Archive of ‘Health’ category

Leptospirosis

Recently we wrote about an unfortunate incident stemming from a disease called Leptospirosis. At the time we had never heard about, so we only highlighted the experience and decided to do a bit more research. What we found was alarming.

We expected to uncover that the bacteria commonly referred to as Lepto would only affect smaller animals with weaker immune systems. Instead we found that it is a zoonotic disease that can even affect livestock and people. (Thankfully, some animals such as cats have a natural immunity and rarely show signs)

It is even postulated as the cause of an epidemic among Native Americans along the coast of present-day Massachusetts that occurred immediately before the arrival of the Pilgrims in 1620 and killed most of the native population. (1)

Today, Lepto is still commonplace in impoverished nations but is growing in ubiquity as tourism and travel increases. It is even estimated that ten million peoples are infected by leptospirosis annually and was recently brought to national attention when former Olympic gold rower, Andy Holmes, succumbed to the disease in 2010. (1)

The disease has many strains and can enter the body through contact with infected urine, bite, or the ingestion of infected tissue. The bacteria then rapidly multiplies, spreading to the kidneys, liver, spleen, nervous system, eyes, and genital tract (2).

Symptoms devlop 4 to 12 days after exposure. (3)

Each strain can cause different physical and mental symptoms including:

  • Sudden fever and illness
    Sore muscles, reluctance to move
    Stiffness in muscles, legs, stiff
    Shivering
    Weakness
    Depression
    Lack of appetite
    Increased thirst and urination, may be indicative of chronic renal (kidney) failure, progressing to inability to urinate
    Rapid dehydration
    Vomiting, possibly with blood
    Diarrhea – with or without blood in stool
    Bloody vaginal discharge
    Dark red speckled gums (petechiae)
    Yellow skin and/or whites of eyes – anemic symptoms
    Spontaneous cough
    Difficulty breathing, fast breathing, irregular pulse
    Runny nose
    Swelling of the mucous membrane
    Mild swelling of the lymph nodes
    (1)

If the damage to the kidneys or liver is not too severe, the animal will begin to recover in 7 or 8 days. (4)

Treatment consists of Penicillin, subcutaneous fluids, and Doxycycline are used to treat the initial infection, correct dehydration, and the long term states respectively. (4)

Unfortunately, asymptomatic sufferers can still spread the infection and may intermittently shed bacteria for months or years.
Even with treatment, mortality rates can be as high as 10 to 50%. (1)

If the disease worsens, it can cause kidney failure and bleeding. At this stage, it is often referred to as Weil’s disease, named after Adolf Weil a prominent German physician who lost his life to what was later revealed as a variation of Leptospirosis.

Vaccines are available, but usually only for one or two of the more common strains. Unfortunately, vaccination against one strain does not protect against the other strains and a positive diagnosis can only be made through a blood test. (4)

A Leptospiral vaccination for dogs offer about 6 to 8 months of protection but it can be very traumatic so puppies should wait months before vaccination.

Be cautious of crowded areas such as kennels as this is a common way for animals to contract the disease. The best way to prevent spread is to keep animals out of contact with potential sources of infection including contaminated water sources, wildlife reservoirs, or domestic animals that are infected or chronic carriers. (4)

Typically we are an upbeat group at ADinLOS, but seeing how severe and grim the circumstance, we felt due diligence to educate ourselves and pass on what we learned. Our next post will be a much lighter and upbeat post.
[1] “Leptospirosis”. Wikipedia.org. Retrieved 2015-05-07

[2] “Bacterial Infection (Leptospirosis) in Dogs”. PetMD.com. Retrieved 2015-05-07

[3] “Leptospirosis in Dogs” DogzHealth.com. Retrieved 2015-05-07

[4] “Leptospirosis in Dogs” PetEducation.com. Retrieved 2015-05-07

Saying Goodbye

We lost a member of our family the other day.

As pet parents we recognize the finite relationship we have with our pets. Yet the day always hits too soon, we mourn, heal, remember, and begin the journey again with a spriteful new companion. Many people don’t understand why we put ourselves through the torment, knowing there is little our pets will outlive us. But, the prospect of building another wonderful relationship is what always brings us back. Asking a pet parent which pet was their favorite is much like asking a real parent about their children. They are all amazing for different reasons.
Unfortunately, for our good friends, this too soon experience, happened too soon. Five years young, a dear friend of the family lost Noah, a beautiful Pitt Bull & Boxer mix.

