What is leptospirosis?

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Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that acquire from the urine of infected animals and water sources.

Risk factors for dogs include hiking, camping, hunting, swimming, living near lakes, streams, or ponds, living on or near a farm, living in an area where lots of wildlife visit, or even just drinking from puddles.

According to AVMA (American Veterinarian Medical Association) dogs can become infected with if their 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; or through a bite from an infected animal.

The signs of leptospirosis in dogs vary. Some infected dogs do not show any signs of illness, some have a mild and transient illness and recover spontaneously, while others develop severe illness and death.

The AVMA notes that signs of leptospirosis may include fever, shivering, muscle tenderness, reluctance to move, increased thirst and 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.

Leptospirosis may be suspected based on the exposure history and signs shown by the dog, but many of these signs can also be seen with other diseases. In addition to a physical examination, your veterinarian may recommend a number of other tests such as blood tests, urine tests, radiographs (x-rays), and an ultrasound examination.

Leptospirosis is generally treated with antibiotics and supportive care. When treated early and aggressively, the chances for recovery are good but there is still a risk of permanent residual kidney or liver damage.

The AVMA states that, currently, available vaccines effectively prevent leptospirosis and protect dogs for at least 12 months. Annual vaccination is recommended for at-risk dogs. Reducing your dog’s exposure to possible sources of the Leptospira bacteria can reduce its chances of infection.

During the month of October, Animal Health Center is offering leptospirosis vaccine series for only $20. If your pet has never had the vaccine, or more than 6 weeks overdue, your dog will receive an initial vaccine for $20 and return a month later for the booster, which is free. The vaccine then becomes apart of your pet’s yearly examination.

As with any vaccine, there is the potential risk of adverse reactions. It is not uncommon for your pet to be more tired or experience mild pain or swelling at the injection site after a vaccine. If your pet is uncomfortable, we can administer or advise which pain medications to give. A more serious, but rare, adverse reaction might include facial swelling, trouble breathing, pale mucous membranes, or collapse. If this were to occur, you should bring your pet immediately back to the office, or to the nearest veterinary emergency care center.

This promotion is valid October 1st – October 31st, 2016. Initial vaccination must be received during this time frame. New and established patients are eligible. Dog must be at least 8 weeks old. Only dogs that have never received the vaccine, or are at least 6 weeks overdue, are eligible. A veterinarian must administer the vaccine to dogs that are overdue for their annual exam or rabies vaccine, which does entail an office visit fee. Established patients that are up to date with their annual exam and rabies vaccine, and are healthy, may receive the vaccine from a veterinary technician.

September Is Responsible Dog Owner Month

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What does being a responsible dog owner mean to you? Is it simply providing shelter, food, and water? Is it bringing your dog in for a yearly examination and vaccinations? Or is it more than that?

Owning a dog is a privilege, not a right.


The AKC Responsible Dog Owner Pet Promise:

* I will never overlook my responsibilities for this living being and recognize that my dog’s welfare is totally dependent on me.

*I will always provide fresh water and quality food for my dog. I will socialize my dog via exposure to new people, places and other dogs.

*I will take pride in my dog’s appearance with regular grooming.

*I will recognize the necessity of basic training by teaching my dog to reliably sit, stay and come when called.

*I will take my dog to the vet regularly and keep all vaccinations current.

*I will pick-up and properly dispose of my dog’s waste.

*I will make sure my dog is regarded as an AKC Canine Good Citizen® by being aware of my responsibilities to my neighbors and to the community.

*I will ensure that the proper amount of exercise and mental stimulation appropriate for my dog’s age, breed and energy level is provided.

*I will ensure that my dog has some form of identification (which may include collar tags, tattoo or microchip ID).

*I will adhere to local leash laws.

Will you make the pet promise? 

Getting Your Cat To The Veterinarian

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Providing good health care, especially preventive health care, can allow your cats to have longer, more comfortable lives. However, this cannot happen unless they see the veterinarian for needed care. Many cats dislike going to the veterinarian, and that starts with the difficulty of getting the cat into the carrier. If we can make this step easier, the entire veterinary visit is usually less stressful. The following tips will help make veterinary visits easier for you and your cat.

What Type of Carriers are Best?

The best carriers are inexpensive hard-sided carriers that open from the top and the front, and can also be taken apart in the middle. An easily removable top allows a cat which is fearful, anxious or in pain to stay in the bottom half of the carrier for exams. Your veterinarian can often do the exam in the bottom of a well-designed carrier. Avoid carriers that require a cat to be pulled from or dumped out for an exam. Choose carriers that are sturdy,secure and stable for the cat, as well as easy for you to carry. Carriers should be seat-belted into the car to keep your cat safer and to reduce the bumpiness of the ride. Some cats like to see out, whereas others are less anxious when the carrier is covered with a blanket or towel to prevent seeing the unfamiliar.




