Adding a new pet to your family can be a wonderful and confusing experience for many people. Here you have this squirming bundle of furry joy already stealing your heart one kiss or snuggle at a time but then comes the not-so-fun decisions of health care and vaccines. What food should they eat? How should I potty train them? What about doggie school? What the heck is that vaccine that they need? Distemper something or another. Does this have to do with their temperament? Someone explained it to me once but all I heard was blah, blah, blah..your dog needs them every so often…make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Well, here is a basic rundown of our hospital’s core canine vaccine, the distemper combination ( DHPP or DHPPL depending on your pet’s needs). This basic but important vaccine is started at 8 weeks of age and boosted every 3-4 weeks until 16-20 weeks old. The vaccines are given in a series because a puppy’s immune system is ever changing and some early vaccines are not completely protective thanks to their mother’s antibodies. This is why a young dog who has had one vaccine can still become infected with diseases such as parvovirus. As an adult, the distemper combination is boosted at 12 months old and then every 3 years. There are other vaccines available such as the rabies vaccine (required by law), kennel cough, canine flu, and lyme , but we are not going to focus on those today. Continue…
There are some dog breeds that seem to be more predisposed to back issues that others. You have the Daschund (poster child for IVDD, right?), Basset Hounds, Corgi and any mix making a long backed/short legged dog. There are also Pugs and French Bulldogs to round out the smaller dog list with Dobermans and German Shepherds having a solid representation for the large breed dogs. Some of their spine issues stem from congenital or developmental defects, but primarily in the veterinary hospital we see dogs with type I or type II disk compression.
When a disk (the shock absorber between vertabre) changes to put pressure on the spinal chord, we usually see pain and loss of function in our pets. It can happen gradually over a few days to months or all of a sudden. The pain can be excruciating and dogs can become completely paralyzed and lose control of body functions. When this issue presents itself, it is important to seek out medical intervention as soon as possible for the best outcome.
My Dog May Have IVDD. Now What?
What are my options if I have a dog that suddenly looses the use of their legs or seems to be really stiff and can’t turn their neck? At the very least, an exam by a veterinarian would be a great place to start to localize where they think a disk lesion may be and to rule out other possibilities such as tick diseases.
The next step could be a visit to a neurology specialist to evaluate the symptoms and recommend a treatment plan that may include an MRI +/- surgery. Sometimes this option is not the best one due to the cost of the procedures or a patient’s age. If this is the case, does that mean that an owner should consider euthanasia as a treatment option? That really depends on the pain factor. If we can not effectively manage a dog’s pain and surgery is not an option, euthanasia may be the only way to humanely treat the issue. In particular, cervical lesions can be one of the most painful and difficult IVDD places to manage without surgery in some pets.
I strongly feel that if a pet’s pain can be controlled and the owners are committed to the intense home care needs of their dog, trying the conservative management strategy is definitely worth it. Time and good care can lead to partial or full recovery in some dogs. You just have to be willing to try with an unknown outcome possible. Recovery is not guaranteed but it is possible. Continue…
1. Why do I have to get my puppies and kittens a series of vaccines instead of just one?
When puppies and kittens are born, they are able to share some of their mother’s antibody protection against diseases such as parvo virus and distemper through nursing milk. As time goes on (over the next few weeks to months from birth), the young pet’s own immune response kicks in and the mother’s protection decreases. A series of two vaccines are needed at any time a vaccine is started(except for the Rabies vaccine) to formulate a strong immune response, but the question is- When should those vaccines be given? If given at too young of an age, the mother’s immunity blocks the vaccines from being effective. If given too late, there is a risk of the mother’s protection being too weak or gone and the pet is exposed to a virus before the immune protection benefit of the vaccine. To manage this immune delemma, we vaccinate puppies and kittens every 3-4 weeks starting at 8 weeks of age until 16-20 weeks old.
Do you have a cat or dog that is not a youngster but never vaccinated? They still need a set of two vaccines 3-4 weeks apart to be protected (again, the Rabies vaccine is a single booster and an exception to this rule). Some vaccines last 6 months, some are good for 3 years. It is up to your veterinarian to set a schedule of reminders so that you can keep track of your pet’s preventive needs.