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.
With medical breakthroughs, cats have tended to increase their lifespan—especially the cats that are mostly indoor. But with these advanced years, other health related issues can crop up that can alter the health of your geriatric pet. Common health problems in senior cats include chronic kidney disease, dental disease, diabetes and others. But nationwide, as veterinarians, we have tended to see decreased visits from this age group.
A well-cared for indoor pet can live well into its teen years, while cats that go outside significantly reduce their odds. Most indoor cats can easily live to between 12 to 18 years. There is no set rule for when a pet is in its golden years, but they are considered seniors the last 1/3 of their lives.
The following will touch on a few of the common health problems that an aged cat faces after it becomes geriatric.
Most cats have some form of gum disease by the age of 2, primarily because they don’t receive any home or professional dental care and they don’t show any pain or discomfort until the disease is advanced. While treatments usually start at about $400, regular dental care can reduce the cleaning bill. Good dental hygiene can also prevent other issues. There are also a number of painful conditions of the mouth that are dramatically increased in the older pets. This means that proper dental care is extra important. Daily homecare and professional cleanings are required by your veterinarian as the best way to keep your cat’s mouth healthy and disease free. These are important with cats with chronic issues like kidney failure, heart disease and diabetes. Due to the fact that the oral cavity is very vascular, systemic infections that affect the heart, liver and kidneys can arise.
Cats get arthritis just like dogs and there are fewer medical options available because cats metabolize at a much slower rate. But that doesn’t mean that they have to endure pain. Studies have shown that as much as 90 percent of cats that are 12 years or older have some degree of arthritis which is a long term and permanent deterioration of cartilage around the joints. It is important to keep your cat at a lean healthy weight and make sure that they get exercise and daily activity to prevent muscle weakness and preserve muscle tone.
Chronic kidney disease
Disease affecting the kidneys is a common affliction in older cats. Essentially the kidneys act as a filter system to filter the wastes products out of the blood system that the body has produced. When the disease affects the cats, it can make the cats more prone to urinary tract infections and the cat may consume more water and urinate more. Clinical signs also may include lethargy, vomiting, inappetence, and weight loss. While there is no cure for kidney disease, there are low protein and low phosphate diets available that can help by giving the kidneys less work to do. Early detection can also allows veterinarians to slow the progression of symptoms.
Though it may seem a good thing, an excessive appetite and increase in energy could be clues that your geriatric cat may have developed hyperthyroidism which is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces greater levels of thyroid hormone than necessary. Cats with hyperthyroidism are also more prone to hypertension which can contribute to kidney failure and heart disease if the condition goes untreated. If you suspect your cat may have hyperthyroidism, schedule a visit with your veterinarian for blood work and to discuss treatment options.
Even with cats, the sense of hearing begins to go with age. If you suspect your cat isn’t hearing as well as he used to, monitor his behavior. Signs of diminished hearing may include sleeping more soundly than usual or seeming to ignore noise that used to bring him running. You can’t purchase hearing aids for your pet yet, but you still can communicate with him. Teach him hand signals, stomp your foot, so he feels the vibrations and knows that you are nearby, or use time-honored methods to alert him that it is dinnertime. Cats with hearing loss should never be left outside unsupervised. If your cat is used to wandering the neighborhood, it is time to confine him to a secure enclosed area on a patio or a porch.
Cataracts, glaucoma, and retinal detachment are among the eye conditions that can affect geriatric cats. Look for signs such as cloudiness or whiteness of the lens, general cloudiness of the eye, dilated pupils, or bumping into things. Medications can help depending on the type and severity of the problem. Cataracts can be removed surgically, but cats typically get around well using their sense of smell, so it is usually not necessary. Just remember not to move the furniture around.
Since thirty percent of all cats 10 years of age and older are diagnosed with cancer at some stage of life, it is no surprise that cancer is on the list. There are many types of cancer that affects cats but one of the most common is Lymphosarcoma. Take your pet to your veterinarian immediately if you notice clinical signs like weight loss, lumps or bumps, appetite loss, sores that don’t heal, bleeding, or any unusual symptoms that might persist. Symptoms are dependent on the type of cancer involved.
One of the blessing of cats is that age seems to creep up on them gently—so much that it may be difficult for us to notice that they really are older and have developed some of the common health problems associated with aging. Though some conditions are inevitable with advanced age, there are ways that you and your veterinarian can work together to help your cat stay comfortable and contented for as long as possible. So if you feel that your cat is having some issues, please don’t hesitate to call us at (618)-656-5868, or contact us here.
At last month’s Westminster Dog Show in New York City, a German Shepherd named Rumor won the best of show. German Shepherds are quite popular, however I would like to put the spotlight on a breed that is not so popular. This month’s breed is the Lagotto Romagnollo. The dog’s name means “lake dog from Romagna.”
