Leptospirosis Vaccine

Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal infectious disease that was once thought to mainly affect hunting dogs or dogs in more rural environments. However, it appears to be affecting more urban dogs in recent years and should therefore be on our radar here in New York City. The following should help to describe the disease itself and help you understand how to best protect your beloved pup from exposure. Leptospirosis (commonly referred to as “Lepto”) is a bacterium that causes significant kidney and liver damage and can be fatal. Symptoms of Lepto infection include increased thirst, lethargy, vomiting and decreased appetite. The bacteria are passed in the urine of infected animals, so dogs can become exposed via ingestion of contaminated standing water, ground soil or via swimming. Lepto can also enter via an abrasion or wound in the skin. The disease can affect a number of different animals with the most common carriers in this area being the rat, raccoon and opossum. Dogs who become infected with Lepto typically require aggressive treatment with antibiotics and IV fluids. Some even need dialysis to prevent their kidneys from shutting down all together. Humans can also acquire and become ill from Leptospirosis and tend to become infected through the same route as dogs (exposure to contaminated water or urine). Although less common, humans can also pick up this infection from an infected dog, so caution is needed when handling a dog with known infection. Cases of Lepto have been reported in all five boroughs of New York City. It is therefore important to prevent your dog from having contact with rodents and small wild animals and not allowing her to drink from puddles and other sources of standing water. There is a vaccination for Lepto that is safe and effective. The veterinarians at The Vet Set recommend vaccination against Leptospirosis for most dogs in NYC.

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is a concerning tick-borne infection for us in this region as it can affect both dogs and humans. The Eastern coastal states have the highest prevalence of Lyme disease in the country. While we may not see too many ticks here in Manhattan, many of us travel outside of the city with our dogs and into surrounding areas with heavy tick populations. Lyme disease is endemic in Long Island, Westchester County and the lower Hudson Valley, as well as many other popular destinations. The purpose of this posting is to inform you about the disease itself and about the best ways to prevent infection in your dog. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to dogs in this area via the deer tick or eastern blacklegged tick (Ixodes scapularis). Affected dogs show signs of fever, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes and joint pain. Dogs will often have painful swollen joints that appear to resolve, only to have another joint become affected days to weeks later. This condition is classic for Lyme disease and is often referred to as a “shifting leg lameness”. Less commonly, some dogs with Lyme disease can also develop kidney disease that can be quite significant and even be fatal. There are specific blood tests available to test your dog for exposure to Lyme. Results of these tests can lead to some confusion as many dogs will be exposed to this bacterium, but never show signs of illness. A thorough examination and discussion with your veterinarian is warranted if you are concerned about Lyme disease in your dog or if your dog has tested positive for the disease. The infection, if diagnosed early, can be successfully treated with antibiotics. However, some dogs can have lasting arthritis and irreversible kidney damage. While Lyme disease can affect humans as well it is not possible to become infected directly from your dog. The infection can only be transmitted to us via a tick bite. All ticks are not infected with these bacteria and once a tick bites, it takes 24-48 hours of being attached to the dog or human before it can start to transmit the bacteria to a dog or person. It is therefore important to check yourself and your dog for ticks and remove them immediately once they are found to help prevent transmission of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. Tick prevention with an oral or topical product is also important for dogs that spend time outside of the city or in areas known to have ticks. Most prescription tick preventatives will kill a tick in 24 hours or less thereby dramatically decreasing your dog’s risk of contracting Lyme disease. There is a vaccination for Lyme disease that is given to dogs with a higher risk of exposure. The veterinarians at The Vet Set can help you decide if this vaccine is important for your dog based on her lifestyle.

