Pet vaccines are important, and they have a long history. Probably the most important technological gains were discovered in the 1790’s by Dr. Edward Jenner. He discovered the first vaccination by giving people a preparation of material from cowpox, which was a common animal disease in cattle. The people that were injected with or “vaccinated” with the material did not get sick and remained healthy when they were exposed to the deadly smallpox virus. Over 100 years later, a French scientist by the name of Louis Pastuer, found that they could protect people and animals from disease by injecting altered forms of microorganisms.
The process of how a vaccine works is a complex reaction that involves many chemical and cellular reactions within and between the immune system cells of the body. Basically the role of the vaccine is to expose the immune system of the pet to viral and bacterial antigens that are contained in the vaccine. In the future, when the pet is exposed to that related organism, the body will recognize it and then activate the immune system to prevent the disease from producing or reducing the signs of clinical disease.
Vaccines can be administered by subcutaneous or intramuscular injections, intranasal or orally. The vaccines that are injected or given orally tend to produce a more systemic or whole body response, whereas the intranasal provides a more local response. Intranasal vaccines can be advantageous to provide a quicker response and prevent or kill the new virus before it can get any further in the body. Local nasal vaccines would not be helpful for a virus that has been ingested and causes intestinal disease such as parvovirus in dogs. For that we would want a vaccine that would produce a more systemic response.
The vaccines that we use in veterinary medicine are most generally either a killed or a modified live (attenuated) vaccine. There are multiple indications for both, but generally speaking the killed vaccines are safer and unlikely to cause disease in the immunocompromised pet. Whereas, the live vaccines provide a more amplified response that leads to a better, longer lasting immune protection. Several of the vaccines that we use have many different viruses in one injection. This allows to vaccinate for several of the organisms in one injection.
To confuse you even more, pets get some protection through the placenta when the puppies and kittens are in the mother’s uterus and when they get colostrum which is the first milk that they drink. This protection will decrease over time and usually will be low enough by 12 weeks of age where vaccinations will start reacting. There is no way to measure quick, easy and inexpensive way to measure the immunity gained here, so we generally recommend starting vaccines at 6 to 8 weeks of age and then booster them every 2 to 4 weeks until they are 16 weeks of age. Generally, it is not the number of vaccinations that they get, but when they get them at their chronological age.
A vaccine helps prime an animal against a specific disease. It does this by stimulating the immune system with a nonpathogenic virus or bacteria. If the animal responds adequately, it will develop cells that will help it to quickly and efficiently fight off the pathogenic form of the agent if it is encountered later. Here at Olsen Veterinary Clinic, we have tailored our vaccination programs to meet the needs of your pet. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us here, or call our office at 618-656-5868.
In today’s society, almost everyone has some medications – whether over-the-counter or prescription sitting around at home. The important thing to remember, however, is that human medications and pet medications are NOT created equal. While some human medications are safe, some can be very toxic to pets if they happen to ingest them. As a matter of fact, the Pet Poison Hotline reports that nearly 50% of the calls involve human medications. These issues can arise if your pet accidentally chewed into the pill bottle or a well-intentioned pet owner gave their pet a human medication. Pet poisonings are common, can be very serious, and spell disaster for a beloved pet.
With that in mind, listed below are 10 medications that can cause toxicity to your pet and therefore should be kept away from them.
NSAIDS – Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are common, everyday drugs that are found in most households. This classification includes popular drugs like Aleve, Advil and Motrin. The side effects can be some of the most dangerous drugs for pets to ingest. In fact just 1 or 2 pills can cause pets to suffer serious stomach and intestinal ulcers and in some cases cause kidney failure.
Acetaminophin – For that occasional headache or fever, almost everyone has some Tylenol sitting around their home. As safe as it is for children the opposite is true for pets. Just a small dose of acetaminophin can cause damage to your pet’s red blood cells, reducing its ability to carry oxygen through the body. The drug can also cause liver damage in your pet.
Birth Control Pills – Dogs usually mistaken the birth control containers for toys, but if they swallow a large number, they can get ill. Estrogen and Estradiol have shown to cause bone marrow suppression in pets. Surprisingly, female pets have an increased risk of suffering from the most serious side effects.
Antidepressants – Veterinarians have at times prescribed medications meant for humans to pets like Prozac. When used as your veterinarian has prescribed, they are safe. But accidental or overdose can be toxic to your pet. These clinical signs can include serious neurological problems that include sedation, loss of coordination, tremors and even seizures.
