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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Leptospirosis: What Pet Parents Need to Know

leptospirosisLeptospirosis outbreaks in the Valley of the Sun have been on the rise in recent months. While leptospirosis is more common in warm climates with high annual rainfall, it can occur anywhere, even in the desert. Here’s what you need to know to keep your pets healthy and safe:

WHAT IS LEPTOSPIROSIS? Leptospirosis is a disease caused by infection with Leptospira bacteria, which lives in soil and water. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means it can be spread from animals to people.

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS? Common risk factors for dogs include exposure to or drinking from rivers, lakes or streams; roaming on rural properties; exposure to wild animal or farm animal species, even if in the backyard; and contact with rodents or other dogs.

HOW DOES IT SPREAD? Dogs can become infected if mucous membranes (or skin with any wound, such as a cut or scrape) come into contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food or bedding; through a bite from an infected animal; by eating infected tissues or carcasses; and rarely, through breeding. It can also be passed through the placenta from the mother dog to the puppies.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS? Symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs may include: Fever, shivering, muscle tenderness, reluctance to move, increased thirst, changes in the frequency or amount of urination, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes), or painful inflammation within the eyes. The disease can cause kidney failure with or without liver failure.

Dogs may occasionally develop severe lung disease and have difficulty breathing. Leptospirosis can cause bleeding disorders, which can lead to blood-tinged vomit, urine, stool or saliva; nosebleeds; and pinpoint red spots (which may be visible on the gums and other mucous membranes or on light-colored skin). Affected dogs can also develop swollen legs (from fluid accumulation) or accumulate excess fluid in their chest or abdomen.

PREVENTION: Vaccines can effectively prevent leptospirosis and help protect dogs for at least 12 months, and annual vaccinations are recommended for at-risk dogs. Your AZPetVet healthcare team can help protect your pet against leptospirosis and other diseases. Find a location near you.

TREATMENT: Leptospirosis is generally treated with antibiotics. Treated early and aggressively, the chances for recovery are good but there is still a risk of permanent residual kidney or liver damage. Although an infected pet dog presents a low risk of infection for you and your family, there is still some risk. If your dog has been diagnosed with leptospirosis, take the following precautions to protect yourself:

  • Administer antibiotics as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Avoid contact with your dog’s urine.
  • If your dog urinates in your home, quickly clean the area with a household disinfectant and wear gloves to avoid skin contact with the urine.
  • Encourage your dog to urinate away from standing water or areas where people or other animals will have access.
  • Wash your hands after handling your pet.

SOURCE: American Veterinary Medical Association

It’s National Puppy Day!

National Puppy Day

There’s nothing quite like a puppy to cheer you up (unless you’re team cat all the way). Since it’s National Puppy Day, here are five things we love about puppies!

1/ Puppies are CUTE! Seriously, who can resist their little faces?

2/ Puppy Breath! Sweet and milky, no stinky plaque or tartar. 

3/ Puppies are adorably clumsy. They’ll keep you laughing.

4/ Puppies are like therapists in a fur suit. They’re natural stress relievers.

5/ They’re PUPPIES!!! Find one, and give them some love today.

Be an Expert in Pet Poison Control to Keep Your Pet Safe

Quick pet poison control tips for any pet owner and what to avoid

Pet poisoning is far more common than you think. The 2018 statistics show that the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) received 213,773 cases concerning potential poisonings. Knowledge and prevention can help keep everyone safe.

Signs of Poisoning

Many symptoms of poisoning look similar to other illnesses and may include signs like:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Convulsions
  • Lethargy
  • Black/bloody stools
  • Lethargy

While the curious nature of pets is a given, there are a few specific items you should keep a close eye on. We have recommended actions pet owners can take to ensure pets don’t paw the way into trouble.

