Posts Tagged ‘dog parks’

Clients often ask us which vaccines their dog really needs.

The answer depends on the pet’s lifestyle.

Small brown and white dog runs with green ball

Keep the fun going all summer — vaccinate your dog to protect him from common diseases.

We divide canine vaccines into several groups: core vaccines, social vaccines, and lifestyle vaccines.

Core vaccines include:

  • Rabies vaccine — this is the one vaccine required by law, because the Rabies virus kills people and pets.
  • DHPPv or DA2PPv (distemper/hepatitis/adenovirus/parainfluenza/parvovirus) — all dogs should receive this vaccine combination which protects against dangerous, common, and highly contagious diseases.

Social vaccines include:

  • Coronavirus — dogs that are around other dogs and other dogs’ feces (such as at dog parks, daycare, or going for walks, etc.) should receive protection from this disease that, when combined with parvovirus, often proves deadly.
  • Bordetella* — this highly contagious respiratory disease is notorious for spreading in shelters and boarding kennels; but if your dog visits the dog park, daycare, or groomers, she can be exposed to Bordetella there, too.
    *In many places, Bordetella is also considered a core vaccine, meaning it is recommended for all dogs.
  • Canine Influenza combo (CIV) — yes, dogs get the flu, too; and this one spreads from dog to dog wherever they congregate [just like Bordetella]. What makes Canine Influenza so sneaky is that infected dogs are often shedding the virus when they appear perfectly healthy, so your dog can be exposed while playing with them.

Lifestyle vaccines:

  • Leptospirosis — this bacterial infection is commonly spread in neighborhoods by raccoons, squirrels, and roof rats when they urinate in water, soil, and mud. Leptospirosis can be fatal to pets and people. If your pet spends time outdoors, including at campsites or hiking trails, they can be at risk for this disease.
  • Lyme Disease — this bacterial infection is spread by black-legged ticks (aka deer ticks), wherever ticks are found — including your own yard. If your pet spends time outdoors, goes hiking or camping with you, its risk for Lyme Disease increases.

Carefully consider your pet’s lifestyle, exposure to other animals, and habits when working with the veterinarian to determine which vaccines are recommended. Does your pet stay indoors with zero exposure to other animals? Does he travel out of state with you? Does she visit the dog park for exercise? Have you brought home a new pet that is more active outdoors than your current pet? The more information you can provide, the better your pet can be protected.

Questions? Contact Us!


Photo credit:  Matthias Zomer via Pexels


Disclaimer: Information on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure your pet. Information provided on this site does not take the place of a valid client-patient-doctor relationship, nor does it constitute such a relationship. Your pet’s veterinarian is the best source of information regarding your pet’s health. Your pet may require an examination and testing by a licensed veterinarian in order to provide proper diagnosis and treatment. Neither Dr. Miele nor Little Creek Veterinary Clinic or its staff is responsible for outcomes based on information available on this site. Every pet’s condition is unique and requires the direct care and oversight of its own veterinarian.

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All owners of newly adopted puppies should be aware of Parvovirus, a serious and potentially fatal disease that can attack pups before they’ve completed their series of “distemper-combo” vaccines.

Winking brown and black puppy

Keep an eye out for signs of Parvovirus in your new puppy.

What is it? “Parvo” is a highly contagious viral disease of dogs that attacks the intestines, heart, and white blood cells.

How is Parvovirus spread? Parvo is spread through direct contact with other dogs and dog feces. However, other animals and people can carry the virus on themselves (through contact with feces) and transmit it to dogs.

What are the signs of Parvovirus?

  • Bloody diarrhea, often with a distinctive foul odor
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever 
  • Dehydration

Which dogs are most at risk?

  • Unvaccinated dogs
  • Puppies between weaning and 6 months old
  • Certain breeds, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, English Springer Spaniels, pit bull terriers, and black Labrador retrievers
  • Dogs living in high-density housing, such as boarding or breeding kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores
  • Dogs that visit dog parks

What is the treatment? After a special fecal test is used to confirm a positive diagnosis of Parvo, the pet will be hospitalized in an isolation ward (to protect other patients from exposure.)

Since viruses cannot be killed through the use of antibiotics, the pet will receive supportive therapy, aimed at reducing the incidents of vomiting and diarrhea, and replenishing fluids and nutrients.

