Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Let's Talk About Doggy Vaccines

There is SO much information out there about vaccines and I answer many questions on a daily basis about these little mystery injections.  I thought a little info on my blog might clear a few things up for some folks.

Today we are gonna talk about canine vaccines, but don't you worry, I'll cover kitty vaccines soon.

Types of Vaccines

There are different types of vaccines out there and the ones you give depends on what diseases you are trying to prevent.  For example, you give a Rabies vaccine in order to prevent your pet from contracting rabies.   Another example is giving a distemper/parvo combo vaccine to prevent your pet from getting either of those diseases.

Some vaccines are given every year while others are given every 3 years.  There are a few reasons for this.  The biggest reason is that we now have studies showing that most of the vaccines made from viruses that are used to prevent viral infections are effective for more than just one year.  This includes vaccines such as rabies, distemper and parvo. 

Other vaccines, such as leptospirosis and bordetella, are made from bacteria and are called bacterins.  Studies show that bacterins do not have the longevity associated with them as do vaccines made from viruses.  Because of this, we still have to give these vaccines on a yearly basis.

Vaccine Recommendations

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) provides a guideline for how to give vaccines.  We at Animal Care Hospital follow these guidelines as well as those put forth by WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Association).

As a doctor whose main goal is to educate people about proper vaccination, I find the amount of wrong information out there regarding appropriate vaccine schedules to be incredibly frustrating.

I can't change where people get their pet's vaccines, but I can do my best to provide easy-to-understand information regarding the proper way to obtain the most from those vaccines for the health of their beloved pets.

Here are some very fun facts about vaccines and Animal Care Hospital:

1.)  We follow both AAHA and WSAVA guidelines on vaccines schedules.   This means we recommend that the distemper/parvo/adenovirus vaccine be given as a series to puppies, then boostered at one year of age.  At that time the boosters should not be given any more often than every 3 years.  If your vaccine clinic or veterinarian is recommending this vaccine be given more often than that (after their puppy series and one year booster) then please ask them if they have read the current guidelines.

2.)  We consider both leptospirosis vaccine and bordatella vaccine to be important non-core vaccines  because of the prevalence of these diseases in our area.  Leptospirosis is what we call a zoonotic disease because you can actually catch it from your dog if he is not vaccinated against it.

Many veterinarians in the high desert do not give this vaccine and we have recently diagnosed some cases of leptospirosis.  The reason is because this vaccine historically had a high rate of serious reactions.  Now, with improvements in the manufacture of this vaccine, we rarely see reactions to it.  This vaccine protects your dog but also protects YOU.

3.)  We have recently switched to different types of vaccines.   We now use a new oral bordetella vaccine which our patients LOVE!   Also, with new studies and information and better manufacturing practices, we are also starting to use a new lower volume vaccine, the 1/2 mL DAP (distemper/parvo/adenovirus) vaccine.  Less pain at the injection site and less chance for vaccine reaction!

4.)  Last, but not least, there is a very important reason behind a proper schedule of boosters.  There is a phenomenon called vaccine interference.  This basically means that if you inappropriately give any two vaccines within days of each other - instead of the recommended 2-3 week interval - one of those vaccines will be rendered less effective or not effective at all.  We see patients all of the time who were given one vaccine on Monday and then another on Friday - WRONG!  You MUST either give all vaccines at the same time (for example:  a DAP and a Rabies Vaccine) or you MUST split them up by 2-3 weeks, which is often the preference to minimize the chances of a vaccine reaction.  If you do not do this, you run the risk of minimizing the effectiveness of one of those vaccines and you are putting your pet at risk.

So if you have questions about the PROPER way to administer vaccines, please come in for an appointment.  It really is important to administer vaccines in the correct manner with the appropriate vaccine schedule.  That information is always evolving, so be sure to come see us so you can rest assured that your pet is being vaccinated with the most current recommendations available.

-- Dr. Deb

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of my wonderful patients and their awesome owners!  Thank you for your dedication and friendship with Animal Care Hospital over the last 6 years  Here's to a fantastic NEW YEAR full of hopes and possibility!

