We’re living through a very challenging time…a time when millions of pet owners and veterinary practices are struggling to balance the needs of their families, pets and businesses.
With the many directives we are receiving due to COVID-19 – social distance, self-quarantine, isolation, shelter-in- place – one thing is clear: the usual flow of animal health care has been disrupted and its impact will certainly resonate well into the future. We want to share some tips for how to best manage your own health and that of your pets.
Utilize Virtual Triage
MyPetDoc powered by Ask.Vet is here for you 24/7. We can help determine if you have an emergency and must go to a pet hospital or if the situation can be managed from home. This will help you make the best decisions for your pets and family while we weather the coronavirus.
Online Prescriptions and Pet Food
During the COVID-19 crisis, federal and state rules regarding virtual prescriptions for pets have been loosened. Your MyPetDoc virtual veterinarians can now help you renew and fulfill pet medicine and prescription pet foods. No need to venture out when you are sheltering at home and avoiding exposure to coronavirus.
Take That Walk
With Covid-19 forcing so many people to work from home, don’t forget you can still take your dog out for a nice long walk. It’s good for you and your pet too! Play fetch and enjoy your pet’s company. It’s a great way to releive the stress of difficult times.
Cat owners are all too familiar with the havoc that comes with sharp cat nails. Ruined furniture and scratched limbs are quite the norm at houses with cats. To save their property and skin, owners trim their pet’s nails. A job that may be easier said than done. Some online Vet Advice will help you get through it.
In the old days many people would declaw their cats. This is mostly frowned upon due to it’s inhumanity. Declawing was also not found to be beneficial to either the pet or their owner. Trimming your cat’s nails is a much better option and is recommended by vets.
You can trim your cat’s nails at home or go to a pet grooming salon. Because the latter can be costly, some owners do it themselves. The issue is that cats react very differently to the process. Some cats remain calm and don’t cause any trouble while trimming, while others won’t sit still and balk at the sight of nail clippers.
Online Vet Advice #1: Familiarize them with the clipper
You don’t want your cat to get agitated at the sight of nail clippers. Cut a few pieces of uncooked spaghetti in front of them so that they get used to the sound. It’s a great way to get him or her inquisitive in a positive way. Give them a treat every time you cut the spaghetti. When it comes time to actually cut their nails, repeat the same technique by giving them a treat afterwards, this will ensure positive reinforcement.
Online Vet Advice #2: Don’t cut into the Quick
The quick is the non-white area of your cat’s nails. The pinkish-red area is where the blood vessels are, so stay well away from them. Cutting into the quick can cause bleeding and pain. Only cut into the white area and cut less rather than more. If you do cut the quick, cats won’t forget. The trauma will extend to the next time you pull out those clippers and your pet will be in hiding. So be extra careful.
Online Vet Advice #3: Gently press the paw to extend a nail
Cat’s nails naturally retract into their paw when they’re resting. You can coax them out by massaging your cat’s paws and applying quick gentle pressure on each toe. Do it every other day, so your cat gets used to the process.
It can be pretty tough for a pet owner who has a sick dog. They may feel useless wishing they could do something but be at a complete loss. There’s nothing worse than having to see sad sick puppy eyes desperately looking up at you.
After visiting your vet, the best thing a pet owner can do when dealing with your sick dog is exercising patience. Often, you simply have to wait for the therapy plan to work its magic. The next best thing to do is to make your pet as comfortable as possible. These 5 tips will guide you through the best way to care for your sick dog.
Caring For A Sick Dog Tip 1 – Feed Them Bland Food
Don’t give your pet foods that can disturb their digestive system or be difficult to digest. Stick to a bland diet of rice and unseasoned boiled chicken. At all costs avoid fatty meats, especially beef. Beef is the most common protein in pet food and therefore is often seen as a food allergen in dogs If you know your pet has issues with that protein do not feed it to them while they are sick.
Caring For A Sick Dog Tip 2 -Keep Them Hydrated
It’s really important that your dog drinks plenty of liquids. Depending on the illness they are battling, they may be losing a lot fluids, so you’ll need to be sure they are drinking to replace it. Place a water bowl near them encouraging them to drink as often as they can. If they have a favorite drink, give it to them as much as possible. Clear pedialyte is a great one! Another fun addition to the water bowl is ice cubes – this attracts attention to the bowl and helps to encourage drinking.
Caring For A Sick Dog Tip 3 -Track Symptoms
Keep a log book of any strange behavior exhibited by your pet. Of course, your dog can’t speak to you so it’s your job to understand his symptoms. Be perceptive of any changes in their behavior and habits towards food in particular. Trust your instincts – seldom is a detail too small to matter!!
Caring For A Sick Dog Tip 4 -Don’t Forget Their Medication
During your busy day, it can be easy to forget when you need to get your pup his medication. Try setting alarms on your phone to remind for reminders. You also may want to stick a checklist to your fridge that tracks every dosage you’ve given them and when you started a particular medicine. If your dog is being difficult and refusing to take their medicine, try pill pockets! They turn the pets perception of getting medication into getting a treat. If you are still having an issue, call a vet who will visit your home for more help. It may be beneficial to ask for a compounded form of the medication prescribed, this can sometimes hide bad flavors and change a pill into a liquid!
Caring For A Sick Dog Tip 5 – Give Attention
When your dog is sick they will obviously seem and act miserable. Give them more attention than normal. Make them feel comfortable with blankets, treats and calling out to them often. If you’re going out, ask someone else to check in on them frequently.
Like humans, cats don’t sneeze continuously without a reason. Most of the time it isn’t anything to worry about but if it persists, there might be an underlying health condition. Contact your veterinarian if symptoms are prolonged or worsening. For now, we are here to give you some online vet help.
