Leptospirosis, Your Pet and the Great Outdoors
The beautiful weather on the Monterey Peninsula lends itself to a wide array of outdoor activities such as heading to the beach, hiking one of the many coastal trails, or even setting up camp under the redwoods. Oftentimes, we enhance the experience by bringing our canine friends along. Just as there are hazards to yourself in the outdoors that you prepare for, there are risks posed to your dog. One such risk that you may have heard of when getting your dog’s annual vaccines is leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is a disease that results from an infection caused by Leptospira bacteria. This is a group of bacteria that can be found in soil or water that has been contaminated by urine from infected local wildlife such as rats, raccoons, skunks, opossums, and even some marine animals such as sea lions. Leptospira bacteria can also be found in livestock such as cattle or pigs. It is important to note that leptospirosis is what is known as a zoonotic disease; meaning a disease that can be spread between animals and humans. As a result, both you and your dog could become infected. Although it is more likely that you get infected from contact with an environmental source—such as drinking contaminated water—rather than from an infected canine. Dogs can become infected by drinking contaminated water, being bit by a wild animal, or eating from an infected carcass. In humans, leptospirosis can have a wide variety of symptoms such as high fever, headache, muscle aches, yellowing of the eyes or skin (jaundice), abdominal pain, vomiting, and even a rash. As always, if you experience any combination of these symptoms please consult with your physician.
In our canine friends, leptospirosis can range from no signs at all to severe illness with fever, shivering, muscle tenderness, not wanting to eat, not wanting to move around, drinking more water and urinating more often than normal, yellowing of the skin and/or gums, diarrhea, or in some cases, uncontrollable bleeding. Since many of these signs are associated with other diseases, it is important to have your dog seen by your family veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. Once at the veterinarian’s office, the doctor will want to run various diagnostics such as blood and urine tests, x-rays (radiographs), or even an examination with an ultrasound machine may be offered. If it is confirmed that your dog has leptospirosis, early and aggressive treatment is often successful and will consist of antibiotics and supportive care that will likely include a stay in the hospital. In order to prevent transmission of leptospirosis from dog to human, it is important to avoid contact with the infected dog’s urine by using gloves, clean contaminated areas with household disinfectants, and wash your hands thoroughly after handling your dog.
The best way to protect your outdoor-loving canine friend is by helping prevent a leptospirosis infection with an annual leptospirosis vaccine administered by your family veterinarian at your pet’s annual wellness exam. If you haven’t already, consider making an appointment with your veterinarian today to discuss your dog’s risk of exposure and if getting an annual leptospirosis vaccine is right for your dog. Then you can feel safer about enjoying the great outdoors with your best friend!
There are many different types of poisons which are used to remove unwanted pests from households, farms, and other environments. Many times, these poisons are ingested accidentally by pets and wildlife. There are three common rodenticides used to control pests. They each act on the body in a different way. In order to properly treat your pet it is important to have this information available for the veterinarian.
● bring the package of the poison ingested
● brand name/chemical of the rodenticide
● the amount of bait missing, or ingested
● time of ingestion
These are the three most common types of rodenticides used and how they act on the body.
1. Anticoagulant Rodenticides (Warfarin and Congeners)
Common names: Bait blocks (peanut butter, apple flavor), Havoc, Ramik, “Older” d-CON products
Anticoagulant rodenticides work by stopping an enzyme (vitamin K epoxide reductase), which normally reactivates Vitamin K. Vitamin K is important in activating clotting factors. If the clotting factors are not activated, the body cannot protect itself from bleeding. Internal or external bleeding can occur and result in death.
Signs: uncontrolled bleeding (commonly from the mouth), bruising, difficulty breathing, vomiting blood, black tarry stool, seizures, or collapse.
Common names: Tomcat, Top Gun, Assault, Talpirid, Real Kill, Clout, Vengeance
Bromethalin is a neurotoxin which stops the cells in the central nervous system from producing energy. The nerve cells swell, which puts pressure on the brain and spinal cord, and leads to paralysis and death.
Signs: vomiting/ diarrhea (green in color), walking drunk, incoordination, tremors, seizures, paralysis, and eventually death
Common names: :New” d-CON products, Terad3 BLOX
Vitamin D helps the body maintain calcium balance by enhancing absorption of calcium from the gut and kidneys. Ingestion of toxic levels can result in severe increase in calcium and phosphate in the blood. High calcium levels can affect kidney, heart muscle, skeletal muscle, intestinal, and nerve cell function leading to anorexia, lethargy, and coma in severe cases. Prolonged elevations cause secondary kidney injury, and mineralization of the soft tissues of the body.
Signs: weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, increased thirst, frequent urination, confusion, depression, stupor or coma.
