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  • Mountain View Animal Hosp

by Dr. Kelsey Woolsey

What is Leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis (Lepto) is a disease caused by infection with the bacterial spirochete Leptospira. Many different species of animals are susceptible to and can carry the bacteria that causes Leptospirosis including cattle, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals. Cats appear to be more resistant to infection than dogs. Lepto is also zoonotic, which means it can be transferred from animals to humans.

The organisms that cause lepto can spread and replicate in many organs, including the kidneys, liver, spleen, eyes, genital tract, and central nervous system. Infection most commonly causes disease of the kidneys and liver.

Scanning electron micrograph of Leptospira interrogans

How can our pets become infected with Leptospira?

Animals and humans can become infected through contact with infected urine. Pets can also become infected through bite wounds and ingestion of infected tissues. Indirect transmission can occur through exposure to water sources, soil, food, or bedding that are contaminated with infected urine or tissues.

Why is vaccination important?

Not only can lepto cause serious illness and even death in our pets but dogs with leptospirosis are a potential source of infection for people. Clinical signs of lepto in dogs include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, inappetence, weakness and depression, stiffness, and muscle pain. In humans, symptoms include fever, chills, muscle aches, vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and rash.

What is the vaccination schedule?

Two vaccine doses, 2-4 weeks apart, followed by annual boosters.

What are the vaccine risks?

Although reactions can occur after vaccination with leptospirosis, these vaccines are considered to be no more reactive than other vaccines administered to dogs. The most common reactions to any vaccine include discomfort and swelling at the vaccination site, mild fever, and decreased appetite and activity. Rare, but potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reaction may occur, but is a risk with any injection. Symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include persistent vomiting or diarrhea, hives, swelling of the muzzle, face, neck, or eyes, coughing and difficulty breathing. Most pets can be treated for vaccine reactions and recover with no issues.

Should my dog get the lepto vaccine?

If your dog has exposure to water sources (lakes, streams, ponds, rivers, etc), goes hiking or camping, or has access to areas where wildlife or farm animals live, then it is highly recommended your pet be vaccinated for lepto. The American Animal Hospital Association canine vaccination guidelines suggest considering vaccination for all dogs based on increasing prevalence of the disease. Vaccinating your dog can keep both you and your beloved pet safe!


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  • Mountain View Animal Hosp

by Dr. Kelsey Woolsey, DVM

Otitis externa, more commonly known as an ear infection, is acute or chronic inflammation of the external ear canal. This condition is all too common in our canine companions. 

Clinical signs of an ear infection can include scratching at ears, pain, head shaking, head tilt, discharge from the ear, and odor from the ear. The ear flap may be swollen, crusted, or red. 

Redness and brown discharge in a dog with yeast infection of the ears

There are several things that can predispose or cause ear infections including, but not limited to: parasites, food or environmental allergies, endocrine disorders, immune-mediated disorders, abnormal ear canal shape, and excessive hair in the canal. Dogs with pendulous ears and breeds with high numbers of ceruminous glands like spaniels, Labrador retrievers, and golden retrievers are predisposed to ear infections. 

What should you do if you suspect your dog has an ear infection? Call your veterinarian! Your vet will likely take a swab of your pet’s ear and look at the material under the microscope. Your vet will be able to determine if there are yeast or bacteria causing the infection and prescribe appropriate treatment. 

What NOT to do if you suspect your dog has an ear infection:

  1. Use hydrogen peroxide - it is damaging to healthy tissue and may do more harm than good. 

  2. Put any type of oil in the ear canal (olive oil, coconut oil, etc.) - oils can trap moisture and reduce airflow making a perfect environment for yeast and bacteria to thrive. 

  3. Stick Q-tips into the ear - sticking anything small down into the ear risks rupturing the tympanic membrane (ear drum). Instead, use cotton balls to clean the outer ear canal.

  4. Use home remedies such as colloidal silver and apple cider vinegar - the use of such remedies is rarely effective and may delay proper diagnosis and treatment of the ear infection. 

  5. Use  powders in the ear (like Athletes Foot Powder) - powder cannot easily leave the ear canal on its own giving it the potential to cause severe irritation as well as trap moisture and decrease air flow. 

  6.  Use tea tree oil - it is unsafe for dogs. When used in high concentrations it can lead to severe neurologic effects or death. Avoid any over the counter product that has tea tree oil as an ingredient. 