ADHD/ADD Medications – Prescription medications for this human condition are very strong stimulants like amphetamines and are very dangerous for pets. Ingestion of small amounts can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperature and heart problems. Drugs in this category include Adderall, Ritalin and Concerta.
Benzodiazepines and Sleep Aids – Drugs like Xanax and Ambien are given to humans to reduce anxiety and help sleep better. However in pets, it can cause the opposite. It has been shown that small doses can cause pets to be agitated, along with severe lethargy, incoordination, and a slowed breathing rate. In cats, it has been known to cause liver failure.
Beta-blockers – Beta-blockers are commonly prescribed drugs for humans suffering from blood pressure problems. But all it takes is a small amount for pets to ingest to make it life-threatening to them. These drugs can cause severe drops in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate.
Ace-Inhibitors – Like in humans, these drugs are often used in veterinary medicine to treat pets suffering from high blood pressure. Though typically safe, overdoses can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, and weakness. If pets have ingested just a small amount of this medication, they can be monitored at home unless they have kidney failure or heart disease.
Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs – Drugs like Lipitor are advertised on the TV and are now found in many households in America. While these drugs are considered statins, long term use can potentially leads to problems. In most cases, one may see some mild form of intestinal upset which would include vomiting or diarrhea.
Thyroid Hormones – These medications are routinely prescribed for pets that have underactive thyroids. Surprisingly the thyroid hormone needed to treat dogs is much higher than a persons dose. So, if dogs accidentally get into thyroid hormones, it rarely results in problems. In cats it can be a different story. Large overdoses in cats can cause muscle tremors, nervousness, panting, a rapid heart rate and aggression.
Most pets are naturally curious creatures so it is important to keep them out of reach from your pets. Here are some tips to help ensure that they never ingest your medicine.
- Never leave loose pills in a plastic sandwich bag-the bags are too easy to chew into. Make sure the rest of the family does the same, keeping their medications out of reach.
- If your medication is in a pill box or weekly pill container, make sure that it is safely stored in a cabinet. Too many pets may think that it is a plastic toy.
- Never store your pets medication near your medications. Pet poisonous hotlines received several calls every year from concerned owners who have inadventantly given their own medication to their pet.
- Hang up your purse or backpack. Curious pets will explore the contents of your bag and simply placing it out of reach solves the problem.
A lot of pet poisonings stem from pets ingesting human drugs and pets metabolize the drugs differently than humans do. So because of this, even safe over-the-counter medications may cause serious poisonings in pets.
If your pet has ingested a human over-the-counter or prescription or medication, please call your veterinarian, your local emergency animal hospital or the Pet Poison Hot Line’s 24 hour animal control center at 800-213-6680 immediately. Of course, if our office can be of any assistance, do not hesitate to call or contact us here.
With the dog days of summer upon us, we as pet owners need to be aware of heatstroke with your pet. This can be a life-threatening condition that occurs because your pet cannot lower its body temperature efficiently, so its body temperature increases to dangerous levels.
There are many common situations that can set the stage for heatstroke. These include: strenuous exercise in hot, humid weather, being a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed, suffering from heart or lung disease that interferes with efficient breathing, being confined without shade or shelter and fresh water in hot weather, being confined on concrete or asphalt and the most logical-left in a closed up car in the warm weather.
Heatstroke begins with heavy panting and difficulty breathing. The tongue and mucous membranes appear bright red. The saliva is thick and tenacious and the dog usually vomits. The rectal temperature rises to 104 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The dog becomes progressively unsteady and passes bloody diarrhea. As shock sits in, the lips and mucous membranes turn gray. Collapse, seizures, coma and death rapidly ensue.
It is important to take emergency measures to begin cooling your pet immediately. One suggestion would be to move it to an air-conditioned building and begin cooling your pet with spraying your pet with a garden hose or immersing it in cool water for up to two minutes. Also if possible, it is helpful to place the wet pet in front of an electric fan. Ice packs work well when applied to the groin and armpit areas because this is the area where the blood is the closest to the surface in the body. Monitor the rectal temperature and continue the cooling process until it falls to 103 degrees. Seeking veterinary assistance is of utmost importance since this is an emergency. Your veterinarian will take steps to reverse the effects of heat, dehydration, and low blood pressure. An IV catheter will be placed and fluids will be given to help get blood flowing to major organs again.
