Belmont Veterinary Services
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Leptospirosis and your pet



What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a potentially deadly bacterial disease that infects all breeds of dogs, wildlife and humans. This disease-causing bacteria is spread through the urine of infected animals. Raccoons, skunks, squirrels, opossums, rats and even livestock can be carriers of the disease. Soil and water contaminated with the bacteria can continue to be a source of infection for weeks or even months after exposure to infected urine.


Is my dog at risk?

Any dog coming in contact with contaminated water or soil is at risk, even pets that don’t leave their own yard. Common garden attractions such as bird baths and ornamental ponds attract a wide variety of wildlife and can be a source of infection. Leptospirosis is contracted when the bacteria enters the body through a cut or mucous membranes (eyes, nose or mouth). Infection can occur if your pet simply drinks or wades through infected water. Licking their paws after walking on contaminated soil can also be a means of infection.


What are the signs and symptoms?

In humans, the symptoms are often flu-like and usually treated with antibiotics. Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy are common symptoms in dogs. Pets that contract the disease and are left untreated could develop potentially fatal kidney or liver failure. If you suspect your pet may be infected your veterinarian can perform urine and blood testing to determine if your dog has leptospirosis.  An early diagnosis is important for a full recovery.


Can Leptospirosis be prevented?

Discouraging your pet from drinking potentially contaminated water and avoiding areas frequented by wildlife will help to limit possible exposure. Leptospirosis can also be prevented with a safe and affordable vaccination. Dogs that have never received a vaccination against leptospirosis will require a second vaccination or “booster” 3-4 weeks after their initial dose. This will provide maximum protection. The vaccination can then be administered yearly with your pet’s annual wellness exam. This vaccine is part of our regular vaccination protocol, so you can be rest assured that your pet is receiving the best protection available.

Spring has Finally Arrived!! Unfortunately, so have Ticks and Mosquitoes!

Spring is finally here! While the warm weather is welcomed by most, it is closely followed by the arrival of unwanted mosquitoes and ticks. These are the vectors responsible for Heartworm disease and Lyme disease respectively.

Heartworm disease is a life-threatening condition caused by a worm that lives in the heart and adjacent blood vessels. The parasite is transmitted when a mosquito ingests the ‘baby worms’ (Microfilariae) while feeding from an animal infected with the disease.  After 2 – 3 weeks the microfilariae develop into infective larvae. When the mosquito takes another blood meal the infective larvae escape from its mouth parts into its victim. The larvae then further develop within the dog’s tissues and migrate to the heart where adult worms grow, and the life cycle begins all over again.

Signs of Heartworm disease can include lethargy, chronic cough and weight loss. Signs are not often apparent until 6 – 7 months after your dog has been infected. Although treatment is possible once infection has been diagnosed, it’s less traumatic for your pet if the disease is prevented.  Heartworm disease can be prevented safely and affordably. A small blood sample is taken from your pet to determine if there has been any past exposure to an infected mosquito. After a negative test result, your dog will be put on a monthly heartworm prevention to be administered regularly through the duration of mosquito season (normally June-November).

Ticks are not simply undesirable pests. They are responsible for the transmission of Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichiosis just to name a few.  Lyme disease, the most common tick borne disease in our immediate area, is spread by the Deer tick (lxodes Scapularis). The larval stages of the deer tick become infected while feeding on white-footed mice and ground feeding birds. The infected tick then transmits the Lyme disease causing bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) to people, dogs and other animals when it attaches itself to take a blood meal.

Signs of Lyme disease infection can include lameness, swollen or painful joints, lethargy, depression, inappetence, vomiting, diarrhea and a general reluctance to exercise. A more serious form of the disease can lead to kidney failure. Like Heartworm disease, we can test for exposure to the Lyme disease causing bacteria with a simple blood test. Lyme disease can also be prevented with an inexpensive vaccination and with the administration of a monthly tick prevention designed specifically for dogs.

With today’s medical advances we are able to affordably test for and prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks.  Because no preventive medication is 100% effective, we recommend that all dogs be tested yearly. Please contact  us today to discuss what prevention is most suitable for your dog. 


Fall has officially arrived!

Here’s a great list of fall toxins that you should be aware of in order to keep your pets safe this season.


Holiday Safety Tips

Be careful how you deck your halls! The holiday season is generally a time of family togetherness in which even our pets participate. One’s thoughts generally are far from thoughts of injury; however, one must be aware of some important seasonal hazards in order to insure a happy holiday season.


These are of special interest to playful cats and kittens who see these materials as toys (or prey) to be chased, pounced upon, chewed or swallowed. While chasing and pouncing pose no health threats, chewing and swallowing do, as these strings or “linear foreign bodies” can catch in the GI tract, leading to bunching of intestine as the body tries in vain to move the string or ribbon through. This is a life-threatening condition requiring surgery for correction. Supervise animals who play with string closely.


These are also tempting to cats who like to play with string as well as to puppies who are teething and interested in chewing. If a pet bites through an electrical cord, it could result in a severe burn to the tongue which causes the pet’s lung to fill with fluid, causing respiratory distress. This is also an emergency requiring immediate veterinary attention.


Many people do not realize that chocolate can be a poison. Unsweetened baking chocolate carries a much higher dose of the toxin “theobromine” than does milk chocolate, but even normal milk chocolate can be dangerous; a small dog sharing candy can wind up in big trouble. Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include hyperexcitability, nervousness, vomiting, and diarrhea and death.


Consuming this festive-looking plant can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of the dog or cat that chews on or eats it. Contrary to popular belief, poinsettia is not specifically toxic.