In many cases, pups with Parvo also have parasites (such as Roundworms or Hookworms), which can worsen the pet’s condition. In those cases, treatment will include worming.

Antibiotics may also be given to prevent the onset of opportunistic bacterial infections.

What are the odds of survival?

Dogs diagnosed with Parvo have the best chance of survival with immediate and intensive care. Due to the life-threatening nature of the disease, it cannot be adequately treated in a home environment.

Dogs that survive the first 3 to 4 days of illness have a good chance of recovery.

Pups less than 4 months old are at highest risk for severe illness. Less common these days is sudden death due to inflammation of the heart (myocarditis.)

It is important to note that even with appropriate treatment, Parvovirus can cause death, especially in young dogs. No veterinarian can guarantee a positive outcome.

Dogs that recover from a bout of Parvo may have permanent damage to their intestines and possibly the heart.

How can I protect my dog from Parvovirus?

  • Make sure your pet receives its annual Parvo vaccine (often contained within the distemper-combo shot.)
  • Because not every pet will develop the proper immunity to disease after vaccination, be cautious about letting your dog around other pets.
  • Do not let your dog sniff or come in contact with other dogs’ droppings, and always dispose of your pet’s waste.
  • Pay attention to bulletins warning about Parvo outbreaks in city dog parks.
  • If possible, keep dogs under 3 months of age away from other dogs altogether.

What if my dog has been infected already?

  • Assuming your pet is in treatment at a hospital or has unfortunately passed away, now is the time to disinfect the home environment.
  • Parvovirus can live outside the host animal for many months. Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, typically recommends against bringing new animals into the household for a period of at least 6 months.
  • To disinfect the home, mix 1 part bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) to 30 parts water and thoroughly clean the areas where the pet lived. Be aware that the bleach solution may alter or damage certain materials.
  • Discard food and water bowls, toys, collars and leashes.
  • If the pet is deceased, arrange for cremation. Do not bury the pet in your yard.

Resources for this article:
What you should know about Canine Parvovirus Infection, an AVMA publication.
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult, Canine and Feline, Larry P. Tilley, DVM and Francis W. K. Smith, Jr., DVM
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice, Stephen J. Birchard, DVM and Robert J. Sherding, DVM
Photo credit: Dominika Roseclay via Pexels.com


This article was originally posted on August 8, 2012.

Read Full Post »

If you have a dog, you’ve probably heard of the dreaded Parvovirus, but don’t know much about it. Let me give you the run-down.

What is it?  “Parvo” is a highly contagious viral disease of dogs that attacks the intestines, heart, and white blood cells.

How is Parvovirus spread?  Parvo is spread through direct contact with other dogs and dog feces. However, other animals and people can carry the virus on themselves (through contact with feces) and transmit it to dogs.

What are the signs of Parvovirus? 

  • Bloody diarrhea, often with a distinctive foul odor
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

Which dogs are most at risk?

  • Unvaccinated dogs
  • Puppies between weaning and 6 months old
  • Certain breeds, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, English Springer Spaniels, pit bull terriers, and black Labrador retrievers
  • Dogs living in high-density housing, such as boarding or breeding kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores
  • Dogs that visit dog parks

What is the the treatment?  After a special fecal test is used to confirm a positive diagnosis of Parvo, the pet will be hospitalized in an isolation ward (to protect other patients from exposure.) Since viruses cannot be killed through the use of antibiotics, the pet will receive supportive therapy, aimed at reducing the incidents of vomiting and diarrhea, and replenishing fluids and nutrients.

In many cases, pups with Parvo also have parasites (such as Roundworms or Hookworms), which can worsen the pet’s condition. In those cases, treatment will include worming.

Antibiotics may also be given to prevent the onset of opportunistic bacterial infections.

What are the odds of survival?  Dogs diagnosed with Parvo have the best chance of survival with immediate and intensive care. Due to the life-threatening nature of the disease, it cannot be adequately treated in a home environment.

Dogs that survive the first 3 to 4 days of illness have a good chance of recovery.

Pups less than 4 months old are at highest risk for severe illness. Less common these days is sudden death due to inflammation of the heart (myocarditis.)

It is important to note that even with appropriate treatment, Parvovirus can cause death, especially in young dogs. No veterinarian can guarantee a positive outcome.

Dogs that recover from a bout of Parvo may have permanent damage to their intestines and possibly the heart.

