Posts Tagged ‘pet vaccination’

Tips For Welcoming A New Puppy Into Your Family

new puppyAfter three years of having a dog-less house with the passing of our beloved Chocolate Lab Ruby, the Olsens are getting a new puppy. Part of me is still in denial, and part of me is apprehensive as to what we need to do to prepare for a new puppy, which is something that we had not had to do in about 13 years.  So now that the purchase is done, it is time to ready the home for our newest member, prepare the prior residents (our cats) for invasion of another four-legged friend, and purchase the supplies and equipment needed for the puppy.

Preparing the Home

We all know that puppies get into everything.  So we will need to act like a forensic detective and get down on our hands and knees to look for things that a playful puppy might foresee as fun. Items like electrical cords should be tied out of reach.  Dangerous products such as cleaning supplies and other items should be locked in a cabinet or placed out of reach.  Any valuable items or family heirlooms need to be kept out of reach so they do not become your puppies new chew toy.  Lastly, unless you want to be like Imelda Marcos and purchase a new pair of shoes each week, it is best to make sure your shoes are stored away in a closet and the door is secured.

Puppies are always looking for their next meal, so garbage can be enticing to them. In order to prevent them getting into the trash, it is wise to have trash cans that have sealed lids.

The puppy should not have free reign of the house, so you will need to have gates and barriers to keep him in his allowed space.  This will also include a kennel for his nighttime bed, which I will talk about later in the article.

No puppy will be an entirely indoor dog unless it is in a big city with little green space.  So here in Madison County, Illinois, we will want to examine the outdoor area so that there are not any chemicals or poisonous plants that will entice the inquisitive puppy.  Your new puppy may be the cutest thing that you have ever seen, but your neighbor may not have the same opinion.  And they always say that a good fence makes good neighbors.  So it may be important to make sure that you have one that doesn’t allow your pet to roam free.

Items to Have

As I eluded in the last section, in my opinion, it is best to kennel train your pet.  No, this is not seen as “doggie jail” to the pet, but as I explain to my clients, it is best to treat a kennel as it is their bedroom and their place of security.  I recommend that you get a larger one as they get larger.  It should start as one that is just big enough for them to sleep in.  If it is too large, that will allow them to urinate and defecate in the kennel and may inhibit the potty training outside.

I am not an advocate for “potty pads.”  I feel that they are just condoning bad behavior by the puppy.  The learning puppy will get confused by our laziness that more or less tells it that “they can go here but not there in the house.”  To a puppy, this thinking may be problematic.

Obviously we want food bowls as well as toys to keep it occupied when you can’t give it the attention it needs.  With the toys, I recommend that they be they type that are indestructible like “Kong toys.”  Avoid those that they can easily chew up and have the possibility of ingesting.

A new owner will want to have a collar and a leash.  When you take your pet out on walks, it will be necessary to have these to protect your pet from injury by other pets or getting ran over by a vehicle.

Grooming brushes are important to have especially with those puppies that will have long wooly coats.  They will need to be brushed frequently to prevent matting and tangling.

I am not a big proponent of treats, but they would be alright to have on hand, but I caution the owner to use them in moderation.

Bringing it Home

The big day to bring the puppy into your household is here, so what should you do?

Many people erroneously allow their new puppy to roam free and explore the house.  This is sensory overload.  Too many new places, new smells and people at once may confuse him.  Instead, let him explore a designated area, perhaps where his food and water are.  Or he can acclimate himself to a small puppy-proofed space where his kennel is. Then introduce him to the rest of the house one room at a time, skipping the areas that you want off-limits to him.

It is best to introduce your new puppy to its’ new owners one at a time.  I know that they are cute and cuddly, and everyone wants to meet him, but that can create too much excitement for the puppy and may stress the puppy out.  So it is best to let him meet each family member quietly and make it rewarding and pleasant.

As previously mentioned, puppies love to chew, so make sure that he has a safe chew toy.  If he starts to chew on anything else, redirect him to the chew toy.

It is important that your new puppy know where its’ sleeping quarters are. Puppies sleep between 15-20 hours a day, and likely they will drop in their tracks.  It is important to take him to his crate when he seems to be ready to nap and at bedtime.  Contrary to what most people think, this is not “doggie jail” as the puppy will associate this as a safe and secure place.

