A rat-borne disease has become a concern in Philadephia after a number of dogs were killed by it.

CBS reported that veterinarians in the state revealed that for this year, there is an increase in the number of dogs that contracted the disease called leptospirosis. They warned pet owners to keep their furry buddies safe by being mindful of where they are playing.

A local affiliate of CBS noted that in the last few weeks, at least three dogs were killed and two others were sickened in northern New Jersey. The vets who treated the five dogs said the bacteria thrives in wet environments.

"Once it gets into the bloodstream it starts to cause inflammation inside of blood vessels in various organs, one of the more common things to occur is kidney failure and sometimes it can affect the lungs, it can affect the liver," Blue Pearl's critical care specialist Benjamin Davidson said. "If left untreated a lot of cases do become fatal."

Leptospirosis is an infection of bacterial spirochetes. Pet MD notes it can be transmitted to humans and other animals. When the bacteria causes disease in dogs, unvaccinated dogs that are younger than six months old are more susceptible to contracting the same.

Below are some signs of leptospirosis in dogs:

  1. Sudden fever and illness
  2. Sore muscles, reluctance to move
  3. Stiffness in muscles, legs, stiff gait
  4. Shivering
  5. Weakness
  6. Depression
  7. Lack of appetite
  8. Increased thirst and urination
  9. Vomiting, possibly with blood
  10. Diarrhea
  11. Bloody vaginal discharge
  12. Dark red speckled gums
  13. Yellow skin and/or whites of eyes
  14. Difficulty breathing
  15. Runny nose and cough

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said dogs can contract the bacteria through the urine of infected animals in water, mud or soil. Simply passing through or sniffing the infected surface could risk contraction. Pets with cuts and wounds on their skin are more at risk since the bacteria can swiftly penetrate the body through the openings.