A dog has died from leptospirosis in Canberra – the first confirmed case in the capital region.
The deadly bacterial infection spreads via contaminated water, affecting a dog’s kidneys and liver, often leaving them too unwell to be treated.
On Tuesday (28 June), after being unwell for several days, a Jerrabomberra dog, Daisy, was referred to the Animal Referral Hospital in Pialligo, where her blood test was positive for leptospirosis. She was later euthanised.
Caitlyn Elliot, Daisy’s 23-year-old owner, said she never thought her two-and-a-half-year-old kelpie would have such a short life.
“I had picked her up just shy of six weeks and pretty much spent every living minute with her,” Caitlyn said.
“Even if I would go down to the shops to get milk or something, she would always get in the car with me.
“We had several dogs growing up, but Daisy was my first dog. She was my baby. So this was just heartbreaking.”
Caitlyn said the symptoms began last week when she couldn’t get Daisy out of bed on Friday morning.
“When I woke up, I tried to get her to go to the toilet, she literally didn’t move. I tried to give her some water and left her some food too, but she didn’t eat any of it,” she said.
“She had no energy. We decided to take her to the vet, but she couldn’t jump in the car so we had to carry her.
“Eventually, she started vomiting. The vomit had blood in it. She had lost weight and her appetite.”
The dog owner said it had all happened so quickly.
” All of the symptoms just kind of hit at once.
“You could tell that she was very upset and sad because she wasn’t wagging her tail as much as she normally was.”
Caitlyn and her family took Daisy to the vet in Queanbeyan on Friday, Saturday and Monday, and she was referred to the Animal Recovery Hospital on Tuesday (28 June).
“We’d never heard of the disease before, so it was a bit of a shock,” Caitlyn said.
“We tried retracing our steps for the past one or two months, but because I was so busy, we only stayed in the Canberra/Queanbeyan region, so we didn’t go anywhere.
“The doctors couldn’t really pinpoint it either, which is no one’s fault because it can be spread through rodents and mice, and there’s a million factors as to how she could have gotten it, which is a scary thing.”
Caitlyn urged other dog owners to listen to their vets.
“It’s not worth the risk,” she said.
“If you haven’t heard about it, do your research and then you’ll understand how quickly it can spread.”
A vet from Animal Referral Hospital, where Daisy was taken, Dr Jacob Michelsen, said although there was a vaccine for the disease, “Unfortunately, it’s not particularly successful”.
“There is a vaccine for leptospirosis that fights against the rat variant; however, this particular case wasn’t of that variant,” Dr Michelsen said.
“This was of the Leptospira interrogans variety.
“The question is, how much cross-protection is there in the vaccine? There might be some, but we really don’t know how much.
“If your dog is unwell, take it to the vet- there’s really not much you can do to prevent it.
“If you catch the disease early enough, you can treat the dogs successfully. If you don’t, then by the time you know it, the dogs will experience kidney failure,” he said.
The vet said leptospirosis would likely remain an uncommon disease in Canberra.
“Pet owners should be aware of the potential risk, but not worry too much about it”.
“It is possible more cases will be detected now that we know it is in the area, and vets will be looking for it,” Dr Michelsen said.
“However, it is unlikely we will see an outbreak with many more cases; most likely, it’ll be an odd case here or there.”
Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council has recommended vaccination for local dogs.