Published: 12:32, 25 October 2021
| Updated: 13:56, 25 October 2021
A warning has been issued to pet owners after a dog died after contracting a rare disease spread through rat urine.
Rich Stent was informed his six-month-old Labrador pup Chester had contracted Leptospirosis – a rare rodent-borne illness – last week.
The 34-year-old, who lives in Chatham, first noticed something was wrong with his canine companion during a stroll.
Rich said: "We took him out for a walk and generally he is a greedy boy but he was not interested in his food and was very lethargic.
"He struggled to go to the toilet and stopped eating and drinking.
"He was looking more and more uncomfortable and still wasn't eating to the point that he just laid on the floor and he was not even half the puppy he was."
Chester was urgently rushed to a vets surgery in Gillingham who kept him in under observation.
But with costs spiralling by the day and no visible improvement in the pup's condition his owners sought alternative help.
That's when Rich and his partner got in touch with the Labrador Rescue Kent & Borders, based in Cranbrook, who offered to fund his treatment.
Chester was picked up by the charity on Wednesday afternoon and taken straight to a local animal hospital.
Known as "Lepto", it is a rare, bacterial disease which is often spread through rat urine.
Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, reluctance to move, increased thirst and vomiting.
It is typically transmitted through dog-to-dog contact but can also be passed via infected wet ground and urine.
As such, dogs that swim a lot, live on farms or spend time in areas with more wild rodents are at more risk.
On arrival at the animal hospital, Chester was taken to an isolation kennel where the vets checked him over and confirmed he had Leptospirosis.
The disease had impacted his liver and kidneys and had caused him to go yellow with jaundice.
He was put on an IV drip for fluids and had his bloods taken but sadly, just a short time into his treatment, Chester passed away.
Owner Rich said he and his partner had been left "heartbroken", adding: "We feel like we have got a massive void in our lives now".
He explained how when the couple first got Chester he received an initial vaccination, known as Lepto 2, which helps guard against certain strains of the disease but sadly not all.
Vaccination against Lepto does not prevent the risk of infection, but greatly reduces the chance of infected dogs developing the disease.
Rich, who works as a train driver, says they later found out they had been given conflicting information on which jabs were needed for their pet.
"When we got him they said they did two injections," he said.
"He had two and we were told he had to have the same one unless he started the vaccination again. They never mentioned anything about Lepto 4 and so he was not fully protected."
The RSPCA has warned of the dangers of the disease and has advised that whilst not guaranteed to ward off infection in dogs, Lepto 4 vaccines should offer broader protection than others.
It adds vaccines should be boosted every year regardless of type.
However, the animal welfare charity has also warned there are currently some logistical challenges sourcing veterinary vaccines for both dogs and cats.
It says owners should understand there may be delays and difficulties with accessing the jabs at the current time.
Meanwhile, Rich, has praised the support offered by Labrador Rescue as "absolutely amazing".
He intends to undergo a series of challenges to help raise awareness and money for the charity which helps the breed.
For more information on Labrador Rescue Kent & Borders and how you can donate and get involved click here.