Believe it or not, many doctors are “prescribing” pet ownership to relieve stress. In so doing blood pressure, pain perception, and risk of heart attacks and strokes decrease substantially. Many studies have been conducted correlating human health issues and pet ownership. It has been proven that within 30 minutes of being in the presence of a dog or cat or even fish, your body responds. The hormone serotonin, also known as the “feel good” hormone increases and the stress hormone known as cortisol decreases. Some of the actual findings are not only surprising but startling. For instance: pet owners use less medications for themselves and go to their own doctors less frequently than non pet owners. People who have cat(s) are less likely to die from heart attacks or other cardiovascular diseases such as a stroke. Some studies claim that as much as 40% are more likely to die of heart attacks if they never had or currently do not have a cat(s). However; it is well known that owning a dog(s) does reduce stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure. In fact, dog owners are 8 times more likely to survive one year after a heart attack than non dog owners. Children with pets who are dealing with the stress of parents divorcing do much better psychologically than those who do not have pets. Even exposing children at a very early age to dogs and cats have benefits. Rarely are very young children allergic to pet dander and when children are exposed to pet ownership at an early age they have less allergies when they are adults. This exposure stimulates their immune system in a favorably way, much the same way a vaccine does.
Canine Distemper is history’s biggest killer of dogs. It is often the most misunderstood disease because it is often wrongly thought to be related to the disposition or “temperament” of the dog. Distemper has nothing to do with disposition or temperament. It is a viral disease that is in the same group of viruses that causes measles and mumps in humans. It is a highly contagious air borne disease among dogs, raccoons, fox, wolves, ferrets, plus other wild animals. It affects the upper respiratory, gastro-intestinal, and nervous systems, and is often fatal, especially if seizures occur. Young dogs and older dogs are most susceptible as are any dogs whose immune system is run-down fighting an illness or injury. Of course, an unvaccinated dog is mostly at risk, and many unvaccinated dogs are being rescued from flooded areas in the south. This opens up other areas throughout the USA to exposure. Vaccination is the best protection. It used to be thought that a blood test known as a titer could be run to check the level of antibodies the dog has against this and other dreaded diseases, but recent research has shown that a titer does not indicate the level of immunity to these diseases. It only indicates previous exposure or vaccination. For a titer to be really helpful it would require a test for “cell-mediated” cells, also known as “memory” cells, to determine the current level of immunity. Unfortunately, we do not have a test for these cells yet. These “memory” cells are the cells that pump out more antibodies against a disease if the immune system is challenged by the dog being exposed to the disease. Consequently, the only way to ensure proper immunity is to vaccinate. With the newer vaccines available to veterinarians, the recommendations today is to vaccinate every 3rd year against viral diseases such as Distemper, Parvo, Parainfluenza, Hepatitis, and Rabies. For bacterial diseases such as Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme, it is still recommended to vaccinate yearly.
Well the “Knockoff” industry has found Veterinary Medicine. The pharmaceutical industry for human and veterinary drugs is a huge multi billion dollar industry. It was just a matter of time before drugs used in the veterinary medical field would be affected, unfortunately. There are illegal “knockoffs” out in the market for just about everything, from name brand pocket books, watches, sneakers, golf clubs, tennis rackets, human medications and now veterinary products, etc. On a recent special about “knockoffs” on TV, they even showed automobile knockoffs. Not only have antibiotics been affected, but life sustaining drugs such as insulin and Phenobarbital, tick and flea medications, heartworm medications and deworming products. PLEASE NOTE: The CDC has just this year (2011) recommended that all dogs be protected against ticks 12 months a year, not just from April to December, because Lyme Disease is on the increase in the Northeast in HUMANS. With “Global Warming” and the Indian Summers in the winters these last few years, ticks are out there all year long. Dogs can bring them into the house and humans are susceptible. ALSO, on February 20, 2009, the Federal Drug Administration released a warning about buying drugs online. They found certain companies were selling unapproved pet drugs, selling counterfeit pet products, making fraudulent claims, selling prescription drugs without the required prescription, and selling expired drugs by repackaging them with a new expiration date. Many of these are dangerous drugs and should only be used with a veterinarians approval and prescription. Many products require blood testing the patient before and during their use, and if used improperly they can cause serious problems and even death. Please be aware that manufacturers do not guarantee their products if bought online because of repackaging problems, lack of prescription, and now the “knockoff” problem. In general, all veterinarians purchase directly from the manufacturer in small enough quantities that ensure long expiration dates and freshness.