Tips for preventing ear infections:

  1. Avoid getting water in the ears when bathing. 

  2. Use a drying ear flush after your dog goes swimming. 

  3. If your dog has allergies, make a management plan with your veterinarian.

  4. Take your pet to the groomer on a regular basis if they have hairy ears.

  5. Use a veterinarian recommended ear flush weekly if your dog is predisposed to or has a history of ear infections .

Left untreated, ear infections can cause significant pain and lead to chronic conditions such as irreversible narrowing  and ossification of the ear canal. These conditions often require surgery for correction. If you suspect your pet has an ear infection, call your veterinarian! 


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  • Mountain View Animal Hosp

by Dr. Alissa Stichler, DVM

As our pets get older there are certain things we want to do in order to provide the proper care for our aging friends. While our senior pets are more likely to develop certain diseases, it is important to note that aging is a natural process, not a disease itself. Just like with humans, our senior pets will have both mental and physical changes. 

Normal changes that can occur is graying of hairs, especially around the muzzle and face, a tendency to gain fat instead of muscle, and eyes that appear more cloudy or bluish over time. Please note that the normal cloudiness in older pets is different from cataracts and normally does not affect their vision as severely as cataracts do. Again, just like with people, our senior pets may have a decreased ability to see, hear, taste, and smell. 

What constitutes a senior pet may depend on the size of your pet. Generally smaller breed dogs live longer than large and giant breed dogs. We generally consider small to medium breeds (<50 lbs) to be seniors around 8-9 years of age and large and giant breeds (>50lbs) to be seniors around 5-6 years of age. Cats are generally considered seniors when they are around 10 years old. 

Because our pets age faster than we do, we recommend wellness exams with your veterinarian every 6 months  for all ages of pets, but especially our senior pets. It is also recommended to get base-line bloodwork and urine testing at least once a year for our senior patients to evaluate internal organ function, unless more frequent monitoring is needed. 

Here is a list of some more common diseases associated with our senior pets to keep in mind:

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction:

Canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD) is similar to dementia in people. Prevalence in our patients has been estimated to be around 14-35%, although recent studies have shown this estimate is likely underestimating. We can see this as early as 7 years of age but the typical age of onset is >9 years. 

Common signs include decreased interaction with other people or pets, inappropriate or excessive vocalization, changes in sleep/wake cycle, restlessness, disorientation, confusion, anxiety, house soiling, altered appetite, irritability, or aggression. 

There is no cure for CCD but there are supportive therapies that can help slow the progression. So if you think your pet is starting to show some of these signs, talk with your vet early!


Arthritis, or degenerative joint disease, is also a very common thing we see in our older patients. This is brought on by years of normal wear and tear on the joints, although certain diseases such as elbow or hip dysplasia can predispose arthritis development as well. 

Common signs include pain and decreased mobility of affected joint(s) that can result in stiffness and/or limping and vary from mild to severe. It can be more severe after prolonged periods of rest and may lessen with activity. It can also be worse after overexertion or exercise. 

There is no cure for arthritis either, but there are certain supportive care modalities and management of pain. If your pet is overweight, weight loss is imperative! Daily, low impact exercise not only can help with weight loss but also improve joint mobility and muscle mass. Joint supplements containing glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids can help with joint health as well. Pain medications such as Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also help control the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Please note Over the counter human NSAIDs are NOT safe for our pets! If you feel your pet needs some more management than what can be provided at home, please see your veterinarian for other options. 


Cancer, unfortunately, is also commonly found in our older patients. Cancer signs can vary depending where the cancer is located and it is not always visible. Generally skin or other visible masses that are cancerous are fast growing or may present as a non-healing wound. Internal cancer signs may be less obvious such as decreased appetite, weight loss, difficulty breathing, or distended abdomen, etc. Depending on the type of cancer, surgery or chemotherapy may be indicated. However, there are some cancers with poor prognosis even with aggressive treatment. 

Internal organ dysfunction

Age-related heart disease is more common in our small breed dogs but can occur in any breed and can occur in cats as well. Common signs include coughing, exercise intolerance, and your veterinarian may note a heart murmur on exam. Please see your veterinarian if you note any of these signs in your pet. 

Kidney disease is especially common in our senior cats but can also occur in older dogs. Common signs include increased drinking and urinations, as well as decreased appetite, weight loss, and other Gi signs later in the disease course. Please see your veterinarian if you notice an increase in drinking and urination. 

Liver disease is also common in our older pets, dogs especially. Common signs include vomiting, decreased appetite, weight loss, and depression. 

As you can see, some of these signs are very similar between these diseases so additional diagnostics such as bloodwork or imaging may be needed to further diagnose these issues. 

We know you love your senior pets and want the absolute best care for them. We love to help provide for them in their golden years. 

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