Follow vets advice about which vaccines dog needs
posted at 10/6/2013 5:54 AM EDT
Dear Dr. John,
I try to stay current on what my dog needs to stay healthy, and I have read a fair amount recently about an increase in this part of the country of Lyme and lepto. I am quite familiar with Lyme, as are many people, but I am not as familiar with lepto.
Our family just got a new spaniel since we put our old dog to sleep a few months ago. The breeder told me to not vaccinate for lepto, but she did not give me a good reason.
Our vet has always recommended what our dog needed, and I have trusted that advice, but I now wonder what our dog really needs vs. what is being given. I don’t want to over-vaccinate, but I do want to ensure that my dog is well protected from any potential diseases.
What do you recommend, and is there a real concern about this? What are the clinical signs that my dog would have if he had lepto, and is it treatable?— A.K.
With all due respect to the breeder from whom you obtained your dog, I have to disagree with her assessment about not needing to vaccinate for leptospirosis. There are four serotypes of this spirochete organism, and the quadrivalent vaccines on the market today are meant to protect the dog against all of them. They are canicola, grippotyphosa, icterohemorrhagica and pomona. Initially, two vaccines are given three to four weeks apart and then boostered annually. We have seen a spike in leptospirosis cases in New England and this is probably due in part to dogs not being vaccinated.
I just referred a dog to a specialty hospital this week, and the presumed diagnosis is leptospirosis, and tests are currently pending.
The organism is transmitted through affected animals’ urine and a pet being in wet areas where urine from wildlife may be present. The pets can catch it by sniffing the urine or the urine getting into their systems by small cuts on their feet or other parts of their bodies.
So what are the signs? They vary. One can see a dog experience depression, fever, vomiting, lack of appetite, bloody urine and jaundice/icterus or yellowing of the mucous membranes.
The good news is that leptospirosis is treatable by several kinds of antibiotics including penicillins or tetracyclines. I often treat these cases with doxycycline. The risk with leptospirosis is that humans can also get sick by exposure to animals that are carriers.
I think that you should speak with your veterinarian and vaccinate if it is warranted based on where your dog may go. All vaccines should be given judiciously based on risks of exposure.
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