Spring 2021 Paws and Claws Digest


PAWsitive Pup Report

Catch up on updates at Saint Francis Pet Care Center with our Spring Newsletter!

Meet Niko!

Niko is a sensational 9-year-old Alaskan Malamute who has recently become quite popular with St. Francis Pet Care Center staff. Niko was diagnosed with a subcutaneous (under the skin) mass this past winter that required surgical removal due to its advanced size. During a quite involved and detailed surgical procedure, the mass was successfully removed by Doctors Brandt and Bruce–the excised mass weighing in at a whopping 26.6 lbs! Even with a successful surgery behind him, Niko’s journey was far from over. Due to the size of the mass removed, the incision was unable to be closed entirely, and a portion of the wound area hadto be left open. Because of the open incision, daily bandage changes and wound care were required. Over the next few months, all the doctors and staff at St. Francis would get to know Niko and his incredible family quite well during these regular visits. As anyone can imagine, the care and bandaging of an open wound of this size is anything but comfortable; however, Niko’s gentle nature and unending tolerance surpassed all of our expectations, and he handled his treatments like the good boy he is! From “talking” to us in the car during curbside check-ins so he could formally announce his arrival to meeting every staff member with kisses and tail wags, Niko truly is the embodiment of patience and happiness. His overall attitude and exuberance during this lengthy and trying ordeal were absolutely inspirational! The kind energy both he and his family brought to our office was a bright light amidst these grey times. His story and perseverance will be remembered always, and we are so very proud to call Niko part of the St. Francis Pet Care Family!

Leptospirosis in Dogs

Credit: Wendy Brooks, DVM, DABVP

Canine Infection

Dogs become infected by Leptospirosis when irritated or cut skin comes into contact with infected urine or water contaminated with infected urine. Alternatively, bite wounds, exposure to reproductive secretions, and even eating infected tissues can transmit it. The organisms quickly spread through the bloodstream, leading first to inflaming the blood vessels themselves: fever, abnormal bleeding, abnormal bruising, and tissue edema can appear after an approximately 7-day incubation period. By two weeks post-infection, the leptospires have set up shop in the kidneys, where they continue to generate inflammation, pain, and potentially total kidney failure with their inability to produce urine. Some also affect the liver and cause inflammation there, though the liver disease is generally not as severe as that of the kidney. A particularly devastating situation occurs if the organism gets into the lungs where the leptospire toxins produce what is termed "Leptospira Pulmonary Hemorrhage Syndrome." The lung bleeding that results is associated with a 70% mortality rate and bodes especially poorly. If the dog can keep the acute illness at bay, a chronic form may emerge. There can be more chronic kidney insufficiency and/or hepatitis. Furthermore, the long-term immune stimulation can lead to a deep eye inflammation called uveitis that can cause the eyes to look cloudy or even change color. If the disease is treated in this form, it may not be possible to reverse the long-term damage that has already set in.


Vaccination against Leptospirosis has been traditional for dogs as it is included in the basic distemper shot (DHLPP -the "L" stands for Leptospirosis). The American Animal Hospital Association vaccine guidelines consider vaccination against Leptospirosis to be optional. In the past, the Leptospirosis vaccine was felt to be associated with a higher chance of immunological vaccine reactions, but vaccines made from leptospires grown in protein-free media have made vaccination reaction far less likely. A recent study involving thousands of dogs and their vaccinations showed no increase in vaccine reaction risk with leptospirosis vaccination. Vaccination will reduce the severity of the disease but will not prevent infected dogs from becoming carriers. Other important aspects of prevention include controlling rodents in the pet's environment and removing standing water. Please do not hesitate to call the office with any questions or concerns regarding Leptospirosis infection risk, prevention, or treatment.

COVID-19 Office Updates

Curbside Care – At this time, for the safety of our pet families and staff, both locations will continue to operate under curbside care protocols as encouraged by the AVMA. Upon arrival at our office, please call from your vehicle to check-in. Appointments, medication and supply pick-ups, and resort stay drop-offs will all need to check-in curbside. Please be advised that the pet parent will still be involved in the entire process of the appointment via phone and will speak with both the doctor and veterinary technicians at several points during the visit. If a FaceTime exam is desired, please discuss it with staff. Please do not hesitate to call the office with any questions or concerns regarding our office’s curbside care or COVID-19 protocols.

Trinity Location – The Trinity Office is open and will be offering appointments and supply pick-ups Mondays & Fridays 8 am-6 pm, and Saturdays 8 am-1 pm via curbside check-in. The office will be closed Tuesday-Thursday & Sunday for all services. The Keystone (Tarpon Springs) location will remain open during normal business hours Monday-Friday 8 am-6 pm, and Saturday 8 am-1 pm.

Contact Us

Saint Francis Pet Care Center

Tarpon Springs

3591 Keystone Rd. Tarpon Springs, FL 34688

Mon-Fri: 8 AM-6 PM Sat: 8 AM-1 PM Sun: CLOSED


2156 Corporate Center Dr. Trinity, FL 34655

Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri: 8 AM-6 PM Sat: 8 AM-1 PM Sun and Wed: CLOSED