There are five major reasons why your cat might be sneezing.
Online Vet Help Reason #1 – Infection
Upper respiratory infections can be behind your cat’s sneezing. Known also as ‘feline colds’, they are caused by viruses and are transmitted from other infected cats. They are especially common among young cats that are in animal shelters which haven’t been fully vaccinated yet. Viral respiratory infections cannot be treated directly with antibiotics, unless it’s from a secondary bacterial infection.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists two common viral infections that can induce cat sneezing: Feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus. 90% of adult cats have been exposed to these viruses at some point in their life and can often carry the virus with them for life. You may see symptoms resolved and reappear during stressful parts of your cat’s life (adoption, moving, new pets or visiting company) Bacterial infections include Bordetella, Mycoplasma and Chlamydophila – all of which can also cause an eye infection (conjunctivitis). Fatal diseases like feline leukemia are also known to be linked to cat sneezing because it lowers their ability to fight off other diseases. Rarely, fungal infections can even be a reason for upper respiratory signs. Severe dental disease can also be the cause of the bacterial infections in the sinus cavity.
Online Vet Help Reason #2 – Allergies
Contrary to popular thought, cats don’t always sneeze when exposed to allergens. Allergies in cats are more likely to cause skin reactions or itchy watery eyes. Although less likely, respiratory troubles will not be entirely ruled out.
According to Cat Channel, cat sneezing can be caused by environmental allergens like pollen that are carried in the air and inhaled. You can identify whether or not seasonal or environmental factors are responsible for your cat’s sneezing by changing your routine or even correlating signs with pollen counts. If feasible, pay close attention different locations where your cat frequents and watch how h/she reacts. You may notice a difference in their sneezing patterns.
Online Vet Help Reason #3 – Irritants
Just like humans, cats sneeze if they inhale something that irritates their lungs, throat or nose. Contaminants in the air like cigarette smoke, perfume, pest sprays, cat litter, cleaning agents, candles, dust, pollen or mold can cause cat sneezing. It’s usually easy to identify when this occurs because it happens almost immediately. Many of these irritants can also be the starting cause of frustrating diseases like feline asthma so working to identify the irritant early in the process may keep you cat from having to deal with that!
Online Vet Help Reason #4 – Foreign Bodies
Cats much like dogs live with their nose to the ground. This behavior put them at risk for sniffing something into their nose! Grass awn (foxtails) and small goat heads are objects that can get stuck in the nasal passage of your kitty and cause profound sneezing fits! Often, kitties will be able to clear it on their own but sometimes it requires a veterinarian going in and finding it!
Online Vet Help Reason #5 – Masses
Sneezing fits that seem to be progressively worse or especially accompanied by nasal discharge on one side should be taken very seriously. Much like dogs & cats can develop tumors in the nose/sinus – both malignant and benign. Sometimes, this can look just like a cold and often will need advanced imaging of the nose (CT or MRI) to be able to tell the difference.
The recent dog influenza epidemic has dog owners concerned everywhere. A chat with a vet will tell you what signs to look out for and any next steps.
According to recent reports, dog influenza is spreading in the US. Experts have confirmed the flu is real, but there’s no need to panic, not all dogs need a vaccine. We spoke to veterinarian, Dr. Shawna Garner, on signs to look for and how to keep your dog safe.
Chat with a Vet – Signs to look out for
Cough – Coughs from influenza form in the lower areas of the body. Just like bronchitis or whopping cough for children, sick dogs have a dry, hacking cough. Because the cough resides in their tissue, it brings up fluid and you’ll hear your pet make a lot of the gurgling sounds.
Fever – Dogs are generally warm, so it may be hard for to realize when your pet is running a fever. By feeling your dog’s ears or the bottom of their paws you may notice that they are warm regardless they are not running a fever. A dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5 F, and if they’re stressed or anxious it can go up to 103 F. Taking a rectal temperature is the best way to know if your dog has a fever. Check out this Ask.Vet video of how to take your pet’s temperature
Depression – You may be able to tell if your pet has caught a virus when their behavior changes. They may become more lethargic and seem depressed, not really wanting to do anything. You may notice them seeking your attention more than usual. If it’s not normal for them to be lying around and looking tired, then they might have caught something.
Discharge – Sometimes with influenza you may see some nasal discharge. It doesn’t happen all the time because most nasal and or eye discharges are coming from the upper airways, while the flu affects the lower airway in the lungs. Because of this you may see them cough up a little bit of watery discharge. Otherwise, this fluid will just stay in the lungs.
Loss of appetite – An indicator that your dog may be sick is a loss of appetite. If he or she is turning their nose from food or specific treats they normally love, it’s a major sign that something is wrong. Dogs love their food and treats. If they’re suddenly not attracted to them it’s definitely cause for alarm.
Chat with a Vet – Precautionary steps you can take
Because influenza is a virus, it can be easily caught from other infected dogs via direct dog-to-dog contact. To keep your pet from getting sick, avoid areas and situations that may be overpopulated with other sick dogs. If you hear that there are recent outbreaks, it’s better to avoid places like dog parks, kennels, shelters, boarding facilities, grooming salons and other populated dog areas.
The influenza virus can also be transmitted by air, particularly via coughing and sneezing. Simply breathing the same exhaled air after an infected dog has barked in your pet’s vicinity can cause the virus to spread. If there is a local outbreak or your dog is sick, avoid parks and keep your dog away from other dogs.
Another way to lessen the chances of the virus spreading to your dog is by keeping the areas they frequent as clean as possible. Infected dogs that are coughing and sneezing may spread the virus via their mucus. If your dog sniffs a surface that may have become exposed or contaminated, they can inhale the virus. Extra attention to cleaning when your dog is sick will decrease the potential for contamination.