How can I protect my dog from Parvovirus?  Make sure your pet receives its annual Parvo vaccine (often contained within the distemper-combo shot.)

Because not every pet will develop the proper immunity to disease after vaccination, be cautious about letting your dog around other pets. 

Do not let your dog sniff or come in contact with other dogs’ droppings, and always dispose of your pet’s waste.

Pay attention to bulletins warning about Parvo outbreaks in city dog parks.

If possible, keep dogs under 3 months of age away from other dogs altogether.

What if my dog has been infected already?  Assuming your pet is in treatment at a hospital or has unfortunately passed away, now is the time to disinfect the home environment. 

Parvovirus can live outside the host animal for many months. In fact, Dr. Miele typically recommends to refrain from bringing new animals into the house for a period of at least 6 months.

To disinfect the home, mix 1 part bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) to 30 parts water and thoroughly clean the areas where the pet lived. Be aware that the bleach solution may alter or damage certain materials.

Discard food and water bowls, toys, collars and leashes. 

If the pet is deceased, arrange for cremation. Do not bury the pet in your yard.

Questions? Contact Us or call 757-583-2619.

*********************************************************************
Resources for this article:

What you should know about Canine Parvovirus Infection, an AVMA publication.

The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult, Canine and Feline, Larry P. Tilley, DVM and Francis W. K. Smith, Jr., DVM

Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice, Stephen J. Birchard, DVM and Robert J. Sherding, DVM

**********************************************************************
This article was originally posted on August 8, 2012.

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Canine Flu vaccine

If you think only people can catch the flu – think again. A flu strain known as H3N8 affects dogs all over America.

Get the facts here, then make an appointment with us to vaccinate your dog for Canine Influenza.

Some quick facts about Canine Flu:

  • Only affects dogs
  • First reported in March 2003, in Florida
  • Highly contagious, especially in kennels, shelters, grooming parlors, dog parks
  • Signs include persistent cough, fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, lack of appetite
  • Nearly 20% of infected dogs will develop high fever and pneumonia
  • Spread through direct contact; cough or sneeze; contaminated hands, clothing, surfaces

My dog’s records say she’s received the Parainfluenza vaccine already.  That’s the same thing as the H3N8 Flu, right?
No.  Parainfluenza is a different virus, unrelated to the (relatively) newly discovered H3N8.  Your pet’s immune system will know the difference!

My dog is already vaccinated against Bordetella (Kennel Cough.)  Isn’t that the same thing?
No.  Although the symptoms may look the same, the organisms responsible are different.  Bordetella is caused by bacteria; Canine Influenza is caused by a virus.  Vaccinating against one does not provide protection against the other.

How can I tell whether my dog needs the Canine Flu vaccination?
The same situations that call for the Bordetella vaccine, also call for the Flu shot. Check this list* to see which situations apply to your pet:

  • Pet comes from a shelter, rescue group, breeding kennel, pet store
  • Pet boards at a kennel or goes to doggie daycare
  • Pet attends group training classes
  • Pet goes to a groomer, dog parks, or meets other dogs during its daily walks
  • Pet is entered into dog shows
  • Pet comes into contact with other dogs in veterinary clinic or pet store

How many Canine Flu shots does my dog need?
Initially, dogs should receive two Flu shots spaced 2-4 weeks apart; after that, one booster yearly is recommended.

So if my pet gets the Canine Flu shot, it won’t develop the disease?
The Canine Flu vaccine makes it much less likely that your pet will develop the disease.  And if he does get sick, he is more likely to have a mild case and recover more quickly than a dog that has not been vaccinated.

Why did the veterinarian give my dog antibiotics, if the Canine Flu is a virus?
The doctor may opt to treat suspected secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics.  Bacterial infections are often responsible for a thick yellow/green nasal discharge that can accompany the Flu, but there can be other symptoms, as well.   

Remember:  when your pet is sick, its immune system is fighting the primary illness, but it is still vulnerable to other diseases that come along.  In our clinic, we call those secondary infections “opportunistic” because they are taking advantage of the opportunity infect a pet with a weakened immune system.  And, unfortunately, Mother Nature has no law against people or pets suffering more than one illness at a time.

Learn more about reducing your dog’s risk of contracting Canine Influenza.