Noah was a good dog. A little rambunctious, but more importantly, a good friend.
Monday morning, they noticed Noah was not feeling well, and as most of us would do, let her be. After all, it’s pretty frequent that our pets have an irritable stomach. Simple diet change, the wrong food fell on the floor, or merely rummaging through something bad outside. We’d love to monitor everything, but it’s impossible.
A few hours later, expecting a vivid return to action they returned home to find Noah still not feeling well. On the morning of the next day, still no better. Upon closer inspection, you could see visible signs, more than discomfort. Yellow skin & gums.
Off to the vet.
After a series of tests, what we found out next was shocking. The symptoms were much more serious than we could imagine.
Leptosiris
Leptosiris is an infection transmitted through consuming infection urine. More than likely due to a raccoon, opossum, or rat urinating in a puddle or on some grass. Noah then scoured up an afternoon snack leading to her gravely unfortunate situation. It could have happened anywhere, even on a walk.

The worst part is, it is almost always fatile. In this case, it was.
5 years young, years too soon.
We will miss you Noah. Rest in peace.

December Pet Care Do’s and Dont’s

In a new series for ADinLOS, we are featuring monthly pet care do’s and dont’s . As we approach the winter months and the temperature drops it is a good time to develop some good habits. Without further ado:

DO
Walk dogs in parks. Usually, heavily trafficked streets have high salt concentration and other chemicals which can be tough on your dogs paws. People tend to exaggerate about salt burning paws, but it can be a major irritant, or even worse if ingested. Also, most parks have higher tree lines which will cut down on the amount of wind you and your pet experience.

DON’T
Assume that because your pets have ‘fur’ coats they are naturally immune to cold temperatures. The reality is, smaller bodies usually have weaker immune systems and are therefore more susceptible to the cold. A lot of people think animals look ridiculous dressed up, but imagine if you had to walk around naked all year. To some people it might be nice in the summer, but I don’t know anyone who would be okay in the winter. Your local pet shop should have a decent selection of gimmicky articles of clothing, but clothes may be easier to make with your own articles of clothing and a few stitches.

DO
Build adequate shelter for outdoor pets. Typically ADinLOS frowns on outdoor pets, but we’ll admit that we have a few. What can we say, kittens and injured animals just seem to find us. Outdoor pets do not get used to the cold. Stay outside for a day or two in December without a coat. Did you get used to it? Didn’t think so. Make sure the shelter is at least twice as large as your pet. Keep the enclosure elevated in a sunny area away from wind. When building the inside, prepare an area towards the back with straw for warmth, not towels or hay which absorb moisture and can mold.

DON’T
Neglect ears and paws. A large portion of heat is lost through these areas of the body. If attention isn’t paid here, you may be fighting a losing battle. This means booties and hoods.

DO
Keep temperatures consistent when we leave the house for an extended period of time. Energy is expensive, but it’s nothing compared to the importance of our pets health.

DON’T
Ignore the water temperature of our aquariums. Goldfish tend to be hearty, but when they get used to a what we consider room temperature, low temperature is a huge shock and needs to be addressed.

DO
Pay extra attention to travel demands. Travel is stressful on everyone, but it is especially stressful on our pets. Be cautious and take a trip to the vet to ensure pets are healthy, and all medications and vaccinations are current. Depending on the method of travel, familiarize them with their temporary housing. Keep comfortable blankets, dishes, and toys. The day of, feed them hours before travel to avoid upset stomachs. All will help reduce the amount of stress and stride for happy travel.

DON’T
Assume pets diets remain unchanged. Ensure pets are hydrated and nourished. Pets burn more energy in extreme temperatures and will need extra attention in the winter months. The winter months tend to hide perspiration better and encourages dehydration and lethargy quickly.

DO
Avoid certain classic holiday decorations. Most of us have heard that Poinsettias are poisonous to eat, and though this is largely exaggerated, mistletoe is the real danger. Poinsettieas need to be injested in large quantities to be harmful, but mistletoes symptoms can be mild to moderate depending on the variety. The European variety usually has more toxins than the American variety, but it is always wise to do your homework.

DON’T
Forget to kitty-proof your Christmas Tree. This means tying it down. Aside from falling and breaking all of your precious ornaments, it can break your precious kitten as well. We tend to assume that cats have 9 lives and always land on their feet. Unfortunately, this is not always the truth. Extensive research has been done on a phenomenom known as ‘High Rise Syndrome’. Below three feet, cats do not have the ability to ‘right’ themselves and will not always land on their feet. Three feet doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you think that every cat is different, these 3 feet can be increased to 2 stories. Be careful and don’t assume your cat can ‘right’ itself. So please, tie up your tree.

Comments are always encouraged. Do you have any additional tips or advice? Concerns about an item on our list? A lot of pet care can seem like common sense, but we find that we are always learning and even the simplest of ideas can open our mind.