House training starts on day one. Your puppy needs to know exactly where you expect him to do his business. Prevent accidents by monitoring the puppy and take him outside accordingly. This helps him to learn where not to go.  Accidents happen, but don’t scold the puppy.  Clean up the accident with an enzymatic cleaner.

Teaching your new puppy basic behaviors like watch me, sit, or down are important. With positive reinforcement based training, you can encourage good manners in very young puppies.

Obedience training for your new puppy is always important.  It will teach basic manners that can lead to all kinds of fun dog activities and provide socialization with other dogs and humans.

In a few weeks, I will be reliving the excitement that our family experienced 13 years ago. Getting a new puppy can be an exciting and stressful time in any household.  It teaches our children to be responsible and committed.  So if you need advice or any tips in preparing for the new family member, please do not hesitate to contact or call the Olsen Veterinary Clinic at 618-656-5868.

Dr. Olsen’s Breed Spotlight: The Lowchen

lowchenThe month of February is reserved to spotlight a dog breed.  Most of the time, I try to shed some light on a breed that isn’t very popular.  Well this month is no exception as I am featuring a dog that is not very popular, unique in its appearance, rich in history and really considers its only job as being a companion for its owner. That breed is the Lowchen, which is also known as the “Little Lion Dog”.

The Lowchen is a small breed that generally stands about a foot tall but has an enormous heart.  The coat is traditionally kept in a “lion clip” in which most of the hind quarters and tail are clipped down close to the skin.  The overall effect is that of a mini lion with a full mane and plumed tail. This breed coat comes in many colors and color combinations.

The breed has a long and somewhat controversial history.  We know from works of art depicting images of small dogs in a very distinctive lion trim from the breed dated to the 16thcentury.  The breed has been depicted throughout the centuries in paintings, drawings and tapestries from around the world.

The controversy arises as to the exact origin of the breed.  There are several theories of debate with one thinking that the breed originated in Northern Europe which is now known as Germany, France and Belgium.  Because it came from this area, the Lowchen is thought to be tied to the breeds that were the forerunner to the modern day poodle.  The stories go that they were a favorite companion for the ladies of the castles and they would lay close to their owners at night to keep them warm like a water bottle, as well as attract the fleas away from the owner.

Another theory is that the Lowchen originated in the Mediterranean region and are directly related to the Bichon breeds.  Also there are some theories that the breed might have originated in Russia or Tibet.

The Lowchen has been a resident of all households through the ages, from castles to farmyards and cottages.  Aside from the function of being a companion, they possibly were varmint hunters and fierce little guards.

There is a story from the late 1700’s about a Lowchen whose name was Bijou.  As the story goes, Bijou was so upset that his owner was leaving him behind, he jumped out of  a castle window into the Lahn River that was 60 feet below.  One ending has him surviving and was rewarded by riding to the hunt in the owner’s saddle, the other that the jump ended in disaster.  Whichever the outcome, his portrait from 1787 still hangs in the Baronesses’ bedroom in Wellburg Castle.

Little has been written about this breeds early years.  The first record of a breeder and fancier was Dr. Walthier in Germany in the 1800’s.  The breed standard was written in the 1800’s and in 1897, a Madame Madelaine Bennert purchased her first Lowchen.  She is the one who would be recognized for her efforts in saving the disappearing breed.

In 1999, the Lowchen was admitted into the AKC in the Non-Sporting group. The Lowchen is a small breed that weighs about 15 pounds and has a life expectancy or about 13-15 years.  It is a very loving dog whose sole purpose is giving love and hoping to get loved in return. It might see a squirrel, chase it and catch it, but it would not know what to do with it if it did catch it. It will bark at strangers, but then when they enter, the Lowchen will lick them to death.  The Lowchen’s favorite spot to be is on the couch watching out the window.

Don’t mistake the breeds sweetness, because it is a true lion that will stand up to any German Shepherd and bark down a Great Dane.  They are active, smart, and love children.  They can make very good agility dogs because they are trainable, resourceful and very adaptable.  Since they like to bark, it is recommended that they undergo some obedience training. Due to their haircoat it is advisable that they be brushed regularly and see an experienced groomer monthly.  Another plus with this breed is that they are hypoallergenic.

