Beware, Leptospirosis In Dogs Is On The Rise!

Leptospirosis is a deadly disease caused by the Leptospira bacteria.  Leptospira is a cork screw shaped bacteria that self-propels itself effectively in fresh, standing water, such as puddles, ponds, and lakes.  The disease is transmitted when dogs and other mammals come into contact with contaminated fresh standing water.  Contamination is common given that the main vector for the bacteria is through the urine of asymptomatic rodent carriers, most commonly squirrels, rats, and mice. 

The Leptospira bacteria attack the canine liver and kidneys leading to failure of each organ system.  Once the dog patient is showing clinical signs (vomiting, fever, jaundice, dehydration, shock), even with aggressive in hospital treatment, the disease carries a 30% mortality rate.  As we continue to clear land for development and live adjacent to conservation lands, the disease continues to rise in incidence. 

I am blogging about the disease today because there are two very concerning areas of misinformation regarding this disease.  One is that small companion dogs that spend little time outside and/or dogs that live in suburban or urban environments are not at risk.  This could not be further from the truth.  Wherever there is water and rodents, there is a risk of Leptospirosis. 

In fact, suburban and urban environments actually carry a higher incidence of disease because wherever there are people that create trash and waste, rodents tend to congregate and reproduce.  That is why New York City is one of the biggest hotspots of Leptospirosis.  We actually see more Leptospirosis in small and toy breed dogs that are popular in suburban and urban environments compared to other breeds for these reasons.

The other misinformation that needs clarification comes mostly from breeders that put the fear of God into new dog owners that purchase puppies from them about the “danger” of the Leptospirosis vaccine and warn them not to listen to their veterinarian when he/she recommends Leptospirosis as a core vaccine..  Some even go so far as the make the purchasers of one of their puppies sign a contract that they will not allow the vaccine to be administered. 

Breeders that make these claims do so with no basis in science and medicine.  The vaccine is very safe and the 4 strain Leptospirosis vaccine is very effective in preventing the vaccine. 

If these breeders actually worked in the veterinary medical profession, they would clearly learn how absurd fearing the vaccine more than the disease itself is.  They would witness how revoltingly sick dogs present when infected with Leptospirosis and they would see the tragedy of 30% of infected dogs dying from a virtually 100% preventable disease.  For the lucky dogs that survive Leptospirosis infection, they would see the financial burden put on the families that had to pay for treatment, since Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, that is, a disease potentially transmitted to people; requiring referral to expensive isolation facilities for treatment. 

My fellow veterinarians and I at Grant Animal Clinic make our vaccine recommendations from data from the American Veterinary Medical Association, the American Animal Hospital Association, and our knowledge of disease known to be endemic in our specific region. 

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  He is the author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail Of Love. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a globally recognized expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , general partner of Grant Animal Clinic, and runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care.  Dr. Welton fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.  

Grain Free Dog Food Link To Heart Disease Explained

As many dog owners are aware, the FDA recently published a list of 16 grain free diet brands linked to a significant uptick in the incidence of a deadly canine heart disease, Dilated Cardiomyopthy (DCM), and an incidence of DCM in dog breeds where it was never before seen.  DCM historically was a strongly genetically linked disease, seen only in a small handful of large to giant breed dogs, such as Doberman Pinschers and Great Danes.  Alarmed by seeing a growing incidence of DCM in breeds where it was never before seen, a sizable contingent of veterinary cardiologists in the Baltimore area performed retrospective historical analysis that established that the common link to the unusual DCM cases was dogs being fed boutique style, grain free diets.  As a result, they collectively lobbied the FDA to look into this to confirm their findings to potentially issue a warning about these diets.

After roughly 18 months of research, the FDA published their findings and concurred with the veterinary cardiologist’s conclusion that there was an established link to DCM among these 16 grain free dog food brands:

  • Acana
  • Zignature
  • Taste of the Wild
  • 4Health
  • Earthborn Holistic
  • Blue Buffalo
  • Nature’s Domain
  • Fromm
  • Merrick
  • California Natural
  • Natural Balance
  • Orijen
  • Nature’s Variety
  • NutriSource
  • Nutro

The FDA also cautioned that the list is likely going to grow as the research is ongoing.

The original cardiologists that contacted the FDA about the anomaly submit that the likely reason these diets lead to cases of DCM is that the food sources used to replace the grains – chick peas, peas, tapioca, etc. – lack adequate nutrients, such as taurine, that are essential to heart health. 

Although true grain food allergies are rare, there are some legitimate cases of food allergy where limited ingredient diets can be helpful.  For these cases, please ask one of  the attending Grant Animal Clinic veterinarians about safe alternatives for grain free or prescription hypoallergenic dog food options. 

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a globally recognized expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , general partner of Grant Animal Clinic, and runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care.  Dr. Welton fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.

First Grant Animal Clinic Blog Post

Greetings to all of our esteemed clients of Grant Animal Clinic. My name is Dr. Roger Welton, one of the general partners and attending veterinarians at Grant Animal Clinic. Welcome to the official launch of the Grant Animal Clinic blog.

On behalf of myself and our two other doctors, general partner and attending veterinarian, Dr. David Fogelberg and attending veterinarian, Dr. Amanda Johnston, I would like to sincerely thank everyone for being so welcoming to us. It is absolutely our pleasure to serve the pets and pet parents of the greater Grant-Valkaria area.

Dr. Fogelberg, Dr. Johnston, and I have spent the majority of our past experience in fast paced, larger veterinary practice environments. We both welcome the small town vibe of the tight knit community we serve at Grant Animal Clinic, as well as the opportunity to bring our combined vast experience in veterinary medicine, surgery, and dentistry, to this area.

Although we very much enjoy the small town culture of Grant Animal Clinic, our facility and scope of services we offer rivals that of any big city veterinary health care facility. Some of the new services Dr. Fogelberg, Dr. Johnston, and I bring to Grant Animal Clinic include:

  • Full service dentistry and oral surgery
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Diagnostic ultrasound imaging
  • Soft tissue surgery
  • Stem cell therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • In-hospital stat blood work

Improvements that we have already put in place since assuming ownership in April, 2019 include a remodeled surgery suite, digital dental x-ray, remodeled dental suite, and space saving retractable exam tables in our examination rooms. We have also updated all of our immunization, anesthesia, medical, and surgical protocols to be in line with the impeccable and state of the art standards set by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).

When I am not providing health care for your pets, my other passion is blogging. Through this blog, I will be periodically communicating with the clientele of Grant Animal Clinic to educate about new cutting edge veterinary therapeutic strategies, pertinent pet health news, pet food recalls, disease outbreaks, etc.

Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian, highly regarded media personality through a number of topics and platforms, and author of The Man In The White Coat: A Veterinarian’s Tail Of Love.  In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a globally recognized expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport.  He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , general partner of Grant Animal Clinic, and runs the successful veterinary/animal health  blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care.  Dr. Welton fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.