Monthly Archives: January 2010

Canine Parvo (CPV)

This is the second article on diseases that can infect your pet. CPV is a very serious fatal viral infection that is readily transmitted from the environment to a dog. The virus is passed thru the feces of an infected dog onto the shoes of people and paws of dogs and cats and other animals. The virus can survive freezing weather and high temperatures. There is evidence to support the theory that CPV was a mutation of a feline virus that in 1980 caused a major epidemic on Long Island where thousands of dogs died. There are NO known drugs to kill the parvovirus but proven treatments are available to control the complications of the disease, if caught in time. Unlike most other viruses, CPV is stable in the environment and is resistant to most detergents and even alcohol. However, a diluted solution of water to chlorine bleach does kill the virus. This dilution should not be less than 30:1, water to bleach. There is a vaccine that will establish protective immunity and is routinely offered by all veterinarians in their disease prevention protocol. The primary symptoms include the following: vomiting and diarrhea, often with blood, lack of appetite, depression and fever. All veterinarians are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of CPV.

Raccoons Spreading Disease

The NYS Dept. of Agriculture, Division of Animal Industry just this month (July 2008) released the following bulletin to all Accredited Veterinarians in New York State: “There is a canine distemper outbreak occurring among raccoons on Long Island. The outbreak appears to be mostly occurring throughout the northern parts of both Nassau and Suffolk Counties.” An unvaccinated dog is severely at risk as well as any dog whose immune system is run-down fighting an illness or injury. Canine Distemper is history’s biggest killer of dogs. It is considered the most misunderstood disease because it is often thought to be related to the disposition or “temperament” of the dog. In fact, Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease among dogs, raccoons, ferrets, and other wild animals. Some of the symptoms of distemper can be confused with rabies (also carried and transmitted by raccoons). Being sluggish, walking disoriented, being non-responsive are just a few symptoms that people confuse with distemper that actually can be rabies, especially if the raccoon is out during the day. Stay away. Keep your pets away. Only the proper authorities wearing protective gear and using the appropriate disinfectants should handle these animals. Most importantly, make sure your dog is current on both rabies and distemper vaccinations. For more information contact your veterinarian or the Office of  Communicable Diseases of the New York State Dept. of Health.

Ringworm in Animals—And Human Health

This is the fourth in a series articles I am writing  on diseases that you can catch from your pet and vice-versa. Ringworm is not a worm as the word implies, but rather a skin disease caused by a fungus. The skin lesions are not always in the shape of a ring either, but shows up as patches of hair loss that sometimes causes itchiness. The fungi that cause ringworm are in the environment everywhere, however, not all people and animals are susceptible. There is evidence that some people and animals can be “carriers,” meaning they can transmit the disease to others but not have any symptoms of the disease. Sometimes the hair loss pattern looks like other diseases of the skin such as mange. The diagnosis usually requires a sample of the hair to “culture” (grow) the fungus in a food medium to make the correct diagnosis. Approximately 50 percent of the time a Woods light (ultraviolet) will cause the fungus to fluoresce and a diagnosis usually requires a sample of the hair to “culture” (grow) the fungus in a food medium to make the correct diagnosis. Approximately 50 percent of the time a Wood light (ultraviolet) will cause the fungus to fluoresce and a diagnosis can be made. But, the other 50 percent of the time no fluorescence occurs and a culture must be made. It takes time for the culture to grow, and many physicians and veterinarians choose to treat rather than just wait. In animals, ringworm is much more common in kittens than puppies. It is also transmitted from rodents to cats who go outside and hunt. The treatment is very effective, but it can take weeks to rid the patient of the fungal lesions. Topical creams, oral medications and shampoos are usually the therapeutic regimen followed. Of course, prevention is the best. Wash your hand frequently and checking your pet’s coat and keeping it clean is very important. Any suspicious areas of hair loss should be immediately looked at.

