Maltese Only News
Welcome to MalteseOnly News!
MalteseOnly went online in May of 1996. Created by Jay and Bev
Bianco of Mt. Morris, PA. Today over 1,400 visitors daily find
themselves at this website.
The Maltese Only site provides a multitude of information on the
health, care and training of a Maltese. The Discussion Forum is
the #1 Dog Discussion on the Internet.
Maltese Only has the most dedicated fans on the Internet. This
Maltese Only News is dedicated to them.
To unsubscribe from the MalteseOnly Newsletter, simply go to
http://www.malteseonly.com/subscribe.html then enter your email address
and check "unsubscribe" and submit. You will be removed immediately
from any future mailings and announcements.
Libby Johnson, Editor
Interested individuals may now subscribe to the new
National Maltese Rescue email list of announcements.
To subscribe or unsubscribe, point your browser to:
What is R.E.S.C.U.E.?
Repetitive- A rescuer will often hear the same excuses over and over
when a Maltese is turned in. "He grew too large"; "He won't obey
commands", "We're moving, divorcing, etc., and we can't take him with us",
and on and on. Obviously, it takes alot of self-control on the part of
those in rescue to listen to these things day after day.
Essential. - Without these wonderful folks who help Maltese' in need,
there wouldn't be a second chance for many of them. Some unscrupulous
breeders will not take back their dogs, no exceptions, so these Maltese',
with luck, end up in the rescue system. Hopefully, there will continue to
be enough good homes willing to adopt these unfortunate souls.
Salvation. - Shelters are so overwhelmed with dogs, at times, that they
cannot keep even the sweetest Maltese for a long period. Maltese rescue
folks are often the only chance these dogs have of finding a good, permanent
home with a responsible owner.
Costly. - Most if not all rescuers are paying out of their own pocket for
their expenses. Some breed clubs provide limited support, but fear of a
lawsuit prevents many from contributing directly to rescuers. Expenses
include food, vet care, training, transportation from shelter or previous
home, transport to a new home, crates, toys, beds, leashes, collars, etc.
Unrelenting. - For every Maltese who is taken into rescue, there are
dozens more who must be turned away due to lack of room and lack of
funds. Many breeders won't take responsibility for the pups they place
if their new family won't or can't keep the dog. Add in puppy mills, and
the number of unwanted Maltese is staggering and never ending.
Exhilarating - Despite all the heartaches and all the hard work involved
in rescue, there ARE happy endings! These come when a rescuer finds a
responsible, caring new owner, and sends another Maltese off to enjoy a
full, wonderful life in a good, loving home.
Submitted by Ju-dee MALTESE
"No matter how little money and how few possessions you own. . .
having a dog makes you rich." Louis Sain, author
"Human beings were not meant to be on this planet alone. We totally
underestimate our interaction with other species and how they enrich our
lives and our children's lives". Jane Leon, D.V.M.
Submitted by John & Paula Crawford
"Of all the things I miss from veterinary practice, puppy breath is one of
the most fond memories!" Dr. Tom Cat
Submitted by Cathy Brown
"If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I
have known will go to heaven, and very, very few persons." James Thurber
Submitted by Ginger Chamberlain
"I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult."
Treating canine marking behavior
Submitted by Dr. Margaret Muns, DVM
Remember this a behavior that is influenced by both social and hormonal
Neutering should help most dogs. Removing the hormonal influence does
help to decrease the dog's interest in the behavior. Therefore, the dog has
less chance of reinforcing the behavior through repeat performance.
However, the longer you wait to do the surgery, the less chance that
neutering will have a significant impact.
I would also spay any intact females in the house. Intact female dogs also
mark with urine in the house just by being in the presence of intact males.
This will also help to perpetuate the behavior in the house.
1. Neuter all intact animals.
2. Keep a close eye on all the social interactions between the dogs, plus
between dogs and people. That way, you can tell which social interactions
need to be suggested. For example, if a male dog lifts its leg on the couch
every time the owner's boyfriend comes over, then the dog has to be taught
to interact with the boyfriend in a positive manner. Once the dog becomes
comfortable with the relationships, the marking should slow down and stop.
3. Marking is also an advertisement used by very confident dogs. So
obedience training to establish the dog's rank in the household should be
4. Confining the dog when unsupervised so they can't repeatedly mark
a certain area can be helpful.