If you have questions about dog flu, wonder if your dog is at risk or if the vaccination is needed/appropriate for your dog, have a conversation with a veterinarian. Veterinarians do advocate for this vaccine in areas deemed an “epidemic outbreak”. They will help you decide the best way to protect your best friend!
In this episode of Chat With A Vet, we talk to Dr. Garner about Grain Free Food. Transcript of Chat With A Vet Episode 3 – Truth about grain free food is available below.
Chat With A Vet: Ok Dr. Gardner here’s a question for you.
Dr. Gardner: Alright.
Chat With A Vet: So when I got Hulk when he was a puppy, one of things that I famously, and I think every pet owner does this, they famously Google information rather than talking to their veterinarian which is why Ask.Vet was created. It was to put pet owners in contact with veterinarians so you can get questions answered and figure out if you need to visit the clinic or not. So, prior to the Ask.Vet world, I was googling what I should feed my dog and one of the things that kept coming up to the top of all of my nutritional searches was how grain-free food is really good for your dog. So, since I have been buying Hulk grain-free food. And it’s a little bit more expensive, there’s bit of a premium on it and I’ve always felt that it’s good for him. Now is that true? And not just limit this to dogs but cats as well. Should someone be feeding, or should I be feeding, my dog and my cat grain-free food?
Dr. Gardner: Well it’s kind of a myth that has been researched pretty extensively and the grain-free fat has been found to be false. While it doesn’t hurt your animal to be on a quote grain-free diet, being on a food that contains grains is not detrimental. Grains barely make up any component for food allergies in both dogs and cats, so grain is actually a good thing for your pets. We’ve known in school when we were taught, when we went through internal medicine rotations and dermatology rotations and we were looking at food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease. One thing we learned was that the number one allergen im both dogs and cats is beef. And at that time, we were taught that chicken is usually the second one but with recent studies coming out, I graduated almost 20 years ago, so with recent studies coming out they’re showing it’s actually that beef is still the most common and now the second one is dairy products so your cheeses. Sometimes you get like your dried milk powders that are added into food to increase protein content. So primarily animals are allergic to the protein source first, but they can have allergies to some grains but you would need to do an extensive allergen profile to determine that. For instance, boxers. I love boxers, I have boxers and man they’re nightmares. Boxers keep up us in business. My boxers all have food allergies and I saw a dermatologist with them and we ran a food panel and they were allergic to beef and chicken. They were also allergic to lamb, and then their top allergen was actually oat. So, they happen to have to stay away from oats as well. So, it can be you know a potential to help with food allergies so usually your grain-free diets are all bad.
Chat With A Vet: OK, so the grain-free diets are part of the fat, so dogs actually have a higher allergic reaction to beef. Am I hearing that right?
Dr. Gardner: Yeah, isn’t that incredible. Yes, they are actually the number one allergen reported in dogs. And this again are taken from your referral centres or from the companies that put out the allergen testing so they’ll collect all the data. And it has shown that the majority of dogs are at 95%, I believe it was over 90%, of dogs are typically allergic to beef.
Chat With A Vet: Wow.
Dr. Gardner: Yeah.
Chat With A Vet: So when you walk down the grocery store, you’ll see dog food that comes in cans and it’s all like beef, stew [laughs]. That’s actually rather interesting.
Dr. Gardner: Yeah. And reading the label. For instance, I know with my own dogs and this is going to sound wild but they were on a kangaroo diet. It was prescription food. But when I was researching different foods that are commercially available at most of your major chain pet stores, I would see one that specifically said for boxers, for skin and hair coats, for allergies, and they would label it is as like a salmon diet. I’m thinking oh great, they’re not allergic to fish. And then I’d flip the bag over and start reading the ingredients and sure the first ingredient listed was salmon. The second ingredient was always chicken or beef. So they cross-contaminate. I couldn’t use the food. So understanding the pet label is also important with that too. But yeah, no beef number one.
Chat With A Vet: Rather interesting. So OK, you broke up there for a part of your explanation.
Dr. Gardner: OK.
Chat With A Vet: So just to kind of reconfirm. Beef is in 95% of dogs, beef it the number one allergen.
Dr. Gardner: Yes. Yes, it was reported that roughly 95% of the allergy reported cases were allergic to beef and then dairy was responsible for the other portion of that.
Chat With A Vet: That’s just wild.
Dr. Gardner: Isn’t it?
Chat With A Vet: That’s just so wild.
Dr. Gardner: It is insane.
Chat With A Vet: And so that’s the hardest thing as a pet owner for me to decide what to feed my pets. Now Bill who adopted me, my cat who comes in, eats her food and leaves. Me and her have a different relationship. So, you know if I’m going to the 7/11 to buy a bottle of water or some snacks, I’ll pick her up food from the 7/11.
Dr. Gardner: [laughs]
Chat With A Vet: She doesn’t care. She’s been a stray her entire life so if I put any food in her plate, she’s going to put it in and then leave.
Dr. Gardner: Once you name it, they’re not a stray.
Chat With A Vet: That’s what people keep telling me. [laughs] So yes, I know there’s the Science Diet out there, there’s some really popular brand names out there. But let’s say you’re a pet owner on a budget. What typep of food can you give your pet because there are those… and the same grain-free food articles that I read and I really got scared that some of the food is very low-quality and it may actually be bad for your pet’s health. So it really scared me. So I’m trying the philosophy of OK, I’ll buy the most expensive brand that I can afford and hopefully he’s getting everything he needs. Bill whatever, but for Hulk I might. So how can a pet owner on a budget decide what type of food to get their pet.
