April showers bring May flowers, but the warmer, wetter weather can also bring added health risks for your dog in the form of an infectious disease called leptospirosis.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that can affect humans and animals. This disease can cause serious damage to the liver and kidneys and even death. Rats, mice, raccoons, opossums, skunks, wolves and deer can spread the infection to dogs. When these animals are infected, the bacteria enter the bloodstream and make their way into the urine, which makes its way into the environment. Pets can be infected by ingesting an infected animal or water that has been contaminated by their urine. However, the bacteria can also penetrate the skin through scratches or open wounds and even penetrate the lining of the mouth, nose and eyes.
Infected animals can show loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, depression, fever, and even increased urination and thirst. In many dogs, infection can be severe, but sometimes the signs are subtle, and some dogs can recover quickly but continue to shed the bacteria and be carriers. The good news is that this disease can be treated, and many infected pets can recover if they receive treatment in a timely manner before widespread organ damage occurs.
Fortunately, there is a vaccination that can help protect your dog. Experts estimate that there are about 10 strains of the bacteria that can infect the dog – the current vaccination protects against four of the most common, prevalent strains. Vaccination is strongly recommended if your dog goes outside at all. This practice alone, while it doesn’t completely eliminate the chance of infection, can greatly reduce it.
You can also take additional measures to protect your pets. Keep your living environment and yard free of debris that could act as food or shelter for rodents or pests. If you encounter a pest problem, take measures to deal with it promptly. Do not allow standing water to collect on your property and avoid exposing your dog to streams, stagnant water or puddles while on walks or outings. Finally, if your dog shows signs of not feeling well, get it to your veterinarian so that they can receive appropriate testing and timely treatment.
The veterinarians of VCA Calvert Veterinary Center have over 35 years of combined experience helping pets stay healthy and happy. Call 410-360-PAWS for an appointment or schedule online at www.vaccalvertvet.com. VCA Calvert Veterinary Center is conveniently located at 4100 Mountain Road and has been proudly serving the Pasadena community for over 16 years.