DA2PP Vaccine

The DA2PP vaccine is a combination vaccine, meaning it contains vaccines for multiple diseases in one injection. These are Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza. It is given in a series of 3-4 injections to puppies starting at 6-8 weeks of age, and then a booster is given 1 year after the final puppy shot. After that this combo shot is administered every 3 years to most dogs. DA2PP (or DHPP) is considered a core vaccine, meaning that it should be given to all dogs no matter what their lifestyle is. The following should serve to better describe the diseases covered by this vaccine and explain why your New York City pooch could be at risk. Distemper - Canine distemper is a virus that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, urogenital and nervous systems of dogs and other animals. Early symptoms of distemper include ocular and nasal discharge, fever, poor appetite, sneezing and coughing. Affected dogs become progressively worse as the virus spreads to other body systems. Later signs of the disease include vomiting, diarrhea, callusing of the footpads, tremors (typically of the jaw), weakness and eventually seizures. There are no specific medications to cure distemper, so the only treatment available is supportive care. Many young or otherwise immune-compromised dogs will die of this disease, while others can survive, but may cause permanent neurologic damage. Canine distemper is spread mostly via respiratory secretions, but can also be spread via fresh urine or blood. Dogs become infected via direct or indirect (i.e. bedding, food bowls) contact with an infected animal. Young puppies and other unvaccinated dogs are the most susceptible. Other animals that can carry the canine distemper virus include foxes, skunks, raccoons and ferrets. Unlike Rabies, Distemper cannot be transmitted to humans or cats. Parvovirus - Of all the viruses we worry about with our dogs the Parvovirus probably has the biggest notoriety. Parvovirus, commonly referred to as “parvo”, is a virus that causes severe gastrointestinal disease, often in young puppies who are unvaccinated or who have not received their entire vaccination series. Parvo is spread via direct or indirect exposure to feces from an infected dog and is very contagious. The virus itself is very resistant to changes in temperature and humidity and can persist in the environment for long periods of time even up to months at a time. It can also persist on inanimate objects such as food bowls, carriers/kennels, clothing, and floors. Symptoms include vomiting, severe diarrhea (often with blood), fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. The disease is concerning because it causes rapid dehydration and death can occur within days of infection. Dogs who have Parvo are treated with aggressive supportive care to combat dehydration and often require intensive hospitalization and even plasma transfusions. Because the virus is so contagious and difficult to combat in the environment, Parvo positive dogs are usually isolated in the hospital. The best way to prevent your pup from Parvovirus is to have her vaccinated and avoid public areas with unvaccinated puppies or unknown dogs until she has completed her full puppy vaccine series. Parvo is not contagious to humans or cats. Adenovirus - There are two types of canine adenovirus: type 1 (CAV-1) and type 2 (CAV-2). CAV-1 causes canine infectious hepatitis. Some people even refer to this virus as Hepatitis, hence the “H” in DHPP. CAV-2 is one of the viruses that causes infectious tracheobronchitis (“kennel cough”) in dogs. Dogs infected with CAV-1 will initially show signs of cough or general malaise. The virus can then affect the eyes, liver and kidneys. Typical symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, a “blue-eye” appearance to the eye (corneal edema), increased thirst and even seizures. The disease is spread via direct or indirect contact with contaminated bodily fluids (saliva, urine, feces, blood, etc.). There is no specific cure for canine infectious hepatitis. Most infected dogs are treated with supportive care and recover. However, some dogs will die from liver disease and secondary bleeding disorders. Canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2) causes classic symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, such as a cough and nasal and ocular discharge. The virus is spread via infected respiratory secretions or via contact with contaminated feces or urine. Dogs from shelters or dogs that spend time in boarding or grooming facilities, daycare and dog parks are at highest risk of infection. Similar to the common cold in our own human population, this upper respiratory infection typically runs its course and resolves without treatment, but is highly contagious. Some dogs can have persistent infections that develop into secondary bacterial infections or even pneumonia. These more severe cases can require treatment with antibiotics or even hospitalization. Neither CAV-1 or CAV-2 is infectious to humans or cats. Most DA2PP combo vaccines contain a modified canine adenovirus type 2. However, because the viruses are so similar, vaccination against one type provides protection against the other type also known as cross-reactivity. Parainfluenza - Parainfluenza is another virus and one of the most common causes of infectious tracheobronchitis, or kennel cough, in dogs. Common symptoms include coughing, ocular and nasal discharge, lethargy and fever. It is spread via respiratory secretions and is most common in dogs that have spent time in a boarding facility, groomer, daycare, shelter or dog park. Like canine adenovirus type 2, this infection is usually self-limiting and doesn’t require specific treatment. However, it can cause pneumonia in some affected dogs. Parainfluezna virus is not contagious to humans or cats.

Vaccines

Let’s talk about vaccines. We all know our pets need them, but sometimes it’s a little confusing as to why and how often. A vaccine is a substance used to stimulate the production of antibodies and provide immunity against one or several diseases, prepared from the causative agent of a disease, its products, or a synthetic substitute, treated to act as an antigen without inducing the disease. We give them to all pets to prevent infectious diseases that can harm or kill your dog or cat. Side effects or reactions are rare, but can occur 1-2 days after receiving a vaccine and include lethargy, decreased appetite, fever, diarrhea, facial swelling, or breathing problems. While it’s important to report any vaccine reactions to your veterinarian, the side effects are generally self-limiting. When puppies and kittens are first born they receive their initial antibodies from their mother’s milk. Our current vaccines are excellent at stimulating immunity in older puppies in just one or two shots. However, puppies and kittens who nursed on their mother’s milk have maternal antibodies in their blood that block the immune system from responding to these vaccines. These circulating maternal antibodies protect them from bacterial and viral assault while the puppy’s or kitten’s immune system is maturing. But they also prevent the puppy’s and kitten’s immune system from becoming activated by vaccines. As the puppy and kitten ages, the maternal antibody levels decline. By as early as 6 weeks, 25% of puppies and kittens have a strong immune response to vaccinations, and by 14 to 16 weeks of age the maternal antibodies have fallen enough to allow a full immune response in 90% of puppies and kittens. Veterinarians administer vaccines for the major viral diseases every 3-4 weeks starting around 6 to 8 weeks of age to increase the likelihood that as the maternal antibodies are falling, the lower levels don’t leave the puppy or kitten exposed to disease but instead, the immune system is activated. Once the puppy or kitten has received their full series they should be boostered in one year, and then every 3 years thereafter for the core viral vaccines. The core viral vaccines for dogs include Rabies and DA2PPV and for cats include Rabies and FVRCP. An alternative for the viral diseases is performing viral titers to measure the amount of circulating antibody to ensure your pet is protected against these potentially fatal diseases. All dogs and cats should be vaccinated against Rabies. Rabies is a fatal central nervous system disease that can spread to owners. There is no cure for Rabies and pets diagnosed with it are euthanized. The first Rabies a dog or cat receives is a 1 year vaccine. After the initial Rabies vaccine the pet will be administered 3 year vaccines. It is a legal requirement to license your dog in New York City. You can follow the steps for license requirements here. Based upon your pet’s lifestyle there are different vaccines you’re going to want to administer to your pet to protect her. Most dogs are vaccinated against Bordetella a highly contagious upper respiratory disease. Other diseases dogs are vaccinated against can include Leptospirosis and Lyme’s disease. Outdoor cats are recommended to be vaccinated against feline leukemia. The veterinarians at The Vet Set are more than happy to help you assess your pet’s risk profile to ensure your pet is properly protected against these potentially fatal diseases.

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