, practice manager at Maywood Vet Clinic told NJ.com. "Not everyone takes us up on it, but we have seen great responses."

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