Dog got sick and died after visit to river

Man devastated – dog died after playing in river and algae is not to blame this time

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A man in Albemarle County, Virginia, is devastated following the death of his German shepherd, who died days after a fun day of play in a river. As reported by NBC 29 News, the three-year-old shepherd, Gunner, enjoyed a full day of watery fun in the Rivanna River, but he fell ill four days later.

Gunner’s owner, Brad Perreault, rushed his dog to a veterinarian and told them to spare no expense to treat him, but the damage was done. Gunner tested positive for leptospirosis and the bacterial infection caused his kidneys to shut down.

The American Veterinary Association (AVMA) outlines risk factors for dogs:

Dogs can become infected and develop leptospirosis if their mucous membranes (or skin with any wound, such as a cut or scrape) come into contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food or bedding; through a bite from an infected animal; by eating infected tissues or carcasses

When water levels in rivers, ponds and lakes are low, the bacterial disease is likely to be more prevalent. Because leptospirosis can infect people as well, care had to be taken to prevent his owner from contracting the disease. Perrealt said, “We had to say goodbye wrapped up in a hazmat suit, really. It can be transferred to humans, and that’s super scary.”

Dog owners should be aware of the symptoms of leptospirosis. The AVMA describes the symptoms that dogs may experience:

Signs of leptospirosis may include fever, shivering, muscle tenderness, reluctance to move, increased thirst, changes in the frequency or amount of urination, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes), or painful inflammation within the eyes. The disease can cause kidney failure with or without liver failure.

Of note: There is a leptospirosis vaccine available for dogs. Please talk to your veterinarian about this vaccination if you live anywhere where your dog may come in contact with the bacteria.

(Stock image of shepherd in water via Pixabay)

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3 replies
    • Bunny Peters says:

      You said what I was thinking. My condolences to Brad Perreault for the loss of Gunner as well.

      I think if pets or children want to splash around in water, a children’s plastic play pool on the lawn might be better than a river or lake……


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