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Signs of A Healthy Puppy:
Note: The following vaccine protocol is offered for those dogs where minimal vaccinations are advisable or desirable. The schedule is one I recommend and should not be interpreted to mean that other protocols recommended by a veterinarian would be less satisfactory. It's a matter of professional judgment and choice.
This thought-provoking article by Dr.. Jean Dodds, provides valuable information regarding making informed decisions about vaccinating your animal companion and is reprinted here with her kind permission.
CHANGING VACCINE PROTOCOLS
W. Jean Dodds, DVM
938 Stanford Street
Santa Monica, CA 90403
(310) 828-4804; Fax: (310) 453-5240
It should be free from debris and fecal matter.
You should be able to feel the puppy’s ribs, but the ribs shouldn't poke out. The tummy can be round, but not swollen or potbellied.
Kennel and bedding area
This should be a relatively tidy area. Watch out for signs of diarrhea or vomiting.
A healthy puppy may be sleepy, but not lethargic. A healthy puppy will be playful at times, not isolated in a corner. You should see occasional bursts of energy and interaction with littermates. When its mealtime, a healthy puppy will take an interest in its chow..
It should be slightly moist to the touch, but there should not be excessive discharge. The puppy should not be sneezing or sniffling persistently.
Skin and Coat
The puppy’s coat should be soft and shiny, without flakes or excessive shedding. Watch out for patches or missing hair, redness, bumps or sores. The pup should have a pleasant smell. Check for parasites, such as fleas or ticks.
A puppy’s eyes should look clear and shiny. There shouldn't be any signs of cloudiness or discharge from the eyes.
Do the pups ears look and smell clean? The inside of the ear should not look red or inflamed. Any odor or brown discharge could signal an infection.
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and they're the most deadly of the puppy worms. Heartworms (as their name suggests), take up residence in your puppy's heart and can cause serious health problems. If a heartworm problem is left untreated, it's quite possible that the puppy or dog will die.
A preventative medication (such as Heartgard), given regularly in strongly recommended as treatment for heartworms is long, complicated, expensive and not always successful.
If you have a new puppy be sure to have your veterinarian give him, or her, a fecal exam to check for worms at his first check-up. If at anytime you notice worms in your puppy's feces, or see symptoms that suggest a worm problem, talk to your vet straight away.
Don't try to treat puppy worms with over-the-counter-medications. They're generally not very effective and can have unwanted, even dangerous, side-effects.
The hookworm is a very, very tiny but still pretty nasty little puppy worm. They do best in warm, moist soil and actually penetrate through your puppy's skin and then travel to his intestines.
Humans can also pick up hookworms in the same way, so it's best not to run around barefoot if your puppy has hookworms. A fecal exam and the appropriate medication is the answer to a hookworm infestation.
The most common type of tapeworm is spread by fleas. You can often see tapeworms (or segments of them) in your puppy's feces. They look like small grains of rice and are white in color. They are generally not easily transmitted to humans but good hygiene is still important.
In addition to any medication your veterinarian may prescribe to treat a tapeworm problem, using a regular, monthly flea and tick preventative is a good way to avoid an recurrence of the infestation.
Whipworms may be more common that generally thought, but they are difficult to detect. If your pup has these parasites he may show few symptoms early on, but regular (and often repeated) fecal exams are necessary to make sure he's whipworm-free and to head off any future problems.
Roundworms are the most common kind of puppy worms and many puppies are born with them as an infected mother dog can pass them onto her puppies' in-utero. They can sometimes be seen in your puppy's feces, and are most often transmitted through contact with the worm eggs or larvae in the contaminated stools.
Roundworms can be passed onto humans, and children are most at risk as they tend to play close to the ground where they can come into contact with infected soil, grass or even the feces themselves. A child's tendency to put their hands in their mouth, and to be less stringent about personal hygiene makes them an easy target.
A fecal exam performed by your veterinarian can detect the presence of roundworms, and appropriate medications usually cure the problem fairly quickly.
Puppies and Worms
Almost 90% of puppies have worms in their bodies! The only way to diagnose intestinal parasites is through a microscopic examination of the feces. Our puppies receive regular preventative deworming to avoid any parasitical issues. We also take stool samples to a licensed veterinarian to verify the puppies are clear of parasites before departure.
If you have a puppy you may need to deal with an annoying, but very normal, problem - worms. These nasty little parasites set up residence inside your precious puppy, usually in the digestive system but sometimes (and more dangerously) they can invade other organs such as the heart. Having worms can cause all kinds of problems for a puppy, ranging from vomiting to more serious illnesses such as anemia or possibly even death. Although they can be worrying, treating puppy worms is fairly straightforward and generally very effective. There are 5 main types of worms that are usually seen, these are:
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The challenge to produce effective and safe vaccines for the prevalent infectious diseases of humans and animals has become increasingly difficult. In veterinary medicine, evidence implicating vaccines in triggering immune-mediated and other chronic disorders (vaccinosis) is compelling. While some of these problems have been traced to contaminated or poorly attenuated batches of vaccine that revert to virulence, others apparently reflect the host’s genetic predisposition to react adversely upon receiving the single (monovalent) or multiple antigen “combo” (polyvalent) products given routinely to animals. Animals of certain susceptible breeds or families appear to be at increased risk for severe and lingering adverse reactions to vaccines.