There are very few health problems with this breed.  But they may suffer from patellar luxations, heart issues and some eye issues.

Here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic, we love to see all breeds.  So if you have a Lowchen, or a mixed breed, gives us a call at (618)-656-5868 and we will be happy to assist you.

How Often Should I Bathe My Dog?

how often should I bathe my dogWe as humans bathe at least once daily. Right?  So should pets get bathed daily also?  This is one of the questions that we get from pet owners regarding their four-legged family member.  Generally my answer to the question would be no, but there are many factors that go into determining the proper frequency.

Obviously if your pet has been running and playing outside a lot and they are dirty and very odorous, then they possibly should be bathed.  But why do we even bathe our pets?  The easy answer is for its health.  Without one, your dogs’ skin could get irritated and infected and its coat could get matted and hard.  A dog’s breed, coat characteristics,  and other variables play a factor in this.

So how often do we bathe a dog?  The top reason is when the smell.  Easy rule of thumb is if it smells beyond just normal dog smell, it’s time for a bath. If you are unsure about the skin, I would recommend talking to experts in the field like your veterinarian or a professional groomer.  They can help you understand what may be the best options for your pet.

If your pet has skin issues, it may be prescribed a medical shampoo.  As a dermatological professor told us—if it is wet, you want to dry it and if it is dry you will want to add moisture. Unfortunately, there is not one shampoo that will do both.

As human’s have different hair and skin issues, so do dogs.  Some breeds are double-coated breeds.  These breeds like the Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute and the Chow Chow most likely will require less frequent bathing but more brushing to keep their coats healthy and clean.  By contrast, a breed like the Bassett Hound has a more oily coat, so it may require more frequent bathings.  Short haired breeds like Dalmatians and Weimaraners tend to require very few bathings as they can regulate their natural oils without much help.

Now that we have determined factors that play into bathing your pet, what do we buy? First you will need a shampoo that will be appropriate for your pet as we have discussed previously.  Secondly, some lukewarm water.  Hot water can burn your pets skin and dry it out.  Rule of thumb– the cooler the better.  A good brush is good to have on hand.  Prior to bathing it is best to comb out your pet and shed any dead hair.  By combing agains the coat, you can prevent mats and help spread out your pet’s natural oils.  Be sure that you have towels on hand to wipe them dry.  I do not recommend using a blow dryer as the heat will dry out the skin. There are also dry shampoos out there that you can use to spray them down with and wipe it off without having to bathe them to preserve the natural oils.

So you are still confused about bathing your pet?  Remember that we are always here to assist you, so please don’t hesitate to call us at (618)-656-5868.

 

 

Dr. Olsen’s Breed Spotlight: Pixie-Bob Cat

pixie-bobDogs are considered “man’s best friend.”  But what do you get when you don’t have room or time for a dog? How about a cat that thinks it’s a dog? The breed of cat that I am spotlighting this month has been described as that.  It is called the Pixie-Bob.

The Pixie-Bob breed is thought to be the result of the natural mating between a bobcat and a domestic shorthair, but they may also have sprung from a natural genetic mutation that gave them their wild look and bobbed tail.  It is one of those mysteries that no one will ever know for sure. This breed was first developed in the Pacific Northwest in the mid 1980’s by a woman that acquired a male kitten with distinctive characteristics like a spotted coat, a short tail and more than usual numbers of toes.  A year later, she acquired another male cat with a short tail and with the help of a neighbor’s female cat, produced a litter of kittens.  One, a female, had a muted spotted pattern and the woman kept her—naming her Pixie.  The breeder wanted more cats like Pixie, and soon the breed was born.  They were recognized as an actual breed by the American Cat Fanciers Association in 2005.

Pixie-Bobs are described as “big, lively and outgoing.”  The breeds’ devotion to its family belies its somewhat wild look. They tend to be a large cat where the male and female can weigh up to 12 and 25 pounds respectively.  They are brawny and muscular which is why some breeders believe that the Coastal Red Bobcat had to be the founding father. Their ears tend to be tufted and resemble that of a bobcat by having lynx tips on the ears. Pixie-Bobs have a thick wooly coat like a bobcat and can be either long or short haired. They normally have a striped coat pattern and come in a variety of colors, but most are tawny, light gray, or reddish.  Their eye color can be from golden brown to gooseberry green.  A Pixie-Bob’s tail is a minimum of 2 inches by can be as long as to their hock.  Their facial hair grows downward giving them the appearance of a man’s muttonchop sideburns. One other unique feature that some Pixie-Bobs have are that some are polydactyl.  This means that they have more than the usual number of digits on its paws.  Polydactyl cats are considered lucky, so if you own a Pixie-Bob, luck may be on your side.

