Friday, November 27, 2009

Annual pet vaccinations, how much is too much and what are the risks?

For as long as I can remember, we have taken our pets in for their yearly vaccinations. Veterinarians recommend it, States mandate it and boarding and daycare facilities require it. But are our pets getting too much of a good thing? If you are hoping to find justification on this page for never vaccinating your pet, sorry! You won't find it here. But you will find justification for questioning the frequency of vaccines your pet receives in it's lifetime. In March of 1993 The University of Wisconsin published the findings of Dr. Ronald Schultz, professor and chair of pathobiological sciences for the School of Veterinary Medicine. Shultz, who has been studying the effectiveness of vaccines since the 1970's,has learned that an animals immunity, once established, can last a lifetime. His findings led a community of veterinary experts and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) to revise the schedule of vaccinations needed in an animals lifetime. This new standard, published first in 2003 and revised in 2006,has still not been embraced by the common practitioner. Most practicing Veterinarians still stand behind yearly vaccinations. The AAHA recommendations break down into three categories; trienially, annually and never.
What AAHA recommends For many vaccines the recommendation is still to vaccinate adult dogs annually. Other vaccines have proven safe and effective following a triennial administration. Puppies are a different story. Appropriate vaccine administration is considered "absolutely the most important," says Ford. As a result, AAHA recommends veterinarians follow all prior vaccine protocols for puppies. For example, the committee universally stipulates that canine parvovirus vaccines should be given initially at six to eight weeks, the second dose at nine to 11 weeks and a third dose at 12-14 weeks. "The guidance provided by the vaccine manufacturers, the ones that have been in place for years and years are still being advocated (for puppies)," says Ford. Booster vaccines The previous rules don't apply when the puppy reaches adult stage, according to the AAHA guidelines. "It's recommended, not required, that veterinarians place vaccines in one of two categories when developing a vaccine protocol for their practice: core or non-core," says Ford. The new categories are an attempt to segregate the vital vaccines from the more discretionary, according to the taskforce. The core vaccines, of which there are four, are to be administered triennially. These are vaccines to prevent against high-risk, highly contagious and potentially fatal diseases. Noncore vaccines, to be administered under the discretion of the veterinarian, would follow an annual schedule. "We're trying to encourage veterinarians to look at the science behind the vaccines and to develop a vaccination protocol that is rational as well as effective," says Ford. Of the core vaccines, the taskforce recommends that the adult dog receive rabies; canine parvovirus vaccine; canine adenovirus-2 (hepatitis vaccine); and distemper vaccines every three years. The caveat to the recommendation, says Ford, is that there is good evidence that the protection conferred in adult dogs by both canine distemper and canine parvovirus exceeds five years. Three years seemed a conservative, happy medium for all parties involved, according to the taskforce.
For more on the AAHA recommendations, read on.
Didn't make the cut What may catch some veterinarians off guard is the taskforce's third classification, recommending against certain vaccines. Those are: * Giardia. Reason: no test is available for the disease; vaccine has not been proven to prevent infection, only reduces shedding. * Canine adenovirus-1. Studies found that the vaccine can cause visual impairment in dogs. * Coronavirus. "We're not recommending it because the disease isn't significant. The vaccine is safe, there just isn't a disease to go with it," Ford says.
In laymen terms, here is a good explanation of core vs optional vaccines. Canine vaccines can be broken up into two groups: core vaccines, and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are vaccines which are strongly recommended for all dogs, while non-core vaccines are optional canine vaccines which are administered on an individual basis. For some dogs, the core vaccines are enough, while other dogs, such as dogs which board frequently, traveling dogs, and dogs who work outdoors, should receive some of the non-core vaccines as well. One of the core vaccines, rabies, is often required by law, due to concern for the well being of wildlife and people. In addition to rabies, the core vaccines include canine distemper, adenovirus, and parvovirus. All of these diseases can be fatal to dogs, and they are also very common, especially in kennels, making protection at an early age crucial. Non-core canine vaccines include bordetella, leptospirosis, lyme, and coronavirus. In addition to these vaccines, dogs who work outdoors can also receive rattlesnake vaccines, in which they are exposed to rattlesnake venom so that they can develop antibodies. The use of rattlesnake vaccines is a topic of debate among veterinarians; some feel that it is not advisable, while others are willing to administer these vaccines, as long as dog owners understand the increased risk.
Adverse Reactions to Dog Vaccinations At the very least, vaccinations put stress on the dog's immune system for several days. It is common for dogs to be sluggish and generally not feel well while their system is recognizing and responding to the diseases that have been introduced. Additional stress to the dog’s body, such as surgery, should always be avoided during this time period. Dog vaccinations should never be given to a dog who is ill or injured as this will only make it harder for the body to heal. Some dogs have severe allergic reactions with symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, whole body itching, collapse, difficulty breathing or swelling of the face or legs. If such symptoms occur, the dog should receive immediate medical attention. In recent years, veterinarians have begun to link both immediate and long-term health problems to vaccinations. Serious health problems resulting from dog vaccinations include: Cancer Inflammatory bowel disease Arthritis Chronic allergies Auto-immune diseases Aggressive behavior Hip dysplasia Liver, kidney and heart problems Even a single vaccination carries risks, but most vaccine-related health problems are caused by over vaccinating. Higher vulnerability to diseases such as parvovirus have been passed down in dog breeds that have regularly been over-vaccinated through many generations. While some veterinarians have concluded that vaccinations are ineffective, unhealthy and unnecessary, most still believe in vaccinating but on a much more limited basis than has previously been the standard. The American Veterinary Medical Association continues to stand firm to the tried and true schedule, though their stance has softened to admit that many vaccines afford years of protection. "For many years, a set of annual vaccinations was considered normal and necessary for dogs and cats. There is increasing evidence to support that immunity triggered by some vaccines provides protection beyond one year while the immunity triggered by other vaccines may fail to protect for a full year. Consequently, one vaccination schedule will not work well for all pets. Your veterinarian will determine a vaccination schedule most appropriate for your pet." This is encouraging yet fails to take into consideration that a regular vaccination schedule accounts for 33% of a Veterinary clinic's annual revenue. There is also a fear of the new on the part of much of the Veterinary community. Understandable from a liability standpoint. If the vet recommends a triennial schedule and the dog gets rabies either by fluke or because the client wasn't up front and honest about the dogs activities, the vet is now prone to a nasty suit. They prefer to take the "better safe than sorry" approach. In conclusion, the choice of whether to vaccinate yearly, triennially or not at all; is a choice for each individual owner to make. There is always the option of the titer test, that checks the animals immunity to disease. By no means cheap, you can expect to pay around $200 for the test. Whatever you choose, I hope I have given you some solid information to assist you in making that decision. One last point You have the final decision in regards to your dogs health. But your Veterinarian has years of knowledge on animal disease and treatment at their finger tips. Self study is crucial, it helps you ask the right questions and make informed decisions. But I recommend that your Vet be a partner in these decisions. Finally, once you have made the decision, stick to your convictions. It is as bad to be spoon fed as it is to point the finger of blame at someone else!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Macy Gray, story of a dog with liver disease