Dr. Gardner: When you want to look at the bag, you’re right. There’s a huge array of foods out there ranging from 10 bucks for a 50-pound bag to $50 for a 10-pound bag. So one of the guidelines, you don’t necessarily have to look for what I call the gimmick. Grain-free or gluten-free. Because those are really just gimmicks to get you to purchase their food based really on what’s happening in human medicine. But the one thing I tell everybody to look for, not all bag foods or sorry dog foods will have this, but you could look for the statement that says it is labelled by AAFCO which is the Association of American Feed Control Officials. They govern what goes into food. So, any of those foods that are stamped with that label, it means those foods have been quality- control sampled so they are balanced. They are complete nutrition for your pet. They have a good quality protein source, they will have a carbohydrate source, fats as well as trace minerals and vitamins that every dog will need to sustain good health. So as long as you have that stamp on there, you know that’s a good quality food. So it might be $10 bag of food but as long as it has been quality control tested by them, you’re good.
Chat With A Vet: And this is quality control tested by AAFCO?
Dr. Gardner: Yes, AAFCO.
Chat With A Vet: Aaafco!
Dr. Gardner: Yeah, and usually it will say something like this food is complete and balanced on the label somewhere. And then it will have that little logo somewhere. Usually on the corner somewhere, on the top or the bottom of it.
Chat With A Vet: Interesting. OK great. I never even knew about the AAFCO label. I mean that’s great. I know that’s something I’m going to start looking for, I actually have to buy Hulk dog food today. So, what’s better for a pet? There’s 2 different types of food out there. There’s the wet food that comes in the can, and then there’s the dry kibble.
Dr. Gardner: Yeah.
Chat With A Vet: Kibble’s easier to manage. I think it smells less. So, I like giving Hulk lamb kibble. His only thing and princess has one problem with it, it can’t get stale so I have to buy him small bags at a time. I can never bulk buy and then store it and give it to him. He always figures out that this was part of a big bag. So what’s better for him? Should I be giving him the wet food that’s coming out of the can? Should I be giving him the small batches of kibble because he likes it that way?
Dr. Gardner: Personally, and as a veterinarian and from experience, we usually say dry food kibble is bed. It’s not as high in fat and carbs as your canned food is going to be. Also your dry kibble tends to actually last longer. When you open up a can of food they usually tell us that you need to use that within 36 hours. So when we look at feeding requirements with animals, as far as how many calories they should be taking in per day. If you’re doing one of the 16 ounce cans, most of your dogs will… and I’m talking a generalized dog at say 35 pounds, they’re only going to require for their calories in the entire day. They’re only going to require a third of that can. That’s per day. So you’re can feed more dry food so your pet. They actually feel full, they get that satisfaction of eating. Now, I do tell people. You can use the canned food as a treat, but a tablespoon here and there isn’t going to hurt them. And usually I tell people to allocate it in baggies, and you could store it in your freezer. That’s going to be the easiest way so it doesn’t go bad. And you could bring out a baggy at a time and feed them their treats throughout the week. So that’s kind of easier to do. You can kind of, especially if you’re on a budget, you can stretch it out and make it last and your pet can have a healthy treat on top of their food too.
Chat With A Vet: Excellent. OK, great. Well those are all the questions I had for this session of Chat with a Vet with Dr. Gardner. Thank you so much for hanging out with us again today.
Dr. Gardner: I appreciate it.
Chat With A Vet: And for anybody listening if you want to have a similar conversation but just via live chat with a veterinarian you can text PET to 67076 to get started with Ask.Vet. It’s only $9.99 a month for unlimited live chats with a veterinarian. Thank you, we’ll talk to you soon.
Dogs diagnosed with Parvo are miserable and their owners devastated. We had a chat with a vet to figure out what to expect when your dog has Parvo and how to prevent it all from happening.
Because it is an incurable disease, options are limited. Having the diagnosis doesn’t mean there aren’t options. Veterinarians will usually sit down with you and have a sobering conversation about your options. You can still treat your sick puppy and help them feel more comfortable.
Dr. Roth, Veterinarian, shares three options for pet owners depending on the condition of the pet when they visit the clinic. They include hospitalization, medication and if all else fails, euthanasia.
Chat with a Vet – Hospitalization
The first option vets offer is hospitalization. This will include giving the dog IV fluids, antibiotics, round-the-clock monitoring, and medications to help with vomiting or diarrhea. Because there is no cure, the sick pet is then put on a very strong medication.
Hospitalization unfortunately is not cheap and if your pet is admitted, which you can expect in a really bad case of Parvo, you’ll end up paying thousands of dollars for treatment.
Chat with a Vet – Medication
Because hospitalization is expensive and not everybody can afford it, pet owners can take medicines home to administer to their pet themselves. You’ll be given a bundle of medications to slow down symptoms of vomiting and to help with diarrhea, and IV fluids to keep your dog hydrated.
Dr. Roth likes to call the home method ‘Parvo-to-go’ – a package she recommends to owners that include an injection of antibiotics and other medications to control symptoms and boost your pet’s immune system.
After that it’s the pet owner’s responsibility to give their dog the medication. Pet owners will need to get their pet to eat and hold down food while taking the medications. Price-wise, the medications can run from $400-$500 depending on how sick the pet is.
Chat with a Vet – Euthanasia
If the pet is extremely sick and your veterinarian is not confident that further treatment is in the best interest of the pet, they may recommend euthanasia. It’s a harsh option for pet owners who love their pets, but they have to remember that dogs dying from this disease will die a painful death. Although it is completely preventable, the reality is that it may be fatal.
Many pet owners struggle with the decision to euthanize, and regret not getting their dog vaccinated as a puppy. The fees for euthanasia vary, but generally range $100-$200. If you would like your pet’s ashes, a burial or other memorialization, there will be additional fees.