  1. Medications – Most households have prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs on hand, so it’s no surprise that these top the charts as the most common pet toxicants. In 2018, drugs accounted for just over 37 percent of all calls to the APCC. Medications like ibuprofen, cold medicines, antidepressants, and ADHD medications were most commonly ingested by pets, followed by heart medications. Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are particularly dangerous for dogs and cats. Acetaminophen can cause red blood cell (RBC) injury, difficulty breathing, lethargy, swelling, and vomiting in cats and liver failure, dry eye, and RBC injury in dogs. While ibuprofen may be prescribed for your pet to help manage pain and inflammation, it must be administered precisely to your veterinarian’s recommendation. Even small overdoses can have drastic consequences, including ulcers, anemia, lethargy, kidney failure, liver failure, and seizures.
  2. Foods – Certain foods that sit well with humans won’t sit as well with your pet. Grapes, raisins, onions, chocolate, and garlic are just a few of the widely-known foods you shouldn’t feed your pet. Here are a few others that you should keep away from your four-legged friends:
    • Chocolate – It might be one of the most popular foods in the world, but not for pets! Chocolate contains two deadly ingredients for dogs: caffeine and theobromine. These two substances, known as methylxanthines, can lead to medical complications and even death. The three main categories of chocolate to be aware of are milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and baking chocolate. Baking chocolate has the highest concentration of caffeine and theobromine and is the most toxic, even in minute quantities. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, contact your veterinarian for help.
    • Grapes and Raisins – Believe it or not, chocolate isn’t the only food that is harmful to your dog. Grapes, raisins, and currants can be toxic to your dog, leading to potential kidney failure, anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Keep all foods in that family, including grape juice, raisin bagels, and similar foods out of your pet’s reach.
    • Xylitol (sweetners) – This sugar-free natural sweetener is popping up in all sorts of products, from sugar-free gum and mints to toothpaste, vitamins, food, and candy. While it might make a great sugar substitute for humans, it can be devastating to your dog, with symptoms ranging from weakness and collapse to coma and even death. Xylitol can cause immediate hypoglycemia, liver necrosis, and liver failure and requires immediate treatment.
    • Milk/Dairy
    • Nuts
    • Avocados
    • Citrus
    • Raw meat
    • Salt

Many of these foods have severe consequences for pets, including liver damage, hyperthermia, seizures, and central nervous system depression. Even if your animal is looking at you with their big, begging eyes, it’s best to stick to pet approved foods only.

  1. Household Cleaners/Items – Household items are tricky because they are often things we keep lying around. Items like oven cleaners, lime-removal products, concentrated toilet cleaners, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, and dishwashing chemicals are all highly corrosive. These products can cause severe injuries and burns to a pet’s fur and skin upon contact. Contact your veterinarian immediately with the details of what chemical they’ve come into contact with, assuming you know.
  2. Antifreeze – Ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid, paint solvents, and windshield deicers, is extremely toxic to pets. Unfortunately, its sweet smell and taste can lure unsuspecting pets to taste it, often leading to deadly results. If you suspect ethylene glycol poisoning, it’s imperative you seek treatment immediately as the antidote needs to be administered within hours in order for your pet to survive. Without treatment, ethylene glycol is almost 100% fatal.
  3. Rodenticide Exposure – Rodenticide is just as harmful to your pet as it is to a rat or mouse. Even when using rodenticides in an area you believe your pet can’t access, rodents can still inadvertently transfer the toxic substances to other locations. This invisible transfer means your animal is more likely to come in contact with the product without you knowing it. We recommend you avoid using this product in your home altogether.
  4. Insecticide Exposure – Watch out for carbamates and organophosphates (OP). Found most frequently in rose and flower herbicides and fertilizers, these chemicals can cause symptoms from nausea, tearing, and drooling to hypothermia, seizures, and even death. While the EPA is regulating the use of these chemicals, both cats and dogs can still fall prey to the harmful side-effects these products cause. If you’re a flower gardener, pay close attention to product labels to ensure proper pet poison control.
  5. Flea and Tick Products – Remember the carbamates and organophosphates we talked about with insecticides? Those same ingredients can be found in various flea and tick products and are classified by the EPA as likely to be carcinogenic to humans. If you have a product with tetrachlorvinphos, carabaryl, or propoxur in the ingredient list, you are using a product that could be harmful to your pet (and your family).
  6. Plants – Although houseplants have many benefits, you should think twice before bringing certain kinds into your home. Lilies, azaleas, autumn crocus, tulips, hyacinths, Lily of the Valley, daffodils, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Oleander, Dieffenbachia, and Sago Palms are all highly toxic to pets. Play it safe and keep these hazardous houseplants away from your home.