It was less than two weeks ago that I posted that Macy was on the downturn. Prior to that I have spoken about proper dog nutrition twice. Once in february, and once in March. Took her into the vet and her blood samples and urine are stellar! She is an eight year, old large breed and I have been so obsessed with her illness, that I may have taken natural aging signs and panicked. the vet told me she had never seen a dog with liver disease improve that quickly and maintain it's health. Keep it in your heart that it can happen. Even when you get the worst diagnosis from your vet, which I did in January. Don't give up hope!

Protect your dogs from electircal shock while on your walk. A few common sense strategies everyone should know

I have heard of this happening before. Dog's electrocuted on a daily walk and their owners failing to take the simplest of precautions. Though I rarely, if ever, have tied my dogs to a lamp post, it is something we as owners need to think about. Electricity runs in the neighboring yard, under our feet and over our heads. Countless dogs die every year from electrocution. It tends to be more common in larger cities, but can happen in a small town as well. This not for profit community watch site, can give you lots of helpful tips to avoid these pitfalls. Pitfalls including yard lights that are old, construction sites, metal plates, or grids and street lamps. Dog boots increase an animal's chance of a shock. This web site might just save you and your dog's life!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Foster home desperately needed, eastern NC

URGENT! two 8wk. old pups, foster home needed or will go to pound. C.H.S. Please we need foster homes for these two babies, the woman called last night and said that her mom was going to take to them to the pound, but she has asked her to wait to see if Columbus Humane Society can find a foster home. We have until Sunday and then she will call the pound. We have no where for them to go, we will provide all medical, food for them, just need a place for them to be safe until we can get them a home. She said that they look like beagle mix and might even have Jack R. but who knows. They are just babies and I don't care what they are, they just need not to go to that Hell Hole of a pound. If we can get foster or permanent home then we can get them adopted and their adoption will include, first, second shots, bordatella, worming and spay/neuter. I don't know what sex they are but I'm trying to get the mom to go and look. Please contact: if you can help - Hope someone will take them soon - My mom wanted me to call the pound - but just don't want to. They are very playful - Don't know a lot more about them - Haven't had much time to be w/them.

