A Zoonotic Disease You May Not Have Heard About

sweet lily an aurora dog

It all started with a simple phone call to the receptionist at Parkside Animal Health Center. I love working at Parkside because they clients are higher end, the staff is exceptional and the cases are almost always interesting.

Anyways, we got a call from a worried client and their dog Lily. Lily’s owner stated that Lily wasn’t feeling well and something was going on. This is often the first thing we often get to hear until I get a chance to diagnose the patient. And unfortunately, it doesn’t provide us with much information.

Lily is a 10-year-old Catahoula hog dog that was acting funny. That’s about all we knew.


1) Lethargy (2 Days)
2) Less of an appetite but still eating

Well, this wasn’t anything too crazy. Especially if you’re dealing with a hyper sensitive owner. One important piece of information that came out in conversation with the owner was that Lily wasn’t used to living in the city (they had recently moved from the country). This meant that Lily was potentially susceptible to new diseases. One of the reasons might have been an underlying infection that she may have picked up from the dog park. Since she hadn’t been to many dog parks until recently, it seemed the most likely suspect.

Still, with nothing substantial and not one to charge people for things they don’t need, I opted to send them on their way and tell them to look for any changes at home. But it was at this point that things started to take a turn for the worse. As Lily and her family were walking out she vomited all over the floor.

This created a new sense of urgency for everyone involved because it was a new symptom and an alarming one at that.

We ran further reports, and this was when additional symptoms started to show.

1) Pain in the abdomen (tender)
2) Depressed
3) Dehydrated

We ran some in house bloodwork and after an hour of waiting we had at least part of an answer.

She was dealing with a failing kidney, and it wasn’t going to get better easily.

We did some radiographs and additional abdominal palpations and everything looked normal.

However, her kidney values were through the roof when we ran some more specific tests. The liver enzymes were also starting to act up at this point. We knew action had to be taken quickly for her.

Luckily, Parkside had the capability to run a very specific type of test. A test for leptospirosis.

It came back positive.

We rushed her onto  IV fluids and a very aggressive course of antibiotics. However, leptospirosis or lepto for short is zoonotic which means it can be contracted by people and animals. Not good!


In this case, Lily’s family got tested and was fine. In part because they were so sensitive to changes in their dog they got Lily in quickly. Lepto is contracted by contact with infected urine and no doubt that Lily picked it up at an Aurora dog park- something she wasn’t getting exposed to up north! Also, its lucky that Parkside had access to lepto testing on the spot- not every clinic has that. And if you’re in Aurora I highly recommend you make them your primary DVM if you can afford it. They are staffed by great people and AAHA accredited which makes them a little pricer but definitely top notch.

But back to lepto? Are you worried now? Well don’t be too worried. My recommendation? Vaccinate! There is a

My recommendation? Vaccinate! There is a lepto vaccine that your veterinarian can provide for a low cost. And it is well worth the extra protection.


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Dr. Calvizz’s Veterinary Adventures

rat poison sign colorado

Welcome to my little slice of the internet pie!

My name is Dr. Antonio Calvizzan but most people call be Dr. Calvizz without the “an”.  I’m a veterinarian in beautiful Denver Colorado. I’ve been in practice for more than 10 years but every day still seems new, exciting and almost entirely unexpected! That’s what I love about working in veterinary medicine! Not only do I get to work with the most lovely and innocent dogs and cats on the planet and make them feel better, I am challenged every day by new ideas and cases! What else could a man want?

Let’s get right into it. We recently had a dog come in with classic symptoms of rat poison. There are a surprising amount of Denver residents who use rat poison on a regular basis. Come spring time, there are plenty of rats to go around! Anyways, the dog was vomiting, had diarrhea that was somewhat blue in color and all the other tell tale signs that rat poison was ingested. But the dog was also young and unvaccinated which meant those signs could have been consistent with parvo virus as well.

Thus the dilemma. Do we treat for parvo virus or rat poison? While there are some similarities in the treatment protocol (stabilizing the patient via fluids and other supportive care) we certainly don’t want to induce vomiting in a parvo virus dog as that would only make the dehydration worse. On the other hand, we don’t want to not induce vomiting on a dog that has recently ingested rat poison. But the big question of the day (which somehow no one knew) was does rat poison expire. If the rat poison that the dog ingested was expired, we should expect a much less severe reaction. While it may sound strange since so many expiration dates don’t seem to have much significance when it comes to poison it is a different ball game. The effectiveness of poison drops off by more than 90% two weeks after the expiration date.

Want to know the answer?

Then stay tuned next week!


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