5. When supervised, the dog's behavior must be monitored. Put a bell on
the collar, or keep the dog on a leash. Some people have also gotten very
creative and used mirrors, remote video cameras and remote sound detectors
to monitor the dog. As soon as the dog starts to display behaviors that
precede marking (leg lifting), it must be startled. The amount of startle
should be enough to stop the behavior without inducing fear. Remote
punishment devices can be used, but sneaking up on the dog and using a
water pistol, whistle or foghorn may work equally well. If its timed right,
the dog will associate the startle with the behavior and not the owner's
6. Dogs that mark as a consequence of anxiety can be helped with
anti-anxiety medication. The most common drug used for this purpose
is the human antidepressant drug, Elavil.
7. Remember that all soiled areas should be first cleaned with plain soap
and water before rinsing with a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water.
The vinegar water mixture chemically destroys the smell, so the dog is not
attracted back to the spots. Do not use anything with ammonia in it. Urine
contains ammonia, so all you'll do is attract the dog to the spots.
WHAT IS A PET?
Submitted by Kathy Merchant
To true dog lovers the word "pet" is synonymous with "dog." They cannot
imagine being without one. Most people don't realize breeders classify dogs
into two groups-pet (companion) and show. And most people start out
wanting nothing but a companion. But, when they hear about the two
classifications, they fear perhaps they are getting an inferior dog if they
ask for a pet. To a professional breeder, the terms mean something different.
A show puppy is the one that has the best chance of finishing its championship
In competition, and a pet is one that probably won't. A breeder's desire
is that each of the pups will be somebody's beloved companion. Pet or
show, they want the best for each pup. They hope the buyer will love this
Pup the way they have. It would be to a breeder's advantage if every pup
were a show prospect, but that doesn't work out in the percentages. It is
much more likely the litter may turn out all pet than all show. So exactly
what classifies a dog as a pet?
A pet has the same number of legs as the show dogs. It's put together
with the same number of bones, has a noisemaker located just under its nose,
a fast-licking tongue, and sheds hair just like show dogs. So what's the
There are several imperfections that can turn a prospective show puppy
into a good pet. Among these are coat texture and length, poor markings or
mismarkings, orchidism (undescended testicles), attitude and bite
What may be confusing to the buyer is that what is a no-no in one breed
is a "must have" in another. An all-white dog in German Shepherds or
Bearded Collies is undesirable. Yet that's just what a Samoyed or West
Highland White Terrier breeder wants. Long-coated Corgis are not shown,
but a long flowing coat is an Irish Setter breeder's dream. These little
differences are exactly what make a pet.
A pup's coat may be silky rather than harsh, long rather than short,
smooth rather than fluffy, curly rather than straight-or vice versa.
Obviously, dogs with these flaws can still be outstanding companions,
as a coat has nothing to do with good health and temperament.
If a bite is overshot or undershot, even or wry, it doesn't make much
difference to the pet owner. The owner of a companion dog is much more
concerned about the "Will he or won't he" bite, than an Andy Gump bite.
Missing teeth may also mark a dog as a pet, although these usually do
not show up until late puppyhood. Unless it's all the teeth that are
missing, that dog will happily chomp his food on your hearth.
Orchidism is said to be the ideal pet fault. Only you and the
veterinarian know for sure. The common term "monorchidism" is used
for one undescended testicle, and cryptorchidism identifies both as
undescended. Again this has nothing to do with whether or not the dog is
a good pet. In fact, since dogs that are not close to breed standard should
be neutered, a dog with orchidism will be no different than any other
pet after the surgery.
Attitude simply means the dog does not have enough sparkle to win in the
ring. Actually those dogs who do not have the extra zip and animation
for life on the dog show circuit are sometimes easier for the average person
to live with.
Some breeds specify no preference in markings, Old English Sheepdogs and
St. Bernards, for instance. Others, such as Shetland Sheepdogs or Welsh
Corgis, have minimal requirements. Still others-like Dalmatians and
harlequin Great Danes-much meet definite specifics. Color or
pigmentation is highly important in some breeds. Pale eyes or washed-out
color will not offend a doting owner, but are a distraction to a judge.
