Vaccinating your pets is crucial if you want your best friend to live a long, healthy and happy life. Some of the most common vaccinations are:
A few things you should be aware of about vaccines:
The rabies vaccination is required by the state and county governments to prevent the spread of the disease. The county also requires that all dogs that have been vaccinated for the rabies virus to be licensed and registered with the county. Additionally, since it is required by the county to vaccinate your pet, it must be administered by a veterinarian and a certificate of completion must be given to you upon completion. This will help prevent your pet from being euthanized immediately should they bite someone in public.
The DA2PP vaccine is not required by the state, however, it is strongly recommended if you take your dog anywhere, like a dog park, boarding house or even the veterinarian. The DA2PP vaccine should be started as a puppy with a four injection regimen over a twelve week period. This will boost the immunity for all the viruses contained within the vaccine and will be good for one year after the final injection. Then after you return in one year for the one year booster, your dog will not be due for another DA2PP vaccine for three years.
If you have any questions about the vaccines required for your pet, please feel free to call us or set up an appointment.
What Is Rabies?
Rabies is a virus that may affect the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including dogs, cats and humans. Though preventable, there is good reason that the word “rabies” evokes fear in people. The disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii, and everywhere throughout the world except for Australia and Antarctica. Annually, rabies causes the deaths of more than 50,000 humans and millions of animals worldwide. Once symptoms appear, the disease results in fatality.
How Would My Dog Get Rabies?
Since animals who have rabies secrete large amounts of virus in their saliva, the disease is primarily passed to dogs through a bite from an infected animal. It can also be transmitted through a scratch or when infected saliva makes contact with mucous membranes or an open, fresh wound. The risk runs highest if your dog--or any pet--is exposed to wild animals. The most common carriers of the rabies virus in this country are bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes. In the United States, rabies is reported in cats more than in any domestic species. If there are also cats in your household, it’s important to make sure they are vaccinated and kept indoors.
What Are the General Symptoms of Rabies?
Initially, a dog who’s become infected may show extreme behavioral changes such as restlessness or apprehension, both of which may be compounded by aggression. Friendly dogs may become irritable, while normally excitable animals may become more docile. A dog may bite or snap at any form of stimulus, attacking other animals, humans and even inanimate objects. They may constantly lick, bite and chew at the site where they were bitten. A fever may also be present at this stage.
As the virus progresses, an infected dog may become hypersensitive to touch, light and sound. They may eat unusual things and hide in dark places. Paralysis of the throat and jaw muscles may follow, resulting in the well-known symptom of foaming at the mouth. Disorientation, incoordination and staggering may occur, caused by paralysis of the hind legs. Other classic signs of rabies include loss of appetite, weakness, seizures and sudden death.
How Long After Infection Do Signs of Rabies Show?
The virus usually incubates from two to eight weeks before signs are noticed. However, transmission of the virus through saliva can happen as early as ten days before symptoms appear.
Which Dogs Are Most at Risk For Contracting Rabies?
Unvaccinated dogs who are allowed to roam outdoors without supervision are most at risk for infection. They’re exposed to wild animals and have a greater chance of fighting with infected stray dogs or cats.
How Is Rabies Diagnosed?
There is no accurate test to diagnose rabies in live animals. The direct fluorescent antibody test is the most accurate test for diagnosis--but because it requires brain tissue, it can only be performed after the death of the animal.
How Is Rabies Treated?
There is no treatment or cure for rabies once symptoms appear. Since rabies presents a serious public health threat, dogs who are suspected of having the virus are most often euthanized.
How Can Rabies Be Prevented?
Keeping your dog up to date with vaccinations is not only essential to prevention, it’s the law. Check with your veterinarian about the right vaccine and vaccination schedule for your dog. In many areas of the country, it’s mandatory that all domestic dogs and cats are vaccinated after the age of three months.
Vaccinating your pet not only protects him from getting rabies, it protects him if he bites someone. Dogs who have bitten humans are required to be confined for at least 10 days to see if rabies develops, and if the animal’s vaccination records are not current, a lengthy quarantine or even euthanasia may be mandated. If you’re not sure of the laws in your town, consult your local animal affairs agency.
