Winter Woe’s


With the recent rains and more standing water around, be aware of Leptospirosis (shorthand known as Lepto). This is a bacteria that is zoonotic meaning that it can affect animals and people. It is contracted directly by contact with infected tissue, body secretions, and from environmental sources, most commonly from infected urine as well as contaminated water, soil, or food. Urine contamination most commonly comes from small rodents (i.e mice, rats, squirrels, raccoons) and infected dogs. Leptospirosis can survive for months in a cool and moist environment. Once it is in the soil, it washes into bodies of water from puddles, lakes, oceans, standing water in the backyard.

  • Symptoms of infection include: muscle pain, lethargy, vomiting, increased urination, excessive water consumption and decreased appetite. The bacteria can invade the bloodstream and cause multiple organs to shut down which can lead to severe illness and often death.
  • The good news is that there is a vaccine to prevent leptospirosis. Come in for a consultation for your pet either for a preventative vaccine or if any of the symptoms are seen.
  • Last but not least, it is not just outdoor pets that get this disease but sadly to say, the majority of patients are small, toy breeds due to being in a building that had access to small rodent urine or people tracking the bacteria on the bottom of their shoes


Rain also brings the growth of mushrooms, which can be deadly for your pet. Ways to reduce exposure to mushrooms:

  • Be consistent at clearing all visible mushrooms in your yard (especially where your pet has unsupervised accessed to outdoors).
  • Be aware of the environment you are walking your pet in. Consider purchasing a basket muzzle if you walk your dog often around wooded areas or popular hiking spots and your pet likes to put everything in its mouth! Be very observant and use a short leash in areas where mushrooms are growing.
  • Your pet has a strong sense of smell and may become curious. Some mushrooms have a great pattern to them or a “fishy” smell/taste so pets are attracted to them.

Ingestion of even small amounts (even walking through 1 mushroom and then licking their paws) can severely sicken or lead to the death of your pet.

Symptoms can include vomiting, salivation, loss of balance, walking “drunk like”, swaying or wobbling, yellowing of the skin, eyes, ear flap (“jaundice”) seizures, unresponsive coma. If any of these signs are noted or your pet has came into contact with mushrooms, contact a veterinarian and animal poison control immediately.

The sooner that action is taken, the more likely decontamination treatment will stop further liver damage. Any delay in treatment may result in further organ damage.

-Dr. Wu, DVMA Treasurer & CVMA Delegate, December 2018