Posts Tagged ‘pet vaccines’

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.

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.

Distemper Facts Every Pet Owner Should Know

distemperRecently you may have read in the news about a distemper outbreak at a St. Louis adoption agency that killed several dogs and puppies. That is terrible news, but most times, distemper can be preventible.

Distemper is a viral disease that is related to the virus that causes measles in humans. It is spread through all body secretions, especially airborne particles from breathing. This makes it easy for an untreated or unvaccinated dogs to be infected. It appears most often in puppies that are between 6 and 12 weeks who haven’t been vaccinated because the protective antibodies that they had received from their mothers had fallen to a level too low to prevent infection. Not only dogs transfer the infection, but other animals are threats to spread this disease. The most common species that can spread distemper are raccoons, skunks and foxes. Coming into contact with the droppings of these animals can easily spread the disease.

Initially, the disease may present itself with mild symptoms may be mild. These symptoms may include:

  • Fever of 103 to 109
  • Watery discharge from the eyes and nose
  • Depression and listlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Thick, yellow discharge from the eyes and nose
  • Dry cough
  • Pus blisters on the abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

As the disease progresses, it attacks the brain and the symptoms become neurological. Disease progression clinical signs could include:

  • Slobbering
  • Head shaking
  • Chewing jaw motions
  • Seizure-like symptoms, such as falling over and kicking feet uncontrollably
  • Blindness
  • Rhythmic muscle jerking of the head and neck
  • Thick, horny skin on the nose and callus-like pads on the feet

If your pet gets distemper, it can’t be cured. Dogs that have progressed to the neurological stage are at a much higher risk of death than if it is caught earlier and treated. Treatment can help the dog mount an immune response better or it may lessen the symptoms of distemper. Since distemper is a virus, the dog’s life relies on the dog’s ability to fight off the disease. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. He may also give the dog IV fluids to address the dehydration and he may prescribe medications to control diarrhea, vomiting and seizures.

Success of the treatments are largely dependent on the age of the dog, how quickly you seek help, the distemper strain, and whether your dog has been vaccinated. Vaccination against distemper is highly protective.

Some dogs may recover on their own, but owners should never take the wait and see approach with distemper. If your dog recovers from distemper, and that is a big “if”, your dog would be naturally immune to a second attack, just like measles in humans.

I would recommend using caution when socializing puppies or unvaccinated dogs at parks, obedience classes, doggy day care and other places where dogs can congregate since this disease is quite contagious. Make sure that you do not share food or water bowls with other dogs as this can be a common source of infection.

I can’t stress enough how important that your dog should be vaccinated for distemper. This vaccination is usually started when the puppy is 5 to 6 weeks old and continued every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 4 months old. This should provide long lasting immunity. But it is not permanent. If your dog is adopted, ask the facility if and when they had given the distemper vaccine. No dog should ever die of distemper as the vaccinations are quite effective.

With the quality vaccines distemper is very preventible. Keeping your pet current on its’ vaccines is extremely important. If you have any further questions or need your pet vaccinated, please feel free to contact us here or call us at 618-656-5868.

Parvovirus 101

sick puppy - french bulldog with hot water bottle on head isolated on white background

Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that is of particular concern to puppy owners due to the severity of the symptoms, the weak immune system and possible death of the puppy.  The virus manifests itself in two forms.  The most common form is the intestinal form, which is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy and lack of appetite.  The less common form is the cardiac form, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death.

The intestinal form of the virus is passed through oral contact both directly and indirecty with the virus.  Clinical signs will show most commonly about 5 to 10 days after exposure.  It can also be spread through fomites, feces, or through infected soil and once an uninfected dog comes in to oral contact with the infection, the virus can spread quickly through the lymphoid tissue in the dog’s throat.  After replication the virus will then spread to the bloodstream where it attacks cells in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, and intestines.  Parvovirus then destroys those fast growing cells, depleting the body of the white blood cells and the lymphocytes, along with destroying the cells in the intestines.  Puppies can then become toxic and septicemic due to the poisoning of the blood system from the virus.  The puppy has the inability to absorb nutrients and will become dehydrated and weak quickly from lack of protein and fluid absorption.  The puppy’s abdomen may become painful on palpation and the heart may beat rapidly.

The cardiac form seen in puppies is usually fatal.  It is less common and is usually spread to the puppy in utero or when the mother is pregnant with them.  The virus damages the heart muscle which aren’t strong enough to withstand the virus.  The death of the puppies with this form usually come on suddenly and the puppy shows little sign of distress.

Parvo is usually a disease of young puppies from four weeks to six months of age or in the older immunosuppressed dog.  Time is one of the most significant factors in whether or not a treatment of parvo will be successful: thr earlier the virus is detected and the treatment begins, the better the outlook for treatment. If the virus is caught quickly enough, treatment can begin and death can be prevented.  So if your pet has any of those symptoms, it is best to seek veterinary care immediately.  The mortality rate is around 91% if left untreated, but with treatment mortality rates drop to 5% to 20% when treated aggressively.  When presented with a possible parvo puppy, most veterinarian’s protocols will include a thorough physical examination, necessary blood work such as a complete blood count and chemistry and either an EIA or hemagglutination test on a feces sample to look for signs of parvovirus.