Ears that are too high set or don't stand or don't "fold" may zap a show
career, but that dog can still hear a chewbone drop a mile away, and he
can hear his master's voice. At the other end, tails may be low set or
carried too gaily over the back, but they still wag the same when you
walk in the door.
A dog, which is undersized or oversized for the show ring, may actually
be ideal for the pet owner who really wants a Belgian Tervuren, but prefers
one that could sit in his or her lap. Another owner may want a Tibetan
Spaniel who strikes fear into the heart of an intruder and looks like
he'd do something more than nibble an ankle.
The differences between a show dog and a pet may not be obvious to the
untrained eye. Examples are infinitesimal flaws in movement, angulation
or extension of gait. Without a period of intense study, most observers
will never know.
Although these and other points may matter a great deal to the
professional breeder and/or exhibitor, they won't mean a whit to the person
just looking for a good friend. After all, we don't judge our human friends
by the length of their hair, their color, their overbite or how fast they can
run the mile. So a pet's not perfect, just like us. But, most importantly,
a pet is a dog God made for love.
ARE YOU REALLY INTO DOGS?
Submitted by Cathy Brown
1. You own more leashes than belts.
2. You can't understand why heads snap around at work when you discuss your
3. All your clothes have plastic bags in the pockets.
4. Your dogs have more -- and better! -- toys than you do.
5. You think it's completely normal to discuss your dog's stools at the dinner
6. You select a new vehicle solely on its suitability for carrying your dogs and
7. Your mattress is old enough to vote, but your dogs get brand-new beds every
8. You watch "Letterman" only on Stupid Pet Trick night.
9. You have no photos of your spouse in your wallet -- just the dogs.
10. Your dog's shampoo: $18.00 a bottle, plus $5.00 for second-day air shipment.
Your shampoo: Whatever's on sale.
11. You never bother to wash you hands after petting the dog even before eating.
12. You expect to find a little dog hair in each meal and think of
it as "added fiber".
13. You wake up instantly when your dog whines, but never wake up
when someone calls your name or your alarm goes off.
14. You will rush your dog to the vet at the smallest injury or cough, but wait
to take yourself to the doctor unless it is really severe.
15. You are willing to get up and walk the puppy at any time of, night with a
cheerful "good dog", but grumble and complain when someone calls you in the
middle of the night.
16. You know peoples' dog's names before you know theirs. And when you talk
about someone it goes like this: "You know the person that owns the sable German
GSD really got some good advice from the person with the corgi..."
17. You notice the breed of someone's dog, but don't even notice if the person
who had the dog was male or female.
18. When someone does something that pleases you are inclined to reach in your
pocket for a piece of food as a reward.
19. You feel the urge to put choke chains on people when they misbehave.
20. You ask old friends about their dogs before you ask about the family.
21. You send out Christmas pictures of the dog, not the family.
22. When you are away from home you call to ask about the dog.
23. You open all doors cautiously to make sure the dog doesn't run out, even at
other people's houses.
24. Dog related activities dictate your weekends and evenings
25. You have more pictures of your dogs on the walls of your house
than of your human family, or the dog is included in all family photos.
26. You greet your dogs before you greet the rest of the family when you have
27. Your dog's food costs more in one month than your own.
28. You celebrate your dogs' birthday by giving your dog presents, cake and have
their "friends" come over for a party.
29. Your dog receives a stocking at Christmas
30. Your favorite stores to go to are pet stores, because your dog is welcome to
31. You hate people that beg, because they just can't get that innocent look
like your dog.
32. Your phone bill is full of calls to your dog's groomer, breeder, trainer,
show handler, hotel reservations for dog shows, dog show friends, other dog
33. Every conversation you have tends to turn to the topic of dogs.
34. You spend more time at work reading dog-related e-mail than you do actually
35. You can recognize more than 100 breeds of dogs on sight.
36. Westminster Dog show on TV takes all precedence over any other program
during the dates it is on.
FUNNY STORIES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
Submitted by Kathy Merchant
When I first got my male Maltese, Chipper, I showed him in the breed ring
myself. During my 3rd trip in the breed ring, the judge put me in front of the
other exhibitors. I'm thinking, "Why is she doing this. I wish I could tell her
to let me follow someone else so I could watch and not make a fool out of
myself. She looked at Chipper for a long time and then at the dog behind him.