Avoiding contact with wild animals is also necessary to prevention. You may greatly decrease chances of rabies transmission by walking your dog on a leash, and supervising him while he’s outdoors.
What Should I Do If I Think My Dog Has Had Contact with A Rabid Animal?
Call your veterinarian for an immediate appointment! Report the incident to your local health department and follow their recommendations. You’ll also need to contact local animal control officers if the animal who bit your pet is still at large; they will be best able to safely apprehend and remove the animal from the environment. After having contact with a rabid animal, the rabies virus may remain alive on your pet’s skin for up to two hours. It is best not to touch your dog during this time. If you must handle your dog, wear gloves and protective clothing.
A dog who is up to date with his vaccinations and who has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal should also be given a rabies booster immediately and kept under observation for 45 days.
What Should I Do If I Think I’ve Been Bitten by a Rabid Animal?
Call your doctor immediately for instructions! You may need to get a series of injections in order to protect your health. Also, contact your local health department to report the bite.
Note: Do not attempt to handle or capture a wild animal, especially if he is acting strangely (i.e., a nocturnal animal who is out during the day, an animal who acts unusually tame). Report the animal to local animal control officers as soon as possible.
What Should I Do If I Come Across A Wild Animal?
Please do not attempt to capture any wild animals. In fact, it is wise to safeguard your home against wild animals in the following ways:
- Cover or stuff holes larger than a quarter and caulk cracks that are 3/8-inch wide or larger.
- Make sure your screens have no rips or holes.
- Install chimney caps.
- Use screens to cover attic vents and make sure all doors are securely shut.
Contact your local animal control or fish and wildlife department for suggestions on how to handle nuisance wildlife. If you find a dead wild animal in your home, call your local animal control agency or use thick work gloves to place the animal in a small box. Seal the box with strong tape and contact your local health department for information about where to take the animal for rabies testing.
What Is Canine Distemper?
Canine distemper is a virus that affects a dog’s respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems, as well as the conjunctival membranes of the eye.
What Are the General Symptoms of Canine Distemper?
The first signs of canine distemper include sneezing, coughing and thick mucus coming from the eyes and nose. Fever, lethargy, sudden vomiting and diarrhea, depression and/or loss of appetite are also symptoms of the virus.
How Do Dogs Get Canine Distemper?
The virus is passed from dog to dog through direct contact with fresh urine, blood or saliva. Sneezing, coughing and sharing food and water bowls are all possible ways for the virus to be passed on.
When Is it Time to See the Vet?
Immediately! Please see your vet right away if you suspect your dog has been infected with the canine distemper virus. The virus spreads rapidly and must be aggressively treated as soon as it’s discovered.
How Is Canine Distemper Diagnosed?
Canine distemper tests do exist, but the results alone are not always reliable. Rather than just testing for the infection, your vet has to look at the whole picture, including a dog’s specific symptoms and health history. Positive results can help confirm an infection, but a dog can still be infected even if test results are negative.
Which Dogs Are Prone to Canine Distemper?
Puppies and adolescent dogs who have not been vaccinated are most vulnerable to the distemper virus. They are typically rescues with unknown vaccination histories or have been bought from pet stores.
Serious infections are most often seen in puppies or adolescent dogs. Puppies younger than seven weeks, born to mothers who haven’t been vaccinated against the virus, are extremely susceptible. Once infected, puppies are severely weakened. Often the virus travels to the brain, causing seizures, shaking and trembling. A weakened immune system leaves an infected dog open to secondary infections like pneumonia.
How Can Canine Distemper Be Prevented?
Make sure your dog has completed his series of vaccinations. The vaccine for dogs is called the distemper shot. If you have a puppy, make sure he gets his first vaccination at six to eight weeks of age. Be sure to keep him away from any possibly infectious dogs or environments until he’s finished with his vaccinations at four or five months old.
Also, routine cleaning and disinfecting your home (or kennel) will ensure that the virus is not in your dog’s living environment.
How Can Canine Distemper Be Treated?
