Leptospirosis 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.
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.
Poison. It’s everywhere, and accidental poisoning is far more common than you might think. When you have children, you take precautions to be sure they can’t reach or get into things that could be harmful to their health.
It’s important to remember to do the same for your pets! Here are some key tips:
1/ Keep medications out of your pet’s reach. Medications are meant to heal, however, they can also harm. Blood pressure, heart meds, antidepressants, and pain killers like NSAIDs and acetaminophen are some of the common medications that are very toxic to animals. Best to keep them in a high cabinet.
2/ Restrict access to foods and plants that are harmful to dogs and cats. While it’s tempting to slip your pets treats from your plate, many foods can be toxic to animals. Don’t forget, many plants can be hazardous too! Foods to Avoid Feeding Pets Plants Toxic to Pets
3/ Lock away toxic chemicals. Cleaning fluids, weed killer, pesticides, and fertilizers are just a few of the items you probably have around your home and garage. Keep them out of reach of pets and little hands. Household Chemicals and Products Toxic to Pets
4/ Knowing the signs of poisoning can literally be a lifesaver. If your pet exhibits any of the following signs or symptoms, call your vet!
Black or bloody stool
5/ Be prepared in case of a pet poisoning emergency. Keep hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal on hand. Post the numbers for your preferred vet clinic and other emergency numbers near your phone. Don’t forget to program them into your phone to save valuable time. Speaking of phones, there are many pet health and emergency apps available for free download at the Google Play Store and Apple Store.
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
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, a 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!
Hiring 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.
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.