Vaccination Controversy–Feline

This is the 11 article in a series of pet diseases and in my opinion one of the most important ones. For the past several years there has been a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of vaccinating our pet cats. The researchers at the veterinary institutions along with the pharmaceutical companies are studying and improving the vaccines and new facts are emerging.  I will attempt to summarize some of these findings. It is now known that diseases  transmitted by viruses and the vaccines produced  to prevent these diseases induce an immunity longer than 1 year. In cats these diseases include; Distemper, Rabies, Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Feline Leukemia. The diseases caused by non-viral organisms and the vaccines produced to prevent them induce a short lived immunity of only 6 months to 1 year and sometimes even less than that. In cats these include Giardia, Chlamydia and Feline Bordetella. Most veterinarians do NOT recommend vaccinating the vaccines have not yet been proven effective. The two main national veterinary organizations (AVMA, AAHA) have recommended that cats with limited exposure to the outside be vaccinated against viral diseases every 3 years. Those with high exposure be vaccinated more often, especially those going outside, cat shows, grooming shops, and boarding kennels. The prevention of infectious disease hinges not only on good health, genetics, nutrition, exercise, limited exposure to infectious agents, but keeping up to date on a proper vaccination protocol. After many years of clinical small animal practice and seeing very few individual adverse “reactions” to a vaccine, including vaccine related sarcomas, I sincerely believe that the old saying applies: ” an ounce of  prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

Vaccination Controversy—Canine

This is the 7th article in a series of pet diseases and in my opinion the most important one. For the past several years there has been a lot of discussion about the pros and cons of vaccinating our pet dogs. The researchers at the veterinary institutions along with the pharmaceutical companies are studying and improving the vaccines and new facts are emerging. I will attempt to summarize some of these findings. It is now known that diseases transmitted by viruses and the vaccines produced to prevent these diseases induce an immunity longer than 1 year. In dogs these diseases include: Distemper, Parvo, Rabies, Adenovirus and Parainfluenza. The diseases caused by bacterial organisms and the vaccines produced to prevent them induce a short-lived immunity of only 6 months to 1 year and sometimes even less than that. In dogs these include: Lyme, Leptospirosis and Bordetella. In fact, the two main national veterinary organizations (AVMA, AAHA) have recommended that dogs with limited exposure to the outside be vaccinated against viral diseases every 3 years. Those dogs with high exposure be vaccinated yearly, especially those going to dog shows, parks, kennels, grooming shops, and walked outside where other dogs are walked. The AVMA and AAHA recommend vaccinating dogs against those diseases caused by bacteria at least 1 x each year depending upon exposure. The prevention of infectious disease hinges not only on good health, genetics, nutrition, exercise, limited exposure to infectious agents, but keeping up to date on a proper vaccination protocol. After many years of clinical small animal practice and seeing very few individual adverse “reactions” to a vaccine, I sincerely believe that the old saying applies: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Feline Leukemia

This is the 8th article in a series of pet diseases. The feline leukemia virus (FeLv) is the cause of a worldwide devastating disease, and it is estimated that approximately 3% of all cats are infected. The rate rises to 13% in cats that are ill, very young and/or unvaccinated. It is a highly contagious disease and is spread through saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces and milk of nursing mother cats. It is especially spread through cat bites. FeLv is considered to be the most common cause of cancer in cats. Fortunately, it is NOT spread from cats to humans. The disease in cats is very debilitating and only the very healthy can fight it off and even survive it. Some of these cats are able to mount an effective immune response, eliminate the virus from their bloodstream and halt the progression to the secondary viremia stage. Once it reaches this stage, the infected cat will either succumb to the virus or will be infected for the remainder of its life and be considered a “carrier”.  At this stage the cat suffers from a severe immune deficiency which hinders its ability to fight off other infections. On the positive side, there is a simple screening blood test all veterinarians can perform and an effective vaccine to prevent this dreaded disease.