I'm still thinking how to hide behind the others! She put us first place and I
didn't even realize it until after we won the class. (And maybe it didn't really
hit me until we were out of the ring.)
At the show the next day, I was as nervous as ever. Having shown in Obedience
first, I was used to going down to the corner of the ring. When the judge made
me lead this time; she said take them around and I went down to the far corner
of the ring - alone. Everyone else cut the circle short like they always do! The
judge gave him the points (a major!) and as we were getting a picture taken,
I said to the judge, "It was my first time winning." She said, "Yeah, I almost
needed binoculars to see you out there!"
Chipper's breeder wanted a CD title on one of her dogs, Chipper's half brother,
so I made a deal with her that I would put a CD on Buddy if she would finish
Chipper's championship. (Then we could both do what we were better at!) She
finished Chipper and I set to work training Buddy. I got his first leg at my own
club's show, with a fairly decent score. We decided to take a trip to North
Carolina from Florida, to go to some shows. The first day in the ring, Buddy
decides the big stubble of grass and weeds in that outdoor ring were just right
for lifting his leg! (A BIG No-No in obedience.) He would have NQ'd on
another exercise anyway. With 2 days of shows left, I doubted we would be
bringing home Buddy's CD!
The next day was even more scorching hot. (Even hotter than Florida!) Buddy
was doing a pretty good job, but his healing off lead was not very close to me
because he had to weave in and out among the big pieces of grass stubble again.
After the individual exercises went OK, I was beginning to think we might make
it this time.
Buddy had to sit between 2 big dogs for the long sits & downs. It was a
German Shepherd and a Golden, I think. Then during the long down, Buddy
sat up. He did it quietly and gracefully, by just pushing up onto his front feet.
The judge was talking to the exhibitors at the time. He wasn't giving instructions,
just chatting. When we returned to our dogs, the judge said, "Exercise finished."
I told Buddy in my firmest voice, "DOWN!" (If we blew it, why not get in a
little training!) When the judge passed by he was calling out numbers saying
this number qualified, etc, and I thought he called our number.
I left the ring puzzled and saw the same puzzled look on my friend's face.
Unlike the judge, she also saw Buddy sit up. My first reaction was to want to
go up to the stewards and tell them that Buddy was sitting up on the down, but
he wasn't my dog, so I didn't tell them. After some other dogs had their turn
and there was another group of sits & downs, the judge called the qualifiers,
including my number, to come back into the ring for their ribbons. Urged on
by his owner, but still hesitantly, I went back into the ring. We got the green
ribbon and also got second place! The only thing we could figure out was that
terrible grass that poor Buddy had trouble navigating was what hid the fact that
he was sitting from the judge. The contrast of the 2 big dogs on both sides of
Buddy also helped hide it. (They were so big & Buddy so little.) From a distance
it was hard to tell he was sitting unless you saw him down first!
The next day Buddy did OK, but on the off-lead healing, the judge called a halt
and Buddy walked over to sniff the judge's pant leg! The judge was trying not
to laugh and said, "Call your dog to heel." Buddy came back to heel position
right away and he did get his CD that day. His score was terrible. He squeaked
by with a 170-something, but he made it! His scores had gotten progressively
worse! I had only been training him for 2 months, so I think he did everything
at first without even thinking about it. By the last show he was asking himself
why he should do it!
While getting Chipper's CDX, I found out what a mommy's boy his is! On the
way out of the ring he ran to me on the long down exercise before I had gotten
out of the ring. At another show he howled like crazy for the whole 5 minutes
and I was so embarrassed when someone told me about it later. We had already
gotten 2 legs of his CDX when he started doing that. I started to think we would
never get his X. I also started thinking that the 2 legs he did get were at our
own club's shows where he trained every week. So we worked really hard at the
long sits and downs and entered the next show that our club had. Chipper did
really well, only loosing a few points for whining. We finally got his CDX!
The crowd loved watching him fly over the jump with his long hair streaming
out behind him. I kept him in full coat for a long time after that too. It was a
good thing he got his CDX when he did, because our club stopped using that
big building and moved to a smaller place that was too small for trials. He might
not have gotten it at all in a strange place or we would have really had to work
at it! A friend of mine had a male Maltese that had the same problem on the long
sits and downs. We have heard of other Maltese males that have this problem too.
