Ask A Vet: Orlando Veterinarians Answer Your Questions

From pet insurance to arthritis, this Q&A has it all.

1Should I vaccinate my dog for leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a spirochete bacterial infection that is transmitted by rodent and raccoon urine. Dogs contract leptospirosis from sniffing at infected urine or drinking from contaminated stagnant water. It causes flu-like symptoms such as lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, abdominal pain and frequent urination. It can cause liver and kidney failure and, potentially, death. Leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans by handling infected urine from your dog or other wildlife. There is a safe vaccine with minimal side effects to prevent this illness. Fears that the vaccine might cause increased allergic reactions are baseless. Leptospirosis can cause death in dogs and humans, and the vaccine is important to keep you and your dog healthy.

Dr. Kimberly Lee
Animal Medical Clinic of Orlando


2Why Is My Dog Vomiting?

We have seen an exponential increase in gastroenteritis and life threatening pancreatitis in our canine patients over the past few years. This increase, I believe, is related to how many choices we now have for dog food brands, ingredients, and options- from dry, canned, moist, and raw. A primary component to pancreatitis, is the increase in fat content in dog food or treats. High fat content causes pancreatic hyper-stimulation and subsequent infl ammation which causes vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and even death if untreated. Gastroenteritis is infl ammation of the stomach and intestines which also causes vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. We see this most commonly with an abrupt diet change and also requires medical treatment. If your pet is vomiting, it is best to rest the stomach for a few hours, offer small amounts of water, then food and if vomiting persists, see your veterinarian immediately!

Dr. Anne Scholl Mealey
Chickasaw Trail Animal Hospital



Is pet insurance worth the cost?

Pet insurance is similar to health insurance for humans in that it pays for a portion of your pet’s medical bill. Since no one plans for their pet to become ill, pet insurance helps to the off set unexpected costs. Most insurances operate through an arrangement in which pet owners pay up front and are reimbursed after treatment. As with human insurance, pet insurance offers different types of policies each with its own list of coverage options and costs. However, having the peace of mind knowing you can provide the best care to a four-legged family member is priceless!

Dr. Kristin Wolfenden
Underhill Animal Hospital


4Is flea and heartworm prevention in pet cats important?

In Florida’s hot and humid environment, fleas and mosquitoes are prevalent year-round. It is important that our feline friends have protection from these insects in order to prevent the spread of serious diseases. Fleas can be carriers of multiple diseases such as tapeworms and bacterial infections and can even cause a greater allergic reaction that results in a more severe form of chronic itching and irritation. On the other hand, mosquitoes spread heartworm disease. which can result in breathing complications and a shortened lifespan in cats. While heartworm treatment is available for dogs, it is important to keep in mind that this type of treatment is unavailable for cats who have already contracted the disease, highlighting the need for preventative medication. Please consult with your veterinarian to find the monthly prevention that best suits your cat’s needs.

Dr. Jane Ketcham
Underhill Animal Hospital


5How can I help my aging dog with arthritis?

Many owners may notice that their dog is starting to “slow down” or refrain from activities they used to perform when they were younger, like jumping on the couch. These changes may be signs of arthritis. While arthritis can be a normal part of aging, there are ways we can help manage arthritis in our canine patients. Weight management is critical as obesity can cause extra strain on the joints. You can also work on low impact activities with your dog such as swimming and leash walking. In addition, supplements containing chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega-3s can help with joint health. However, not all supplements are created equal and should therefore be discussed with your veterinarian first. Medications are also available to help alleviate the pain associated with arthritis and make your dog more comfortable. Your veterinarian can help determine which medications are best for your pet’s specific needs.

Dr. Alexandria Velez
Winter Garden Animal Hospital


6Why is my dog so itchy?

Itchiness in dogs is usually caused by allergies or infections. Thankfully, vet-erinarians now have exciting new treat-ments to help control itching. Allergies in Florida are diffi cult because we have seasonal allergens (think pollen) and permanent allergens (think grass, mites and fl eas). Food allergies also can cause itching. You can help your veterinarian by observing your dog: Do your dog’s symptoms occur during a particular time of year or during a certain activity? Many dogs are allergic to fl ea saliva, so it’s crucial to keep your dog on veterinary-recommended fl ea control. Dogs need consistent protection through products that work systemically, not topically. The more information you can provide, the better we can care for your pet.

Dr. Caitrine Hellenga
Winter Park Veterinary Hospital

Categories: Home Page Features, Pets & Animals