Pitty lab mix needs home

Sorry, no photo on this one. Owner is heading off to armed duty and can't maintain the dog. Contact info is below. Pitt lab mix free to good home. I'm going to basic training in Jan and can't take care of him. His name is Jack and he is 1 year and 7 months old. He has web feet and looks like a pitt. He is good with other dogs and loves people. Very friendly! Loves to swim and ride in a car, very smart, house trained, and neutered. He will come with leash and kennel. If you are interested, I'm not going to let him go with just anyone. I love him dearly and don't want to let him go. Send me an email at My name is Lisa

Save a Greyhound from Wisconsin

Dairyland Greyhound Racetrack in Kenosha, Wisconsin, will be closing on December 31, 2009. Nine hundred greyhounds need to be adopted or they will be euthanized. Please help me get the word out - we only have six weeks to get this task done. Contact Operations Director Joanne Kehoe @ 312.559.0887 or Dairyland Racetrack Adoption Center @ 262.612.8256. Editors Note: Greyhounds make wonderful family pets. Gentle, mellow, loving and generally good with children. Perfect starter pet. So if you are thinking of a dog for Christmas, please consider one of these dogs! Wouldn't it be a wonderful Christmas if we could save them all! Please pass this on to everyone you know.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Gar the boxer. Try not to cry...I double dog dare you

There is a small, old-fashioned ice cream parlor in the pleasant little town of Urbana, Ohio. Decades of existence give Kerr's Sweet Shop a comfortable, well-worn atmosphere, like the feel of your favorite pair of jeans. Urbana is such a tiny town that most everyone knows everyone else personally. As a matter of fact, they usually don't just know you, but your father and grandfather and perhaps they even knew your great-grandfather. There was once a young boy who visited this ice cream parlor quite often on his way around town with his Boxer dog, Gar. Gar was short for Gargantua, named after the famous giant because he grew to be such a big dog -- "ninety-seven pounds of pure muscle!" the boy proclaimed proudly. Whenever he visited the ice cream parlor, which was almost daily in the summer, the boy always ordered two ice cream cones -- a chocolate one for himself, and a vanilla one for Gar. The boy was a self-proclaimed "chocoholic," and he felt bad that Gar always had to settle for vanilla, but he knew that chocolate is dangerous for dogs. Gar didn't seem to mind; he wagged his stubby tail gleefully when the boy held out the vanilla cone for him to lick as they sat together on the steps outside the ice cream parlor. The boy half-kiddingly said that if they could find a way to harness the energy of that tail to a generator, they would have enough power to light all of Urbana for weeks on end. One time the boy was sick with the flu and wasn't able to leave the house to go to school, much less the ice cream parlor. After four days, or maybe a full week, when he was well again, the boy took Gar out for their routine walk around town. The dog trotted happily beside him, no leash required, only stopping a few times to sniff at bushes and hydrants and trees. When the pair came into view of Kerr's Sweet Shop, Gar suddenly left the boy's side and dashed across Main Street. Pausing at the far corner, he glanced back, as if imploring his owner to follow. So the boy did -- he followed Gar right up through the door into the ice cream parlor. The boy walked up to the counter, asked for "the usual," and sifted through change in his pocket to pay. But instead of "the usual" ten cents -- a nickel for each cone -- the man working as ice cream scooper said the boy owed a quarter. The boy was confused. He ordered only two single-scoop cones: one vanilla, one chocolate, just as he always did -- that should be a dime. The man smiled and said, "Well, your dog there's been comin' in the past few afternoons around this time, and he kept barkin' and barkin' and wouldn't stop. We figured since you always get a vanilla cone for 'im, and he likes 'em so well, that we'd just give 'im some ice cream even if you weren't with 'im. So we've sorta been keepin' a tab for 'im here. I hope that's okay." The boy laughed and assured the man it certainly was. In fact, he told them to keep the tab running if Gar came in again by himself -- which the dog occasionally did. Even years later, the boy still got a kick out of telling the story about his crazy dog with its very own charge account at the local ice cream parlor. *** My grandpa -- "Gramps" I affectionately call him -- was that young boy and his story about Gar and the ice cream parlor is one of my favorites. Ever since I was a little girl, I have begged him to tell that story over and over again, wishing I had a Boxer dog just like his beloved Gar, a dog I would raise from a puppy and take for walks around town and get ice cream with, a dog who would sleep at the foot of my bed at night and be my best friend. My dad grew up listening to the same stories, and while he was open to the idea of getting a Boxer, we lived in a small condominium -- way too cramped for a big dog that loves to run around and play. Then, during the summer before I went into the third grade, we moved to a bigger house -- with a backyard -- and suddenly my dream of owning a Boxer seemed wonderfully within reach. That year, as with previous years, a Boxer puppy was at the top of my birthday wish list. I never really expected to get one, at least when we lived in the condo, but when my first birthday arrived in our new house -- I was ten years old -- Gramps came over for dinner to celebrate. He gave me the last present himself: a book about caring for your Boxer puppy. I lifted the cover to find a note written inside: "The real thing will be coming in a few weeks." And sure enough, on a sunny spring day a short time later, I played fetch with my new puppy, Gar, for the first time. Gar soon lived up to his namesake's reputation as quite a goofy character. He doesn't much care for ice cream, but he does love oatmeal cookies -- not chocolate chip, though, because Gramps was quick to tell me that chocolate is bad for dogs. And Gar often "works on his tan" while napping on the porch in the afternoon sunshine. Gramps refers to Gar as my "brother" and spoils him like he is indeed another grandchild, and so it is no surprise that Gar absolutely adores his "grandfather." Another thing Gar adores is going for walks around the neighborhood. If I even whisper the word "walk" he will immediately start jumping around frantically, scratching at the front door in excited anticipation. If I am later than usual in asking, he lets me know he's ready to go by whining at the cupboard drawer where his leash is kept. Every evening, I take Gar out for a two-mile walk around our neighborhood, and though I tell him I am doing him a favor, the truth is it has become one of my favorite parts of the day, too. It is time all to myself, to escape from the hectic routines of the day and take a few minutes to think and reflect upon my life and my dreams. Gar and I walk on a path that runs alongside an orange grove, with a view of rows upon rows of green trees stretching towards the distant hills and shimmering Pacific Ocean. My favorite time of the day to take a walk is just before dusk, when the sun is beginning to set and the California sky is filled with warm, soothing pinks and reds and golds. Some teenagers' special place is their room or a specific hideout, but my sanctuary moves -- it is anywhere beside my dog. Walks with Gar keep me grounded and sane and content, able to enjoy the quiet moments of life that make it so miraculous: a tiny yellow flower blooming through a crack in the sidewalk; the innocent, gleeful laughter of children playing in the neighborhood cul-de-sac; the slobbery wet kiss of a dog as he looks at you with unconditional love and devotion. Especially when I am worried or stressed or sad, walking along beside -- or rather, being pulled along behind -- my wacky, exuberant, eighty-six "pounds of pure muscle" somehow always makes me feel better. It is a place for me to reflect upon my many blessings and be thankful for all I have. Sometimes it is easy to get sucked in by the nerve-wracking, unimportant minutiae of life while forgetting about what's really important: the love of family and friends, the freedom to be yourself, the quiet tranquility of evening walks with the best birthday present ever -- and, yes, the occasional chocolate and vanilla ice cream cones.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Click on the link to donate food for shelter pets