*Borrowed from “Canine Influenza: What do I need to know?” by Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health. Pamphlet is available at our office.

*************************************************************************************************
This article was posted on November 10, 2011 and November 14, 2012, and November 26, 2013.

Read Full Post »

If you have a dog, you’ve probably heard of the dreaded Parvovirus, but don’t know much about it. Let me give you the run-down.

What is it?  “Parvo” is a highly contagious viral disease of dogs that attacks the intestines, heart, and white blood cells.

How is Parvovirus spread?  Parvo is spread through direct contact with other dogs and dog feces. However, other animals and people can carry the virus on themselves (through contact with feces) and transmit it to dogs.

What are the signs of Parvovirus? 

  • Bloody diarrhea, often with a distinctive foul odor
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

Which dogs are most at risk?

  • Unvaccinated dogs
  • Puppies between weaning and 6 months old
  • Certain breeds, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, English Springer Spaniels, pit bull terriers, and black Labrador retrievers
  • Dogs living in high-density housing, such as boarding or breeding kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores
  • Dogs that visit dog parks

What is the the treatment?  After a special fecal test is used to confirm a positive diagnosis of Parvo, the pet will be hospitalized in an isolation ward (to protect other patients from exposure.) Since viruses cannot be killed through the use of antibiotics, the pet will receive supportive therapy, aimed at reducing the incidents of vomiting and diarrhea, and replenishing fluids and nutrients.

In many cases, pups with Parvo also have parasites (such as Roundworms or Hookworms), which can worsen the pet’s condition. In those cases, treatment will include worming.

Antibiotics may also be given to prevent the onset of opportunistic bacterial infections.

What are the odds of survival?  Dogs diagnosed with Parvo have the best chance of survival with immediate and intensive care. Due to the life-threatening nature of the disease, it cannot be adequately treated in a home environment.

Dogs that survive the first 3 to 4 days of illness have a good chance of recovery.

Pups less than 4 months old are at highest risk for severe illness. Less common these days is sudden death due to inflammation of the heart (myocarditis.)

It is important to note that even with appropriate treatment, Parvovirus can cause death, especially in young dogs. No veterinarian can guarantee a positive outcome.

Dogs that recover from a bout of Parvo may have permanent damage to their intestines and possibly the heart.

How can I protect my dog from Parvovirus?  Make sure your pet receives its annual Parvo vaccine (often contained within the distemper-combo shot.)

Because not every pet will develop the proper immunity to disease after vaccination, be cautious about letting your dog around other pets. 

Do not let your dog sniff or come in contact with other dogs’ droppings, and always dispose of your pet’s waste.

Pay attention to bulletins warning about Parvo outbreaks in city dog parks.

If possible, keep dogs under 3 months of age away from other dogs altogether.

What if my dog has been infected already?  Assuming your pet is in treatment at a hospital or has unfortunately passed away, now is the time to disinfect the home environment. 

Parvovirus can live outside the host animal for many months. In fact, Dr. Miele typically recommends to refrain from bringing new animals into the house for a period of at least 6 months.

To disinfect the home, mix 1 part bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) to 30 parts water and thoroughly clean the areas where the pet lived. Be aware that the bleach solution may alter or damage certain materials.

Discard food and water bowls, toys, collars and leashes. 

If the pet is deceased, arrange for cremation. Do not bury the pet in your yard.

Questions? Call 757-583-2619.

*********************************************************************
Resources for this article:

What you should know about Canine Parvovirus Infection, an AVMA publication.

The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult, Canine and Feline, Larry P. Tilley, DVM and Francis W. K. Smith, Jr., DVM

Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice, Stephen J. Birchard, DVM and Robert J. Sherding, DVM

**********************************************************************
This article was originally posted on August 8, 2012.

Read Full Post »

If you think only people can catch the flu – think again. A flu strain known as H3N8 affects dogs all over America.

Get the facts here, then make an appointment with us to vaccinate your dog for Canine Influenza.

Some quick facts about Canine Flu:

  • Only affects dogs
  • First reported in March 2003, in Florida
  • Highly contagious, especially in kennels, shelters, grooming parlors, dog parks
  • Signs include persistent cough, fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, lack of appetite
  • Nearly 20% of infected dogs will develop high fever and pneumonia
  • Spread through direct contact; cough or sneeze; contaminated hands, clothing, surfaces

My dog’s records say she’s received the Parainfluenza vaccine already.  That’s the same thing as the H3N8 Flu, right?
No.  Parainfluenza is a different virus, unrelated to the (relatively) newly discovered H3N8.  Your pet’s immune system will know the difference!