Pixie-Bobs are inquisitive and like to interact with families, so they are true companions and members of the family because of their relaxed attitude.  They communicate with their families with a pleasant voice and standard meows and purrs.  They are active and enjoy being friends.  They enjoy interaction with families and have been described by some as “the cat that thinks it is a dog.”  Pixie-Bobs love going on car rides and walks just like dogs.  They also get along well with dogs and other pets. Because they tend to be a medium to long haired breed, they do require a weekly brushing to prevent mattes from forming and regular nail trims.

If you have a Pixie-Bob cat or even a good ol’ domestic shorthair, the Olsen Veterinary Clinic tries to meet the expectations for all of your pet’s needs. If you have any questions or issues please do not hesitate to call us at (618)-656-5868.

Dog Park Safety Tips

dog park safetyWith the pet business becoming a multi-billion dollar business in recent years, it is telling us that more and more people have pets and are taking care of them. Among the fads, if you want to call it that, are “doggy daycares”, mobile groomers and dog parks.  A lot of these services are great ideas as far as convenience is concerned, but how safe are they to our pets?  Especially the dog parks.

No, I am not going around and saying that dog parks are bad for you dog, but there could be some hidden dangers that may be lurking for the unprotected dog.  Most dog parks are public places, so there is a good possibility that not all dogs are properly vaccinated against diseases such as Parvovirus, Roundworms, or even Kennel Cough.  These diseases can occur during direct contact with another dog, or even if your pet has licked an area that harbored the diseases or parasites.  So my advice is to make sure that your pet is currently vaccinated for all diseases. If they’re not—do not take them there.  It is not worth it to possibly expose your pets to those diseases if you can help it.

We all see the dogs being playful in the park, but how do we know that the other pets can’t become overly aggressive?  Because of this, I would recommend that your pet be kept on its leash. I know that is not the reason for dog parks, but that way you can control your pet if they or another pet exhibits some aggression so that you may prevent injury and not be faced with a costly veterinary visit.

If you allow your pets to run free in the park, injuries such as torn cruciates and other lamenesses can occur. To reduce this possibility, it might help to train your pets for the rigors that a dog park presents.

Dog parks are popping up in a lot of the communities. Realize that just because they are in a fenced in environment, they are not always completely safe.  If you have any questions or issues, please feel free to contact us or give us a call at 618-656-5868.

What Pets Do To Make Our Lives Better

what pets do to make our lives betterAs many of you know, I usually write  monthly blogs informing the readers about what we can do to make your pets’ lives better and happier.  However this month, I am reversing the trend and writing about what pets do to make our lives better.

It is a proven fact that pets can reduce anxieties that we have.  To people with anxieties, pets can be like a superhero.  Everyone has their own coping mechanisms that work for them, but sometimes having a pet can curb anxiety.  By just having a pet present, even though it can’t talk, a person’s phobic and anxiety disorders are often reduced by the pets companionship. This relationship builds self confidence for people that are anxious when they go out in the world.

With depression, people tend to self isolate.  So with having a pet, people are forced to go out and walk.

Pets are always down to cuddle.  That contact can do wonders to curb anxiety.  Maybe it makes you feel less alone or less like you have to handle everything by yourself.  With this bonding, one gets a mutual relationship in which the pet and owner give warmth, love and nurturing.  Research has also shown that tactile sensations can even lower blood pressure.

Pets are always the ones that listen and don’t ever offer advice.  As humans, sometimes we don’t want advice—we just want to vent.  A pet will never try to fix you.  You can sit for hours on end ranting and they will never try to solve you or your problems. A pet sitting there listening loves you and sometimes that is all you need.

Pet ownership is good not only for people living alone, but for whole family systems. Pets become full members of the family in which lots of interaction swirls around children, parents and siblings as they compete to feed, love and care for the pet.  So with a pet at home, this offers a distraction so that a tiny bit of anxiety doesn’t amplify to a big deal.  Pet ownership can teach children the value of life in addition to providing them with some sort of responsibility of care and feeding.