It isn't rocket science, but I am not sure how this works. Only sure that it does. Hi, all you animal lovers! This is pretty simple... Please ask ten friends to each ask a further ten today! The Animal Rescue Site is having trouble getting enough people to click on it daily so they can meet their quota of getting FREE FOOD donated every day to abused and neglected animals. It takes less than a minute (about 15 seconds) to go to their site and click on the purple box 'fund food for animals for free'. This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate food to abandoned/neglected animals in exchange for advertising. Here's the web site! Please pass it along to people you know. I rescued a dog that was close to death from hunger. I have never seen a dog as emaciated as this little guy was. Took a small fortune to get him back to health but he is the healthy, happy cattle dog you see below. I have no end of respect for what shelters do. But we need to do everything we can to help them out. Donate pet food, old newspapers, old toys or blankets, whatever you can. Or click on the link above. The life you save may be your next puppy or kitty.

Please help us find a home for this Boxer

This is a sweet boxer who needs a home. If you know anyone who is interested please let me know. I found this dog in my front yard and he was skin and bones. He is being fostered by a wonderful friend. He has been to the vet and is approximately 1. He does have two issues. He is partially blind. Vet thinks the poor puppy was choked. He also has early stage heartworm. He was too underweight to do anything about the heartworm but has since gained some weight and will need the two shots in the future. This puppy is so very sweet, he gets along with other dogs. He attempts to chase cats but since he can't see them so he doesn't get close. He is very affectionate and really needs someone to love him. Please let me know if you or anyone you know might be interested. If you are interested in taking this puppy please email or respond here.