My dog is already vaccinated against Bordetella (Kennel Cough.)  Isn’t that the same thing?
No.  Although the symptoms may look the same, the organisms responsible are different.  Bordetella is caused by bacteria; Canine Influenza is caused by a virus.  Vaccinating against one does not automatically provide protection against the other.

How can I tell whether my dog needs the Canine Flu vaccination?
The same situations that call for the Bordetella vaccine, also call for the Flu shot. Check this list* to see which situations apply to your pet:

  • Pet comes from a shelter, rescue group, breeding kennel, pet store
  • Pet boards at a kennel or goes to doggie daycare
  • Pet attends group training classes
  • Pet goes to a groomer, dog parks, or meets other dogs during its daily walks
  • Pet is entered into dog shows
  • Pet comes into contact with other dogs in veterinary clinic or pet store

How many Canine Flu shots does my dog need?
Initially, dogs should receive two Flu shots spaced 2-4 weeks apart; after that, one booster yearly is recommended.

So if my pet gets the Canine Flu shot, it won’t develop the disease?
The Canine Flu vaccine makes it much less likely that your pet will develop the disease.  And if he does get sick, he is more likely to have a mild case and recover more quickly than a dog that has not been vaccinated.

Why did the veterinarian give my dog antibiotics, if the Canine Flu is a virus?
The doctor may opt to treat suspected secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics.  Bacterial infections are often responsible for a thick yellow/green nasal discharge that can accompany the Flu, but there can be other symptoms, as well.   

Remember:  when your pet is sick, its immune system is fighting the primary illness, but it is still vulnerable to other diseases that come along.  In our clinic, we call those secondary infections “opportunistic” because they are taking advantage of the opportunity infect a pet with a weakened immune system.  And, unfortunately, Mother Nature has no law against people or pets suffering more than one illness at a time.

Learn more about reducing your dog’s risk of contracting Canine Influenza.

*Borrowed from “Canine Influenza: What do I need to know?” by Intervet Schering-Plough Animal Health. Pamphlet is available at our office.

***************************************************************************************************
This article was originally posted on November 10, 2011 and November 14, 2012.

Read Full Post »

If you have a dog, you’ve probably heard of the dreaded Parvovirus, but don’t know much about it. Let me give you the run-down.

What is it?  “Parvo” is a highly contagious viral disease of dogs that attacks the intestines, heart, and white blood cells.

How is Parvovirus spread?  Parvo is spread through direct contact with other dogs and dog feces. However, other animals and people can carry the virus on themselves (through contact with feces) and transmit it to dogs.

What are the signs of Parvovirus? 

  • Bloody diarrhea, often with a distinctive foul odor
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

Which dogs are most at risk?

  • Unvaccinated dogs
  • Puppies between weaning and 6 months old
  • Certain breeds, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, English Springer Spaniels, pit bull terriers, and black Labrador retrievers
  • Dogs living in high-density housing, such as boarding or breeding kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores
  • Dogs that visit dog parks

What is the the treatment?  After a special fecal test is used to confirm a positive diagnosis of Parvo, the pet will be hospitalized in an isolation ward (to protect other patients from exposure.) Since viruses cannot be killed through the use of antibiotics, the pet will receive supportive therapy, aimed at reducing the incidents of vomiting and diarrhea, and replenishing fluids and nutrients.

In many cases, pups with Parvo also have parasites (such as Roundworms or Hookworms), which can worsen the pet’s condition. In those cases, treatment will include worming.

Antibiotics may also be given to prevent the onset of opportunistic bacterial infections.

What are the odds of survival?  Dogs diagnosed with Parvo have the best chance of survival with immediate and intensive care. Due to the life-threatening nature of the disease, it cannot be adequately treated in a home environment.

Dogs that survive the first 3 to 4 days of illness have a good chance of recovery.

Pups less than 4 months old are at highest risk for severe illness. Less common these days is sudden death due to inflammation of the heart (myocarditis.)

It is important to note that even with appropriate treatment, Parvovirus can cause death, especially in young dogs. No veterinarian can guarantee a positive outcome.

