A heartbroken carer is warning others about the dangers of meningitis in dogs after her beloved eight-month-old pet died of the disease.
Clare Harrild, of Crown Hill Road, trained her Weimaraner puppy, Paddy, to help with her epilepsy.
But the 23-year-old was left in tears when Paddy, who she had owned for just six months, died of the infection after becoming ill.
Miss Harrild said: “I want to spread knowledge that meningitis in dogs can kill – no one is really aware of it at the moment.
“Everyone just thinks dogs pick up bugs, but they need to be aware of meningitis.
“I hope people will be able to spot the symptoms of it earlier.
“They need to be aware that dogs can catch it and I urge them to read about the condition.”
As with humans, dogs have protective layers of membrane that cover the spinal cord and the brain.
The membranes are called the meninges, and an inflammation of the meninges is known as meningitis.
If left untreated, the disease can result in serious neurological problems, including seizures and paralysis. In severe cases, it can be fatal.
“Paddy was bought with so many high expectations and I have been robbed of these,” Miss Harrild said.
“It broke our hearts to lose him.
“Before Paddy died, he alerted my mother in the early hours of the morning to me having an epileptic seizure. He was bright, eager to learn and beautiful.”
Paddy fell ill in February with sickness and diarrhoea.
Just one week later, he was put to sleep at the Royal Veterinary College in Potters Bar.
Miss Harrild said she had had suspicions that Paddy’s illness might have been meningitis, but it was initially thought by vets to be a new strain of the parvovirus infection.
However, Paddy had suffered extensive haemorrhaging to his spinal cord and brain.
“Meningitis can be treated, if caught early,” Miss Harrild said.
“I now have a new Weimaraner puppy, Luna, but she is not as quick at learning as Paddy was.
“He will always be special in my heart, and I have beautiful memories of my handsome boy to cherish.
“I still miss him and cry for him – I still cannot believe how much he must have suffered because of the lack of awareness.”