Leptospirosis Vaccination

Leptospirosis is a disease that infects dogs, humans and other animals. The organism that causes the disease is a type of bacterium called spirochete. Leptospirosis is spread by recovered animals that shed the spirochete in their urine for months to years following infection. Exposure to the disease usually occurs in the environment from contaminated water, food, soil, or vegetation. The Leptospirosis organism penetrates through the interior lining of the mouth (mucosa) or through injured skin. Wild animals, especially rats, are carriers of the disease.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis begin to appear about 1-2 weeks after exposure. Signs associated with the disease are fever, depression, vomiting and a reluctance to move. Loss of appetite, dehydration, and weight loss are also noticeable symptoms. The spirochete reproduces in the kidney and if left untreated, death results from kidney failure.

Leptospirosis is a serious disease and requires veterinary treatment. Intensive care with fluid therapy and high doses of antibiotics are essential. Even after a dog is clinically cured, he / she can still shed the organisms in the urine. At this point, the animal becomes a chronic carrier of the disease.

Leptospirosis vaccine is sometimes combined and administered with the distemper vaccine. Consult your veterinarian for the vaccination program that is best suited for your dog.

Canine Cough (Kennel Cough) Vaccination

Infectious tracheobronchitis (canine cough or kennel cough) is the name given to a contagious disease of the canine respiratory tract. The germs associated with this disease infect the cells lining the interior of the trachea (windpipe) and the bronchi (large air passages of the lungs). The disease is usually caused by a virus (parainfluenza or adenovirus type 2) associated with an infectious bacteria (Bordatella bronchiseptica). Other viruses have been incriminated in the disease along with bacteria-like organisms called mycoplasms.

Viruses, being extremely contagious, are responsible for the initial phase of the disease. Bordetella bronchiseptica, the secondary invader, is associated with the severe, pronounced symptoms.

A harsh, dry cough often followed by gagging are the most common signs of kennel cough. Any type of excitement or physical exercise triggers the cough. The dog often coughs so hard that the owner thinks that an object is caught in his throat. Most dogs with the uncomplicated form of kennel cough do not have a fever.

This disease is extremely contagious for dogs. It does not affect humans. The name “kennel cough” comes from the notion that dogs boarded in kennels are more likely to contract the disease. This is due to the high concentration of dogs, the stress, and the nose-to-nose contact.

As long as the dog appears healthy, is eating well, and the cough is not too severe, a trip to the veterinarian may be delayed. If the cough persists or the dog begins to show other symptoms, a visit to the veterinarian is necessary.

Infectious tracheobronchitis is extremely contagious and dogs with the disease should be isolated from healthy dogs. If your dog has kennel cough, rest is very important. If a dog with kennel cough is worked too hard, pneumonia can easily develop.

Exposure to canine cough often occurs at dog shows, grooming parlors, and boarding kennels. Modern vaccinations are available to protect against the disease. Bordatella bronchiseptica vaccine is recommended for dogs that board at kennels. Consult with your veterinarian for the vaccination protocol that is best suited for your dog.

Lyme Disease Vaccination

Lyme disease affects dogs, cats, people, horses, birds, cattle, and wild animals. Although it affects a large group of animals, clinical signs are often observed only in dogs and humans. In dogs, the most pronounced symptoms of Lyme disease are sore joints, a stiff gait, and lameness. The lameness is not always pronounced and often shifts from one leg to the other.

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria-like organism called Borrelia burgdorferi. This organism is transmitted to animals by the deer tick, Ixodes dammini. Borrelia burgdorferi is difficult to isolate from clinically affected animals, however it can be isolated from these ticks.

The white-tailed deer and white-footed mouse are involved in transmission of the disease. The adult tick attaches to the deer and feeds on its blood. These adult ticks drop off the deer and lay eggs. The eggs hatch, larva and nymphs (young ticks) emerge, and these young ticks attach to mice. Since the white-footed mouse is the main reservoir of the disease, the young ticks become infected with the Borrelia organism.

Both the young ticks (nymph) and the adult ticks are responsible for transmitting the disease to animals. Researchers believe that the tick must attach to the animal for a period of 10-24 hours before the Borrelia organism becomes infectious. This is an important fact when dealing with prevention of the disease.

Arthritis, with joint pain, is the most common clinical symptom in dogs. Other symptoms include weight loss, fever, fatigue and swollen lymph glands.

A complete veterinary examination along with blood tests is required for diagnosing Lyme disease.