In Case of an Emergency…

Be prepared. In case of a pet poisoning or other emergency, family members should all have the number of a preferred vet clinic or another emergency veterinary contact. Post these emergency numbers in a visible spot for everyone to reference.

Keeping materials like activated charcoal and hydrogen peroxide around the house in the case of an emergency is also a great way to be prepared. Activated charcoal helps to absorb and remove toxicants. It can be administered orally to pets via syringe. Three percent hydrogen peroxide can also be used to induce vomiting in pets to purge toxins. If you think your pet may have ingested or come into contact with poison, call your veterinary clinic immediately.

Outside of your vet, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435

Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.

It’s K-9 Veterans Day!

Dogs have been an important part of military, police and rescue operations for decades. The official US Army K9 Corps was created in 1942. March 13 is officially National K9 Veterans Day. Joseph White, K9 veterans daya retired military working dog trainer, originated the idea for the day.

Dogs were first called to duty during World War 1. The United States noticed the Europeans used canines as sentries, message carriers and several other functions.

Private citizen Mrs. Alene Erlanger partnered with the American Kennel Club and a handful of breeders to train the dogs for military use, which became the Dogs for Defense program.

In November 1942, the first Dogs for Defense arrived for duty in North Africa, well trained, but gun shy at first. As the war progressed, Dogs for Defense was unable to keep up with the demand for trained service dogs, so the Remount Branch, Service Installations Divisions took over training.

On National K9 Veterans Day – we salute these brave dogs and their handlers!

In Praise of Pet Sitters

Pet SittingHiring a professional, qualified individual to care for your pet while you’re traveling makes great sense for both you and your pet. March 5 – 11 is Professional Pet Sitters Week – so let’s take a moment to review why you might choose a pet sitter, and what makes a pet sitter a good choice for you and your pet.

Ask your family, friends and neighbors for recommendations. Before selecting a pet sitter, you should interview the candidates over the phone or at your home to learn all about a prospective pet sitters’ qualifications and services.
Benefits for Pets
Staying in their familiar environment
Keeping their regular diet and routine
No stress from unfamiliar places with other animals
Reduced exposure to potential illnesses carried by other animals

Benefits for Pet Parents
No calling in favors from friends and neighbors to care for your pet
Peace of mind – your pet is being cared for by a professional
No newspapers and mail stacking up to attract potential burglars

Have a Home Visit First
Have the prospective pet sitter come to your home to meet your pet before actually hiring them. Watch how they interact with your pet – it’s important for your pet (and you) to be comfortable with the person. When possible, hire the pet sitter to care for your pet while you’re away on a short trip, such as a weekend excursion.

Making Plans

  • Remember, to make reservations for pet sitting early, especially during holidays.
  • Make sure your pet is well socialized and comfortable with strangers handling them.
  • Make sure current identification tags are on your pet’s collar.
  • Maintain a regular vaccination schedule for your pet.
  • Leave clear instructions with schedules and important numbers.
  • Post emergency contact information for you and your veterinarian on the fridge.
  • Buy plenty of pet supplies in case you’re away longer than planned.
  • Review home safety features such as circuit breakers and security system with the pet sitter.
  • Leave a spare key with a trusted neighbor or friend, and give them and your pet sitter each other’s phone numbers. Be sure those extra keys work before giving them out.

No time to find a pet sitter? Many of AZPetVet’s hospitals offer boarding. Find a location near you.