Having a pet at home means that there is someone waiting for you to come home and be with you when you are there.  Having a pet can give one a sense of security and help with dealing with aloneness better. A pet can provide someone to talk to in order to ease your nerves.  A pet there will mean that you are never alone.

Having a pet can help us meet new people.  With pet ownership, it requires responsibility and part of that is exercising your dog.  While on walks you can make friends and hold conversations with other people.  Pets are a great conversation starter, so with them, we can socialize.

No matter what, pets offer unconditional love.  Sometimes it feels like no one really likes you.  But your pet will always be that person that is on your side.

The benefits of pet ownership are many and they are very much an integral part of our lives.  Because of this, we want them to live as long as possible.  So it is important to take care of them.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 656-5868.

Can You Spay Or Neuter an Older Pet?

spay or neuter an older petWith the new year, it is always time to make resolutions. One of these may be to help control the pet overpopulation by having your pet spayed or neutered to prevent any unwanted pregnancies. If a client asks me what my opinion is, I would definitely recommend to spay or neuter your pet – even if the pet is older and reaching geriatric years in age.

By neutering your male pet, you will be able to curb its behavior that has been influenced by the male hormones such as testosterone. Neutering may help lessen aggressiveness that is stimulated by the presence of female hormones. It will also help reduce and prevent prostate and testicular cancer that can be seen in older male pets that have not been neutered. Neutering may also help prevent spraying in male tomcats. I want to dispel any myth that neutering will make your pet lazy or cause obesity.

When we spay female pets, we are performing what we call an ovariohysterectomy. This is the removal of the uterus and the ovaries. Females can carry even more serious risks if they are un-spayed, which is why you would want to spay even if they are older. Un-spayed females can develop a condition called a pyometra tha is essentially an infection of the uterus that continues to manifest itself. If left untreated, your pet will probably die as a result of the uterus rupturing and causing an abdominal infection, so these are treated as an emergency. Spaying is indicated at this time, however the surgery is a lot more complicated and complications can arise due to the toxicity that the infection is causing. Spaying will also help reduce the risk and incidence of mammary cancer in pets. This is based on the lack of female hormones that were produced from the ovaries that were removed during the surgery.

Because of the hormones, female dogs and cats have their estrus cycles about every 6 to 8 months. During that time, their female organs can swell and create a discharge. These scents that are given off can attract males. So not only are you risking pregnancies but also complications that can follow.

Pet owners tend to worry that their older pet may not handle the anesthesia or surgery well, but pre-surgical bloodwork can help reduce or alleviate the issue with the anesthesia and make it as safe as possible.

Any time a patient undergoes a surgery, there is a risk, albeit a slight risk. The benefits from spaying or neutering clearly outweigh not doing so. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic and we would be happy to answer any questions or dispel any myths that you may have heard.

Holiday Pet Toys For 2017

holiday pet toysWith the holidays rapidly approaching, pet owners usually ask for gift ideas for their four-legged companions. As with every other Santa’s list from our children, electronics and technology play an important part in holiday pet toys. So without further adieu, I will introduce some ideas that might be appealing to the pet owner with the pet in mind.