Chat with a Vet – Vaccination
Vaccinating your puppy properly is very important to avoid this potentially deadly virus. Saving money by not vaccinating your pet will prove more expensive in the long run if they get sick, and may not be enough to save your precious pup. The adage “an ounce of prevention” cannot be more true for your pup and Parvo.
Because Parvo doesn’t have a cure, it’s important to avoid crowded dog areas and to chat with a vet to recognize early signs of the virus.
Here are signs to watch for:
Lack of appetite – If your pet has not finished his entire serving of food, that could be the first sign that something is wrong. Most puppies are very excited about food, so if you notice they aren’t eating normally, that should peak your interest. If this continues, contact your vet.
Vomiting or diarrhea – These are the most typical signs of your pet being infected by Parvo. One or both of these symptoms can be a sign of Parvo, though it differs for every pet. Your dog may experience just vomiting, just diarrhea, or both.
Lethargy – Sometimes puppies carrying Parvo don’t show any signs. They may instead be a little tired or look lethargic. It may be such a subtle difference that it will be difficult to notice something’s wrong. In those cases, the puppy could be sick and spreading the virus even though they’re not showing any symptoms.
Chat with a Vet – Getting a Diagnosis
The next step to diagnosing Parvo is a physical exam by your veterinarian. If your veterinarian suspects Parvo, they will likely rule out other illnesses with a series of tests for Parvo (e.g., antibody, blood, stool) to examine your pet’s cells in their GI tract.
It’s really important to have a veterinarian’s opinion, and not just assume your pet has Parvo. Other common issues may mirror the symptoms of Parvo.
Chat with a Vet – Costs of testing for Parvo
If you are at a veterinary clinic during regular hours you’ll have your exam fee (e.g., $45 – $85). If you are at an emergency clinic you’ll have a more expensive emergency exam fee (e.g., $90 – $150). And at both a regular and emergency clinic you’ll have fees for each diagnostic test (e.g., antibody, blood, stool). Fees vary by clinic but they can be $60- $100 or more per test. If your pet is diagnosed with Parvo, they may need to be hospitalized and that is costly. A 24 hour hospital stay with IV fluids and medication can be $1,000 or more. Your veterinarian may also recommend an in-home course of treatment, similar to what your pet would have in a hospital, if you are able to provide a high level of care for your pet at home.
Navigating puppyhood doesn’t have to be daunting. With Ask.Vet you can live chat with a U.S. licensed veterinarian whenever you want. Get started by texting PET to 67076 and you’ll be connected to a veterinarian within minutes for only $9.99/month.
Chat with a Vet – Vaccinations
Parvo is completely preventable. Because there is no cure, it’s extremely important that new puppies are fully vaccinated. Parvo vaccines are given every 3 weeks, starting at 6-8 weeks of age up until the age of 16 weeks, then once again at one year of age. After that they get annual booster shots.
Vaccinating your puppy properly is very important to avoid this potentially deadly virus. Saving money by not vaccinating your pet will prove more expensive in the long run if they get sick, and may not be enough to save your precious pup. The adage “an ounce of prevention” cannot be more true for your pup and Parvo.
In this episode of Chat With A Vet, we talk to Dr. Roth about Parvo.
Transcript of Chat With A Vet Episode 2 – Parvo is available below.
Chat With A Vet: Yeah that’s how we usually bond. Speaking of Hulk, when he was a puppy for the first 2 months that I had him, I was told not to take Hulk around any other puppies.
Dr. Roth: Yes.
Chat With A Vet: And this was something that the veterinarian was trying to explain to me, I think this was because of Parvo?
Dr. Roth: Parvo, yeah. So, here’s the thing. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. Some of these breeds it’s really important for them to learn how to interact with other dogs, learn how to interact with other people and learn how to be a good citizen in public. So, we try to keep them as safe as possible especially when they’re very young and vulnerable like that because they can pick up viruses like Parvo. So, Parvo is a virus that lives in the environment, the way that other dogs pick it up is from the poop, the feces, whatever you want to call it of a dog that’s carrying the virus. So, here’s where it gets a bit complicated. It actually lives in the environment for up to a year. So, if 9 months ago a dog with Parvo was in a park and pooped right there, your dog walks up 9 months after that event happens and can actually pick up the virus from that area.
Chat With A Vet: Wow, so the virus lives for that long?
Dr. Roth: Yes. And actually, in some studies it’s showing even longer but we try to err on the side of caution and say that about a year we’re comfortable with that area being safe. But it truly depends on who’s coming and going from that area, right? So, if it’s a place that has high dog traffic, in places like PetSmart, Petco’s, dog parks. All of those places are places that we try to discourage pets from going until they’re completely vaccinated. Some of the places that they can go where we know that the dogs are vaccinated are like behavior classes because those are usually tiled floors that get cleaned very often. And most dogs are required to have vaccines in the class. So those are kind of some ways that they can sneak in some socialization aspects of making your pupping become a normal dog while still trying to keep them safe. But definitely, Parvo is a big deal because there’s no cure for it. There’s no cure.
Chat With A Vet: So, first thing before I get out of my questions about Parvo, my [5:58] about dog parks. And how I’ve found every time I’ve taken Hulk to a dog park, either he, well he comes back really happy and really tired every single time, but a few times he’ll come back with me and he will be a little not normal. Sick. I’ve always felt like dog parks are kind of a suss pool for germs, for dogs. It’s kind of like taking your kid to a random park where you don’t know anybody and you’re just having them play with some random kid.
Dr. Roth: Or even like daycare, right?
