Tag Archives: dog

Why Do Pets Need Vaccinations?

Pets need vaccinationsLike people, pets need vaccinations to stay healthy and to help prevent communicable diseases.

Vaccinations help prevent many illnesses that can affect pets. There are different vaccines for different diseases, as well as different types and combinations of vaccines. Vaccination have risks and benefits that must be weighed for every pet, depending on factors like age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle.

Most vets recommend administering core vaccines to healthy pets, however, not every pet needs to be vaccinated against every disease. Talk with your veterinarian about a vaccination protocol that’s right for your pet, and in compliance with your state and local laws. Each state has its own laws governing the administration of the rabies vaccine. Some require yearly rabies vaccination, while other areas call for rabies vaccines to be administered every three years. In almost all states, proof of rabies vaccination is mandatory.

Understanding How Vaccines Work
Vaccines help prepare the immune system to fight disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which are similar in structure to the disease-causing organism but don’t actually cause the disease. The vaccine enters the body to mildly stimulate the immune system to fight the ‘disease’. If a pet is exposed to the real disease, the immune system is prepared to destroy the disease-causing organism entirely or reduce the severity and duration of the illness.

Vaccinations for Puppies 
Puppies receive antibodies while nursing, if their mother has a healthy immune system. Puppies should receive a series of vaccinations starting at six to eight weeks of age. Your veterinarian should administer a minimum of three vaccinations at three- to four-week intervals. The final dose should be administered at 16 weeks of age.

Core Vaccinations for Dogs
Some adult dogs may receive certain vaccines annually, while other vaccines might be given every three years or so. Your veterinarian will provide guidance.

Vaccines for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk and lifestyle. Non-core vaccines include Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria.

Vaccinations For Kittens
Kittens receive antibodies while nursing, if their mother has a healthy immune system. Once the kitten is around six to eight weeks of age, your veterinarian should administer a series of vaccines at three- or four-week intervals until the kitten reaches 16 weeks of age.

Core Vaccinations for Cats
Vaccines for panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat’s lifestyle. These include vaccines to protect against feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus. Adult cats might be revaccinated annually or every three years.

Your veterinarian can help determine what vaccines are best for your pet. Don’t forget, AZPetVet offers a FREE Vaccines for Life program that can help keep your pet healthy and protected for life, and save you some $$ along the way. (Use the savings for healthy treats and toys – they deserve it!)

Valley Fever in Dogs: Risks, Symptoms and Treatment

AZPetVet’s Dr. Tressa MacLennan talks about Valley Fever in dogs with the Fox 10 Morning show team.

RISK FACTORS: Dogs are particularly prone to contracting Valley Fever as they are sniffing the soil and like to dig in the dirt, which means they could easily be exposed to the deadly spores. In rare instances, cats can also contract Valley Fever. The most common symptom in cats is non-healing skin lesions that resemble abscesses, draining tracts, or dermatitis. They can occur in almost any site on the cat’s body, and will often ooze a pale yellow to reddish fluid.

Younger and older animals are at risk. Younger animals are more susceptible to contracting Vally fever as their immune systems are not yet fully developed. Older pets’ immune systems may be weakened or compromised by aging and underlying health conditions.

Many animals will not exhibit any signs of Valley fever, even though they are infected.

DIAGNOSING VALLEY FEVER: Your veterinarian with perform a titer test to look for antibodies. Depending on the severity of infection, they may also perform advanced bloodwork and diagnostic x-rays of the lungs, limbs and other areas of the body. The fungus can also be identified through samples of fluids or tissue from the body.

SYMPTOMS PRIMARY INFECTION – LUNGS

  • Harsh or dry cough
  • Fever, lack of appetite
  • Lethargy or signs of depression

SYMPTOMS DISSEMINATED INFECTION

  • Swollen or painful bones and joints; lameness
  • Persistent fever, lack of appetite
  • Lethargy or signs of depression

PREVENTION & TREATMENT OPTIONS: There is no preventive vaccine for Valley Fever. Keep your pets away from open areas of dirt and dust as much as possible.

Dogs that develop Valley Fever will require a course of treatment with anti fungal medications. The length of treatment depends on the severity of the infection, but most cases will be managed within 6-12 months. Your pet should begin to feel better within 1-2 weeks of starting the anti fungal medications. Over the course of treatment, your vet will perform regular titer testing to determine when medication can safely be discontinued.