Treatment for ingestion of a Rodenticide
Contact a veterinarian as soon as you suspect your animal has ingested a toxin. Supportive care and decontamination as soon as possible is recommended. The veterinarian will induce vomiting, administer activated charcoal to absorb toxins circulating in the blood, administer intravenous fluids to flush out toxins, and administer the appropriate drugs to support the toxin ingested. It is unsafe for your pet if you were to attempt this at treatment at home. Please call your family veterinarian or Pet Specialists of Monterey immediately if you suspect your pet has eaten any of these poisons. We can be reached at 831-899-4838.
Aiello, S. E., & Moses, M. A. (2016). The Merck Veterinary Manual (11th ed.). Merck.
Rodenticides. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/rodenticides.html
Did you know homemade playdough is toxic to dogs and cats? Why, you may ask?
The answer is salt! Most homemade play dough recipes call for 1/3 to 1/2 cup of salt. The lethal dose of salt for dogs and cats is 4g of salt per 2 lbs. A 1/3 of a cup salt is equivalent to 113g. So, this means a recipe that calls for 1/3 cup of salt is the lethal dose for a 50lb dog.
What happens internally when too much salt is consumed?
Well, the salt intake leads to severe inflammation of the stomach, electrolyte imbalances, severe dehydration and sometimes even death. The severe stomach inflammation causes vomiting and diarrhea. The electrolyte imbalance can cause tremors and seizures. The severe dehydration causes brain cells to shrink and, rupture blood vessels and lead to hemorrhage.
Signs of Salt Toxicity
Some of the common signs of a salt toxicity are vomiting, diarrhea, excessive water intake, producing large amounts of urine. The treatment of a salt toxicity is to administer fluids intravenous and by mouth slowly over several days and monitor sodium levels very closely. Making homemade playdough can be fun for kids but NOT for your pets.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, or FLUTD, is a multifactorial disease condition that affects many domestic cats; in fact, up to 10% of all cats treated in emergency hospitals are affected with FLUTD. FLUTD describes a constellation of clinical signs rather than a specific disease, ergo any cat presenting with difficulty urinating can be said to “have FLUTD.” The list of FLUTD causes grows every year as more and more research is conducted in the field and many individual cases of FLUTD have more than a single cause. The two most common causes are FIC (feline idiopathic cystitis) and urolithiasis (stones in the urinary tract); bacterial infections, cancer, behavioral issues, neurologic deficits, and conformation abnormalities can all play a role in FLUTD. Severe cases of FLUTD can cause complete urinary tract obstruction, which is a life-threatening emergency.
FIC can often be frustrating for owners because it is an idiopathic disease process, meaning that there is no identifiable cause. Cats with FIC often experience painful inflammation of the lining of the bladder, which leads to spasms of the urethra and difficulty urinating. The signs of FIC are very similar to a bacterial urinary tract infection: straining to urinate, yowling while urinating, passing small volumes of blood-tinged urine, and having accidents outside of the litter box. FIC is often diagnosed by first ruling out other possibilities, like a bacterial bladder infection. Your veterinarian may suggest a urinalysis with a urine culture to make sure that there are no white blood cells or bacteria in the urine. The urinalysis will also provide important information about kidney function and hydration status that will guide your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan for your kitty.
Urolithiasis is another common contributor to FLUTD and one with which many cat owners (especially those with male cats) are already familiar. Stones form in the urinary bladder for a number of reasons but diet, genetics, and bacterial bladder infections are all important components. Small stones (similar in size to sand) may pass through the urethra without obstructing the passage of urine. Larger stones or conglomerates of sand and mucous can become lodged in the urethra and prevent your cat from urinating. When this occurs, it is a life-threatening emergency that can lead to severe electrolyte disorders and even bladder rupture.
If you suspect that your cat has FLUTD, it is advised to have your cat seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. The veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your cat and recommend a course of diagnostics and treatment. Blood work is often recommended to rule out abnormalities in electrolytes and will indicate if your cat has any systemic infection, inflammation, or organ dysfunction. A urine sample may be collected via cystocentesis, which is a process by which urine is collected directly from the bladder with a needle placed through the belly. This will allow your veterinarian to rule out bacterial infection and look at the urine sediment to check for crystals, red blood cells, and signs of kidney disease.
In cases of obstruction, a urinary catheter is usually placed to remove the obstructing material from the urethra and relieve the pressure on the urinary bladder. The catheter is often left in place for at least 24 hours while the inflammation of the urethra decreases, which reduces your cat’s risk of re-obstructing. Cats who require a urinary catheter are kept in the hospital on intravenous fluids and medications to relieve pain and prevent urethral spasm. The type of crystal/stone or lack thereof found in the urine can direct your veterinarian as to the cause of the obstruction and indicate if dietary or lifestyle changes are needed.