Chat With A Vet: Yeah. [laughs]
Dr. Roth: It’s a petri dish and you’re exactly right. I mean I have toddlers and they go to daycare. Daycare is fantastic, very clean but that doesn’t remove the element of there’s people coming and going, and they’re spending a lot of time with children that put things in their mouth and do all that. And it’s the exact same thing for a dog park. In that, the areas that they’re running in. So obviously, dirt and grass are not the cleanest places on the earth. But also, you do not know what that dog has done, what his life has been before they’ve contacted your pet. There are so many types of viruses that are picked up at dog parks. Canine influenza is one of those. It’s really, really big right now and it’s highly contagious. It’s another one there is no cure for and they just have to work through it. And sometimes we lose pets to those. Others are more dramatic looking. They’re actually viruses that cause facial warts that are usually spread from water bowls in dog parks. And so, there are steps you can take to make sure you are doing the best you can. I’m not going to pull my kids out of daycare because they keep getting snotty noses. I want them to be able to socialize and to know how to socialize; that’s where in dog parks and in other places where dogs are, that’s where puppies learn to become a normal dog. And learn how to respond to things that are scary or loud or stressful or new. So socialization aspects of it are really important but you’re right they’re super filthy.
Chat With A Vet: I’ve always felt every time he drinks out of a dog bowl at a water park, it’s like yeah buddy, I know you need water but don’t try come kissing me with that mouth.
Dr. Roth: Take a step further, take your own bowl. It’s not worth the risk and the whole other side of that to the dog park is more than just the germs, not all dogs that are at dog parks are really nice. A lot of the lacerations and wounds that I have to fix are from inappropriate interactions at dog parks.
Chat With A Vet: Yeah, I know and I agree with that. Some dogs are complete jerks. I’ve seen some dogs run over the water bowl and go pee in it. Like wow, that is the worst thing you could do as an animal.
Dr. Roth: Absolutely.
Chat With A Vet: You just peed in the water bowl. So, going back to Parvo. How would you know your dog has symptoms of it? I mean let’s be honest, it was difficult and it was tough not letting Hulk play with another puppy for a few weeks. It gave me and him a lot of time together. He met other puppies, that’s the way he does his social interactions today. He has puppy dates. Instead of going to a dog park, I make friends with people who have dogs and we just take our dogs together places and they do things and they play.
Dr. Roth: Love it. Absolutely.
Chat With A Vet: But it was difficult. Let’s say somebody out there does not have the patience to wait the 2 months, they take their dog to a dog park. They interact in an area where a dog with Parvo is hiking, they find feces and they smell it, and its only been 8 months and now the dog has Parvo. How would you know your dog has Parvo? What should you look for?
Dr. Roth: So, there are a few things that we look for. The first could just be a decrease in appetite. Today, Hulk, for example, didn’t finish his whole serving of food. That could often be the first sign that something is up, right? Most puppies are very excited about food. If they don’t seem to be excited about it, they don’t finish their meal, that should peak your interest. You should be really watching at that point. The next thing that you can see is, in no particular order, vomiting or diarrhea. It’s different for every pet. Sometimes they come in with just vomiting, sometimes they come in with just diarrhea, or both happening at the same time. So, they’re losing stuff from both ends. But those are the typical first signs of something’s not right. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes we’ll get puppies actually carrying Parvo that aren’t showing any signs either so they can be contagious, maybe just a little bit tired, a little bit lethargic but not enough to where somebody will notice something’s wrong so they could even be spreading the virus but not exactly showing that they’re ill at that point.
Chat With A Vet: Interesting. So you see the symptoms, you go to the vet. I mean, is this the part where you scare people into thinking look you shouldn’t have your puppies interact with other dogs for the first 2 months. I mean what happens after you go, “OK, my puppy is vomiting. Am I going to the vet”?
Dr. Roth: So the next step is the physical exam is really important. What we’re looking for in that physical exam is I mean these guys are babies right, they’re immature, they’re not adults. We’re looking for signs of dehydration, we’re looking for signs of belly pain. So that would be the very first step is getting a physical exam done by a veterinarian. That’s the number 1 to know if there’s something important going on. When we try to get it narrowed down, of course, we are going to be having conversations in the exam room and I’m going to say “Look, your dog is 6 weeks old, it’s got vomiting or diarrhea. I’m concerned about Parvo.” The next step to that is testing for it. That can be done in-house very typically, meaning it can be done in the vet clinic. And it’s a test where we use a swab, you swab in the back of the throat. We also swab into the rectum to get a sample. You don’t really want a sample of the poop, you just want a sample of the cells that are lining the GI tract. And so you take that sample and as we say, we need to run a Parvo test. If it’s in an emergency room and this is happening, you’re going to pay the exam fee of course and you’re also going to pay for that test. The same thing for you know just a regular vet clinic and they may be a little cheaper. So that’s the first steps of “yes, I’m worried about Parvo. Let’s do a surgical exam and see if there’s anything else because there are other conditions that can actually look exactly like Parvo in early stages.” So it’s really important to have the doctor’s opinion on that and not just assume the dog has Parvo. Because it could be something else that just happens to mirror the early signs.
Chat With A Vet: Yeah. So once you’ve identified as being Parvo, what’s next? What happens? And I know what’s next, I just I think if somebody’s going to take it seriously, they need to hear it which is the reason why we’re doing these.