2014 is going to be great for ACH.  Dr. Genevieve Kluver will be starting in June, which means ACH will be able to provide TWICE as much of the high quality care you've all grown to trust with us.  She and Dr. Deb have worked together for 10 years and share the same philosophies about medicine and the same level of commitment to our patients and clients.   We know you will all love her!  We've waited several years just for Dr. Gen - no one else would really fit with our practice philosophy, so we've held out for her, as our FULL TIME SECOND DOCTOR!! 

YAY for Animal Care Hospital!

Watch for our latest change as well - our new digital sign by the road.  While it was hard to say goodbye to the monument sign that we had for several years, it was time to upgrade and build a new one.  It will be up within a few more weeks, so look for it when you drive by or stop by and see it!

Happy New Year everybody!!

-- Dr. Deb

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Heartworm and Other Parasites in California!

Those of us who live in the high desert have generally been pretty spoiled when it comes to parasites.  We have them, and we know we have them, but we tend to not see the burdens of parasites like other areas - areas that get more rain, for example.

This year, however, we have started to see a bit of a change.  We saw more fleas than ever before.  There were some weeks when we diagnosed fleas every single day.  It almost always was met with the response, "But we don't have fleas in the desert!"

I'm telling you that we do, and we have a LOT of them.   Fleas cause all sorts of skin problems, including intense itching, rashes, etc.  It doesn't matter if you don't SEE the flea;  it's something you MUST take into account when your pet has any sort of skin issue.  Believe me, I know that blank, disbelieving stare - people have been told for years that we just don't have fleas here.  But we do!!

I tell every owner that I see, who has a dog or a cat with itchy skin, to put them on flea preventative.  Needless to say I'm met with a lot of resistance!  But if you treat skin without preventing fleas, you are essentially doing nothing to solve the problem.

However, the SCARY thing I want to mention, is that we are starting to see more cases of HEARTWORM DISEASE now too.  I just diagnosed a case this week in a dog that has NEVER left CA and has been on preventative for YEARS.  We've always been a little more lenient on annual testing because the incidence of heartworm disease in the high desert, not to mention Southern CA, is very low.  But in my opinion, if even ONE comes up positive (like this doggy did) then it's something I'm going to start recommending to everyone, every year.

I tend to recommend what I do for my own dog.  Well, guess what?  My own dog is now going to be tested yearly and will stay on heartworm and flea prevention year round.   I practice what I preach.

Because of this, I've decided to put together a package of testing, priced nice and low so people can afford it.  The package will include a mini blood panel, a fecal test, a urinalysis and a heartworm test.  It will cost less than $100 which is a GREAT deal.  (Thank you Idexx laboratories for this awesome deal that is really going to help people and their pets!)

Don't be ignorant and blinded about parasites.  Our furry friends are worth too much for us to avoid these things.  Let's work hard on keeping them safe from those nasty things!!

When you call, ask about our special parasite package pricing.  If your pet is current on exam, they don't even need to see the doctor again, but if not, then an exam will be required.

Give us a call ASAP so we can get you in, get your pets tested and start them on life saving preventatives!   760-247-0292 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why Dental Xray is Important!!

When educating my clients about dentistry, I find it difficult to sometimes convey just how important it really is  to take xrays of your pet's mouth.  In ideal situations, a set of full mouth xrays should be taken during even a routine dental cleaning.  Why???  Because what we see above the gumline often does not match what we see below the gumline.

OK, so what the heck does THAT mean?

We cleaned the teeth of one of the cutest dog's ever, named Ipod.  'Pod, as we like to call her, is a tiny little doggy owned by Ruthanne, one of our stellar registered veterinary technicians.  Ruth cleans 'Pod's teeth every year.  Yep, we practice what we preach at Animal Care Hospital.  My own dog, Vinnie, just had HIS teeth cleaned last week.

Because Ruthanne takes such good care of her pets, Ipod's teeth were in pretty good shape.  But, she is older - she's 9 years old - so we wanted to use our new dental xray unit and do a full set of xrays on her mouth.

Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit but guess what????

We found a problem that we didn't even know was there.

See, Ipod has tiny little teeth.   You can barely even see some of them - but the gums are healthy and the teeth look pretty good from the outside.   Most people would say her teeth were fine and she didn't have any problems.    Here's a shot of her teeth:

Because we never really had the capability for doing full mouth xrays before, we didn't realize that 'Pod had an abnormal tooth.  After all, they looked just fine!  But here is an xray of the teeth you see above:

Can you see how the tooth with the arrow looks different than the other teeth???  It's not a healthy tooth and needed to be extracted, which we did.  This is actually a retained baby tooth, and the adult tooth that was supposed to grow in its place, did not exist.  So the baby tooth never fell out, and was likely a source of pain for Ipod.  These retained teeth are brittle and ABNORMAL, are PAINFUL and can ABSCESS.  You wouldn't want to leave something like that in your pet's mouth would you?? 

After we removed this tooth and her mouth healed, Ruthanne was amazed at how much better Ipod felt!   BAD TEETH CAUSE PAIN AND SUFFERING FOR OUR PETS! 

 So when exactly should we be taking oral xrays?

- When a tooth is mobile (movable)
-  When the gums bleed with or without probing with a dental instrument
-  When a tooth is broken
-  When a tooth is discolored (known as pulpitis)
-  When there is furcation exposure (periodontal disease)
-  When teeth are missing without explanation
-  When we find feline resorptive lesions (FORLs)
-  Prior to extraction and after extraction

When should we take a full mouth set of xrays?

-  When there is periodontal disease anywhere in the mouth
-  When FORLs are present
-  Broken teeth of unknown origin
-  To evaluate oral and/or facial swellings.

We do understand that proper dentistry can be costly for owners, but this is proof positive for why we make the recommendations for what we do.  It's proof positive for why non-anesthetic dentistry is not only a sham, but very very bad for your pets, and proof positive for why we believe 100% in appropriate dental care WITH ORAL XRAYS!!!

If you have questions, please give us a call and schedule a consult so we can discuss your pet's oral care in more detail.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Another Case of Rabies!!

I very much dislike it when something happens that is so easily preventable.

This article is VERY important.  Why??


1.) this dog obviously wasn't vaccinated against rabies and
2.) it likely caught it from feral cats!!

I encourage you to read this article and keep your cats and dogs up to date with their rabies vaccines.

Rabies in Family Dog, Caught from Feral Cat

And, just to clarify - the way we "test" for rabies is to euthanize the pet and remove its head to be sent in to the lab for testing.   It's gory and it's not fun.

It's SO much easier to keep your pet vaccinated against this terrible disease!

Call us today at Animal Care Hospital so we can schedule your pet for a physical exam and update all of the appropriate vaccinations.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Is My Dog Having an Asthma Attack?

I get this question a lot, and yesterday as I was discussing this "condition" with an owner, I thought it would make a very good blog post as well as a good thing to put on our facebook page.  There are hundreds of videos of it on YouTube, so we'll be posting one here and on facebook to help owners recognize what is happening to their doggies and not panic when they see it!

It's the incredible Reverse Sneeze!!

What the heck is it?  Well, most people think it's an asthma attack because it appears as though the dog cannot breathe when it is happening.  Another concern owners have is simply that something has affected their dog and for whatever reason, they are having episodes of severe respiratory distress and are dying.  They almost always come to my office saying, "My dog is having difficulty breathing and he's dying!"  or "My dog keeps having asthma attacks!"   

These episodes are followed by a warp speed drive in to see us where we generally assess a happy dog wagging its tail and giving us the look of,  "What's all the excitement about?”

In fact, the first time my husband saw our own dog do it, he said, "Now I know why our clients get so scared when they see this happening!"

Reverse sneezing sounds similar to a honking noise and is a condition that usually does not need any treatment. It is called reverse sneezing because it sounds a bit like a dog “inhaling sneezes” or “snorting backwards.” These episodes are short-lived and usually resolved by the time of presentation, leaving us veterinarians to (embarrassingly) try to mimic the noise in the exam room. 