Understanding your Cat’s Behavior

Cats are most comfortable with the familiar, and need time to adjust to the unfamiliar. The visit to the veterinarian is often difficult because the carrier, car, and the veterinary hospital are usually unfamiliar. Respect your cat’s need for time to become familiar with new situations, people and places.

• Stay calm. Cats can sense our anxiety or frustrations, which may cause them to become fearful or anxious.

• Cats do not learn from punishment or force. Give rewards to encourage positive behavior. For example, if your cat is sitting calmly in or near a carrier, give a treat. Likewise, rewards can be given to help your cat become familiar with the type of handling that may be encountered at the veterinarian (e.g., handling paws, ears and mouth). A treat is what is highly desirable to your cat, which may be in the form of food, play or affection. Be persistent and reward every time.

Helping Your Cat Become Comfortable with the Carrier

The goal is for your cat to learn to associate the carrier with positive experiences and routinely enter voluntarily.

• Make the carrier a familiar place at home by leaving it in a room where your cat spends a lot of time.

• Place familiar soft bedding inside the carrier. Bedding or clothing with your scent can make them feel more secure.

• Place treats,catnip or toys inside the carrier to encourage the cat to enter at home. Often, you will first see that treats are removed from the carrier during the night. • It may take days or weeks before your cat starts to trust the carrier. Remain calm, patient and reward desired behaviors.

• If you still have trouble, you may need to assess the carrier itself.


Getting an Unwilling Cat into the Carrier

If your cat needs to go to the veterinarian right away, and is not yet accustomed to the carrier, the following may help:

• Start by putting the carrier in a small room with few hiding places. Bring the cat into the room and close the door. Move slowly and calmly. Do not chase the cat to get it into the carrier. Encourage the cat with treats or toys to walk into the carrier.

• If your cat will not walk into the carrier, and your carrier has an opening on the top, gently cradle your cat and lower it into the carrier. Another option is to remove the top half of your carrier while getting the cat to go into the bottom half, and then calmly replace the top

• Use familiar bedding inside the carrier.

• Consider use of synthetic feline facial pheromone (Feliway®) analog spray in the carrier at least 30 minutes prior to transport to help calm the cat.


Coming Home – Keeping the Peace in a Multi-cat Household

Cats are very sensitive to smells, and unfamiliar smells can result in one cat no longer recognizing another. Aggressive behavior can occur when one cat senses another as a stranger. These suggestions can help avoid problems between cats following a veterinary visit:

• Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all of your cats react.

• If all cats appear calm and peaceful, let the returning cat out of the carrier.

• If you sense tension between the cats, or if previous home-comings have resulted in conflict, keep the cat in the carrier and take it to a separate room to avoid potential injury from an upset cat. Provide food, water and litter box for a minimum of 24 hours while it regains the more familiar smell of home.

• If there is still stress after this time,contact your veterinarian for more advice on slower introduction or medication to help the process.

• A synthetic feline pheromone (Feliway®) can help provide the sense of familiarity.

• For future visits: – Use familiar bedding or clothing with your scent, as it retains the smell of home and helps with reintroduction. – Use a synthetic feline pheromone (Feliway®). – Bring both cats to the veterinary practice together. This can prevent future conflict as both cats will carry the scent of the clinic.


Free Pet Insurance? Sign me up!

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You can’t predict when your pet is going to get sick or injured, but you CAN rest assured you don’t have to break the bank to provide the best care for your companion. Too often, people have to make difficult decisions for their pet based on finances. Wouldn’t it be nice to know you can say, “Go ahead, Doc, do whatever my pet needs to get better”? With accident and illness coverage that pet insurance provides, you have that option.

There are many companies out there to choose from, we encourage you to do your research and take advantage of free quotes. We have worked side-by-side with Embrace Pet Insurance for several years and have been pleasantly surprised with their customer service. They offer a FREE 2 month trial. Totally free. No sign-up fees, and they don’t ask for any credit card information.

We think it’s such a good deal, we’re throwing in some free stuff, too! Through the month of July, when you sign up for a 2 month free trial with Embrace Pet Insurance, you will be entered to win some pretty cool give-aways from Animal Health Center. The give-away includes promotional products from us and Embrace for you and your pet, a gift certificate to Animal Health Center, and even a free dose of your pet’s flea and/or tick preventative!

You can sign up here or stop by our office and we will be happy to assist you!

Contest ends July 31st and winner will be announced August 1st,  2016.