Well, I think I should get some sleep so I'll have the energy to cook a turkey
Well it has been a year now, but I can still remember the day like it was
yesterday, the day that Aurora rescued me. It was in January 98 that my
little Lasha named Missy, had heart failure and passed on to Rainbow
Bridge, and my home was very sad, at this loss, she was old, and we had
lived with her for about 3 years. This was such a sweet dog, which had more
love in her than he little body could hold, she had to be petted all the
time, and everywhere in the house she was there, looking for someone to
pay attention to her.
Well needless to say after she had gone, everywhere I looked there she was,
a towel on the floor, the empty space where she waited to play, her food dish
was still there waiting for to finish her dinner; she never would eat alone, and
demanded that someone watch her, the empty bed that now looked so cold.
All of this left the house so empty; she had taken alot of enjoyment with her,
when she left.
My wife said that was it never again did she want a dog in her life, and my
daughter was just plane heartbroken. Missey was like my wife's shadow;
whenever my wife moved it was like they were welded together, and would
often move in step one right behind the other. There was darkness that
only a dog could fix, but where to get one.
Well I remembered that some of the best dogs that I had ever had came
from the dog pound, well now they are called shelters, but why not give it
a try, maybe there would be one there for me. So for the first time I went
to the shelter, just to look around and see what they had, it was only three
weeks, after Missy passing, so I was just going to look it was just too soon
to have another dog. Well I looked at all the dogs that were there, but not
one that has that special look, that feeling you feel when you have matched
spirits with a dog and you know that that is the right one, the dogs did not
seem to be so picky, which make a dog lover like myself feeling like I was
betraying dogdome, by not giving one of them a chance. I knew I had to
find the right dog or I would not have the strength of effort to go through
what it would take to bring a new dog into the house. That the dog I found
would have some real big hearts to fill, so I had to find the just right dog.
I asked the man in charge if they had any small dogs, being a small dog kind
of guy, he said that there was a waiting list for small dogs, so if one did come,
there would be a waiting period, so once more in the back to give all the other
ones another chance, but still no luck, the right dog was just not there, and it
was time to leave, and anyway the adoption fee, was more than I could afford
to spend. I was walking out the door, when the guy at the desk said, "If you
are looking for a small house dog that lady there just brought in a small dog,
but you have to take it right now, before it is admitted to the shelter, or it will
go on the list, and will have to go through all the adoption requirements." One
look at this dog whatever kind it was, the feeling was there, she was so scared,
so lonely looking, so small, I could not help but to pick her up right away, and
I asked the lady what she knew about the dog, all she said it that the dog had
been hanging around her yard for a couple of weeks, she already had a dog
and could not handle having another one. There was a sadness in her voice
and eyes as she spoke that sounded like she really loved this dog and had
finally given up on her for some reason, and that giving her up was something
very hard for her to do, I have never seen or heard from the lady again, she
also had small child with her who was looking very sad.
Well it was into my van with dog in my arms and of course the first place
would be my vet to make sure the dog was ok and also to find out just what
kind of dog it was, one look and the vet said you have a Maltese there, after
a quick check he said she is about 3 years old, so there was all I knew about
this furbaby was all I have just said. Now was to come the hard part, how to
bring her home, but that is all I could do now, so I had to do what must be
done. Well my wife was working so that would give me a couple of hours
to make the house right, for what was about to come.
I got home but the dog down on the ground so she could get used to the
yard, big mistake, it was here that I found out how fast these little dogs can
run across three yards, with a guy running after her, she got to the road, and
there were 3 dogs on the other side; this is where I found out that she could
run very fast back to my yard, so eventually I was able to round her up, and
get her into the house. Well I knew the dog that I was now calling Sydney
must be hungry, so I figured I would feed it, I opened a can of dog food,
and Sydney was so hungry she wolfed down the whole big can, of course it
came back up as fast as it went down, so after I had cleaned that up, I was
going to fix her special place so she could be there when my wife got home.
Well the first to arrive was my daughter who looked at Sydney and Sydney
look at her and it was total love at first sight between the two, they fell
madly in love with each other, and the love still goes on today, anytime my
daughter is around forget anyone else, my daughter may as well be the only
person in the world to the dog. When my daughter asked me what her name was I
said Sidney, the dog and daughter looked at me and replied stupid name, the
dog spoke with her eyes. It was at this point that my daughter point to the
yellow on her ears, and said that is the color of the sunset, I want to call her
Aurora, the dog also wanted to be called Aurora, so that was that the dog was
going to be Aurora. Well my daughter was off to work and now my wife
car was coming in the driveway.
