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"Lepto" by Lexy Marcellus, Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Sunday, 04 September 2011 08:38

Leptospirosis (Lepto for short) is a serious bacterial disease of dogs, livestock, many other animals, as well as humans.  While found in temperate and tropical countries around the world, it has become more common here in Canada - especially in suburbs and rural areas.  The Leptospira bacterium are usually spread through the urine of infected animals, although it can also be passed from mother to babies, or via bite wounds, and eating infected tissue.  Dogs typically become infected when they come into contact with wet grass, soil, puddles, streams or ponds that have been contaminated by infected animals.  Those that may be infected iclude: raccoons, skunks, rats, squirrels, foxes, coyotes, deer, livestock and other dogs.

What are the symptoms in dogs?

Some dogs never display any signs of illness and may just be carriers of the disease.  Others may suffer from a lack of energy and show signs of depression. They may display any or all of the following: anorexia, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, jaundice & kidney infection.  If not treated, some dogs become very ill and can even die.  The lepto bacterium eliminated in the urine of infected dogs in large numbers for long periods of time, also poses a risk to humans.

How do you diagnose Lepto?

If lepto is suspected, laboratory testing is recommended.  Your veterinary team will be looking at a complete blood cell count, blood biochemistry profile and a urine test. The tests are run to evaluate the red and white blood cells, liver & kidney functions and the hydration status.

Lepto CAN be treated with antibiotics - but depending on how severely affected you dog is, it may need to be hospitalized and placed on intravenous fluids for a few days to correct dehydration.  During treatment, infected animals should be isolated to prevent accidental contact with others. Humans should be cautious when handling infected urine; gloves, facemask, goggles may be used when disinfecting contaminated areas, as well as diluted bleach.

How do you prevent Lepto?

The best precaution is to have your veterinary team vaccinate you dog against as many strains of lepto as possible.  While there are approximately 200 strains, in Canada only 5 or 6 strains may cause disease.  Most vaccines contain 4 or less strains.  The first time your dog is vaccinated against lepto, they will require a booster 3-4 weeks later to ensure full protection against those strains.  Otherwise a yearly booster will be required after that. 

For that reason, it makes sense to always take the following precautions:

·         Remove food, garbage, and nesting materials from your yard to minimize wildlife activity,

·         Discourage your dog from drinking from standing water

·         Wash your hands thoroughly after after 'pooping & scooping' at all times (We need to be reminded of this?)

It's of utmost importance to contact your veterinary team regarding any questions you might have about your pet’s health. Prevention is always the best medicine. smiley  Lexy

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 September 2011 22:11
Fleas - by Lexy Marcellus, Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brian Adam   
Saturday, 03 September 2011 21:56

Adult fleas are wingless insects, generally smaller than a sesame seed, who feed on the blood of animals. Their proportionately enlarged back pair of legs gives them an extraordinary jumping ability (usually 2-8mm long). Hanging on to your pet’s fur with their claws, their needle like mouth parts bite through the skin to suck up blood–in quantities of up to 15 times their body weight daily.          

If one flea finds an attractive food source, you can be sure other fleas will join soon after. They then mate and the female is able to lay up to 50 eggs per day. Eggs will then drop to the ground within 8 hours and as soon as 2 days later the flea larvae will hatch and hide in dark places in its environment such as, on the ground, carpet, or upholstery. After a week of eating organic debris (adult flea droppings, crumbs, flakes of skin etc.) the larvae will spin cocoons to become pupae. The pupae can remain in this stage for up to 9 months or longer. Once the flea adult emerges from the cocoon, they are in search of a food source. The cycle can take as little as 12 days or as long as 180 days.

How can this affect my pet?

Flea bites can feel like a mosquito bite that is constantly itchy to your pets. By not killing the adult flea, the biting will continue to affect your pets. Untreated flea infestations can cause: secondary skin infections, tapeworms (fleas are tapeworm hosts), anemia (a lack of red blood cells), and Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD).

What is Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD)?

Flea Allergy Dermatitis is an allergic reaction to the saliva that fleas inject into the skin as they feed. Reactions can include moderate to severe itchiness, papules (little red bumps), redness, and self-trauma from biting and scratching in the affected area. Most commonly affected locations in dogs are the base of the tail, over the back, the backs of the thighs, and the front legs. Hair loss, scratched skin, blackened pigment of skin, and dandruff are also commonly seen.

How can I treat my pet for FAD?

Flea control for the individual pet and treatment of housemates must be aggressive. Medications prescribed from your veterinarian team will help kill adult fleas on your pets either by topical agents or oral agents. Also depending on how severe the allergic reaction is, your pet may require temporary treatment with steroids to relieve some itchiness. It is also important to treat the environment your pet lives in as well, thorough daily vacuuming of high-traffic areas and frequent washing of your pets bedding will help in reducing the flea population in your home.

