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Don’t drink the water

By Steve Whitlock; photo by Carin R. Kirkegaard

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Phoro of chocolate lab in water

Just like with people, pets need vaccinations. August is pet vaccination awareness month, which represents a nationwide effort to increase knowledge about vaccines and the importance of immunization for our furry friends.

It is a significant topic. Late last year, a dog named Copper died in Highlands Ranch from leptospirosis, which is a water-born illness that can be passed along to pets from other animals. Part of the issue is that it’s impossible to tell when water in the environment is contaminated. This dog’s owners affirmed that by saying, “Copper was such a sweet boy, and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Pet immunizations are divided into two basic groups, which include core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are those recommended by veterinarians for every dog, while non-core vaccine administration depends on your dog’s lifestyle. That could mean if you board your dog, travel with your dog or hike together, you may have additional considerations for your pet.

Leptospirosis is not part of the required core vaccines – parvo, rabies and distemper. Those diseases are more known and have a higher mortality rate. Yet, leptospirosis is still very serious. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, it is an infectious disease that causes serious illness in dogs, other animals and people. Initial signs of the disease may include fever, lethargy and loss of appetite. If left untreated it can develop into a more severe, life-threatening illness that affects the kidneys, liver, brain, lungs and heart. With many dogs in Colorado spending time outside, on trails and in the mountains, this vaccination is strongly recommended.

For puppies, there is a three-month regimen for the core vaccines. That’s followed by boosters every three years. Remember, vaccinations require a consultation with your vet to talk through different factors including breed, age, travel, health and lifestyle.



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