A puppy should always be hospitalized in order to receive treatment.  Treatment usually consists of administration of IV fluids and colloids, administration of anti-nausea medications and injections of antibiotics depending upon the dog and the veterinarian administering the treatment.  The administration of the fluids serve as both to rehydrate and rebalance the levels of the electrolytes to maintain healthy functions.  Sometimes blood plasma transfusions may be needed to provide passive immunity to the sick individual with developed antibodies.  After the initial treatment, the puppy will be weaned off additional fluids once they are able to keep fluids down.  Bland foods that are easy on the gastrointestinal system is usually recommended along with oral antibiotics to help fight potential for infection due to the low white blood cell counts.  Any infections following the treatment of parvovirus can lead to death because of the weakened immune system.

Because parvo can be a devastating virus, one of the most significant things any dog owner can do is prevent infection of their dog.  The first step in preventing it is to properly have their puppy vaccinated based on the recommendation of their veterinarian.  Most puppies derive immunity through their mother’s colostral antibodies that they receive with the first milk that they get after birth.  Because of this, here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic, we recommend starting a vaccination schedule at 6 to 8 weeks of age and then vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old.  Our recommendation is not the number of vaccinations that it gets, but when they get them at their chronological age.

To prevent the spread of the parvovirus, it is important to decontaminate where your puppy has been.  It is also important to realize that even though your puppy survived the treatment, it can still contaminate other healthy dogs with the virus through their feces.  The parvovirus can survive living in the soil for as long as a year so it is crucial to decontaminate completely areas where and infected or successfully treated dog eliminates its waste.  The only chemical known to kill parvo is bleach at a 15:1 ratio.  The general advice is to wait about 6 months before bringing a new puppy home.  It is also advised to have the puppy completely vaccinated before bringing them in to a home that has been recently exposed to the parvovirus.

The old adage of “happy neighbors are good neighbors” applies here.  An important step is to notify your neighbors and friends if they have been in contact with your premises or pet.  Since parvo can be spread from dog to dog in addition to being spread through feces and soil, it is important that your neighbors know.  They may simply expose their pet to parvo by simply walking their puppy on your grass or even by walking across your yard and then taking it home.  It is important to share the information that you have learned with your neighbors because if they see similar clinical signs and symptoms, they can act on it promptly.

Parvovirus is a very destructive and very rapidly moving disease that can kill an otherwise healthy puppy in a matter of days, but with proper precautions it can possibly be wiped out.  All it takes is regular vaccinations of all dogs in addition to treatment and appropriate decontamination of infected areas.  Even if a dog is successfully treated and recovers from parvo without proper decontamination of the home area, it is possible to spread the disease to other dogs in the community.  It takes a combinations of responsible pet ownership, good veterinary care, and vigilant decontamination of infected areas in order to prevent and hopefully eliminate this virus.

For more questions, don’t hesitate to contact our office. 

Why Should I Vaccinate My Pet?

vacc

“I figured, what’s the worse that could happen?  If he got sick, I’d take him to the vet.  Well, he got sick.  Real sick.  It kills me to think about how scared, how weak he looked,  and how despondent my kids were.  He was the star of the house. And he was gone, just like that.”

Some days in our clinic, we see this.  Clients bringing in their lifeless pets for us to treat and nurse their beloved pet back to health.  Sometimes this could have been preventable if only they had vaccinated their pet.

If you have paid attention to the media, there is a lot of discussion on whether you should vaccinate your children or not.  Unfortunately, this discussion also crops up in veterinary medicine—whether to vaccinate your pet or not.

There are only two reasons to vaccinate.  They are to protect your pet and protect the pets and people around us.  Cat and dog diseases still exist and can infect any pet that is not protected.  You never know when or where your pet can be exposed.  Vaccinations are the best way to stimulate the immune system to stop diseases when exposed and for the vast majority of pets, the benefits of vaccinating far outweigh the risks.

We can’t depend on other pet owners to provide the proper vaccinations to their pets so that our pet has less opportunity to get a disease.  So by vaccinating we are cooperating will all individuals to reduce the possibility of spreading disease.

There are several reasons that you should vaccinate your pets.  The first and foremost is that with some diseases, it is the law.  It is mandatory that you have your pet vaccinated against rabies in every U.S. State.  Even pets kept indoors can potentially be exposed if the get out unexpectedly or an uninvited animal gets in the house.  The important thing about rabies is that humans can get it and it is fatal.

Several diseases can be transmitted from pets to humans such as rabies and Leptospirosis.  Vaccinating your pet helps reduce the risk of human infection and is especially necessary if there are young, elderly, or immune-compromised members in your household.

Many people have their pet groomed, boarded, or attend doggy daycare.  If you do, most places require that you pet have a vaccine against kennel cough.  This disease is a hacking cough that is highly contagious.  Although the disease is relatively mild, it can sometime lead to severe pneumonia.

Young unvaccinated puppies are at risk to contracting parvovirus.  This is a severe life-threatening infection that causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting to the point of shock and even death.  Parvovirus is extremely contagious and puppies are most at risk.  This disease is almost 100% preventable with vaccination.

Puppies can get a severe neurological, dermatologic, and respiratory disease called distemper.  Most dogs that contract distemper and euthanized due to the progressive nature of the disease.  This disease can also be prevented by timely vaccinations.

There are other diseases such as hepatitis, Lyme disease, and Leptospirosis that can be prevented by vaccinating your puppies.

Believe it or not vaccinating can save money.  Most veterinary vaccinations are relatively inexpensive.  Vaccinations are definitely less expensive that the cost of treatment for the diseases that they protect against.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.  Many dangerous diseases seen in dogs and cats are completely preventable with the right vaccinations.  Vaccinating gives pet owners peace of mind and helps pets lead safe and healthy lives.

If you have questions, or are still unsure about vaccinations for your pet, contact our office today.