Treatment is aimed to supporting these organs in the hope that the damage that they have sustained isn’t permanent. Unfortunately, it will often take days to know which organs have been affected. Specific treatments may include antibiotics, blood pressure medications and blood transfusions.
Because heatstroke can be so deadly and strike rapidly, it is best to take steps to prevent it. In hot weather, it is best to exercise your pet during the coolest part of the day (early morning and late evening) and always provide plenty of fresh, cool water and rest. A person can also help their pet by cooling them by allowing them to swim or spray them off with a hose after exercising.
Never leave a pet in a car during warm weather-not even for a few minutes with the windows cracked. Brachycephalic dog owners should be extra vigilant, keeping their dogs inside in air-conditioning on hot days. All geriatric, obese, and respiratory compromised pets should be exercised with caution in hot weather.
So remember if your pet is acting distressed, start cooling it down and seek assistance from your veterinarian immediately.
Oh the dog days of summer. What’s not to like about summer? Vacations, cookouts, swimming—can it get any better than that? Wait a dog gone minute though. These fun times can be hazardous to your pets, so care must be taken to make sure that they don’t succumb to the dangers that can be lurking. Accidents can happen almost anytime and anyplace so it is important to be aware of how to prevent them from happening. These can include but not be limited to heat stroke, swimming pools, venomous pests, campouts, bbq and other foods just to name a few. So let’s cover a few dangers to avoid and try to prevent.
The summer heat can be dangerous to our pets. Dogs are covered with hair, have very few sweat glands, and some breeds have shortened noses that make it tough to keep cool in the summer. So the easiest way to beat the heat is to adjust your walking schedule to the morning hours when it is cooler out. Some dogs may do well with having their haircoat shaved, however breeds like the Husky have a haircoat that also helps keep them cool in the summer.
The heat will also warm up the inside of your car, so if it is above 65 degrees either leave your pet at home or take it inside with you when you leave the vehicle.
Sunburn can also cause some problems, so it may be important to put sunscreen on the pets ears and bare skin to prevent this.
What is a better way to beat the heat than swim in a swimming pool? It is great and it also is a good way for your dog to get exercise. Floatation devices are available to assist the pets that are not strong swimmers. But, do not leave them unsupervised. It is important that they be taught how to exit the pool safely before they tire. Also having fresh water for them to cool off with and to remove the chlorine, salt and bacteria that can be harmful to them is beneficial. So keep a bowl handy by the pool.
Almost everyone celebrates the Fourth of July with fireworks. Dogs tend to not like loud noises and can be scared easily. The best advice would be to leave your pets at home inside and away from the flash of the fireworks.
Some summer evenings are spent socializing with friends and barbecuing. We all like them, and even our pets are hoping for a few table scraps. A little of this and a little of that can be bad for pets—and not just their waistlines. Some surprising foods like grapes, onions, garlic and raisins, can be toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities and should stay off their menu. Other barbecue staples like corn on the cob, bones, fruit with pits, skewers or ice cream can be dangerous to our four-legged family members. It may be helpful to talk to guests and children before summer parties and politely remind them that table food could be detrimental to the health of your pet.
Fleas & Ticks
While our the heat puts a strain on our pets, fleas and ticks thrive during this time. They can cause disease and carry other parasites that are detrimental to the health of our pets. Just like humans, pets can have allergic reactions to insect and spider bites. By grooming your pet frequently, you can check for the presence of the pests, hot spots, and other skin problems that can be caused by these pests. There are some very good flea and tick medications out there to prevent the problems before they start, so talk with your veterinarian to see what they would suggest. You can also order directly from our store.
Heartworms are carried by mosquitos, and the summer months are when mosquitos thrive and pose the greatest threat to your pet. The heartworms can be very dangerous to the health of your pet. It is best to have your pet on a medication to prevent your pet from contracting the painful disease. So ask your veterinarian for their recommendations.
These dangers may sound scary, but a little preparation and watchful eye is all you need to take the heat off your summer. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call the Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868, or contact us here.
Parasite prevention and your pet is something very important. With summer fast approaching, pet owners are more active with their pets outside. That is where you will find parasites that can infest your pets, several of which can infect people as well. So because of this, parasite prevention is not only important for the health of your pet but also for the health of your family.