Follow this link for a video that demonstrates what a typical reverse sneezing episode appears like. 

The most common cause of reverse sneezing is an irritation of the soft palate and throat that results in a spasm. The dog’s neck will “stretch outward” and the chest will expand during the spasm as it tries harder to inhale. The trachea narrows during this time, and it’s hard to get the normal amount of air into the lungs.  All of these actions together result in the disturbing display.

What are some other causes?

Anything that irritates the throat can cause this spasm, and subsequent reverse sneezing, including:
  • excitement
  • eating or drinking
  • exercise intolerance
  • pulling on a leash
  • mites
  • foreign bodies caught in the throat
  • perfumes and environmental irritants such as household chemicals
  • viruses
  • pollen, allergies and post-nasal drip

Further evaluation should be pursued if reverse sneezing becomes a frequent occurrence, as there may be a treatable underlying cause of the episodes, such as mites or allergies. In many cases, however, the cause cannot be identified.

What can I do?

Reverse sneezing itself rarely requires treatment. When the sneezing stops, the spasm is over. If the episode continues beyond a few seconds, sometimes massaging your dog’s throat can help stop the spasm. Also, it is sometimes effective to cover the nostrils for quick moment, which makes the dog swallow and helps to “clear out the irritation.”

Some dogs have these episodes their entire lives while some dogs develop the condition only as they age. In most dogs, however, the spasm is an occasional and temporary problem that goes away on its own, needing no treatment and leaving the dog with no after-effects.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Congratulations!! A Shining Example!

I wanted to share this very inspiring story of weight loss of one of my patients, owned by some very dear and caring people!  They deserve BIG kudos and they officially win my admiration for a job well done!  Proof positive that hard work DOES pay off!  Congratulations Mr. Tom and Mrs. Eve Vonne!

Lexi The Amazing Doggy!!!

Best Friend of: Tom and Eve Vonne

Lexi is a six-year-old cockapoo that brings us nothing but love and happiness. It was during those puppy-training years that we found ourselves “giving in’ to her big lovable brown eyes and  “playful but begging” facial expressions. Like many dog owners, we thought the only way to return her unconditional love was to reward her with lots and lots of treats and large portions of dog food during meal times!  

We would give her store bought treats every time she went outside to do her duty, did her tricks, after every meal, and at bedtime.  During those years we thought she was so active, loving to constantly play, and therefore would not have a weight problem.  What were we thinking???  Lexi eventually started to slow down as she grew a couple of years older.

It was during her annual check ups that Dr. Debbie began to tell us that she was gaining weight and needed to loose “a few pounds”. Of course we were in denial; not believing we were over feeding her. Surely her weight gain was not our doing.

It was at this point that Dr. Debbie gave us a plastic measuring cup and told us that Lexi, considering her breed and body type, should only be eating ½ cup of dry and ½ cup of can dog food at mealtime.  As if that shock was not enough, on our way out the door to go home, Dr. Debbie clearly stated, “Remember for every treat you give Lexi is like a “Snicker's Bar” to us!  Wow!  Finally for whatever reason, her statement stuck with us. We talked and decided right then that it was time for action.

We started to reduce her food intake like Dr. Debbie advised and cut out all of her store bought treats.  We replaced those treats with “Mini Rice Cakes”, cut up baby carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon and ice cubes. She still likes us to think she is starving but we stick to our guns and do not give in to anything else.

As you can tell by the attached photos, Lexi is not a big dog and should not weigh more than 25 lbs.  However, at one point she weighed as high as 38 lbs.  Since we have cut out the treats, she is now 23 lbs., a perfect weight for her size.  Her body has slimmed down enough that we can now see her slimmer ribcage and tapered down waist. Her energy level is “over the top” again.  She’s going to be 7 years old this November and we are looking forward to many, many more years of sharing her love and loyalty.

We will never be able to thank Dr. Debbie (and her staff) for all they have done to help us get Lexi back to her perfect weight.  We’ll be forever indebted to her for showing us how healthy Lexi should be.

Thank you again.