Dogs that recover from a bout of Parvo may have permanent damage to their intestines and possibly the heart.

How can I protect my dog from Parvovirus?  Make sure your pet receives its annual Parvo vaccine (often contained within the distemper-combo shot.)

Because not every pet will develop the proper immunity to disease after vaccination, be cautious about letting your dog around other pets. 

Do not let your dog sniff or come in contact with other dogs’ droppings, and always dispose of your pet’s waste.

Pay attention to bulletins warning about Parvo outbreaks in city dog parks.

If possible, keep dogs under 3 months of age away from other dogs altogether.

What if my dog has been infected already?  Assuming your pet is in treatment at a hospital or has unfortunately passed away, now is the time to disinfect the home environment. 

Parvovirus can live outside the host animal for many months. In fact, Dr. Miele typically recommends to refrain from bringing new animals into the house for a period of at least 6 months.

To disinfect the home, mix 1 part bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) to 30 parts water and thoroughly clean the areas where the pet lived. Be aware that the bleach solution may alter or damage certain materials.

Discard food and water bowls, toys, collars and leashes. 

If the pet is deceased, arrange for cremation. Do not bury the pet in your yard.

Questions? Call 757-583-2619.

*********************************************************************
Resources for this article:

What you should know about Canine Parvovirus Infection, an AVMA publication.

The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult, Canine and Feline, Larry P. Tilley, DVM and Francis W. K. Smith, Jr., DVM

Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice, Stephen J. Birchard, DVM and Robert J. Sherding, DVM

**********************************************************************
This article was originally posted on August 8, 2012.

Read Full Post »

Have you gotten your flu shot yet? 

The Flu Vaccine is especially recommended for pregnant women, children 6-18 months old, people 50 years old and up, people with certain chronic medical problems (ask your doctor if you qualify), caregivers, and medical personnel.  Your physician or local drugstore probably has a supply of the vaccine ready and waiting.  But first, call your doctor for information on those who should not receive the flu shot, especially if you may be allergic to the vaccine.

Then, make an appointment with us to vaccinate your dog for Canine Influenza, also known as the H3N8 virus.

Some quick facts about Canine Flu:

  • Only affects dogs
  • First reported in March 2003, in Florida
  • Highly contagious, especially in kennels, shelters, grooming parlors, dog parks
  • Signs include persistent cough, fever, nasal discharge, lack of energy, lack of appetite
  • Nearly 20% of infected dogs will develop high fever and pneumonia
  • Spread through direct contact; cough or sneeze; contaminated hands, clothing, surfaces

My dog’s records say she’s received the Parainfluenza vaccine already.  That’s the same thing as the H3N8 Flu, right?
No.  Parainfluenza is a different virus, unrelated to the (relatively) newly discovered H3N8.  Your pet’s immune system will know the difference!

My dog is already vaccinated against Bordetella (Kennel Cough.)  Isn’t that the same thing?
No.  Although the symptoms may look the same, the organisms responsible are different.  Bordetella is caused by bacteria; Canine Influenza is caused by a virus.  Vaccinating against one does not automatically provide protection against the other.

How many Canine Flu shots does my dog need?
Initially, dogs should receive two Flu shots spaced 2-4 weeks apart; after that, one booster yearly is recommended.

So if my pet gets the Canine Flu shot, it won’t develop the disease?
The Canine Flu vaccine makes it much less likely that your pet will develop the disease.  And if he does get sick, he is more likely to have a mild case and recover more quickly than a dog that has not been vaccinated.

Why did the veterinarian give my dog antibiotics, if the Canine Flu is a virus?
The doctor may opt to treat suspected secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics.  Bacterial infections are often responsible for a thick yellow/green nasal discharge that can accompany the Flu, but there can be other symptoms, as well.   

Remember:  when your pet is sick, its immune system is fighting the primary illness, but it is still vulnerable to other diseases that come along.  In our clinic, we call those secondary infections “opportunistic” because they are taking advantage of the opportunity infect a pet with a weakened immune system.  And, unfortunately, Mother Nature has no law against people or pets suffering more than one illness at a time.

Learn more about reducing your dog’s risk of contracting Canine Influenza.

***************************************************************************************************
This article was originally posted on November 10, 2011.