If you have any concerns about your cat’s urination habits, having a discussion with your veterinarian is the best course of action. If you are worried that your cat has a urinary tract obstruction, it is recommended to have your cat seen immediately. Pet Specialists is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help with any of your pets’ needs.
Summertime on the Central Coast– sunshine, surf, and… fleas?
Fleas are a part of pet life in California. An effective, year-round flea control plan is essential to protect your pet and your home from infestations. Unlike many parts of the country, our winters are mild enough that flea populations can survive and reproduce all year long.
For most pets, a flea bite triggers a mild temporary itch, but some pets can develop severe allergies to flea saliva. Flea allergy dermatitis can result in redness, flakiness, hair loss, and injuries from your pet scratching himself/herself. Many owners of flea-allergic pets are unaware that their animal is flea-allergic because they never see fleas on their pet. However, for flea-allergic pets, even a single bite is enough to ignite a reaction that can last for several days. Even for non-flea-allergic pets, fleas can pose a hazard to their well-being. Fleas can carry tapeworms, which are passed to pets when they ingest fleas while grooming. Some flea populations carry blood parasites that are transferred to dogs and cats during bites. In cases of large flea burdens, varying degrees of anemia can occur. Occasionally, some cats and dogs will have such a severe flea anemia that they will require one or more blood transfusions to survive.
Fortunately, there are several convenient and effective flea control products on the market today. The product currently recommended for dogs by dermatologists is Comfortis®, a monthly chewable tablet that kills fleas within minutes. The active ingredient in Comfortis is spinosad – a safe and effective insecticide that won the EPA’s Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge in 1999 and is approved for use in organic farming. Oral flea control medications like Comfortis can be preferable to spot-on topical treatments because they cannot be washed or rubbed off, they maintain their efficacy more reliably between doses, and flea populations have not yet developed resistance to their active ingredients.
For the last couple of years the Pet Specialists’ staff provided veterinary support for the SMART (Salinas-Monterey Agility Racing Team) Agility on the Greens event at the York School. The competition brings together dozens of dogs and their handlers from various states across the country to strut their speed and skill at hurdles, tire jumps, see-saws, and weave poles. The high-energy sport of canine agility tests speed, accuracy, athleticism, and obedience. Agility competitions are fantastic opportunities to see canine athletes (and their handlers) in action.
To learn more about SMART and their upcoming events visit their website at http://www.smartagility.com. Maybe we will see you there.
The Del Monte Kennel Club is holding its yearly Dog Show in Carmel July 12-13. This is an AKC event that brings dogs in from around the country. It is held at Carmel Middle School and includes all breeds for show as well as obedience and rally trials. This is a great event to dog watch and see the highest quality of breed standards as well as obedience training. AFRP will be in attendance with dogs for adoption during Saturdays show.
This event is highly recommended for all dog lovers and can be a lot of fun for the family. Pet specialists will be there supporting the contestants.
Recently Pet Specialists of Monterey and Cover Your K-9 teamed up to provide an educational seminar for local Police dog handlers. This free seminar organized by volunteers included talks by Dr. Greg Marsolais and Dr. Bill Sullenberger on wellness care of working dogs, emergency in the field triage, common toxin ingestion and prevention, as well as other working dog specific topics. Cover Your K-9 provided emergency medical kits for the officers in attendance and everyone participated in a hands on field bandaging lab.
This was a great event and we look forward to continue our support of our local K-9 hero’s in future events to come.
If you are interested in supporting these types of events please visit www.coveryourk9.org or stop by our offices where we have a collection box for donations to Cover Your K-9.
Too read more on the event and Pet Specialist’s involvement with our local K-9 hero’s please check out these related articles
KION right now
Monterey County Weekly
The Red Cross Pet First Aid App
We know you love your cats and dogs like family, so we know you love to keep them happy, healthy, and safe. We here to provide great service and quality medicine in the Monterey Bay but realize you sometimes take your furry family members on vacation and we might not be the closest provider of care for your pet. With the new Red Cross Pet First Aid App, you can locate the nearest AHAA certified hospital to your location. AHAA certification promotes good medicine and good hospitals. With this app you can locate a hospital that lives up to the same standards as Pet Specialists of Monterey with a few taps on your smart phone or tablet! The app also features an array of videos, CPR “how-tos”, common toxic substance lists, and step-by-step advice to help you help your pet. You can locate a pet-friendly hotel, track your pet’s vet appointments, and load Pet Specialists of Monterey’s contact information to be available anytime you need us (which is of course, 24/7)! We have high hopes for the versatility of this app and the power it provides to you as the protector of your pets health, so follow the link below and check it out!
Happy Halloween from the Pet Specialists of Monterey
On a holiday where candy abounds and trick or treaters fill the streets don’t forget to protect your furry family members from the fun and festivities.
Lock up the candy tight, keep your kitties indoors well before it gets dark, and as always we are here if you need us.