CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It’s a serious disease targeting your furry friends that tends to be more common during the dog days of summer.
Commonly known as “Lepto,” leptospirosis is a bacteria that’s spread through the urine of infected animals, like deer or raccoons.
"The disease is pretty aggressive. It attacks the liver and the kidneys and can cause multiple organ failure and death,” says Dr. Laura Dayton, chief of staff at the Banfield Pet Hospital on Sharon Amity Road.
She says this disease isn’t new, but animal hospitals tend to see more cases during the warmer months, especially this year.
"Very rarely do we have those confirmed cases, and that's what has been a bit on the rise this year,” says Dr. Dayton. "That urine goes into area waterways, standing puddles, creeks, streams, lakes and so then when your dog is swimming in the lake, or drinking out of the creek or stream on a hot walk, then they can become infected that way."
It’s not the only reason pet owners say they make sure their dogs get vaccinated.
"It is one of those diseases that is transmittable to humans,” said Lashae Salazar.
"You can get the urine splashed on your hand, if you have like a little nick on your hand or something, then that's how you can become infected,” said Dr. Dayton.
Dr. Dayton recommends that puppies get their first lepto vaccine at 12 weeks and then a booster about 3-4 weeks later.
And there are symptoms of the disease that you should be on the lookout for.
"Not doing well at home, not eating well, vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes if you notice a little bit of a yellow color to the white of your dog's eyes and the inside of their ear flap. That can definitely be an indicator,” said Dr. Dayton.
With summer right around the corner, dog owners say it’s a disease they have to watch out for.
"[My dog’s] definitely gonna get a lepto (vaccine) with him outdoors and kind of my country dog, just make sure he's fully protected, as best I can," said Salazar. "Who knows what squats and lays all that bacteria down for him to get a hold of so I'd just rather be safe than sorry."