Read Full Post »

October is National Pet Wellness Month

Follow these three steps to creating a wellness plan for your pet:

1. Schedule twice-a-year wellness exams. Why? Because our pets age faster than we do. Our dogs and cats are adults by age 2, middle-aged by 4, and senior citizens by 7. That means a pet’s health condition can change throughout the year. Earlier detection of diseases can lead to more effective treatments.

2. Protect your pet with vaccinations geared toward its lifestyle. Do you plan to take your pet camping or traveling? Is he going to dog parks? Boarding kennels? Doggie daycare? Grooming parlors? The more your pet is exposed to other animals and their habitats, the more protection it needs. But make no mistake: even pets that stay home can contract illnesses. 

3. Sign up for pet health insurance. We hope our pets will never become sick or injured – but some things in life are beyond our control. Where we can make a difference is in bearing the total cost of treatment. As a pet owner, you can decide to carry the financial burden yourself, or you can purchase health insurance for your pets and receive reimbursement for your expenses.

Read Full Post »

If you have a dog, you’ve probably heard of the dreaded Parvovirus, but don’t know much about it. Let me give you the run-down.

What is it?  Parvo is a highly contagious viral disease of dogs that attacks the intestines, heart, and white blood cells.

How is it spread?  Parvo is spread through direct contact with other dogs and dog feces. However, other animals and people can carry the virus on themselves (through contact with feces) and transmit it to dogs.

What are the signs? 

  • Bloody diarrhea, often with a distinctive foul odor
  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

Which dogs are most at risk?

  • Unvaccinated dogs
  • Puppies between weaning and 6 months old
  • Certain breeds, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, English Springer Spaniels, pit bull terriers, and black Labrador retrievers
  • Dogs living in high-density housing, such as boarding or breeding kennels, animal shelters, and pet stores
  • Dogs that visit dog parks

What is the the treatment?  After a special fecal test is used to confirm a positive diagnosis of Parvo, the pet will be hospitalized in an isolation ward (to protect other patients from exposure.) Since viruses cannot be killed through the use of antibiotics, the pet will receive supportive therapy, aimed at reducing the incidents of vomiting and diarrhea, and replenishing fluids and nutrients.

In many cases, pups with Parvo also have parasites (such as Roundworms or Hookworms), which can worsen the pet’s condition. In those cases, treatment will include worming.

Antibiotics may also be given to prevent the onset of opportunistic bacterial infections.

What are the odds of survival?  Dogs diagnosed with Parvo have the best chance of survival with immediate and intensive care. Due to the life-threatening nature of the disease, it cannot be adequately treated in a home environment.

Dogs that survive the first 3 to 4 days of illness have a good chance of recovery.

Pups less than 4 months old are at highest risk for severe illness. Less common these days is sudden death due to inflammation of the heart (myocarditis.)

It is important to note that even with appropriate treatment, Parvovirus can cause death, especially in young dogs. No veterinarian can guarantee a positive outcome.

Dogs that recover from a bout of Parvo may have permanent damage to their intestines and possibly the heart.

How can I protect my dog from Parvo?  Make sure your pet receives its annual Parvo vaccine (often contained within the distemper-combo shot.)

Because not every pet will develop the proper immunity to disease after vaccination, be cautious about letting your dog around other pets. 

Do not let your dog sniff or come in contact with other dogs’ droppings, and always dispose of your pet’s waste.

Pay attention to bulletins warning about Parvo outbreaks in city dog parks.

If possible, keep dogs under 3 months of age away from other dogs altogether.

What if my dog has been infected already?  Assuming your pet is in treatment at a hospital or has unfortunately passed away, now is the time to disinfect the home environment. 

Parvovirus can live outside the host animal for many months. In fact, Dr. Miele typically recommends to refrain from bringing new animals into the house for a period of at least 6 months.

To disinfect the home, mix 1 part bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite) to 30 parts water and thoroughly clean the areas where the pet lived. Be aware that the bleach solution may alter or damage certain materials.

Discard food and water bowls, toys, collars and leashes. 

If the pet is deceased, arrange for cremation. Do not bury the pet in your yard.

Questions? Call 757-583-2619.

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Resources for this article:

What you should know about Canine Parvovirus Infection, an AVMA publication.

The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult, Canine and Feline, Larry P. Tilley, DVM and Francis W. K. Smith, Jr., DVM

Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice, Stephen J. Birchard, DVM and Robert J. Sherding, DVM

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