The Lagotto Romagnollo breed dates back to the 1600’s in Italy. They were originally bred as a hunting breed to assist in the retrieval of coots in the wetlands of Italy. The medium sized, curly coated dog would work tirelessly retrieving the birds often breaking through ice to do so. After the wetlands had dried up in the 19th century, the dogs were taught to find and retrieve the valuable fungi truffles in the countrysides of Italy. This was made possible because the breed had a sharp aptitude for searching, a steep learning curve and an unbeatable sense of smell.
The Lagotto Romagnollo is often compared the the Portuguese Water Dog because of the hunting ability and curly coat. An interesting fact is the Lagotto is the only dog specifically bred to hunt truffles.
The mid-sized dog adult weight will be 24 to 35 pounds. It is approximately 16 to 19 inches tall and has a life expectancy of 15 years. Coat colors can include more than one color of brown, roan, off white, white or orange.
Lagatto Romagnollos very rarely shed because of their waterproof double coat and are considered hypoallergenic. Trimming the dog’s coat will be necessary but you won’t need to brush it very often.
This breed are very intelligent and energetic dogs that love to play and swim outdoors, so it will be important for them to be part of a family. While the breed strongly bonds to its human family, it is best to socialize them at an early age because of their shyness. Once they bond and are socialized, the breed thrives best with lots of interaction. They are definitely an indoor breed that needs time outside to be well adjusted and content.
As pointed out earlier they are active but not hyper, so the owner must be willing to invest and commit time every day to train them. The Logattos are a delight to train and are good problem solvers. Besides truffle hunting, their intelligence has allowed them to be trained to do search and rescue, participate in therapy work and game hunt. Their intelligence, jumping ability and drive make them ideal candidates for various competitions such as agility, tracking, obedience and nose work. Most are naturally drawn to water and love to swim.
If you have a Lagatto Romagnollo or not, the Olsen Veterinary Clinic would like to be your hometown veterinarian. If we can be of service please feel free to call us at (618)-656-5868 or send us an email.
Do you know why cat owners bring their pets to visit the veterinarian? If you answered for vaccinations or well pet visits, then you would be correct. However about 5 to 10 percent of the visits are due to the cats suffering from a disease called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Urinary tract health for your cat is extremely important. The most common clinical signs presented at the appointments will be that the cats are having litter box problems. Either they are urinating outside of the box or that they are spending too much time in the litter box longer and having trouble or a painful urination process.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease affects both sexes, and affects the bladder and urethra. Small, sharp crystals form in the bladder and irritate the lining of the cat’s lower urinary tract. As the crystals mix with more debris and blood, it can plug the urethra and prevent the cat from having the ability to urinate. Due to male cats having a narrower and longer urethra, they are seen more often and it tends to be a medical emergency.
The crystals that form contain Magnesium. One theory to explain the formation of the crystal is that some cat foods are high in minerals or ash. This seems logical, however it has not been reproduced by feeding high ash/magnesium diets to normal cats. Some pet food ash is necessary, but cheap cat foods are often higher than they should be.
Another possibility for the occurrence is the cats don’t drink enough water and crystals tend to form in more concentrated urine. However, like the food, it has not been able to be reproduced. So there may be other factors at work causing FLUTD.
The average cat is 3 to 4 years old when the signs begin. It is uncommon for cats under 1 ½ years of age to present with FLUTD. Older cats can present with FLUTD, but it is usually due to an underlying health or stress problem. For some reason, the Persian breed is more susceptible to the disease.
As stated before, the first thing that the owner will notice is that the cat is spending too much time in the box or urinating outside of the box. Careful examination of the litter or urine can reveal some blood in the urine. The cat may appear painful and their penis may be extended and bluish in color.
If there is no or very little urine with your male cat, then this should be considered a medical emergency. He needs to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. If medical attention is not given, he may die in a short period of time due to kidney failure. Urination is how the body cleanses itself of toxic products. It is also important to keep the balance of minerals and water in the body. If the cat cannot urinate, then he will become depressed and the body systems will start to fail. When urine backs up in the kidneys, this can cause irreversible kidney damage. If left untreated, FLUTD can be fatal in 3 days.
When presented to your veterinarian, the cat’s bladder may be enlarged and painful. The urethra and penis may be swollen, so it will be important for the veterinarian to break down the blockage with as little trauma as possible and establish a urine flow from the urethra. A lot of times, the cat must be sedated in order for a traumatic passage of a catheter. Intravenous fluid therapy is usually indicated to restore the electrolyte imbalance and to flush out the blood toxins that had built up due to the blockage. Antibiotics are usually given to prevent more severe infections. Due to the urethral swelling, sedative and pain-relieving medications are sometimes indicated to help relax the cat’s urethra until the acute inflammation passes.
Most commonly, veterinarians will prescribe medication for your pet which possibly would include antibiotics and changing the cat’s diet. They may even prescribe feeding canned food over dry food to entice more water consumption. Other medications may be prescribed to reduce stress and pain. Sometimes FLUTD can recur. Under some instances, surgery may be needed to prevent blockage again. There are some complications that can occur because of the surgery though.