There is currently no available medication that can destroy the virus that causes canine distemper. Rather, supportive care is the mainstay of treatment. Veterinarians can offer intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration and antibiotics to ward off secondary infections while the infected dog builds up his immune response. Some dogs are able to survive the infection, while for others canine distemper can be fatal.
Are There Lasting Health Issues?
Dogs who recover from canine distemper may have seizures or other central nervous system disorders that may not show up until many years later—sometimes in their old age. They may also be left with permanent brain and nerve damage, and these symptoms also may not show up until years later.
What Is Parvovirus?
Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious viral disease that can produce a life-threatening illness. The virus attacks rapidly dividing cells in a dog’s body, most severely affecting the intestinal tract. Parvovirus also attacks the white blood cells, and when young animals are infected, the virus can damage the heart muscle and cause lifelong cardiac problems.
What Are the General Symptoms of Parvovirus?
The general symptoms of parvovirus are lethargy, severe vomiting, loss of appetite and bloody, foul-smelling diarrhea that can lead to life-threatening dehydration.
How Is Parvovirus Transmitted?
Parvovirus is extremely contagious and can be transmitted by any person, animal or object that comes in contact with an infected dog's feces. Highly resistant, the virus can live in the environment for months, and may survive on inanimate objects such as food bowls, shoes, clothes, carpet and floors. It is common for an unvaccinated dog to contract parvovirus from the streets, especially in urban areas where there are many dogs.
How Is Parvovirus Diagnosed?
Veterinarians diagnose parvovirus on the basis of clinical signs and laboratory testing. The Enzyme Linked ImmunoSorbant Assay (ELISA) test has become a common test for parvovirus. The ELISA test kit is used to detect parvovirus in a dog’s stools, and is performed in the vet’s office in about 15 minutes. Because this test is not 100% sensitive or specific, your veterinarian may recommend additional tests and bloodwork.
Which Dogs Are Prone to Parvovirus?
Puppies, adolescent dogs and canines who are not vaccinated are most susceptible to the virus. The canine parvovirus affects most members of the dog family (wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc.). Breeds at a higher risk are Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers, Labrador retrievers, American Staffordshire terriers and German shepherds.
How Can Parvovirus Be Prevented?
You can protect your dog from this potential killer by making sure he’s up-to-date on his vaccinations. Parvovirus should be considered a core vaccine for all puppies and adult dogs. It is usually recommended that puppies be vaccinated with combination vaccines that take into account the risk factors for exposure to various diseases. One common vaccine, called a “5-in-1,” protects the puppy from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and parainfluenza.
Generally, the first vaccine is given at 6-8 weeks of age and a booster is given at four-week intervals until the puppy is 16-20 weeks of age, and then again at one year of age. A puppy’s vaccination program is not complete before four months of age. Older dogs who have not received full puppy vaccination series may be susceptible to parvovirus and should also receive at least one immunization. Consult with your veterinarian about how often your dog will need to be revaccinated.
Because parvovirus can live in an environment for months, you will want to take extra care if there has been an infected dog in your house or yard. Some things are easier to clean and disinfect than others—and even with excellent cleaning, parvovirus can be difficult to eradicate. Parvo is resistant to many typical disinfectants. A solution of one part bleach to 32 parts water can be used where organic material is not present. The infected dog’s toys, food dish and water bowl should be properly cleaned and then disinfected with this solution for 10 minutes. If not disinfected, these articles should be discarded. You can also use the solution on the soles of your shoes if you think you've walked through an infected area. Areas that are harder to clean (grassy areas, carpeting and wood, for example) may need to be sprayed with disinfectant, or even resurfaced.
How Can Parvovirus Be Treated?
Although there are no drugs available that can kill the virus yet, treatment is generally straightforward and consists of aggressive supportive care to control the symptoms and boost your dog’s immune system to help him win the battle against this dangerous disease. Dogs infected with parvovirus need intensive treatment in a veterinary hospital, where they receive antibiotics, drugs to control the vomiting, intravenous fluids and other supportive therapies. Should your dog undergo this treatment, be prepared for considerable expense—the average hospital stay is about 5-7 days.