Distemper–Canines’ Worst Enemy

This is the 1st of a series of published articles about diseases that can afflict our pet dogs and cats. Canine Distemper is history’s biggest killer of dogs. It is often the most misunderstood disease because it is often thought to be related to the disposition or “temperament” of the dog. Actually, Distemper is a viral disease that is in the same group of viruses that causes measles and mumps in humans. It is a highly contagious disease among dogs, raccoons and ferrets plus other wild animals. It affects the upper respiratory gastro-intestinal and nervous systems and is usually fatal when seizures occur. Young dogs and older dogs are most susceptible as are any dogs whose immune system is run-down fighting an illness or in jury. Of course, an unvaccinated dog is mostly at risk. The trend today is not to vaccinate each year but every 3rd year, depending on the “life-syle” of the dog.  It was originally thought that a titer can be run to check the level of antibodies the dog has against this dreaded disease, but that still is no guarantee that the pet is immune. (See article on Titers). Check with your veterinarian about current vaccination recommendations.

Designer Dogs

Formerly known as “Mutts,” the new age hybrid dogs are now known as “Designer Dogs.” These mixed breeds are becoming more and more popular as they become known and the price begins to drop a little. There are over 60 of these “hybrids” and most are poodle mixes because of their intelligence, lack of shedding and a strong genetic makeup. They range in size from toys like a Yorkipoo (Yorkie/Poodle mix) and Chi-Poo (Chihuahua/Poodle mix) to very large like a Giant Schnoodle (Giant Schnauzer/ Standard Poodle mix). There are many other mixes as well, like a cross between a Shih-Tsu and a Havanese. These are known as Hava-Shits. Since 2004, the DNA tracking of breeds has been known but only recently has this new technology become available to the public. Now all owners of “Mutts” or hybrids or “designer dogs” can find out what their true breeding consists of. If you want a better understanding of your dog’s personality, behavior characteristics, appearance and ancestry, a simple test can be done. In addition, certain medical conditions are breed-related, so an owner can be aware of the possibility of it occurring. All the cells in the body carry the same genetic material so the DNA can be analyzed either by a swab of the inner lining of the mouth or from a blood sample, and most results are available within two weeks. The cost of these tests range from $50.00-200.00. The following are just some of the on-line companies that perform these tests:

Caring For Your Pet After Illness or Injury

After your pet is seriously ill or injured, your goals for proper recovery are the following: administer all medications according to your veterinarian’s recommendation, provide proper nutrition, provide a stress-free environment and all the TLC possible. Specifically  make sure wounds are kept clean and dry, bandages are kept clean and dry, use an Elizabethan collar if necessary, and provide a warm, safe and comfortable area during the recovery stage. Keep other pets and children away or at least under strict supervision. There are many signs that can be considered warnings of poor recovery. These include sleeping a lot, depression, poor or no appetite for several days, weight loss, lack of thirst or increased thirst, vomiting and or diarrhea and severe panting. Proper nutrition is also vital to your pet’s return to good health. There are many foods specifically formulated to aid in the recovery stage by helping soft tissue repair, bones heal, and maintain the immune system while the pet is stressed. These foods contain high levels of protein, carbohydrates and fat to maintain the body defenses and prevent loss of body mass. Some contain vitamins and mineral supplements to further assist in the recovery stage. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a good diet to aid in your pet’s healing process, and most importantly, keep in touch with your veterinarian as to the pet’s progress and all  follow-up appointments.

Cat Scratch Disease

This is one of the  articles I am writing on diseases that you can catch from your pet and sometimes vice-versa. It has been reported that 20% of healthy cats living in the U.S. are carriers of the bacteria that transmit this disease. These bacteria are in the family known as Bartonella and cats can carry six different species of this bacteria. It is transmitted between cats by fleas and ticks and from a cat to a human by scratches and bites. These bacteria are more prevalent in the warmer states with high humidity, but it is estimated that 33% of all cats in the New York and Pennsylvania area are carriers. The Bartonella bacterium can cause 22 different chronic insidious  diseases in humans. Actually, more than 22,000 cases in humans were reported last year alone. Cats going outside, strays, cats from shelters and those living in multi-cat households all increase the likelihood of acquiring  this bacterium. Although infected cats can be treated successfully, it must first be diagnosed by a veterinarian. Most infected cats are healthy and are considered carriers and thus go unnoticed by their owners. Ask your veterinarian about the FeBart test now available to all veterinarians. An absolute must is to initiate household flea control for all your pets. For more information about this disease, go to www.natvetlab.com.