Leptospirosis – Deadly Bacteria in Wild Life Urine

When wild animals such as skunks, raccoons, coyotes, deer, and rodents urinate, they excrete bacteria in their urine – one of the bacteria found in their urine is called Leptospirosis. This bacteria is often times deadly to our beloved dogs. When dogs go to parks or on hikes and drink the random standing puddles of water, they get infected with this awful bacteria. Often times, the rain makes this more prevalent and helps spread this bacteria around – what looks like a typical puddle of rain water, may really have Leptospirosis in it.

Symptoms of infection include loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. Without treatment, dogs may suffer from kidney failure and pass away – time is of the essence and dogs need treatment as soon as possible.

Once a dog is infected, the dog may even spread the bacteria to other pets through their own urine and even humans too – yes, you read that right – YOU can get Leptospirosis (lepto) too!

Besides avoiding free standing water and puddles, the best way to protect your dog is to vaccinate them against the bacteria. You never know what that one random lick on a Saturday hike with your pup may lead to – we recommend every dog owner to be safe by vaccinating their pet, and not sorry.

If you suspect your pet may have Leptospirosis/Lepto, please call us 24/7: 925 937 5000

New Puppy or Kitten?

      It finally happened. Your children won the argument and you came home with a new puppy or kitten. Everything was peachy – then it all started to happen: the kitten decided to use your great-grandmother’s rug as a litter box and scratching post, or the puppy found your beloved vinyl records of Elvis or the Beatles and destroyed them with such efficiency, that an industrial shredder would be jealous. You’re now over your head with this young creature. Now what?

     Bringing a new puppy or kitten into the household is not as simple as walking down to the shelter, picking out the cutest animal, and then bringing it home. Time must be spent before ever bringing a new pet home. Most parents don’t have a baby without some sort of pre-planning and preparation, right? The same applies here.

     Research the breed that you are interested in getting. Some breeds are better suited to your family’s lifestyle than others. An owner who doesn’t like to walk or can’t exercise will not fit well with a dog who likes to run a lot. The same is true for certain breeds of cats: some cats require a lot of attention and talk a lot, and some owners might not like that.

     Make sure you have all your supplies beforehand. Crates, chew toys / scratching posts, water / food bowls, appropriate food for the age of the animal and grooming supplies. A leash, collar and ID tags are a must.

     Is your house set up properly? You need to find a place for the crate and sleeping areas. Designating a potty area should be done as soon as your puppy comes home. Kittens need to be introduced to their litter box right away. Put away items that you do not want destroyed.

     Routines work well with animals. Work with your puppy or kitten from the beginning to establish a routine for eating, playtime and exercise. Establishing good habits early on will save you trouble later on down the road.

     Your first visit to the vet can be overwhelming with the amount of information you will receive. The following is a list of typical topics:
          1.Vaccines and diseases
          2. Controlling parasites, both internal and external
          3. Nutrition
          4. Insurance
          5. Behavior – house training, biting, contact with children / other pets
          6. Problems commonly associated with certain breeds
          7. When to spay / neuter
          8. Dental care and grooming
          9. New puppy / kitten kits

     Vaccines are obviously an important topic at the beginning of any puppy or kitten’s life. While there are some risks involved with giving vaccines, the benefits far outweigh the risk. However, anytime an animal receives a vaccine, regardless if it’s the first time or the 10th time, some signs may occur, such as swelling, pain, a low grade fever, or lethargy. More serious reactions, such as anaphylactic shock, can also occur. In cats, a reaction called a vaccine associated sarcoma (a cancerous tumor) may also occur, but this is also infrequent.

     There are a number of required, or core vaccines given to puppies and kittens. Additionally, there are other vaccines that can be given, based on you and your pet’s lifestyle (close contact with wildlife, frequent boarding, for example).

The core vaccines and their schedule for dogs:
          1. DHPP – distemper, canine infectious hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza virus
               a. These viruses can attack the liver, heart, respiratory tract, central nervous system and the intestinal tract
               b. Initial vaccine at 8 weeks, then boosters at 12, 16, 1 year 4 months, and then every 3 years after that.
          2. Rabies – a virus that attacks the brain, spread by being bitten by an infected animal
               a. Initial vaccine at 16 weeks, a booster at 1 year 4 months, and then every 3 years after that.