Please note that treatment is not always successful—so it’s especially important to make sure your dog is vaccinated.
What Are Some Home Treatment Options?
Because parvovirus is such a serious disease, it is not recommended to attempt home treatment. Even with the best veterinary care, this disease is often fatal.
When Is it Time to See the Vet?
If you notice your dog experiencing severe vomiting, loss of appetite, depression or bloody diarrhea, contact your veterinarian immediately.
What Are Some Other Health Issues with These Same Symptoms?
A puppy with a bloody diarrhea could have a parasite problem, a virus other than parvovirus, a stress colitis, or may have eaten something that disagreed with him or injured and blocked his digestive tract. It’s crucial that you see your vet for an accurate diagnosis.
What Is Kennel Cough?
Kennel cough is a term loosely used to describe a complex of infections—both viral and bacterial—that causes inflammation of a dog’s voice box and windpipe. It’s a form of bronchitis and is similar to a chest cold in humans. Though it usually clears up on its own, kennel cough is highly contagious to other dogs.
What Are the General Symptoms of Kennel Cough?
A persistent dry cough with a “honking” sound is the main clue your dog’s caught kennel cough. In most cases, she’ll appear healthy except for the cough. Her appetite and activity level usually won't change, but don’t be alarmed if she gags and coughs up a white, foamy phlegm—these signs are often worse after exercise, or if she’s excited or pulls against her collar. Some dogs may also develop a fever and nasal discharge.
What Should I Do if I Think My Dog Has Kennel Cough?
If you suspect your dog has kennel cough, immediately isolate her from all other dogs and call your veterinarian.
How Did My Dog Catch Kennel Cough?
Dogs can catch kennel cough in several ways. It can spread through aerosols in the air, directly from dog to dog, or through germs on contaminated objects. Kennel cough is often spread in enclosed areas with poor air circulation—while boarding in a kennel or an animal shelter, for example, or through direct contact while sitting in a vaccination clinic, training class or dog-grooming facility.
Kennel cough is so contagious that your pet might even catch it from sharing a water dish at the dog park or by simply greeting another dog. Most kennels will not board your pet without proof of a recent vaccination against parainfluenza and bordetella, two of the main causes of kennel cough.
Which Dogs Are Prone to Kennel Cough?
Most often, dogs who have frequent contact with other dogs, especially in enclosed or poorly ventilated areas, are most prone to becoming infected. Young and unvaccinated dogs are also at higher risk.
How Is Kennel Cough Prevented?
The best way to prevent kennel cough is to prevent exposure. Vaccinations are also available for several of the agents known to be involved in kennel cough, including parainfluenza, bordetella and adenovirus-2. Ask your vet if these are recommended, and how often—but please keep in mind that vaccinations aren’t useful if a dog has already caught the virus.
How Is Kennel Cough Treated?
It’s smart to see your veterinarian if your dog develops a cough. In some cases, you may be advised to simply let kennel cough run its course and heed the following:
- Dogs with kennel cough should be isolated from other dogs.
- A humidifier or vaporizer can provide some relief. You can also allow your dog into the bathroom while you shower. The steam will help soothe her irritated breathing passages.
- Avoid exposing her to cigarette smoke or other noxious, irritating fumes.
- A cough suppressant or antimicrobial may be prescribed. Your vet can be able to determine if they would be helpful to your dog.
- If your dog pulls against her collar while being walked, replace it with a harness until the coughing subsides.
- Supportive care is very important—be sure your dog is eating, drinking and in a stress-free environment.
How Long Does Kennel Cough Last?
In most cases, the signs of kennel cough gradually decrease and disappear after three weeks. Young puppies, elderly dogs and other immunocompromised animals may take up to six weeks or more to recover. In some cases, animals may remain infectious for long periods of time even after the symptoms have cleared up.
When Is It Time To See The Vet Again?
You should see some improvement in your dog’s condition within one week of treatment, but be alert to how long the symptoms last. If your dog has nasal discharge, is breathing rapidly, refuses to eat or seems lethargic, take her to the veterinarian right away. Serious cases of kennel cough can lead to pneumonia if left untreated.