DENVER (CBS4) – Veterinarians are encouraging dog owners to vaccinate their pooches against a health threat that normally doesn’t pose a problem for city dogs.

Leptospirosis, a bacteria usually found in rural hunting dogs and in wildlife, attacks a canine’s liver and kidneys. It’s contracted through the urine of wild animals, including fox, coyotes and raccoons.

Diana Reynolds brought her normally spunky Dachshund, 5-year-old Ginger, to the vet the day after Christmas after the dog began vomiting and was unable to drink. She’d also lost 20 percent of her body weight.

“It breaks my heart,” Reynolds said. “She’s a little dog, and it’s pretty debilitating.”

Dr. Carola Stevenson, a vet at Bear Valley Vet Center, said it’s alarming to see smaller dogs with the disease because it’s usually discovered in larger hunting breeds.

“She would have died, for sure,” had it gone undiagnosed, Stevenson said about Ginger’s case. “We’re starting to recommend the vaccine for all (dogs).”

But many don’t get the vaccine, which is possibly why it’s appearing in smaller dogs, she said.

“I think people hear it’s a disease held by wild animals, and they say, ‘My dog would never see wild animals.’ So they choose not to do it,” Stevenson said.

Ginger is expected to make a full recovery. Vets recommend pet owners consult their vet about leptospirosis during annual vaccinations.

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