issue 2 -Feb 2010

Vaccines May Not be Necessary
(by Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM)

Once a year, Ronald Schultz checks the antibody levels in his dogs’ blood. Why? He says for proof that most annual vaccines are unnecessary. Schultz, professor and chair of pathobiological sciences at School of Veterinary Medicine, has been studying the effectiveness of canine vaccines since the 1970s; he’s learned that immunity can last as long as a dog’s lifetime, which suggests that our “best friends” are being over-vaccinated. Based on his findings, a community of canine vaccine experts has developed new veterinary recommendations that could eliminate a dog’s need for annual shots.

Every year, when we take our dogs to the veterinarian’s office, they could receive up to 16 different vaccines, many of which are combined into a single shot. Four of these products protect against life-threatening diseases, including rabies, canine parvovirus type 2 (CPV-2), canine distemper virus (CDV) and canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2); the rest protect against milder diseases to which only some dogs are exposed, including Lyme disease.

But, as many veterinarians are realizing, over-vaccination can actually jeopardize a dog’s health and even life. Side effects can cause skin problems, allergic reactions and autoimmune disease. Though the case in cats, not dogs, tumors have been reported at the site of vaccine injections. “These adverse reactions have caused many veterinarians to rethink the issue of vaccination,” says Schultz. “The idea that unnecessary vaccines can cause serious side effects is in direct conflict with sound medical practices.”

For 30 years, Schultz has been examining the need to vaccinate animals so often and for so many diseases. “In the 1970s, I started thinking about our immune response to pathogens and how similar it is in other animals,” says Schultz. “That’s when I started to question veterinary vaccination practices.” Just like ours, a canine’s immune system fires up when a pathogen, like a virus, enters the body. The pathogen releases a protein called an antigen, which calls into action the immune system’s special disease-fighting cells. Called B and T lymphocytes, these cells not only destroy the virus, but they remember what it looked like so they can fend it off in the future.

It’s this immunological memory that enables vaccines, which purposely contain live, weakened or dead pathogens, to protect against future disease.
But, as Schultz points out, vaccines can keep people immune for a lifetime: we’re usually inoculated for measles, mumps and rubella as children but never as adults. So, can dogs be vaccinated as pups and then never again? While evidence from Schultz’s studies on both his own dogs and many other dogs from controlled studies suggests the answer is yes, Schultz recommends a more conservative plan based on duration of immunity and individual risk. Schultz says that core vaccines, or the ones that protect against life-threatening disease, are essential for all dogs, yet he does not recommend dogs receive these shots yearly. “With the exception of rabies, the vaccines for CDV, CPV-2 and CAV trigger an immunological memory of at least seven years,” he explains. (Studies testing the duration of immunity for rabies shots show it lasts about three years.)

For these reasons, Schultz suggests that dogs receive rabies shots every three years (as is required by law in most states) and the other core vaccines no more frequently than every three years. Some non-core vaccines, on the other hand, have a much shorter duration of immunity, lasting around one year. But, as Schultz points out, not every dog should get these types of vaccines, because not every dog is at risk for exposure.

Today, many vaccinated dogs receive a shot for Lyme disease. However, Schultz says that the ticks carrying the Lyme disease pathogen can be found in only a few regions of the United States. More importantly, Schultz adds, “The vaccine can cause adverse effects such as mild arthritis, allergy or other immune diseases. Like all vaccines, it should only be used when the animal is at significant risk.” He notes that the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine rarely administers the Lyme disease vaccine.

Another common vaccine that Schultz says is unnecessary protects against “kennel cough,” an often mild and transient disease contracted during boarding or dog shows. “Most pet dogs that do not live in breeding kennels, are not boarded, do not go to dog shows and have only occasional contact with dogs outside their immediate family,” Schultz recommends, “rarely need to be vaccinated or re-vaccinated for kennel cough.”

Schultz says that it’s important for veterinarians to recognize an individual dog’s risk for developing a particular disease when considering the benefits of a vaccine. “Vaccines have many exceptional benefits, but, like any drug, they also have the potential to cause significant harm.” Giving a vaccine that’s not needed, he explains, creates an unnecessary risk to the animal.

Recommending that dogs receive fewer vaccines, Schultz admits, may spark controversy, especially when veterinarians rely on annual vaccines to bring in clients, along with income.

Tear Stains
By Honor Tarpenning, Staff

Tear stains are a common issue among many light colored and toy dogs. The first step towards ridding your dog of tear stains is to pinpoint the cause. Once you know why your dog is getting tear stains, you can get rid of the problem, clean the stains, and move on.

