Guard your pooch’s health

If your dog’s muddy paws have led you to suspect that this year has been wetter than usual, you aren’t imagining things. According to Environment Canada, in addition to flooding in the Prairies and Maritimes, 2005 began with the rainiest spring on record.

Dog lovers know that going for walks in the rain can be fun and refreshing. However, the increased rainfall has contributed to a far more worrisome problem than mud puddles. It has also led to an increase in cases of leptospirosis among Canadian dogs.

A bacterial disease, leptospirosis can cause serious chronic and even fatal damage to a dog’s liver and kidneys. Although it can be treated, the symptoms of leptospirosis are varied, making the disease very difficult to detect. Dog owners should be wary if their pets develop any of the following: fever, vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain and increased urination.

Leptospirosis bacteria are carried by wild animals whose bodily fluids can contaminate our rivers or streams, or even backyard puddles, so it is important to closely monitor our pets and supervise them on walks. Leptospirosis can also be transmitted to human family members from an infected dog’s saliva or ine.

The best way to guard against leptospirosis is to vaccinate your dog. Your veterinarian can provide advice on how best to protect your pet and help you choose a vaccine like Lepto Vax 4, which offers broad protection against the different strains of leptospirosis.

Here are the top three tips for guarding against leptospirosis:

1. Keep Fido on his leash to prevent him from coming into contact with wild animals or infected dogs who have the bacteria. Raccoons and squirrels are common culprits who thrive in both urban and rural environments.

2. Showing your pet affection is important, but don’t let your pup give you kisses near your mouth. Leptospirosis can be transferred from dogs to people through contact with infected fluids.

3. Most importantly, ask your veterinarian about a vaccination for your dog that offers the broadest protection against all strains of the bacteria. It is the easiest and most effective way to ensure your dog’s safety.

– News Canada