My wife walked in and looked around, saw the dog and said "I told you no
more dogs, what is that doing there, she can not stay, get her away." Aurora
had another idea in mind and with the biggest saddest eyes a furbaby could
of ever used walk up to my wife and like her feet, of course my wife looked
down at her eyes met and it was all over, Aurora had won herself a new home,
and she has been here sense then.
Aurora has become a much a part of the family, and has filled that empty
darkness that was left with the passing of Missy, she is her own dog, but she
is such a special dog, that her personality has blended so well with us that it
is like she has been with us forever.
Post Script: Like I said Aurora has been here for about a year, and has had
only one major problem, and that has been house breaking, but has made a
slow steady improvement in that department and I am sure that she will figure
it out all someday, but that is the only bad thing she does. As close as I can
tell is that from the way she acts and from many hours on this site and
chatroom, that Aurora was more than likely kept in her crate almost all them
time to the point she would mess in her crate and than roll, walk, throw it all
over, so we do not crate her. She also does not play with toys, but will play
with my wife, daughter, and has started playing with me more and more, so
things are getting better there. She may not be the sharpest claw on the paw,
but she makes up for this 100 times over in love.
New Forms of Old Disease Threaten U.S.Dogs, Cornell University Veterinarians Warn
ITHACA, N.Y. -- A potentially fatal bacterial disease that damages the liver and kidneys of
dogs, humans and other animals -- leptospirosis -- is appearing in new forms in the United
States. Citing an alarming increase in leptospirosis cases, bacteriologists in the Cornell
University College of Veterinary Medicine's Diagnostic Laboratory are urging dog owners
to watch for symptoms of the disease until improved vaccines are available.
"We're especially concerned about some of the new types of lepto, such as
grippotyphosa, that we first documented in the New York City metropolitan area in dogs,
but which probably is not confined there. We're finding grippotyphosa in the Northeast
and in other areas of the country," said Patrick McDonough, a veterinary bacteriologist
at the Cornell Diagnostic Laboratory. That laboratory is the official diagnostic center for
animal disease control in New York state and each year conducts more than 700,000
diagnostic tests for animals of all species, including humans.
While currently available vaccines do protect against some serovars (serological
varieties) of leptospirosis, newer serovars, such as grippotyphosa and pomona, are not
included in that protection, McDonough noted, saying: "There is room for improvement
in the vaccination protocols." Worldwide, there are more than 200 known serovars of
leptospirosis infecting many kinds of mammals, including rodents and cattle.
Leptospirosis is spread by a spirochete (or spiral shaped) bacteria called leptospires in
the urine of rodents and other infected animals, as well as in water, such as pond water.
The leptospires enter the body through mucous membranes or through abraded skin.
For dog owners, the first signs of leptospirosis in a pet often are several days of
anorexia, vomiting, lethargy, depression, muscle pain and sometimes diarrhea or
bloody urine. Veterinarians examining dogs with leptospirosis find depression, fever,
dehydration, jaundice and abdominal pain. The disease damages the animal's liver and
kidneys, sometimes resulting in renal failure and death.
If the disease is caught in time, McDonough said, it can be successfully treated with
penicillin and -- when the kidneys have recovered -- with a lengthy course of tetracycline
drugs. During their recovery, dehydrated animals need intravenous fluids and "good,
supportive nursing care," he added.
"Until vaccines are upgraded to include these new types of lepto, we're advising dog
owners to watch for flulike illnesses in their pets," McDonough said. "If the dog has
been exposed to the urine of another domestic animal or a wild animal, either directly or
in ponds or run-off water that collect urine, and if you notice these flulike signs, the pet
should be tested for lepto."
Noting that leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease that can pass from animals to humans,
Cornell Diagnostic Laboratory Director Donald Lein said the infection can be an
occupational hazard for people who work with animals. "This used to be called 'milkers'
disease,' and there is real potential for its spread among dairy farm workers, as well as
people handling other animals." He said that personnel in large dairy farms, where
hundreds of cows are milked several times a day, must work in pits at
eye-nose-and-mouth level to a continuous stream of cows -- and to an aerosol form of
their urine that could contain leptospires.