  • Bascolor Electric Rotating Butterfly– This gift from Amazon is for the cat owners who want to keep their kitten active. It is described as a butterfly that flashes in the dark that will fulfill your kitty’s hunting urges.
  • Cat Scratcher Lounge This cardboard lounge is infused with catnip that your cat is going to be addicted to in record time. It also can be used as a scratch board. Available from Amazon for about $20.
  • K&H Crinkle Sack Cat BedThis cat bed makes the noise of a paper bag that your cat will love. Inside, it is covered with a plush lamb wool that is easy to wash and take care of. The overstuffed bolster keeps the sack open for easy access for your kitten. It is also available on Amazon.
  • Nerf Tennis Ball BlasterThis toy will launch tennis balls 50 feet in the air and is easy to operate. It works with standard tennis balls but if you get the lighter replacement balls they will go farther. No need to touch the slimy ball because it is easy to reload.
  • Pet Acoustics Pet Tunes Calming Music Dog SpeakerA bluetooth speaker that is preloaded with 90 minutes of music developed by a sound animal behaviorist to reduce stress and calm nervous canines. It alleviates stress and related behaviors such as excessive barking and pacing which can happen when your pet is home alone during thunderstorms, traveling or when it is adapting to new environments. It comes complete with a rechargeable battery.
  • GPS tracking systemsThere are many available for the high tech owner that can have a GPS and activity monitor which set up virtual fences to indicate safe zones and give notifications where your pet has traveled too far. They range in price starting at $39.
  • Furbo Dog CameraFor the really techie person that wants to see, talk and toss treats to your dog even when you are not at home. It gives smart dog alerts and the camera gives peace-of-mind to the dog’s parents. The camera lets you see, talk and toss treats from anywhere and sends alerts when your dog barks. The two-way camera allows you to hear and speak to your dog and works with Amazon Alexa.
  • Pet DNA testing By discovering your pet’s ancestry, pet owners and veterinarians can work together to tailor wellness plans that fit the unique one-of -a-kind needs of the dog. It helps owners discover typical ailments that certain dogs can have over one another and provide insight to personality traits of the breeds in your dog’s genetic make up. It is also available for cats. Price ranges from $70 to $180.

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it may give pet owners ideas when shopping for our four-legged friends. At this time, I would like to thank each and all of my clients for their loyalty and business that have come my way. May each and everyone have a happy and safe holiday season and a prosperous 2018. Don’t forget to contact us at any time, even during holiday emergencies, if you have any questions.

Dr. Olsen’s Breed Spotlight: The Savannah Cat

savannah catEvery once in a while I will spotlight a breed in my newsletters. I have done a couple of dog breeds, but this month I have decided to write one for our furry, feline friends. The breed is called the Savannah Cat. It is a cross between the wild African Serval Cat and a domestic breed—most commonly the Bengals, Egyptian Maus and Oriental Shorthairs. The actual first Savannah was born on April 7, 1986 from parents that were the Serval cat and a Siamese. The kitten’s name was ironically named Savannah. After several years of breeding and creating the new breed standard, the new breed was recognized in 2012 by the International Cat Association.

Most Savannahs have a tall, lean build that gives them the appearance of greater size than their actual weight. This trait has given them the title as being the world’s tallest domestic cat breed in the Guinness Book of World Records since 2006. They are long legged, and if they were athletes, they would be heavily recruited by basketball teams! The Savannah’s can weigh between 8 to 20 pounds and come in many different colors and patterns, such as black, brown, or black spotted tabby; black silver spotted tabby; or black smoke. Most have solid black or dark brown spots on golden, cream, sandy or white backgrounds. They stand out for their bold, solid markings, which can be round, oval, or elongated. Other colors and patterns do exist and can be registered into the breed register but cannot be shown. Savannahs have a triangular head that is supported with a long neck and topped by large, wide ears. They have medium sized eyes that can be any color but are usually blue at birth. This breed takes about 3 years to reach maturity and their back legs are usually a little longer than their front.

The Savannahs are NOT a sweet, quiet lap cat. However they are very active, confident and enjoy reacting with people and other cats. They are intelligent and curious and always looking for something interesting to do—the more adventurous the better. They have a knack for being quite mischievous and are not a good fit for owners that are away a lot or not active. So it may be best to have a companion for them.

This breed is not cheap to own, due to the confirmation of the breed standard, their temperament, demand and scarcity. The F1 Savannah cats which are 50% – 82% or higher wild blood can sell for up to $22,000 because mating is very difficult. They have very small litters and very low fertility. The F1 offspring do not like to be held, but like to be petted, scratched and be in contact with humans. They tend to gravitate to one person and get along with other pets just fine. F1’s are also the largest of the breed, where they can weigh up to 30 pounds. As more domestic blood introduced, the Savannahs will be smaller, but can be more enjoyable members of the family as far as personality goes.

So if you have a Savannah or even a domestic “four legged” furry feline friend, Olsen Veterinary would be happy to make sure that they remain healthy. Please call the office at 618-656-5868 if you have any concerns or would like to schedule an appointment. You can also go to our website and request an appointment. Our team would then be able to set that up.

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Pet Vaccines

pet vaccinesPet 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.