Dear Daisy Dog: My small mixed-breed dog, Eddie, had a close call with heatstroke – inside my apartment on a day that was warm but not hot. I partially opened the windows when I left for work, and when I got home, I was shocked to find Eddie lying on his side panting, his eyes glazed over. I rushed him to the veterinarian who gave him emergency treatment for heatstroke. Please warn your readers about this danger. Daisy Responds: Thank you for sharing your harrowing experience. Even when it’s only moderately warm outdoors, the interior of a home or car can quickly become an oven. Heatstroke, an excessively high body temperature, can cause brain damage, kidney failure and, in half its canine victims, death. We dogs are particularly susceptible because we can’t regulate our body temperatures very well, especially if we’re young, old, overweight, have breathing difficulties, or have heart disease or other medical problems. Signs of heatstroke include rapid breathing and heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea – and then collapse. Treatment is aimed at lowering body temperature and preventing damage to the brain and other organs through intravenous fluids and medications. If Eddie ever has a repeat episode, spray him with a garden hose or immerse him in cool water – but not ice water – before you transport him to the animal hospital. Once he’s in the car, position him by the air conditioner vents.
Dear Daisy Dog During her annual exam, my dog Misty tested positive for Lyme disease on the SNAP test. The veterinarian vaccinated her but did not treat her for the disease. Another veterinarian recommended an antibiotic. Which treatment is correct? Daisy Responds If you had asked one more veterinarian, you might well have received a third recommendation: to conduct a Lyme C6 quantitative antibody test and base the treatment decision on the result. According to a poll conducted in May by the veterinary journal Clinician’s Brief, veterinarians are evenly divided among the three treatment options. Let me explain the theory behind each, to help you become a better informed member of Misty’s heath care team. First, let’s look at the decision not to prescribe an antibiotic but to vaccinate instead. The SNAP test showed Misty had been exposed to Lyme disease. She wasn’t sick, so your veterinarian felt she required no treatment. Moreover, the potential risks of antibiotic use may outweigh the negligible benefits in this situation. Furthermore, no study has proven that treating non-clinical Lyme-positive dogs prevents them from getting sick later. With regard to Lyme vaccination, the SNAP test proved Misty’s lifestyle exposes her to ticks, so your veterinarian vaccinated her to prevent disease in the future. Many veterinarians also recommend a product that kills ticks, such as K9 Advantix or Frontline Plus. The second option, to treat all dogs that test positive, is employed by one-third of veterinarians, because they feel the antibiotic is relatively safe and inexpensive, and they’re not very concerned about bacteria becoming resistant to it in the future. Finally, one-third of veterinarians recommend an additional test, usually the Lyme C6 quantitative antibody test to determine exactly how high the dog’s antibody level is. Levels below 30 indicate exposure but not active disease. On the other hand, if the C6 quantitative test detects antibody levels over 30, most veterinarians treat with an antibiotic. The SNAP test shows only whether the dog has antibodies but doesn’t measure the level. All three treatment options are considered acceptable. Unfortunately, no one knows yet which will prove to be the best course.
Dear Christopher Cat: What is the difference between a tabby and a tiger cat? Is a tabby a purebred? Christopher Responds: I am a long-haired tabby, born to a female barn cat and a tomcat that visited one spring. In other words, while I am outstanding in many ways, I am not purebred or even what one might call well-bred. Tabby is actually not a breed, but a coat pattern common among purebreds and mixed-breed cats, referred to as domestic short- or long-haired cats. The classic tabby has a blotched or swirled pattern of dark markings over a lighter coat color. A classic tabby often has a bull’s eye on each side or a butterfly shape on top. A marbled tabby is a classic tabby whose coat has a cloudy appearance. The mackerel tabby, often called a striped tabby or a tiger cat, has narrow stripes of dark fur instead of the blotches or swirls of the classic tabby. In the “broken mackerel,” the stripes appear as dashes or broken lines. Other tabby variations include the spotted tabby, which has dark spots instead of stripes or swirls, and the ticked or Agouti tabby, which is flecked. Tabbies have thin, dark stripes on the face, expressive markings around the eyes, and an “M” on the forehead. Some tabbies have white bellies and feet. We tabbies come in a variety of colors, including brown, orange, gray and my own black and silver. Female tabbies can even be calico (a combination of orange, black and white) or tortoiseshell (orange and black.)
Dear Daisy Dog: I have Labrador retrievers, and I want a straight answer about canine vaccinations. Do our dogs need so many yearly vaccinations? What’s actually required? Which can be given every three years instead of annually? Daisy Responds: I wish I could give you a blanket answer, but the truth is that each dog’s risk of developing a given disease differs. Factors include how likely he is to be exposed to a sick dog, the strength of his immune system and chronic diseases that may suppress it, and even his breed and age. Because the veterinarians at the Animal Hospital of Dauphin County can assess your dog’s risk and know the prevalence of the diseases in our community, you should ask these important questions during the next wellness exam. That said, I can tell you that rabies vaccination is necessary because the disease is deadly to dogs and humans, vaccination is required by Pennsylvania law, and the disease is all too common here. Antibodies from the initial vaccination last one year; thereafter, duration of immunity is determined by the vaccine given. Most veterinarians recommend a distemper combo vaccination that also includes adenovirus, parvovirus and often parainfluenza. These viruses cause respiratory infection, neurologic disease, liver disease, vomiting, diarrhea and death. Both 1-year and 3-year vaccines are available. Our veterinarians may recommend annual vaccination to protect your dogs from leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that damages the kidneys and liver. “Lepto” can be transmitted to humans. Lyme disease, caused by bacteria that damage the joints and kidneys, is transmitted by ticks. The disease is often life-threatening in Labradors and other retrievers. The vaccine is boosted annually. Finally, you should consider having your dogs vaccinated for kennel cough if they are exposed to other dogs, particularly in close quarters or when under stress. The vaccine is given every six to 12 months.
Dear Christopher Cat: Amanda, my arthritic cat, enjoys napping in the sun’s warmth by the window. I just read that sunshine can give her cancer. Would a sheer curtain block enough sun to protect her? Christopher Responds: You are correct that ultraviolet light, particularly the UVA rays that pass through windows and penetrate deeply into the skin, can cause skin cancer, usually squamous cell carcinoma. The regions of the body most often affected are the nose, ears and other areas where hair is sparse or pink skin lies beneath white hair. A sheer curtain would cut down on some of the light, but the UVA rays that reach Amanda’s skin would still pose a risk. A better solution is to apply ultraviolet-blocking film to the window. It will stop the harmful UVA rays from reaching Amanda but still let the heat through to warm her.
Welcome to the inagural post of a new blog feature on our Web site. Ask the Vet’s Pets is your chance to ask tough questions and get answers straight from the ones who know: the vet’s pets! The entries are written in the voice of Christopher Cat, Daisy Dog and several guest pets: Christopher Cat Christopher Cat is the pen name of Oliver, a silver and black long-haired tabby of uncertain ancestry. Oliver is known for his common-sense intelligence, humor and unlimited self-confidence. He frequently receives assistance with the column from feline family members Carlie and Claire. Daisy Dog Daisy Dog is the pen name of Annie, an English setter rescued in 2005 at the age of five. She is bright, affectionate and eager to please. In answering questions, she sometimes consults her Irish wolfhound brother, Ollie. The original Daisy Dog, an olde English sheepdog, lived with Dr. Pickett from 1974 through 1988. Guest Columnists Cathy Cockatiel, Frank B. Ferret, Gina Guinea Pig, Reba Rabbit and Reggie Rat contribute their expertise when Christopher Cat and Daisy Dog take occasional vacations.