It's important to talk to your veterinary team about the most appropriate products for your pets, as some medications can cause harm if not applied properly. Prevention is the best medicine to keeping your pets happy and healthy. smiley Lexy

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 September 2011 22:11
"TICKS" by Lexy Marcellus, Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Admin   
Sunday, 30 January 2011 17:12

Ticks are from the arachnid family (same as spiders, scorpions etc.) They have 4 pairs of legs & no antennae.  They live exclusively on on blood of animals for 3 of the 4 stages of their life cycle, and are able to sense heat and carbon dioxide with an organ to locate the presence of an animal food source.

How can my dog pick up ticks?

Ticks wait for host animals from the tip of grasses and shrubs; not commonly found in trees. When brushed by a moving animal or person, they quickly let go of the vegetation and climb onto the host. Ticks can only crawl; they cannot jump or fly.

What are the different types of ticks?

There are at least 15 different species of ticks in North America, only a few of these species are likely to be encountered. They include the:

American Dog Tick- Attacks a wide variety of hosts including humans and dogs but rarely infests homes. They are attracted by the scent of animals; humans most often encountered them near roads, paths, trails and recreational areas. Although present year round, the American dog ticks are usually more abundant in the spring.

Lone Star Tick- Also attacks a wide variety of hosts from birds and rodents to dogs, humans and cattle. These ticks live in wooded and brushy areas and are most numerous in underbrush along creeks and river bottoms and near animal resting places. They are present throughout the year, but adults are more numerous in March to May.

Deer or Blacklegged Tick- All three active stages will feed on a variety of hosts including dogs and people.  These ticks are usually found in wooded areas along trails. Adults are usually seen in spring and fall seasons. The deer or blacklegged tick can transmit Lyme disease and possibly erlichiosis to dogs and humans.

Brown Dog Tick- also known as the kennel tick is found throughout most of the United States. This tick feeds on dogs, but rarely bites people. Unlike other species, the brown dog tick can survive and develop indoors. It is found primarily in kennels or homes with dogs where it may be found hiding in cracks, behind radiators, under rugs and furniture, and on draperies and walls. It usually attaches itself around the ears or between the toes to feed.

Can my dog develop diseases from ticks?

Yes, there are three different types of diseases that can affect your dog if bitten by a tick. The diseases can be detected by a simple blood test looking for antibodies of the bacteria, and dogs can also have more than one of those diseases at a time.  They are:

Lyme Disease-The Deer tick is the most common type of tick to carry this disease. It is caused by a bacterium transmitted to dogs through the bite of a tick. Signs of infection include: Lameness, fever, swollen joints, kidney failure, “not him/herself” and anorexia. If not treated right away it can cause damaged joints and fatal kidney disease. It is usually diagnosed with a simple blood test looking for the antibodies to the Lyme bacteria. The disease can be treated with antibiotics, however, a lengthy course of treatment is necessary to completely eradicate the organism.

Anaplasmosis- Similar to Lyme disease, it is a bacterium that is spread from the bit of the tick. Symptoms of the infection are: lack of energy, high fever, swollen, very painful joints, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea. If not treated, anaplasmosis can cause very low numbers of platelets and white blood cells, as well as chronic joint pain and very rare neurological signs. Treatment with a lengthy course of antibiotics is again necessary.

Erlichiosis- Transmitted through the bite of infected ticks, it is a bacterial organism. Brown dog ticks are known carriers of this bacterium. Symptoms can include: loss of appetite, depression, fever, painful joints, bloody nose, and pale gums. If left untreated, this disease can result in permanent blindness, autoimmune diseases, bleeding complications and death. Lengthy treatment with antibiotics is necessary to ensure the organism is removed.

How can I prevent these diseases?

Prevention in the form of a topical medication can be applied to your dogs to kill any ticks that may land on your dog. A vaccine is now available for protecting dogs against Lyme disease. This vaccine is initially given twice, at a two- to three-week interval. Annual revaccination is also necessary to maintain immunity.

What should I do if I find a tick on me or my dog?

Use blunt tweezers or disposable gloves to handle the tick (infectious agents can be transmitted through mucous membranes or breaks in the skin). The diseases that infect dogs can also infect humans as well.

1. Grasp the tick as close to the skin surface as possible. This reduces the possibility of the head detaching from the body upon removal.

2. Pull the tick out straight out with a steady, even pressure. Do not twist or jerk the tick as this may cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin, increasing the chances of infection. Continue to apply steady pressure even if the tick does not release immediately. It may take a minute or two of constant, slow pulling to cause the tick to release.

3. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite area and wash your hands with soap and water. Ideally after removing it, preserving it in rubbing alcohol and bring it to your veterinarian team as this information is important for testing.  Always consult your veterinarian team to help you find the best prevention and treatment for these pesky critters. Prevention is always the best medicine. smiley Lexy

Last Updated on Sunday, 04 September 2011 22:12
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