Snufflufflitis and Other Unthinkable Maladies

A lot of controversy has been raised in recent weeks over Bentley, the dog of Nina Pham who became the the first case of Ebola contracted on U.S. soil. Thankfully, due to a very skilled medical staff and plasma treatments, Nina Pham is cured. The first thing she wants to do when she gets home, give Bentley a hug.

Unfortunately, Bentley is still under quarantine until early November. He has tested negative, but the incubation period of Ebola is 2 to 21 days, which makes the standard quarantine procedures recommend a minimum of 21 days.

As an upbeat group, ADinLOS tends to focus on positive stories, but we always look for an opportunity to learn. And the recent media attention brought forth an opportunity to learn something we knew little about; Animal-Human Illness Contraction. So we did our research to find a clearer picture.

We’ve heard a number of people spreading ‘facts’ about how Ebola is transmitted. These facts range from “Mr. Snuffles loves me too much to get me sick” to “your cat started the plague, and they’re back to finish us off”. Ok, so these are really opinion, but the passion people exude when discussing is so palpable, they are able to convince other people that it is fact. The reality is, the truth lies somewhere in between, and our experts aren’t positive what that line is.

Both the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization) outline useful, yet repetitious information.

Ebola’s origin is not clear, but it is thought that fruit bats…are natural Ebola virus hosts.

Humans are not infectious until they develop symptoms. [1]

Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids. [1]

Men who have recovered from the disease can still transmit the virus through their semen for up to 7 weeks after recovery from illness. [1]

The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. [1]

Ebola is not spread through the air or by water, or in general, by food.[1]

There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit Ebola virus. Only a few species of mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys, and apes) have shown the ability to become infected with and spread Ebola virus. [2]

Specifically regarding our four legged friends, the case made is convincing but it sounds like speculation more than fact.

In addition, the CDC professes:

There is limited evidence that dogs become infected with Ebola virus, but there is no evidence that they develop disease. [3]

Even in areas in Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola. [3]

CDC regulations require that dogs and cats imported into the United States be healthy. [3]

Additional information and guidance will be posted on this website as well as partner websites as soon as it becomes available. [3]

I’m guessing this means we have either no official clinical tests, or very few. We’ve never had a real Ebola threat before, and if African countries have no real evidence of transmission via dogs and cats, why should we. Their time is probably best spent elsewhere.

So where does all this leave us with our pets. Let’s backtrack a bit to less controversial disease transmission. How do we know what diseases a dogs and cats can transmit?

The answer really depends on what is causing your pet’s illness.

Most illnesses like the common cold and the flu are separate strains and do not affect pets and humans the same way. Therefore they cannot be reciprocally exchanged. [4]

Then we move on to zoonotic diseases. These can be difficult to understand on their own. Some you can contract from you pet. Some will make your pet sick, and some won’t.

There are a minimum of 39 important diseases that people catch directly from animals, 42 important diseases that people get by eating or touching food or water contaminated with animal feces, and at least 48 important diseases that humans can get from the bite of bugs that feasted on an infected animal. [5]

Lice, Lyme Disease, Scabies, Toxoplasmosis, Salmonella, and Rabies are some of the more common.

It is important to note, that while some disease that are not serious to us, may not be to our pets, and vice versa. Most of us would consider lice to be vexing, to pets it can cause serious complications.

Here’s where Ebola makes its triumphant return. If it is possible for a dog or cat to contract Ebola but not show symptoms, how would they transfer it to us? Humans need direct contact with the disease to transfer. Can a cat scratch or bite cause it? Or contact with dog feces?

I’m always happy to hear a happy story about a people being reunited with their pet, but the mutual relationship between our pets is supposed to help us achieve longer, happier lives. Not the other way around. Hopefully our experts find this out sooner than later.

[1] World Health Organization. Ebola virus disease. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/ Updated September 2014, Retrieved October, 24 2014.

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease), Transmission. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/index.html?s_cid=cs_3923 Update October 22, 2014, Retrieved October, 24 2014.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease), Questions and Answers about Ebola and Pets. http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/transmission/qas-pets.html Update October 13, 2014, Retrieved October, 24 2014.

[4] Kristina Duda, R.N. About Health. Can I Catch a Cold From My Pet?.
http://coldflu.about.com/od/faqaboutthecold/a/petssick.htm Updated July 24, 2014, Retrieved October 24 2014.

[5] Melissa Breyer. Mother Nature Network. 14 diseases you can get from your pets. http://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/14-diseases-you-can-get-from-your-pets Mon, Sep 10, 2012. Retrieved October 24, 2014.