Foster Hospital for Small Animals Announcements

Precautions for Avian Influenza (HPAI)

Cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) have been reported in wild birds in Massachusetts. Currently, no cases have been reported in domestic birds. We are reaching out to raise awareness and request your vigilance to improve the biosecurity of your backyard flocks. As a preventative measure, it is recommended that you keep your backyard flocks of poultry and geese confined and away from wildlife, particularly waterbirds, and use dedicated clothing and footwear to enter any coop or enclosure. Please follow USDSA links below for detailed information:

For updates, follow the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources on Facebook and Twitter or access its Farm and Market Report.

BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Responses) Testing

Congenital hearing loss is reported in 90 breeds with the Dalmatian, English setter, Cocker Spaniel, Bull terrier, Australian Cattle dog, Catahoula, Jack Russell terrier and Border collie being most frequently affected. In this disease, the dogs are born normally but in the first weeks of their life, the inner ear receptors designed for hearing die prematurely. In most dog breeds, uni- or bilaterally deafness is seen at the age of 2-3 months. Border Collies are an exception as their congenital deafness can be late onset in early adulthood. Certain genetic traits such as hair and eye color are linked to deafness in most breeds. A recessive genetic defect (either one gene or multiple genes) is reported.

In puppies older than 2 months, the BAER test (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Responses) is the most reliable screening test for congenital hereditary deafness. This test checks if the brain responds to noise (clicking sound), measuring appropriate hearing.

After a COVID-19 pause, the Neurology team at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University will begin puppy hearing clinics on Saturday, November 13, 2021, and hold them on the second Saturday of each month from 9 am to 1 pm.

We are dedicated to serving the community of breeders but also welcome individual dog owners wanting important information about the hearing status of their dog. Ideal candidates for a hearing test during these Saturday BAER clinics include a litter of puppies or dogs younger than one year. For puppies, we will always try to do the hearing test without sedation, but for most older dogs sedation might be required. Hearing tests are done only by appointment.

If you are interested, please call a Neurology liaison at 508-887-4839 or send an e-mail to to make an appointment.

Leptospirosis Alert

What is Leptospirosis?

  • Leptospirosis is a disease caused by a bacterium (genus Leptospira) that can adversely affect your dog and be transmitted to humans.
  • Wildlife, including raccoons, skunks, foxes, and rodents (mice, rats, moles), carry these bacteria that are shed in their urine.
  • Dogs can become infected by coming in contact with the urine from wildlife or contaminated water or soil.
  • The disease can rapidly become life-threatening to dogs, targeting kidneys, liver, blood vessels, but also lungs and heart.


2021 has been a particularly warm and wet year, an ideal environment for leptospirosis bacteria to thrive. Also, this has been a great acorn year, so all the wildlife are about stocking up for winter and moving through backyards. This is the reason we see an increase in cases in the fall and early winter.

Current situation

Tufts University Cummings School of Medicine is seeing a marked increase of severe leptospirosis cases this year. Many of the cases have multiple organ involvement requiring intensive care and treatment (e.g. dialysis).

How Can You Protect Your Dog?

  • All dogs are considered at risk in our area.
  • The leptospirosis vaccination can prevent disease and will protect your dog from severe illness.
  • Make sure your dog has a current leptospirosis vaccine (two initial doses 2 weeks apart, with a booster once a year thereafter).

Please contact your primary care veterinarian for further recommendations and assistance