“It’s out there.” Recent research reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that at least 8% of the dog population has contracted Leptospirosis. They report that it can only take a few minutes outdoors to contract this disease and that it is also transmitted by squirrels. This recent report (September 18, 2013) also stated that Leptospirosis is on the increase in the Northeast. Leptospirosis (Lepto) is a contagious disease affecting both animals and humans. This terrible disease is caused by several bacterial pathogens called Leptospira which can cause serious liver and kidney disease. Leptospira thrive in wet soil conditions and moderate temperatures support their surviving in the environment. The organism can be found on the grass, an d even on wet sidewalks. Infection is spread in humans and animals by contact with infected areas from the urine of squirrels, raccoons, fox, horses, rats, mice, opossum, skunk, dogs, and other animals that urine outside. The bacteria can enter the body by licking contaminated areas on the paws or body, or by drinking contaminated water, or through open wounds. Stagnant water such as small ponds and lingering puddles should be avoided. Initial symptoms include fever, decreased appetite, vomiting and sometimes diarrhea. If a diagnosis is not made early and treatment initiated the disease can progress to kidney and liver failure and be fatal. Since Leptospirosis poses a risk of spread to other animals and humans, any suspected contaminated area should be avoided and the area should be thoroughly drained, washed and disinfected with an iodine-based solution. It is almost impossible to keep dogs off grass or other potentially infected areas so vaccination is the wisest cho ice. The vaccine is safe and effective. If you know there are squirrels, raccoons, and or rats, etc. on your property and your dog goes outside where they might have been, your dog is at risk and should be vaccinated. Contact your veterinarian for current vaccination protocol.
The ASPCA has reported that as the human population ages, more and more medications are prescribed, and more poisonings occur in our pets. In fact, last year more than 1/3rd of all pet poisonings reported were in fact from ingesting human medications. That figure is actually over 3000 cases in New York State alone. The most common reported is the moisture absorbents found in most medications. These are little silica packets that prevent moisture from ruining the medicine. They cause gastric upsets and can cause an intestinal blockage. The two most commonly reported over the counter NSAIDS are ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Naproxen). All are toxic to animals. All cardiac medications should be avoided and kept locked up. Non-aspirin pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) are also very dangerous. Other type of medications include cold medications, cough and allergy medications, and antidepressants. Although, many of these cases are accidental, all are avoidable. You must make sure no medications fall to the floor and all must be put away and out of reach. Puppies and kittens are usually the more likely candidates for playing and consuming these items listed above. Keep activated charcoal and hydrogen peroxide in the house, just in case, but do not use unless advised to do so. Please note: the direct line of the Animal Poison Control Center is 888-426-4435.
There are basically five kinds of water: Spring water, Well water, Tap water, Bottled water and Distilled water. Spring and well water comes from the earths aquifer, rain and melting ice, tap water from rain water stored in reservoirs, bottled water from commercial companies and distilled water also from commercial companies. Spring and well water is the most natural, and if not bottled it is unfiltered and untreated. Tap water is treated with fluoride and other chemicals and is also filtered. Bottled water is not only filtered but many impurities are also removed by chemical processes. This depends on what company is producing it. Lastly, distilled water is made by boiling regular water and capturing the steam under pressure, into sterile containers. By doing this, most impurities and important electrolytes and minerals are also removed. If you go “online” there are many conflicting articles about the benefits and hazards of distilled water. This ranges from treating urinary tract infections, causing urinary infections and stones, causing and/or treating cardiac disease, and even tear stains, etc. Now, which one is best for your pets? Well that depends on how extensive your research is. It is controversial. Spring water, which is fresh water from springs, is not so fresh as one might think. Animals urinate and defecate in those rivers “upstream” that become springs “downstream”. In fact, even in Canada, the ice melt water coming directly from the polar ice cap has impurities and tastes of sulfa. Well water is from the earths aquifer and has a natural filter. However, it still is not always safe to drink it. In general, the safest water is using any source of water suited for human consumption, filtered and treated. The general consensus of my research is distilled water is NOT recommended. Although most electrolytes and minerals important for goo d health are found in all commercially prepared dog and cat foods, many pets do not get balanced diets. Drinking regular water is not only important for proper hydration but is also a source for these necessary minerals and electrolytes that your pet might not get if he/she is a finicky eater. Remember, always provide ample fresh drinking water for your pets on a daily basis, the same water that you drink.