Lifestyle vaccines for dogs can include:
          1. Leptospirosis – a bacterial disease that is spread by contact with urine from infected wildlife. Can be spread to humans. Can cause liver and kidney disease.
               a. Initial vaccine at 12 weeks, then boosters at 16, 1 year 4 months, and then every year after that.
          2. Bordatella (kennel cough) – a bacterial disease that can cause respiratory illness, commonly caught at dog parks, grooming facilities or kennels.
               a. Initial vaccine at 12 weeks. Boosters every 6 – 12 months.
          3. Rattlesnake – helps decrease the severity of rattlesnake bites.
               a. Initial vaccine at 12 weeks. Boosters every year thereafter.

The core vaccines and their schedule for cats:
          1. FVRCP – feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia virus
               a. These viruses can attack the respiratory and intestinal tracts. They are spread in the air or by close contact with an infected individual.
               b. Initial vaccine at 8 weeks, then boosters at 12, 16, 1 year 4 months, and then every 3 years after that.
          2. Rabies – a virus that attacks the brain, spread by being bitten by an infected animal
               a. Initial vaccine at 16 weeks, and then every year thereafter.

Lifestyle vaccines for cats can include:
          1. FELV – feline leukemia virus
               a. This virus can cause immunosuppression (decreased ability to fight other infections) and death in cats of all ages. It is spread by contact with infected individuals.
               b. Initial vaccine at 12 weeks, then a booster at 16, and then every year thereafter.

     Getting a new puppy or kitten can be stressful, but don’t worry, you’ll get through it. It requires patience, discipline, and sometimes the ability to step back and calm down. Don’t worry, you’ll do great with a new member in the family!

Byron Bowers, DVM

Importance of Annual Exams for Dogs and Cats

Annual exams are important part of veterinary medicine, in part due to the fact that they provide a veterinarian with incite into how your pet has been doing since its last visit, they address and treat certain problems or conditions that may be going on with your pet presently, and they can provide your animal with preventative measures such as vaccinations and medications that are important factors at preventing the spread of diseases not only to your animal, but also to prevent the spread of disease to other animals that your animal may come in contact with — including yourself.

During the annual exam, a veterinarian will ask certain questions about your pet’s history in order to see how your pet has been doing since its last visit. Some questions may be geared toward problems that have been going on, while some other questions may be directed toward finding out the answer to a specific problem(s) that may have been occurring recently or in the past. By asking these questions, it allows a veterinarian to gain knowledge about an animal’s overall health and about the management of certain diseases or problems that an animal may have. It also allows the owner to ask questions to a veterinarian about concerns or problems that they may with their pets at home over the past year.

After the history of a pet has been taken and the owner’s questions have been answered, a veterinarian will perform a physical examination in order to help determine the current health of an animal. A good physical examination will take a look at different parts of your animal’s body to determine if any disease is present. For example, a veterinarian may listen to the heart to determine if there is evidence of any heart disease and he or she may palpate the animal’s belly in order to determine if any abnormalities are present within the internal organs. There are many organ systems that can have disease present and that the owner may not be aware of these problems being present until a complete and through all physical examination is performed by a veterinarian. This is one of the reasons why annual exams are extremely important to have performed consistently, so that problems associated with certain organ system can be caught early and be addressed through diagnostics and/or treatment.

In addition to the physical examination, a veterinarian may ask an owner to have annual blood work and urinalysis performed in order to screen for certain diseases. Blood work and urine screening allow the veterinarian to look at how certain organ systems are functioning on a physiological manner and to see if any changes in the blood work or urine could indicate disease. Animals can appear overtly healthy on the outside, but physiologically they can have disease present. This is why it is important and recommended by veterinarians to have these tests performed on a yearly basis.


After the physical exam and diagnostic tests have been performed, preventative measures such as flea/tick control, teeth brushing/cleaning, hair coat maintenance, and/or vaccinations can be discussed by a veterinarian. These preventative measures are extremely important in veterinary medicine because they help to prevent the spread of disease not only in the animal they are examining, but also help to prevent the spread of diseases to the community of animals or humans that the animal lives in. Without these preventative measures in place, more diseases would be prevalent than they are today. This is why it is important to vaccinate pets yearly and to use preventative medications monthly in order to help control the spread of infectious diseases within a community.

Therefore, in order to ensure the health of our pets and of the community with which they live in, annual exams should be performed to not only to prevent the spread of diseases through vaccinations and medications, but also to evaluate, address, and treat certain diseases that could be present within our pets. Early screening for any disease can help to monitor an animal’s overall health and if a disease is caught early, it can decrease the impact that it may have on animal’s future lifespan.
If you have not gotten your pet’s annual exam performed this year, please schedule an appointment to have them looked at to ensure that they are feeling at their best, to screen them for any diseases, and to ensure that they can be protected against diseases that they may come in contact with in the future.

Jonathan MacStay, DVM