Ticks are generally found in wooded areas. They are most active during the warm months. Pets should be examined daily for ticks. If ticks are found, they should be removed immediately. Unfortunately the ticks that carry Lyme disease are extremely small. The nymph stage of the deer tick is equivalent to the size of a pinhead. Very often, single nymphs or adult ticks are not seen. (Remember that the tick must attach for a period of 10-24 hours before the Borrelia organism can be transmitted).

Spraying your dog with a tick repellent is beneficial; however, your veterinarian can recommend a product that is more effective, more convenient and lasts longer than a conventional spray.

A vaccine for the prevention of Lyme disease exists for dogs. Ask your veterinarian about vaccinating against Lyme disease.

Canine Coronavirus Vaccination

Canine coronavirus is an acute and highly contagious intestinal disease of dogs. The disease causes depression, vomiting, and diarrhea. The symptoms are similar to canine parvovirus; however the disease is less severe and fatalities are rare. Occasionally, very young or weak puppies, as well as older geriatric dogs, become severely dehydrated and die from the disease.

The majority of dogs infected with canine coronavirus are asymptomatic (have no symptoms). These asymptomatic animals are often the source of the virus for healthy, noninfected dogs. Particularly susceptible to the disease are show and field trial animals and dogs that are kenneled (boarded).

Canine coronavirus is transmitted from the feces of infected dogs to noninfected animals via the oral route. Infected animals can shed the virus for several months after clinical symptoms have disappeared. Asymptomatic dogs shed the virus as well.

Since canine coronavirus can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration, veterinary care is required. Using laboratory tests, a veterinarian can distinguish between canine coronavirus and parvovirus.

Since the effectiveness of canine coronavirus vaccine is controversial, many hospitals do not use it. Your veterinarian can recommend a prevention strategy that is specific for your pet.

Decision To Have Your Dog Neutered Or Spayed

Having your pet spayed (ovariohysterectomy) or neutered (castrated) is an inexpensive and realistic method of pet population control. The number of unwanted adult and young animals that are euthanized each year in the United States is astounding. Aside from the pet overpopulation problem, neutering a male dog and spaying a female helps prevent, and even eliminates, medical problems associated with hormonal imbalances.

Male and female dogs reach sexual maturity around nine months of age. Often, male dogs reach maturity slightly later than females. Sometimes confusion exists between sexual maturity and normal puppy behavior. Normal puppy behavior is often exhibited when he or she straddles the leg(s) of an individual. This behavior has nothing to do with sexual maturity and is performed by both male and female puppies.

It is usually noticeable when a female dog (bitch) reaches sexual maturity. A bloody discharge is seen around her external genital area. This bloody discharge is significant and can last up to 10-14 days. Along with the discharge, the external genitals become swollen. This is the first phase of her heat cycle and is called “estrus.” During the last few days of the estrus phase, the bitch is receptive to the male and can get pregnant. Similar to cats, the gestation period lasts about two months. At the end of the two-month gestation period, puppies (puppies, not a puppy) are born. A typical litter size averages between five to 10 puppies.

Aside from having puppies, non-spayed females are more susceptible to mammary gland tumors and uterine infections. Pyometras (infections of the uterus) are extremely common in non-spayed bitches and almost always require emergency surgery. Mammary tumors get large and multiply quickly if left untreated. Having your dog spayed can eliminate both of these conditions.

Having your male dog neutered makes him a better pet. Instead of roaming, he will spend more time at home. Non-neutered male dogs often exhibit aggressive behavior, especially if a non-spayed female is in the vicinity. Dog fights between two non-neutered dogs are not uncommon. Usually one of the dogs ends up severely injured.

An aggressive dog will not hesitate to bite a human. Often, non-spayed and non-neutered dogs are significantly more aggressive than spayed and neutered animals. Many people receive serious injuries resulting from dog bites.

Dog neuters and spays are generally performed when animals are six to nine months of age.

Ovariohysterectomy in Dogs

Ovariohysterectomy is the medical term for spaying a female dog. Ovariohysterectomy is best performed on a puppy around 5-10 months of age. If necessary, the surgery can be performed at an earlier age without any noticeable side effects. Ovariohysterectomies can be performed at any age, however the surgery is much less complicated and there are fewer risks when the animal is young.

Even though a spay is considered routine surgery, there is nothing routine about any abdominal surgery performed under general anesthesia. Most Veterinarians consider a dog spay to be major surgery, especially when spaying older bitches that have had several heat cycles or have had puppies.

