The cat was sick. He was flat out on the table with a low body temperature and diarrhea just running out of him. The history was that he had been vomiting and having diarrhea for a couple of days. The bloodwork would tell the tale. He only had 100 white blood cells, instead of the normal 12,000. It was Panleukopenia and there wasn’t a whole lot I could do for him. He was humanely euthanized. The saddest part is that this didn’t need to happen. It was totally preventable. He never received his full set of vaccines, which would have protected him.
In this age of anti-vaccines, this case is a stark reminder of why we vaccinate in the first place. The diseases that are covered in the core vaccines are still lurking out there, waiting for a drop in your pet’s immunity or lack of vaccines to strike. They are often deadly diseases. The reason we don’t see these diseases anymore is precisely because of the vaccines most of our pets receive. As of the end of March, we already had 77 cases of rabies diagnosed in Pennsylvania this year. Herd immunity (the immunity around your pet from other vaccinated pets) does provide a small degree of protection, but to achieve full immunity you need to vaccinate your individual pet.
The most frustrating part of the anti-vaccine movement is that the original article that started this movement was totally false. In 1998 Dr. Wakefield published an article in the Lancet linking the MMR vaccine and autism. Since it’s publication, Dr. Wakefield has admitted that he falsified all the data. The article has been rescinded, and he has lost his license. However, the damage was done. Now a portion of the public doesn’t trust vaccines. That is sad because vaccines have literally been a lifesaver. Yes, nothing is perfect. Which is why we tailor our recommendations to your pet’s lifestyle, and the frequency of vaccines has changed. However, that doesn’t mean that you can totally skip vaccines. Vaccines are safe and can prevent a whole lot of heartache. Do you really want to take that chance?
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.
Happy 2018! Although Berks County has been in the deep freeze for the past couple of weeks, they are still out there! What am I talking about? Parasites.
The numbers are in for 2017 with 3.27% of dogs in Berks County having had roundworms (1 in 31). Hookworms are in at 2.87% (1 in 35), whipworms — 1.07% (1 in 94), and giardia — 4.9% (1 in 21). Cats fared no better with 3.29% (1 in 30) having had giardia, 1.12% (1 in 90) had hookworms, and 8.79% (1 in 12) had round worms.
So how do you prevent your family pet from being part of the statistics for 2018? First, check a fecal at your next vet visit. If you can’t get a sample, ask the technician or veterinarian to get a sample so we can test it while you are at the office. That way we can address any issues while you are at Willow Creek. Puppies and kittens should have at least 4 fecals tested in the first year of their lives. This is due to the lifecycle of the parasites. Adult dogs and cats should have 1-2 fecals a year depending on their lifestyles and health.
Kittens and puppies should be dewormed every two weeks until they are put on a broad-spectrum monthly preventative. Adult dogs and cats should be on a year-round broad-spectrum parasite control. The Companion Animal Parasite Council has a great website for guidelines for pet owners about parasites, the risks to people, and how best to protect your family pet. www.petsandparasites.org
Let’s do our best to keep you and your pets as healthy as possible!
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.
Boogie Monsters DO Exist!
Boogie monsters are the stuff of childhood stories and Stephen King horror novels. However, in the real world they are still out there, waiting to take advantage of the vulnerable cat or dog. In July, Berks county experienced a rabid dog at another veterinary clinic. The dog had its initial puppy shot, but the owner did not follow up with any additional vaccines. The dog was kept outside, but had no history of injuries or bite wounds. The dog developed vomiting, that progressed to seizures. Luckily the veterinarian tested the dog, and now the entire veterinary staff, and the family are having to endure the post-exposure treatment.
This year our clinic has had to treat several dogs for heartworm infection. The disease is carried by mosquitos, and treatment involves several days of injections, along with exercise restriction for weeks after the treatment. We have seen some patients that have not returned for their treatment, resulting in a source of infection in the community for other dogs.
The sad part is that all these situations were entirely preventable. Rabies vaccines are readily available, and required by state law for any dog and indoor cat over 12 weeks of age. Monthly heartworm preventative is inexpensive, and highly effective. Please feel free to ask our staff if you have any questions about vaccines and heartworm preventative. Don’t let the boogie monsters have their way with your beloved pet!
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.