If the fungal infection has spread through the body, the dog may need to be on anti fungal medications for life. A small number of dogs will die from Valley Fever – most often those with advanced fungal infection that has spread through the body. The majority of animals will recover with no lasting issues. If you recognize symptoms of Valley Fever, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Monsoon Pet Menace: Sonoran Toad Poisoning

Sonoran Toad, Colorado ToadWe’re just about to come into monsoon season, so it’s time for our annual reminder about the biggest monsoon related hazard for pets: the Sonoran or Colorado Toad. During the hot and humid summer monsoon season, toads will emerge in yards and the desert, eventually ending up in pools and other areas your pet may be. They are TOXIC to pets!

Watch your pet’s behavior outdoors: Dogs and cats will be fascinated by toads and their movements, and will think it’s a great game to try to catch them in their mouths. Don’t let them!

Toads will also seek out water, so your pet’s water bowl is a perfect target. Be careful of where you place water outdoors. If your dog or cat comes in contact with a toxic toad, you’ll need to get to the vet, stat!

These symptoms of toad poisoning will be observable almost immediately:

  • Severe drooling
  • Head shaking
  • Pawing at the mouth or eyes
  • Muddy red mucous membranes
  • Hyperthermia (overheating)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting of yellow fluid
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils, loss of coordination,
  • Vocalization, seizures, collapse, and death

ALERT!!! Toad poisoning is a life-threatening medical emergency. If you know or suspect your pet has been exposed to a toad, rinse your pet’s mouth out immediately, using a constant stream of water from a faucet or hose (if at all possible). Call your veterinarian, the closest emergency animal hospital, and/or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661.

Preparedness Month – HEAT STROKE

heat of sun on thermometer reads 110 degreesThe Arizona summer is here. Dogs that spend time outdoors are in danger of hyperthermia, commonly known as heat stroke. Hyperthermia occurs when your dog’s body temperature rises dangerously above normal (103°F), putting them in danger of multiple organ failure or death.  Early recognition and treatment of heat stroke improves your pet’s chances of making a quick recovery.

While people can tell us when they aren’t feeling well, it’s a little harder for pets. We have to pay close attention to their behavior. Here are the signs and symptoms to watch for:

SYMPTOMS

  • Panting
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive drooling
  • Reddened gums
  • Reduced urine production
  • Rapid/irregular heart rate
  • Vomiting blood/ black, tarry stools
  • Changes in mental status (ie, confusion)
  • Seizures/muscle tremors
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated/drunken gait or movement
  • Unconsciousness / Cardiopulmonary Arrest (heart and breathing stop)

TREATMENT

Panting is how dogs naturally cool themselves. Rapid, continual panting is a sign your pet is overheating and stressed. Bring them inside out of the heat, and call your vet to alert them of the situation. They can provide guidance for your next steps.

Next, take steps to gradually cool your pet down. Do NOT use ice or extremely cold water as it can cause shock and other undesirable reactions. Lightly spray your pet with cool water or wrap them in cool, wet towels and use a fan for convection cooling. 

Evaporative cooling can also be achieved by swabbing isopropyl alcohol on foot pads, groin, and under the forelegs. When their temperature reaches 103° F, stop cooling to avoid dropping below normal body temperature, then seek veterinary care to be certain they’re out of danger.

What to Do When a Pet Gets Fleas

Fleas and ticks are the two most common external parasites found in dogs and cats, and both will cause your pet to scratch themselves more frequently. These nasty little guys survive by feeding on the blood of dogs, cats and sometimes people. Flea and tick bites can lead to health problems including constant itching, hair loss (alopecia), hypersensitivity (allergic reaction), as well as infections and transmission of disease. Here are some tips to help you get rid of these nasty pests:

Step 1: Treat the pet’s environment. You must kill fleas and ticks where they live when they’re not on your pet. Hire a professional exterminator. Be sure to explain that you have a flea or tick problem and that you have pets.

Step 2: Kill fleas and ticks that are on your pet. When used as directed, flea and tick control products are safe and effective at preventing re-infestation of your pet. There are several excellent products available for cats and dogs. Ask your vet for a product recommendation that will be suitable for your pet.

Step 3: Prevent re-infection. Treatment with a product like Frontline Top Spot will kill and repel ticks for one month, and fleas for up to three months. Use Frontline Top Spot topical treatment on dogs as young as ten weeks of age and cats as young as twelve weeks of age. Pet beds, carpets, blankets and other items must also be sanitized to kill any eggs that may be hiding.

Step 4: Break the reproductive cycle of fleas. In the past, controlling fleas and ticks has been difficult, however, new products are available which make external parasite control manageable. Your vet can recommend a safe and effective product for your pet.

Remember – fleas and ticks are NOT just summer time problems. While it does get cool enough during the winter to decrease flea and tick activity, it does not get cold enough to kill them. Fleas and ticks can live very happily indoors during the winter months, so be aware and check your pets frequently year round.

Questions or concerns? Talk to your veterinarian.