As a veterinarian, we generally talk about controlling and preventing four major parasite groups—Fleas and Ticks, Intestinal Parasites, and Heartworms.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are troublesome parasites of the skin. Not only are they troublesome because they cause problems with the skin, they also transmit several diseases to your pet. There are many effective products out there that can be purchased from your veterinarian to control and prevent flea and tick infestations. Regular use of these products can prevent fleas and ticks from becoming a problem to your pet. As tempting as it might be to purchase an over the counter product from your pet store or big box store, I would caution you as a pet owner to be very careful. Many of these products can have serious side effects if used improperly and may have limited effectiveness.
Intestinal parasites can cause pets to vomit, have diarrhea, lose weight, and lead to a poor overall condition of your pet. The most common intestinal parasites in cats and dogs are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and coccidia. All of these parasites can have the ability to affect your pet. Additionally, some roundworms, hookworms, and some tapeworms can also affect humans. Because of this, pet owners should contact their veterinarian to check on a routine testing schedule and monthly preventatives.
Most parasites cannot be seen with the naked eye in the feces. Your veterinarian can diagnose the infestation by taking a sample of the feces and looking at it under a microscope. The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends that a fecal analysis be performed 2 to 4 times during a pets first year of life and at least 1 to 2 times per year for adults.
Because your pet can get exposed to intestinal parasites at birth and an early age of life, the CAPC recommends that puppies and kittens should be dewormed every 2 to 3 weeks until they are 12 weeks old and animals that are older should be dewormed at least twice. Once the initial deworming is complete, dogs and cats should be put on a monthly, year-round product that prevents intestinal parasites as well as heartworm infections.
The area where your pet eliminates can become contaminated with intestinal parasite eggs. This can cause reinfection to your pet or exposure and infection of future pets or humans. Immediate removal of the feces from the yard greatly reduces the chance that the property will become contaminated with the intestinal parasite.
Heartworms are a parasite that resides in the heart and is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. This mosquito is harboring the larva of the heartworm and it is injected with the saliva into the bloodstream of the dog. The larva migrate to the heart where they mature and become adults. Over time, heartworms can cause exercise intolerance, heart failure and respiratory problems in dog. Fortunately, heartworms are preventable. There are several fantastic monthly preventative options available through your veterinarian. When given year-round, these products will provide protection against heartworms and several other intestinal parasites and fleas that can infect dogs, cats and people. Your vet would be a good source to help you decide which product is best for you and your pet.
Here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic we carry products to protect your pets. Stop in or give us a call and we would help you decide what is best. You are always welcome to contact us here with questions.
The pet industry is a multibillion dollar industry, with a lot of pet products that help and keep our pets comfortable and happy. Quite frequently, I am asked for recommendations from my clients pertaining to new products out there for their pets. With that thought in mind, and since you may want to get them something for Valentine’s Day, I have compiled a list of eight products and toys that I think are worthy for consideration to keep your pet happy, safe, and entertained.
Zylkene: This is a product that helps pets cope when facing unusual and unpredictable situations or before occasions such as a change in a normal environment. It is made from the milk protein, casein, that promotes relaxation. I have seen it work on both cats and dogs on several scenarios, like introducing a new pet or bringing in a new baby to the family. It is nonmedicinal, so it is very safe. This product is available at our office.
The Furminator Comb: This is a rugged comb that removes any coat that has shed from the pet’s skin. The normal hair cycle is 4 to 6 weeks, so using this comb weekly will help remove the undercoat which causes the majority of the shedding problem. So in time there is reduced shedding. These are available online.
Oravet Dental Hygiene Chews: A brand new product out there that will be available in March is the Oravet Dental Hygiene Chews. They are dental chews that contain Delmopinol which works to loosen and dislodge plaque to help it break away from the teeth. It then forms a barrier to help protect agains bacteria that leads to the plaque and calculus buildup. This leads to fresher and cleaner breath which makes the pet and owner happy. We will have this at our office when it is available in March.
Pill Pockets: Some pets despise having their owners shove down an antibiotic, so this is a product that aids in getting your pet to take it. It hides the pill in a tasty treat, so your pet is happy. It is a healthier alternative to using human foods and comes in several flavors with less calories, less sodium and less fat. These are also available online.
Nexguard and Bravecto: These are chewable beef flavored tablets that kill fleas and ticks before they lay eggs. They both work very rapidly and have very few sides effects. The difference between the two is that the Nexguard is given monthly and the Bravecto controls the fleas and ticks for 12 weeks. Nexguard is safe to be given to puppies as young as 8 weeks, while the Bravecto is recommended to only be used on dogs 6 months and older. These are available in our office.
