CHICAGO (CBS) — A suburban veterinary center says cool, wet, fall days are fostering an increase in disease from a bacterium that can kill dogs with liver and kidney failure.

Dr. Adam Mordecai at the Veterinary Specialty Center in Buffalo Grove says owners have already brought in three dogs so sick with leptospirosis that they could not be saved. He says he’s expecting more.

Mordecai says this is the beginning of the season for the disease which shows up annually around this time. He says the dogs must be brought in immediately after symptoms emerge in order for treatment to be effective.

Symptoms include yellow jaundiced eyes, fever, lethargy, lack of interest in food.

Mordecai says the disease is spread as animal urine is ingested or contacts open sores from ground water or puddles on the sidewalk.

He says it’s not fair to keep dogs inside all the time just because they might contract a disease.

But he says homeowners must pay close attention as fall rains occur so they’ll notice any change in the behavior or health of the family dog — in time to ensure prompt treatment for leptospirosis.