Why fox wee is potentially harmful to dogs | TeamDogs
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Why fox wee is potentially harmful to dogs

While uncommon, foxes can transmit bacteria which could lead to leptospirosis

Danielle Elton

Posted 51d ago

Our dogs are our best friends, our sidekicks, our babies - we’d be distraught if anything happened to them.

That’s why, as responsible owners, it’s important to be clued up on the breed-specific health conditions, the common viruses and anything that could cause them any harm.

But there are some things we just wouldn’t imagine could pose a risk to our pets, such as a fox’s urine.

We had one owner get in touch recently to tell us the devastating news that her five-year-old Pug called Kenzo had sadly died after contracting leptospirosis. This was believed to be as a result of him licking fox wee.

She now wants to raise awareness and help spread the word about this life-threatening disease.

To find out more about leptospirosis, including the symptoms owners should look out for, we contacted Dave Leicester, head of telehealth at Vets Now.

He warned that although uncommon, it’s not rare and is a disease that is usually vaccinated against, although he does suspect there may be an increase in cases post pandemic due to a drop in vaccinations during lockdown.

What is leptospirosis?

Dave said: “Leptospirosis is one of the diseases which the usual puppy vaccinations protect against.

“It’s a blood-borne infection caused by bacteria and dogs can catch it from other animals such as rats, horses and livestock, and more rarely, as in this case, foxes and other wild mammals.

“Transmission is usually through infected urine, or direct contact with an infected animal but can also be caught from urine-contaminated water and soil. 

“The bacteria can damage vital organs such as the liver and kidneys and is thus a very serious disease, and sadly often life-threatening in dogs.”

Dave also informed us that it can also infect humans, known as Weil’s disease, with infected dogs and cats the potential source of human infection.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of lepto can vary enormously according to Dave, but he said that the common signs to look out for include:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Jaundice
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Reduced appetite.  

He added: “Dogs with leptospirosis must be treated in isolation to prevent them spreading to other pets or veterinary staff. In mild cases, the vet may be able to use antibiotics, a fluid drip and other medicines to help fight the infection.  

“However, in severe cases, organ failure is common and affected animals often die or need to be euthanased.”

How can I protect my dog?

“Dogs who live on farms or are regularly on farmland, or play in standing water are most at risk from the infection,” said Dave.

“The best protection against leptospirosis is through the highly effective vaccine, so make sure you have your puppy vaccinated as early as possible and annual boosters are essential because immunity after vaccination isn’t long-lived.” 

If you’re concerned about your pet, VetsNow offers an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available. 

While the video service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies, experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns you might have.

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