Bacteria dangerous to you and your dogs could be lurking in flood waters

Lincoln veterinarian Dr. Jim Dager pets his dog Tyra, while warning residents of a bacteria that could compromise their dog's health.
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Heavy rain and flooding could spell trouble for Lincoln dogs and their owners.

A local vet said the bacterial disease, leptospirosis, is expected to be more prevalent than ever.

Dr. Jim Dager, with the Pet Care Center of Lincoln, said Lincoln is a hot spot for the bacteria and he's already confirmed cases this year.

The bacteria is spread through an infected animal's urine and Dager said dogs come into contact with it in standing water or wet grass.

"The risk for lepto is everywhere," Dager said.

The disease, which can be spread to humans, can cause kidney and liver failure, though the symptoms are hard to spot.

Dager said the symptoms mimic that of a urinary tract infection to start, like increased urine output, drinking excess water or a mild fever.

"Left untreated it progresses to severe organ failure and eventually death," Dager said. "Even with treatment 30 percent of dogs don't survive."

He's encouraging pet owners to ask their dog's veterinarians about vaccinations.

Dager said the dogs most likely to get the disease weigh less than ten pounds and spend most of their time indoors. This is because those dogs are least likely to be vaccinated because their owners or veterinarians don't think they're at risk.

But Dager said, that needs to change.

"We're pushing to get more pets vaccinated because this is a public health concern as well as a concern for dogs," Dager said.