Having your female dog spayed is an obligation that comes with pet ownership. All humane organizations, animal shelters and veterinarians promote the concept of pet population control by having dogs and cats spayed and neutered. The cost of a dog spay is inexpensive, especially when you consider what is involved.

Pre-Surgical and Post-Surgical Considerations

Your pet should be current with her vaccinations.

No food should be given 12-18 hours before the surgery and no water should be given 2-4 hours before the surgery.

Your dog’s activities should be restricted for 5-7 days after the surgery.

Sutures often need to be removed 10-14 days post-surgically. Ask a hospital technician about suture removal.

Call the veterinary hospital if you notice any problems or have questions regarding your dog’s health.

The main reason for spaying a female dog is to prevent heat periods and unwanted pregnancies. Ovariohysterectomies also greatly reduce the risk of mammary cancer and certain skin disorders. After the spay, uterine infections and ovarian problems are nonexistent.

For more information, see the article “Decision To Have Your Male Dog Neutered And Your Female Dog Spayed.”

Heartworm Disease and Prevention

Heartworm is a serious, life-threatening disease of dogs. It is due to the presence of the adult stage of the parasite, Dirofilaria immitis, in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of the heart. Until the early 1970s, the occurrence of heartworm in the United States was primarily confined to the southeastern part of the country. Today, it is found almost everywhere in the continental United States and is a major threat to the dog population of Canada.

 Heartworm Disease

Transmission of heartworm depends upon the mosquito population of an area. About 70 species of mosquitoes are capable of transmitting the disease. The more mosquitoes in an area, the greater the chance of heartworm transmission.

Heartworm disease occurs most commonly in dogs. It has recently been shown that heartworm is a major cause of heart disease in cats. Heartworm also infects wild animals. Coyotes, wolves and foxes are carriers of the disease in the wild. In a particular area, when the wild animals are infected, the disease is permanent.

The adult heartworm is 6-14 inches in length. It is thread-like, white in color, and primarily found in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of the heart. When adult male and female heartworms are present, mating occurs. The female releases large amounts of small, microscopic “microfilariae” into the bloodstream.

Heartworm Infected Dog’s Heart

Since heartworm is most commonly seen in dogs, this article is focusing primarily on canine heartworm. However, most of this information is also true for the other species that contract heartworm.

The circulating microfilariae can live up to two years in the dog’s bloodstream. Several microfilariae are ingested by a mosquito when it bites a dog. The mosquito serves as an intermediate host as well as vector (the transmitting agent) for the disease. The mosquito spreads the disease to another dog by injecting the microfilariae at the time of the bite.

In order for the microfilariae to become infectious, they must develop inside the body of the mosquito. This development occurs only under certain environmental conditions. Two weeks of temperature at or above 70 degrees F is required. As a result of this temperature requirement, transmission of the disease is limited to the warm months.


Heartworm Cycle

After the microfilariae have gone through their development, they are ready to infect a new victim. During a blood meal (mosquito bite), the mosquito injects the microfilariae into a new dog. These small, microscopic worms migrate under the skin and eventually enter the dog’s blood stream. About 6 months after the initial mosquito bite, the microfilariae arrive at the heart. The final maturation and the mating of the heartworm occur in the pulmonary arteries. The adult worms live in the pulmonary arteries and right side of the heart, where they can survive for seven years.

Adult heartworms cause inflammation and thickening of pulmonary arteries. As time passes, more arteries become inflamed and clots begin to appear. The blocked pulmonary vessels lead to an increase in blood pressure. This increase in pressure places a strain on the right ventricle of the heart. Eventually, heart failure occurs.

Clinical symptoms of heartworm disease develop very slowly. Often, symptoms are not noticeable until 3 years after the initial infection. Most of the symptoms are due to problems associated with increased work load for the heart. Lack of energy and exercise intolerance are early symptoms. Chronic coughing and difficulty breathing are both common symptoms associated with heartworm disease. As the disease progresses, most dogs develop congestive heart failure and ascites. Dogs often collapse in the final stage of the disease.

Not only is heartworm dangerous, but the treatment for heartworm disease is dangerous as well.

When it comes to preventing heartworm disease, pet owners have a number of options. Before beginning preventive medication, pet owners should have their pets tested for the presence of heartworms. If heartworms are present, a treatment plan should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Most heartworm prevention is done by administering your pet a once-a-month heartworm preventive medication. Many of these monthly products are administered as a chewable treat. Some are combined with other preventive medications. Your veterinarian will recommend the product that is best suited for your pet.

If you would like to have your pet tested for heartworm or you would like additional information about the disease, please call the hospital.