By Dr. Bell
Spring is Here and with it new puppies and kittens. There are many things to consider when bringing a new puppy or kitten into your home. One of the most important, is vaccinations for your new arrival.
Puppies and kittens as well with all mammals, are born with a limited immunity against diseases from their mothers. They also receive protection via passive transfer from their mother’s colostrum (first milk). However, if the mother was not properly vaccinated prior to pregnancy or the kitten/puppy did not consume enough colostrum, they are at risk for diseases such as parvo virus and panleukopenia.
A mother’s antibodies in a new puppy or kitten are only effective until approximately 6 to 9 weeks of age. Every animal loses their protection at different rates. This why it is so important to start vaccinating a puppy or kitten at 6 to 8 weeks of age, with booster vaccines every 3 weeks until they are approximately 16 weeks old. It is crucial to have two vaccinations over 12 weeks of age in order to get full protection.
Puppies are not considered protected against parvo until after their third vaccine and in some high risk environments, not until the fourth booster. Parvo virus is transmitted by infected dogs via vomit and diarrhea. An unprotected puppy will be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then start showing signs 3-7 days after. Clinical signs usually start with depression, lethargy, then vomiting and diarrhea. There is not a cure for Parvo, only supportive care until the puppy’s immune system can recuperate. The intestinal lining is a very important part of the immune defense system. When the virus destroys the intestinal lining, secondary infections are very likely. Death may occur 50% of cases or more. The younger and smaller the puppy, the higher risk of death.
Parvo is a very sturdy virus and can live in a moderate environment indefinitely. It can be killed by very cold winters and hot dry summers, or by thoroughly disinfecting an environment. Most disinfectants including bleach are inactivated by organic materials, such as grass, dirt, feces, etc., making elimination in yards and carpets almost impossible. It also effects coyote packs and possibly carried by raccoons. Isolated dogs and puppies can have exposure.
Kittens are susceptible to a similar disease as Parvo, called Panleukopenia. Panleukopenia is an older virus and may have mutated into the Parvo virus. Kittens exhibit a similar disease process and elimination problems as puppies with parvo. Kittens often die before the vomiting and diarrhea are noticed.
Parvo and panleukopenia are very difficult to treat due to severity and speed it affects young animals and also because of how contagious it is. It can wipe out whole litters in a matter of days. In the clinic, treatment includes strict isolation for these patients. Veterinary doctors and staff must use very strict protocols to prevent spread to other animals in the clinic and boarding areas. This greatly increases the cost of in hospital treatment. Without vaccines, the only way to prevent infection is to eliminate exposure. That can be impossible due to environmental restrictions. Vaccination is our best defense. Even if your puppy or kitten is on a proper vaccination schedule and is exposed to one of these disease, his or her chance of survival is much greater than with no vaccines.
The next most common time to see parvo and panleukopenia is when the first yearly vaccine is due. Adult animals are also at risk if they don’t have proper vaccinations prior to exposure. Please keep your adult pet’s vaccinations current to help keep them healthy and reduce transmission to other pets.
It is always less expensive to prevent the disease with vaccinations than it is to treat!
I, as most other veterinarians, would love to never see parvo or panleukopenia in our hospitals and communities.
If you have any questions regarding vaccination protocols and what is best for your new pet and your adult pets, please contact us or your regular veterinarian.
I wish everyone a fun and safe spring and summer for you and your four-legged friends.
By Dr. Rustebakke
There are few things more beautiful than watching horses enjoying lush green pasture. Unfortunately the lush green pasture may have a dark side. Every Spring we see a few horses that develop a crippling disease called "Founder" or "Laminitis". There are multiple causes of laminitis; however one of the more common causes is excessive exposure to green pasture by horses that have not been properly acclimated to it. The sugars in the green grass pass into the large intestine where they are fermented by bacteria causing an overgrowth of bacteria; the bacteria produce a chemical called "endotoxin" which is toxic to the small capillaries in the feet resulting in swelling of the sensitive laminae inside the hooves. This causes necrosis and weakening of the attachment of the hoof wall to the coffin bone. The hoof can in extreme cases separate from the coffin bone, and actually come off. The x-ray is of a horse we saw last week whose coffin bone actually came through the bottom of his foot and had to be destroyed. Please be careful when turning your horses out on green pasture!
There are a lot of variables on the ideal way to acclimate a horse to green pasture. Like anything in life, there is always going to be some risk, regardless of how careful you are. In the natural state horses come out of winter eating whatever is available, and their diet gradually changes to green grass; this gives the bacteria in the gut plenty of time to adapt. Also there are variables between individual horses's tolerance to sugar in the hay. Most horses can tolerate green pasture very well, however some researchers claim that about 10% of horses are likely to have problems. Horses with a history of previous episodes of laminitis should not be on green pasture at all. The sugar content rises during the day, and decreases during the night; it is generally at its lowest right before sunrise. Putting your horses out early in the morning and locking them away from the green grass by mid morning works for many people.
The following link is a good read for those interested in more information: http://www.thehorse.com/articles/26766/pasture-sugars
By Dr. Rustebakke
Sometimes the profession of veterinary medicine intersects with other professions; this is an example of the intersection of veterinary medicine and horseshoeing. This horse kicked a horse trailer (bad mistake) and fractured his hoof capsule allowing dirt and debris access to the inside of his sensitive laminae. We removed the overlying sole and hoof wall, cleaned out the debris, stabilized the hoof with a shoe, and applied a bandage to keep everything clean while it is healing. The prognosis is good!
By Dr. Rustebakke
One of the things I love about Veterinary Medicine is that no matter how long one is in practice, you occasionally run into something new. Yesterday I saw a horse in distress with a history of possibly being stung by a swarm of bees; he was in-coordinated, depressed, and obviously in pain. A short distance away was a small tree with a swarm of bees hanging from a branch; he had apparently wandered too close, and was paying the price! I treated him with anti inflammatory medication and heavy duty pain killers; today he is nearly back to normal. The lethal dose of bee stings in horses is 20 stings per kilogram, which would be about 9,000 stings for a 1000 pound horse.
Here is a link to an article about bee stings in horses: http://www.horsedvm.com/disease/equine-bee-sting/
Dr. David A. Rustebakke
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