Kong Toys: These toys are made of durable rubber in a variety of formulas to provide dogs and appropriate way to fulfill their chewing habits. By chewing on them, they can help keep your dogs jaws strong and teeth white. Some are made to slow down eating and provide a vice when the owner is away. Here is the website, but they are available multiple places online.
Kong Cushion: This was formerly known as the Boobooloon. It is a blown up device that provides better relaxation and comfort for pets during recovery from surgeries, injuries, and rashes. This gives the pet better range of motion than the old type of e-collar. These are also available multiple places online.
Capilex: Nothing is worse than stepping barefoot in a freshly hacked-up hairball from your cat. Most petroleum-based products such as Laxatone just moves the hairball out of the intestine. Capilex is a whey based product that controls the hairball by breaking down the hairball, allowing the previously trapped food in the hairball to be digested, and made nutritionally available to your cat. The hair is then naturally passed in the stool, with fewer hairball. Capilex does not require a diet change or rely on fiber for its effect, so you can feed the diet that is best for your cat. This is available in our office.
The pet industry is constantly evolving, so some of these products and items may come and go. If you have a question or comment, or wish to purchase any of the above items, please don’t hesitate but give us a call.
Diabetes typically occurs when dogs are between 4 to 14 years old. The primary cause is unknown, but experts suggest that genetics may play a role. Any breed can be affected, but breeds that tend to have a greater risk for developing canine diabetes are:
- Cocker Spaniels
- Doberman Pinschers
- German Shepherds
- Golden Retrievers
- Labrador Retrievers
- Toy Poodles
Knowing the signs of diabetes is the key to protecting your pet. Proper treatment can lead to a long, happy, healthy and active life. If any of these statements or symptoms describe your pet, I would recommend talking to your veterinarian about the possibility of diabetes:
- Drinks more water than usual
- Urinates more frequently, produces more urine per day, or has “accidents” in the house
- Always acts hungry, but just maintains or is losing weight
- Has cloudy eyes
A veterinarian will check your pet’s general health and may ask about the previous signs. This can rule out the possibility of other infections or conditions. Your veterinarian will probably check your dog’s urine for the presence of glucose and ketones and, if indicated, will measure the blood glucose concentration in your pet. A definitive diagnosis only is definite when glucose is found in the urine and a persistantly high concentration in the blood.
If your pet has diabetes, the goal is to manage the diabetes by keeping the glucose concentrations regulated, avoiding spikes and drops, and to reduce or eliminate the clinical signs of this condition, such as excessive thirst and urination. Although diabetes can’t be cured, it is not unreasonable to expect that the condition can be successfully managed with daily insulin injections and changes in your pet’s diet and lifestyle.
Once your pet is on the daily insulin injections, it will be important to monitor the blood glucose concentration and keep it to as close to normal as possible. You don’t want the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) or other long term complications developing. This can be done using urine glucose test strips or blood glucose meters. By consulting with your veterinarian, you can decide what will work best for you and your dog.
Your pet’s diet plays a vital role in keeping the blood glucose regulated. Ideally, your pet should be fed exactly the same amount of the same diet every day and at the same times of day. Your veterinarian can determine how many calories your pet needs daily, based on his weight and activity level. Most veterinarians recommend a high-fiber, low-fat diet. The fiber slows the entrance of glucose into the blood stream and helps your dog feel full. Low-fat foods have fewer calories. So together, the diet can help your dog eat less and lose weight.
Make sure that your pet drinks plenty of water. Fiber takes water from the body and can cause constipation and other problems.
It is important that your dog continue to eat due to the fact that you cannot give insulin to a dog on an empty stomach. It can make him very sick due to the blood glucose level dropping to dangerous levels. So if your pet is not eating much, talk to your veterinarian. This may mean that he doesn’t like the food or it can mean that he is having diabetes-related complications.
Exercise is important for all dogs, but it may be even more important for dogs with diabetes. Exercise needs to be regulated because it affects the blood glucose concentrations in the diabetic dog. It is best to create a consistent exercise routine for your pet to avoid sudden changes in energy requirements. If you are concerned about your pet’s needs, just ask your veterinarian.
Regular check ups with your veterinarian can help identify changes in your pet’s condition. While you may feel that things are going well with your ability to care for your diabetic dog, visiting your veterinarian regularly will help you successfully manage the condition over time.
Diabetes isn’t a death sentence. So take a deep breath because with good care, your companion can lead a long healthy life. For more information, or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact our office.