Dr. Roth: Absolutely, it’s a sobering conversation for that client. I give them a few options and some of it depends on the condition of the pet at that point when they come to see me. The first is hospitalization. Usually, that’s going to include IV fluids, round-the-clock monitoring. We will put them on things like antibiotics, medications to help with vomiting or diarrhea, but the hard thing about it is that there is no cure. So even though I’m offering you top of the line medicine, at this point because we didn’t prevent it from happening the pet can still die thousands of dollars into it. So that’s the first part of the conversation. The second part of the conversation is what does that look like financially? Because hospitalizing is not cheap and you can expect in a really bad Parvo case, a couple of thousand dollars to try and get them out of it. Some people can’t do that and that’s OK because we do have other options. The second option that I give them is what I like to call ‘Parvo-to-go’. I’ve worked in a lot of ER’s and I’ve seen a lot of Parvo so my Parvo-to-go’ package is an injection of antibiotics, an injection of medications to slow the symptoms of the vomiting, medications to help with the diarrhea. And it’s up to the owner whether he takes him home, and it’s up to the owner to give him the medications to try and get them to eat, try to get them to hold down food. But they go home with a lot of meds. That typically runs prices, $400-$500. Again, that also depends on how sick the pet is. If it’s really, really sick and I’m not confident that that’s in the best interest of the pet, we go to the 3rd option which is euthanasia. Look, dogs die from this. And that’s the reality of it. It’s a disease that we can absolutely prevent, and it kills me as a doctor, a protector, an advocate of these pets to have to euthanize them, put them to sleep, however, you want to word it because it’s something we could’ve prevented. So even the euthanasia, that’s not going to be free either. It depends on where you are but that’s going to be $100-$200 to do that. I think that’s why the conversation is so sobering for these owners. It’s just that pets are in danger of dying, and it’s because of a choice they’ve made. To kind of reflect on that is hard as a pet owner. That “man, that choice that I made to not get my puppy vaccinated. The choice that I made to not pull rank and be fooled by those puppy eyes is why I’m in this position.” So, it’s hard. Yes, I really want them to go and play with other dogs, all of that. But it’s so important that they’re vaccinated along with that is what it comes down to. And completely vaccinated. And so what that means for Parvo is vaccines every 2-4 weeks, until after the age of 16 weeks old. So it’s more than just picking up a couple of vials of vaccine from the feed store. You have to have the right schedule, you’ve got to pull the vaccines appropriately. You know, we’ve talked a lot about price because that’s the reality, nothing is free. So, we’ve talked about the range as far as hospitalization, you can expect $1000-$2000.
Chat With A Vet: And I think that’s the important thing to remember here is these are choices you are making. Yes, in some ways you gave in and you’re going to live with that decision for the rest of your life. Because if you love your pet, that’s one thing you’re always going to do is make sure they’re safe and they’re happy, and if for some reason they get hurt… I mean I get guilty every now and then when my dog’s food runs out and I don’t replace it fast enough. And by fast enough I mean like an hour. [laughs] Or you know I didn’t buy him a new pack of food every 5 days because princess will not eat stale food. Anybody who’s listening who’s ever had a German Shepherd knows exactly what I’m talking about.
Dr. Roth: No, it’s real. It’s completely true. They’re just funny little creatures, aren’t they?
Chat With A Vet: I was shocked. I’m not going to lie to you, I was so shocked going he’s not even eating his food. I bought him this bag of food, I saved $5 and I bought him the 40-pound bag, and then I was like well let me try this and I gave him the fresh bag and he ate it right away.
Dr. Roth: Wow.
Chat With A Vet: He’s definitely a spoiled dog.
Dr. Roth: One of the other things that I actually wanted to make sure I mention about Parvo is that you know we talked about it, it causes vomiting & diarrhoea, but it does affect more of their bodies than just their GI tract. And that’s something that’s really important to mention. What a virus does is that it attacks cells that are rapidly dividing, so growing. And if it’s a young dog, that’s a lot of places that a virus can affect things. There are places that we worry about those. The GI tract is, of course, the most obvious because that’s where you’re going to see the vomiting, bloody diarrhea. It can be pretty dramatic. It can also affect the heart, and it can also affect the bone marrow. And I know that bone marrow is kind of this mysterious concept for a lot of people but what it’s responsible for doing is a huge job. It makes all the cells of the blood that includes white blood cells which are responsible for trying to help fight off infections. That also includes red blood cells which are the sole source of ways that their body carries oxygen. So for them to be able to literally breathe and be alive. So that’s what’s so devastating about the virus. Yes, the vomiting and the diarrhea is hard for them, but if that virus is removing their ability to fight, it’s going to kill them. So that’s where it becomes such a … that’s the other part of the conversation with the owners is just because the vomiting and diarrhea stops, doesn’t mean that battle is over. That’s that have Parvovirus when they’re young, are far more likely to end up with heart disease later on in life. And can be predisposed to picking up other illnesses while they’re trying to get their immune system back. It depends on how much damage was done to other parts of the body. And I think that’s something that people don’t really understand. They’re like “yeah my dog had vomiting and diarrhea and Parvo”, well your dog had Parvo everywhere in the body. It was also in the heart. It was also in the bone marrow which are places that are vital to a long and healthy life which is what we are all aiming for in these pets, right?
Chat With A Vet:
Yeah. I never knew that. And it’s kind of ridiculous thinking about that, that it gets all the way into the bone marrow. I mean you can’t go deeper into anyone’s biology than the bone marrow. It’s deep as you can get, right? I mean I’m not a doctor, just a stupid marketer. I’m pretty sure I’m right.
Dr. Roth: No, you’re exactly right and that’s what’s so scary about it. In that, it’s a $20-$30 choices of … this vaccine is going to cost you 20-30 bucks. And sometimes you’ll pay higher, it depends on where you’re going to get it. But a $20-$30 choices can either A, kill your pet or B, cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars or if they do happen to get out of it, it can affect how long they’re going to live. Isn’t that scary? Isn’t that terrifying?
Chat With A Vet: Oh it was. That’s why when I was made aware of Parvo, I was like “here’s my money. Sure, I’ll hang out with my dog for 8 weeks straight, no worries.” I’m the guy who read an article somewhere a veterinarian put up that goes not that this is going to solve it or possibly offset hip dysplasia in a German Shepherd, but if you keep your dog active, you’re doing them a good favor.