The onset of adverse reactions to conventional vaccinations (or other inciting drugs, chemicals, or infectious agents) can be an immediate hypersensitivity or anaphylactic reaction, or can occur acutely (24-48 hours afterwards), or later on (10-45 days) in a delayed type immune response often caused by immune-complex formation. Typical signs of adverse immune reactions include fever, stiffness, sore joints and abdominal tenderness, susceptibility to infections, central and peripheral nervous system disorders or inflammation, collapse with autoagglutinated red blood cells and jaundice, or generalized pinpoint hemorrhages or bruises. Liver enzymes may be markedly elevated, and liver or kidney failure may accompany bone marrow suppression. Furthermore, recent vaccination of genetically susceptible breeds has been associated with transient seizures in puppies and adult dogs, as well as a variety of autoimmune diseases including those affecting the blood, endocrine organs, joints, skin and mucosa, central nervous system, eyes, muscles, liver, kidneys, and bowel. It is postulated that an underlying genetic predisposition to these conditions places other littermates and close relatives at increased risk. Vaccination of pet and research dogs with polyvalent vaccines containing rabies virus or rabies vaccine alone was recently shown to induce production of antithyroglobulin autoantibodies, a provocative and important finding with implications for the subsequent development of hypothyroidism (Scott-Moncrieff et al, 2002).
Vaccination also can overwhelm the immunocompromised or even healthy host that is repeatedly challenged with other environmental stimuli and is genetically predisposed to react adversely upon viral exposure. The recently weaned young puppy or kitten entering a new environment is at greater risk here, as its relatively immature immune system can be temporarily or more permanently harmed. Consequences in later life may be the increased susceptibility to chronic debilitating diseases.
As combination vaccines contain antigens other than those of the clinically important infectious disease agents, some may be unnecessary; and their use may increase the risk of adverse reactions. With the exception of a recently introduced mutivalent Leptospira spp. vaccine, the other leptospirosis vaccines afford little protection against the clinically important fields strains of leptospirosis, and the antibodies they elicit typically last only a few months. Other vaccines, such as for Lyme disease, may not be needed, because the disease is limited to certain geographical areas. Annual revaccination for rabies is required by some states even though there are USDA licensed rabies vaccine with a 3-year duration. Thus, the overall risk-benefit ratio of using certain vaccines or multiple antigen vaccines given simultaneously and repeatedly should be reexamined. It must be recognized, however, that we have the luxury of asking such questions today only because the risk of disease has been effectively reduced by the widespread use of vaccination programs.
Given this troublesome situation, what are the experts saying about these issues? In 1995, a landmark review commentary focused the attention of the veterinary profession on the advisability of current vaccine practices. Are we overvaccinating companion animals, and if so, what is the appropriate periodicity of booster vaccines ? Discussion of this provocative topic has generally lead to other questions about the duration of immunity conferred by the currently licensed vaccine components.
In response to questions posed in the first part of this article, veterinary vaccinologists have recommended new protocols for dogs and cats. These include: 1) giving the puppy or kitten vaccine series followed by a booster at one year of age; 2) administering further boosters in a combination vaccine every three years or as split components alternating every other year until; 3) the pet reaches geriatric age, at which time booster vaccination is likely to be unnecessary and may be unadvisable for those with aging or immunologic disorders. In the intervening years between booster vaccinations, and in the case of geriatric pets, circulating humoral immunity can be evaluated by measuring serum vaccine antibody titers as an indication of the presence ofimmune memory. Titers do not distinguish between immunity generated by vaccination and/or exposure to the disease, although the magnitude of immunity produced just by vaccination is usually lower (see Tables).
Except where vaccination is required by law, all animals, but especially those dogs or close relatives that previously experienced an adverse reaction to vaccination can have serum antibody titers measured annually instead of revaccination. If adequate titers are found, the animal should not need revaccination until some future date. Rechecking antibody titers can be performed annually, thereafter, or can be offered as an alternative to pet owners who prefer not to follow the conventional practice of annual boosters. Reliable serologic vaccine titering is available from several university and commercial laboratories and the cost is reasonable (Twark and Dodds, 2000; Lappin et al, 2002; Paul et al, 2003; Moore and Glickman, 2004).
Relatively little has been published about the duration of immunity following vaccination, although new data are beginning to appear for both dogs and cats.
Our recent study (Twark and Dodds, 2000), evaluated 1441 dogs for CPV antibody titer and 1379 dogs for CDV antibody titer. Of these, 95.1 % were judged to have adequate CPV titers, and nearly all (97.6 %) had adequate CDV titers. Vaccine histories were available for 444 dogs (CPV) and 433 dogs (CDV). Only 43 dogs had been vaccinated within the previous year, with the majority of dogs (268 or 60%) having received a booster vaccination 1-2 years beforehand. On the basis of our data, we concluded that annual revaccination is unnecessary. Similar findings and conclusions have been published recently for dogs in New Zealand (Kyle et al, 2002), and cats (Scott and Geissinger, 1999; Lappin et al, 2002). Comprehensive studies of the duration of serologic response to five viral vaccine antigens in dogs and three viral vaccine antigens in cats were recently published by researchers at Pfizer Animal Health ( Mouzin et al, 2004).
When an adequate immune memory has already been established, there is little reason to introduce unnecessary antigen, adjuvant, and preservatives by administering booster vaccines. By titering annually, one can assess whether a given animal’s humoral immune response has fallen below levels of adequate immune memory. In that event, an appropriate vaccine booster can be administered.