The fact that there are several types of mistletoe makes it difficult to predict the clinical signs of poisoning. Some mistletoes produce only stomach upset while others may lead to liver failure or seizuring. Consider mistletoe to be a hazardous substance and keep it inaccessible to pets and children.


Keep pets out of the kitchen during the hustle and bustle of the season. The last thing you want is for someone you love to get underfoot and get burned from spillage.


We all like to include our pets in Holiday meals along with the rest of the family, but try to keep in mind that sudden rich diet changes are likely to upset a pet’s stomach. Vomiting and diarrhea are not uncommon. If leftovers are of an especially fatty nature, the pancreas may become inflamed and overloaded. This condition is serious and may require hospitalization

Do you know what signs to look our for in heat stroke?

Looks like it’s going to be another hot day today! Keep your pets safe and cool in this heat.



Too hot for your dog?

As the temperatures start to rise just remember, never leave your dog in the car!

Also, be sure to keep your pets hydrated in this heat. Encourage your pets to drink before and after exercise, bring water with you out on long walks and offer ice cubes as treats.



Tick and heartworm season!

Spring is finally here and with the arrival of spring comes those pesky parasites, ticks and mosquitoes. Are you prepared for tick and heartworm season?

We recommend heartworm testing mid-April to mid-May, at which point you can pick up your heartworm prevention medication for the season. It’s a simple, inexpensive blood test which can detect four infections (Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis and heartworm disease) in one blood sample and results are obtained in less than 10 minutes.

For more information about heartworm and why testing and prevention is so important, please watch this video below.

Call today to book your appointment to get your dogs tested!
Don’t forget about your cats! They don’t need to be tested, but they still need protection!

Poison Awareness: Lilies

Though they are beautiful, lilies are very toxic to cats. Just be sure, when you bring flowers to Easter dinner, you know what’s in the bouquet.

The more dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are true lilies of the Lilium or Hemerocallis species. Examples of some of these dangerous lilies include the tiger, day, Asiatic hybrid, Easter, Japanese Show, rubrum, stargazer, red, Western, and wood lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions (such as 2-3 petals or leaves) – even the pollen or water from the vase – can result in severe, acute kidney failure.

lily-300x248Poisonous to: Cats
Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe
Common signs to watch for:

  • Inappetance
  • Lethargy
  • Hiding
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Halitosis
  • Dehydration
  • Inappropriate urination or thirst
  • Seizures
  • Death

There are benign and dangerous lilies out there, and it’s important to know the difference. Benign lilies include the Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies; these contain insoluble oxalate crystals that cause minor signs such as tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus. Clinical signs of drooling, pawing at the mouth, foaming, and vomiting may be transiently seen.

Other types of dangerous lilies include lily of the valley. This type does not cause kidney failure, but can cause life-threatening heart arrhythmias and death when ingested by dogs or cats.

If your cat is seen consuming any part of a lily, bring your cat (and the plant) immediately to a veterinarian for medical care. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better and more efficiently the lily poisoning can be treated. Decontamination (like inducing vomiting and giving binders like activated charcoal) are imperative in the early toxic stage, while aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney function monitoring tests, and supportive care can greatly improve the prognosis. Intravenous fluids must be started within an 18 hour window for the best outcome.

Information courtesy of the Pet Poison Helpline.

Poison Awareness: Alcohol

While you’re out enjoying your St. Patrick’s Day green beer, just make sure you don’t share any with your pets this weekend.

greenbeerPoisonous to: Cats, Dogs
Level of toxicity: Generally mild to severe
Common signs to watch for:

  • Drooling
  • Retching
  • Vomiting or attempting to vomit
  • Distended stomach/bloat
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Coma
  • Hypothermia
  • Death

Most people know not to give alcoholic drinks to their pets; however, alcohol poisoning in pets is more common than you think! This is because alcohol can be found in surprising places. Rum-soaked fruitcake or unbaked dough containing yeast result in alcohol poisoning and other life-threatening problems. Unbaked bread dough will expand in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloated stomach (called “bloat”), which can then progress to a gastric-dilitation volvulus (GDV), which is a twisted stomach. Signs of GDV include vomiting, non-productive retching, a distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, weakness, collapse, and death. Secondly, when the yeast in the unbaked dough is fermented, it results in the production of carbon dioxide (causing the bloat) and alcohol. Alcohol from the fermenting yeast is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and results in alcohol poisoning quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

Information courtesy of the Pet Poison Helpline.

Poison Awareness: Grapes/Raisins

Grapes, raisins, and even currants (some currants are actually small, black grapes) are toxic to your dog! In fact, there have been anecdotal reports of cats and ferrets being affected by these also. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currants can result in severe, acute kidney failure. All types of grape- or raisin-containing products (including grape juice, trail mix, bagels, etc.) can result in this. Even organic, pesticide-free, grapes grown in home gardens can result in toxicity. Although the mechanism of action is not clearly understood on how grapes, raisins and currants are poisonous at this time, this common fruit can result in anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially severe acute renal failure (which develops several days later). The toxicity is not necessarily dose-dependent, and symptoms can occur with even small ingestions. Decontamination (e.g., inducing vomiting, decontaminating with activated charcoal, etc.), aggressive supportive care, aggressive IV fluid therapy, and kidney function (e.g., BUN/creatinine) monitoring is recommended.

GrapesPoisonous to: Dogs
Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe
Common signs to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal drinking or urination
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetance
  • Halitosis
  • Dehydration

Information courtesy of the Pet Poison Helpline.

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