"Leptospirosis is a disease that's been around for a long time," McDonough said. "Now
we're recognizing new types. Certainly in different areas of the country there are
endemic types of lepto that aren't found in other areas, and each area might have its
unique lepto problem."
Lepto Facts from the Diagnostic Laboratory College of Veterinary Medicine,
What causes leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is caused by spirochete (or spiral-shaped) bacteria called leptospires.
The leptospires live in fluids from infected animals, including urine, saliva, blood and
milk. The disease-causing organisms are transmitted by direct contact with the fluids or
with an infected animal, as well as by indirect contact, including contamination on
vegetation, food and water, soil and bedding materials. Disease transmission is
increased in crowded conditions. The disease may be carried for years in animals that
serve as host reservoirs without the animals showing clinical signs of the disease. The
leptospires enter the body through mucous membranes or through breaks in the skin.
Where are leptospires found?
The leptospires cannot survive for long outside their ideal environment: water or other
fluids, moderate temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) and
neutral or slightly alkaline pH. Stagnant water or slowly flowing streams may carry the
leptospires; worldwide, leptospirosis infection increases with flooded conditions. A
1996 outbreak of leptospirosis among white-water rafters was traced by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contaminated river water in Costa Rica.
Leptospires are known to survive in urine-soaked soil for six months. Summer and early
fall are the most likely times for leptospirosis transmission to dogs. Milk from infected
dairy cows may carry leptospires, although heat from the pasteurization process should
kill the microorganisms.
What are the symptoms of leptospirosis?
In general, the disease resembles the flu with fever, headache, chills and myalgia
(muscle pain). Dog owners may notice vomiting, lethargy, depression, muscle pain and
sometimes diarrhea or bloody urine in the pets. The disease damages the liver and
kidneys and, if untreated, may cause death.
How is leptospirosis treated?
Dogs are treated with a course of antibiotics and with intravenous fluid to overcome
dehydration. Diagnosis is based on clinical signs and laboratory tests, including tests
for the disease-causing organism, urinalysis and blood tests.
Can vaccination prevent leptospirosis in dogs?
Currently available vaccines for dogs cover only the icterohaemorrhagiae and canicola
forms of leptospirosis but not certain emerging forms in dogs, such as grippotyphosa
and pomona. Vaccine makers are now attempting to include protection for emerging
forms of leptospirosis.
Do humans catch leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis is a so-called zoonotic disease that can be transmitted from animals to
humans. People can catch the disease from water that is contaminated by infected wild
or domestic animals, as well as from more direct contact with animals, such as rodents,
raccoons, skunks and cattle. A well-known Hollywood actress is now recovering from
leptospirosis. Public health authorities suggest keeping dogs away from children's
play areas, including sandboxes and wading pools.
Why are cats not affected by leptospirosis?
Tests for antibodies show that some cats are exposed to the disease, but cats almost
never show clinical signs of leptospirosis. Some experts believe that cats have
developed a kind of immunity to leptospirosis from their longtime association with
PREPARATION CAN PREVENT TRAGEDY IN CASES OF ALLERGIC REACTION
Submitted by Jay Bianco
Maltese owners and breeders alike should be aware that a Maltese can have an allergic reaction anytime
it receives a vaccination. Many reactions seem to involve combination shots with Leptospirosis and
the Lepto fraction may be responsible. However, this is not definite as another component, such as
the preservative, could be the cause. The important point is your Maltese could react to any shot.
If the your vet gives your shots, schedule them early in the day; remain at the vet for at least 20 minutes
or so after the shots, and monitor your Maltese for any sign of reaction. If you give your own shots, have
Epinephrine or equivalent on hand and be familiar with its use. Give your shots early in the day and when the vet is
available, and monitor for signs of reaction.
A reaction can cause your Maltese to go into shock, evidenced by symptoms such as lethargy, depressed
breathing, and gums turning gray. Death can follow quickly, especially in puppies. An injection of
Epinephrine can counter the effects of shock and provide valuable time to get the animal to the vet
Being prepared can help prevent a crisis from becoming a tragedy. Consult your veterinarian if you
have any questions.