By Dr. Donald Consla, Lead Wellness Veterinarian
As the flowers begin to bloom and the sun is shining again, it’s the perfect time to take a closer look at how we can give our pets’ health care a refresh. Routine wellness care allows us to prevent diseases and catch problems early so that we can address them more effectively.
All vaccines are important, but the two that should be considered this time of year are for Lyme disease and leptospirosis. Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria that lives in ticks common in southwestern Pennsylvania. The bacteria is spread to dogs (and people!) through a tick bite, which can result in fever, joint pain and swelling, a limp that can shift from leg to leg and lethargy. While we have seen increased activity during the winter months, ticks are especially active as the temperature begins to rise. Fortunately, we can reduce the risk of Lyme disease by using tick prevention year-round and vaccinating for Lyme disease.
Leptospirosis is also caused by a bacteria, which is spread in the urine of wildlife and accumulates in stagnant pools of water. As the snow melts and spring rain becomes an almost daily occurrence, there are many places for this bacteria to accumulate. Leptospirosis results in liver and kidney failure and can be very challenging to treat. The good news is there is also a vaccine for this disease! Monitoring your pet outside so that they do not drink out of stagnant puddles can also help prevent your pet from ingesting this bacteria.
Traditionally, Lyme and leptospirosis vaccines are classified as lifestyle vaccines because they are non-core. But given our geographic area, high tick burden and active wildlife population, dog owners should strongly consider these vaccines to protect their pet. We do not vaccinate cats for these diseases but they should also be on year-round flea and tick prevention. So, spring into action and make sure your pets are protected throughout the year!
To schedule a low-cost vaccine clinic appointment, please visit our website at www.ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org/Vaccine.