Dr. Roth: Absolutely.
Chat With A Vet: I was like alright, cool so I and the dog are walking and running every other day, at least a mile or two a day since he’s been a puppy. He’s 4 years old now. And it is just one of the things where this little bit of effort is going to possibly help you? Absolutely. I’m all for it because it took me about a good 45 minutes to realize that Hulk was a blessing in disguise for me at the time that he came into my life. And he makes life better. I mean he really does. It’s one of those, anybody who doesn’t have a pet will never understand it. I used to be one of those people, I used to make fun of people for being pet owners and how much they love their pets and now I’m that person where I’m like no this is my dog, D-A-W-G.
Dr. Roth: Absolutely.
Chat With A Vet: When no one else can hang out, he can and there are these little choices I can make that’s going to help him in the long-run so why shouldn’t I? Which literally is even easier today because when I got Hulk 4-5 years ago Ask.The vet wasn’t around.
Dr. Roth: No, we weren’t.
Chat With A Vet:
Right. And today Ask.Vet’s there. The conversation that I’m having with you now could happen with you via chat. And it costs $9.99 a month. It’s unlimited chatting with a licensed vet like Dr. Sharise Roth here or any one of our other wonderful licensed veterinarians. And it’s easier than ever to know whether should I go into the hospice? How much is that vaccination going to cost me? You might be thinking the vaccination’s going to cost $500. It’s not that expensive, right?
Dr. Roth: Right. Well, the fact of the matter is it is always, always, always going to be cheaper to prevent a disease than to have to treat it. Always.
Chat With A Vet: Yeah. It’s just little things. So Dr. Roth, thank you so much for the wonderful information that you’ve given us today. And I’m looking forward to talking to you again.
Dr. Roth: Of course, yeah thanks for having me. Whenever you need.
Chat With A Vet: OK excellent. And for anybody listening, if you want to try out the Ask.Vet service just text PET to 67076. Thank you for listening to Chat with a Vet.
The Super Bowl is tomorrow and the countdown is almost over. For many, the event is more about getting together with friends and family than watching the game itself. Friends and family, of course, means your guests AND your guests’ pets. They want to join in on the fun, eat and make some noise when your team scores. While all that is fine, as a pet owner you need to be careful about what your pet is eating. Keep the house pet-friendly by avoiding danger foods and having a pet-friendly food tray set out just for them. To help you out, we used one of our chat with a vet sessions to ask a licensed veterinarian about game day party foods for your pet.
Here’s what they said:
“You never know what food can trigger a bad reaction even if your pet has been having table scraps all their life. However, there are specific foods to avoid, making sure the Super Bowl is just as much fun for them as it is for you, and doesn’t end up being an emergency visit to the vet!
One key thing to remember about any food is amount. Anything in excess can be bad for your pet.”
Chat With A Vet – Your Pet and Fried food
Fried foods are always bad. Every dog is different but you may find your dog vomiting and moping after eating deep-fried chicken. Play it safe and avoid fried foods, because sometimes their GI tracts overreact to even the simplest of fried foods or spicy food. You don’t want to be cleaning up after your pet while the Super Bowl is on. And you don’t want them to end up with VERY painful pancreatitis.
Chat With A Vet – Your Pet and Bones
Here’s an interesting fact – wild animals don’t eat bones. If you ever go hiking or on a safari you’ll see the bones intact with any animal carcass you come across. They suck out the marrow but they don’t eat the bone.
Animals can’t digest cooked bones. Raw bone can be dissolved with the stomach acid and bile,but that’s not the case with cooked bones. … That’s because the composition of a bone changes when you cook it. While your dog might be salivating for one, don’t cave and give it to them.
Chat With A Vet – Your Dog and Chocolate
Avoid chocolate at all costs. Remind children not to give any to your pet, as it can cause a severe reaction, and in dogs with pre-existing heart disease it can be fatal.
Chat With A Vet – Your Dog and Grapes
Grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs. They have the same toxicity as antifreeze. Grapes and raisins cause crystallization of the kidneys and it can kill them very, very quickly. So, grapes are a huge no-no. They might just sneak into a food tray or salad, so keep an eye out for them.
Chat With A Vet – Your Pet and Alcohol
Super Bowl and beer is synonymous. Undoubtedly, a couple of beer bottles will crack open when the game gets going. If your pet gets the taste of alcohol from the lick of a beer bottle in your hand, that shouldn’t hurt them. But don’t leave alcohol easily accessible to your pet. Their livers don’t process alcohol the same way we do and they can go into liver failure if they consume too much
Chat With A Vet – Your Dog and Onions
Onions in a small amount shouldn’t cause much harm, but if your dog has eaten a couple onions, that may cause toxicity. For example, a dog that’s about 25 pounds would have to eat 3-4 medium sized onions to get a reaction. Typically, it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and could potentially progress to a significant illness requiring hospitalization.
Chat With A Vet – Your Dog and Coffee
Anything high in caffeine is not good for your dog. Like chocolate and candy bars, coffee has high caffeine which isn’t good for your pet. It can cause severe pancreatitis or GI upset. So keep your pet away from coffee beans, flavoring in a cake, protein bars and fancy waters that contain caffeine.
Chat With A Vet – Your Pet and Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts are extremely toxic to animals. When they eat a lot of them it can affect the neurological system. Your dog can have tremors, and if they’ve eaten a lot, become unable to walk and have seizures. One or two nuts may not hurt them, but an excess amount will.
May you and your pet enjoy some super snacks and have a great time watching the Patriots and Eagles! Who are you rooting for?