FLUTD can be a complicated and serious condition if not attended to. It is important to contact your veterinarian should the problem arise. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact here or call us at (618)-656-5868.
With the holiday rush over, a new resolution may include the family getting a new pet. Are you considering a new kitten? Don’t just jump in and figure it out. A little planning goes a long way. It is not that easy getting a new pet and adjusting the pet to its new environment. It is important to prepare yourselves and your home for your new family member, so I have compiled a list of helpful tips.
When choosing your new kitten, it should be a family affair and everyone should be involved in selecting your pet. You may want to spend some time with potential kittens to choose the one that would be the best fit. This would include getting the kitten out of the cage and find an area where you can spend some time with it. Some may be real friendly, however some may be very scared and require some time to warm up to you. This will also give you time to find out as much information as possible about the pet and a glimpse of its personality.
Once you have selected your pet and are taking it home, it is best to purchase a kennel to transport it home in. Remember, this is really stressful time for your new pet and it may be really scared. I recommend placing a towel or pillow in the carrier to make it more comfortable. When you arrive home, it may be best to sit on the floor and let it come to you. Just let it get acquainted on its own terms. If it doesn’t approach, leave it alone and try again later. Ideally, you will want to take it slow with introducing it to other family pets, so you may want to restrict access to them.
Getting your home ready is very important as well. This may include readying a small space like a bathroom for your territorial pet. Cats love small places, so you may want to put a kennel or box so that the kitten may hide. You will want to kitten proof your home by securing drapes or blind cords out of reach and picking up small items that they can possibly ingest. It is important to remove poisonous plants and insect traps and make sure that all cabinets are closed so that they can’t become exposed to harmful household items.
As your pet becomes more adjusted, it may want to explore outside of its safe haven. Make sure that other pets or family members won’t startle it while it expands its territory. The kitten may be ready to play so make sure that you have plenty of toys to keep it entertained.
Cats need to wear their claws down, so it is important to have something that is socially acceptable to scratch on. There are many scratching posts available that will do the trick nicely.
Make sure that it has fresh food and water. Feeding the food that the pet was accustomed to at the shelter will help prevent diarrhea from an abrupt change. When placing the food bowls, make sure they are a good distance from the litter box.
Within a week of bringing your pet home, I would recommend that you schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to make sure that your pet is healthy. Bring all the records that you have so that your veterinarian can make his recommendations.
Congratulations! If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to having a well-adjusted family member. By all means, if you have any questions about your pet, please don’t hesitate to contact us. My team and myself would be more than happy to answer your questions.
Recently 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
As the disease progresses, it attacks the brain and the symptoms become neurological. Disease progression clinical signs could include:
- Head shaking
- Chewing jaw motions
- Seizure-like symptoms, such as falling over and kicking feet uncontrollably
- 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.
Did you know your pet can be lactose intolerant – and why this happens? We all see the commercials and the pictures of dogs and cats drinking milk out of children’s cereal bowls. But just because they eat it, does that mean it is the safe and advisable thing to do?
Lactose vs. Lactase
With lactose intolerance, the pets don’t possess the lactase enzyme to break down the lactose, which is a sugar. Lactase is an enzyme that breaks down and helps the digestive system to process lactose. The higher the lactose content, the less likely that your pet will be able to enjoy the aftermath, regardless of how happily it eats, drinks, or laps it up.
Without the lactase, the pet simply cannot digest the milk products and acute intestinal symptoms almost always arrive. These clinical signs can include:
- abdominal pain
- bloating, nausea
These are all fairly typical indications of gastrointestinal distress. Sometimes a pet will drink excessive amounts of water when suffering from lactose intolerance, since diarrhea and vomiting are associated with it, causing the pet can be susceptible to dehydration.
I know that I will be presented with the argument that puppies and kittens drink mother’s milk at birth and is the primary source of nutrition for them. But as they grow older, their lactase production has decreased dramatically, therefore they do not produce enough to break down the lactose in milk. Another contributing factor is the fact that cow’s and goat’s milk have about twice the amount of lactose compared to a dog’s or cat’s milk. This high level can overpower the pet’s ability to digest it and can often lead to diarrhea.
Even though pets with milk intolerance can exhibit clinical signs, they can, under some circumstances, have some dairy products such as cheese and unpasteurized yogurt that usually have the lactose removed or broken down through bacterial actions. As a result, these products are ofter tolerated well in pets that would otherwise get diarrhea.
The general rule of thumb for pets and dairy products of all varieties is that they need to be low in lactose, low-to-no sodium, and with as little artificial preservatives and sweeteners as possible. If you feel compelled to give your pet a dairy product, do so in small amounts to establish your individual pet’s tolerance. Proceed with caution, and as with anything else, don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions.