Should My Dog Drink from Puddles?

You’re out for a stroll with your pooch and s/he’s so thirsty! You spot a big puddle up ahead and let him/her go for it! But should you?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection of Spirochetes. Urine from infected animals contaminates water and soil. Spirochetes are spiral or corkscrew-shaped bacteria. They can penetrate the system by burrowing into the mucous membranes or an open wound, which can then be spread throughout the body including the kidney and liver.

Who’s peeing in my puddle?

Wildlife, particularly raccoons in Ontario, have tested positive in both urban and rural areas. Unfortunately, due to increased development areas displacing wildlife, they are now ending up in our backyards. If a raccoon, for example, is infected and urinates in a puddle in the back yard, your fur baby can lick it up and contract the bacteria.

Can I get Leptospirosis?

Sadly, yes. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease; meaning it can be transferred to humans or other animals. Once an animal becomes infected, it can shed the bacteria for months or even years through their urine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, humans can contract leptospirosis the same way your dog can; through contact with urine from an infected source.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Fever and illness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased drinking and urinating
  • Yellowing of skin and white of eyes
  • Vomiting and dehydration
  • Weakness and depression
  • No initial symptoms at all

Is there a treatment?

Leptospirosis can be fatal. If treated aggressively and early enough with antibiotics, supportive care and intravenous fluids, the chances for recovery are better. However, there is still a risk for permanent kidney and or liver damage.

So what can I do to prevent this?

The good news is there is a vaccination to protect against leptospirosis. Here at Aylmer Veterinary Clinic, the leptospirosis vaccine is recommended for all at risk dogs receiving their yearly vaccines. No vaccine is 100%, so keeping that in mind it is best to avoid your dog drinking from puddles, ponds and lakes. If you know of a wildlife issue in your area, contact your local animal control. Remember always to pack some water and a dish from home when going out on a walk to avoid a thirsty pup!

Written by: Melissa Penner, RVT