The main cause of tear stains is excess tearing. The moisture as a result of excess tearing collects around the eye making it a prime location for the growth of bacteria and yeast. Most of the reddish-brown stains one sees on dog’s faces is due to ptyrosporin, or red yeast.

The causes of excessive tearing can be genetic. The shape of the dog’s head and eyes can contribute to blockage of the tear ducts and an overflow of tears onto the hair around the eye. This problem can be passed from parents to their offspring. In this case one must be diligent and keep up with staining by using tear stain cleaners.

Hair in the dog’s eye can easily contribute to irritation and excess tearing. Trim the hair around the eyes and you’ll probably see an improvement. Too much hair around the eyes will also wick moisture from the eyes and make the problem worse.

If there is a high mineral content in the water your dog drinks, you might find staining on much of your dog’s face. Switch to filtered or bottled water to reduce staining from mineral-heavy water. Also, feeding your dog out of stainless steel bowls, rather than ceramic or plastic will help with facial staining. Stainless steel is easier to clean and less likely to develop scratches and cracks that harbor bacteria. Whatever bowl with which you choose to feed, make sure you wash it regularly.

Use great care when shampooing your dog. Shampoo and other chemicals that find their way into your dog’s eyes can contribute to excess tearing.

Some believe that feeding a natural, dry kibble with no food coloring, preservatives or additives will help tear and face staining. You can also try adding white vinegar to your dog’s water, this is believed to reduce tear staining by changing the pH of your dog’s tears.

Fleas also contribute to tear stains. Fleas need moisture to survive. When your dog is experiencing excessive tearing, there is plenty of moisture around the eyes. This attracts fleas which then leave behind waste, staining the area.

Extreme ear and eye infections can also cause excessive tearing. If your dog has not experienced tear stains in the past, and is presently tear stained, see your vet. Your vet will be able to help you ascertain the cause of staining and possibly recommend a prescription antibiotic to stop the problem at the source.

The following products are widely used to either prevent or remove tear stains:
-Colloidal Silver
-Angels’ Eyes Tear Stain Eliminator
-Around Eye Pet Swabs
-Four Paws Crystal Eye
-Pretty Eyes Tear Stain Remover
-Spa Fresh Facial Scrub and Tear Stain Remover
-Tear Stain Prevention Supplement
-Tear Stain Removing Eye Pads
-Tear Stain Pet Guard Swabs

Dog Diarrheah Treatment
Give them antidiarrheal medicine.... more

Foods Hazardous to your Pets
(by Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM)

There are a number of common ‘human’ foods that can be toxic and deadly for your pet. There are times you simply don’t know what you are doing to your animals by feeding them foods you believe to be very healthy (or harmless at least) for them. Your dog may have been exhibiting mild symptoms of illness like lethargic behavior or being off their food for a while. Or even more sever symptoms like excessive vomiting, seizures or worse. These are obvious indications that SOMETHING is going on with your dog and one of the first things to consider is what you are feeding them. The important thing is to know exactly what to avoid.

Here is a complete list (as of date posted on blog, Jan 2010) with symptoms and some home-relief techniques:

Fatty foods
The primary concern here is severe gastrointestinal upset- and in some cases Pancreatitis.
This can be fatal in some pets- and it is ALMOST always triggered by a High Fat Meal, such as gravy or bacon.

Raisins and grapes
As few as 6 grapes and raisins have caused acute kidney failure in some dogs.
The toxic ingredient is not yet known..
There is no treatment.
AVOID feeding ANY grapes or raisins to your dogs.

Yeast dough
The yeast dough/uncooked bread dough will rise in your pet’s stomach causing severe gastrointestinal distress (vomiting/diarrhea), bloating, and signs of alcohol toxicity.

Apples, Apricots, Cherries, Peaches and Plums
Ingestion of large amounts of stems, seeds and leaves of these fruits can be toxic.
They contain a cyanide type compound and signs of toxicity include apprehension, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation and shock.
Note – it’s the seeds and stems that contain the toxic component, not the fruit itself.

Potato peelings and green looking potatoes
Potatoes and other Solanum species, including the tomato, are members of the nightshade family of plants.
These plants contain solanine and other toxic alkaloids which, if eaten in large enough amounts, can produce drooling, severe gastrointestinal upset, including vomiting and diarrhea, loss of appetite, drowsiness, central nervous system depression, confusion, behavioral changes, weakness, dilated pupils and slowed heart rate.

Alcoholic beverages
It is often sweet – attracting dogs and cats, but can cause serious and fatal intoxication. Don’t ever offer this to your pets.
Here are some of the signs and side effects:
- Incoordination/ataxia
- Excitement
- Depression
- Excessive urination
- Breathing rate is slowed
- Cardiac arrest and death

Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark contain a toxic principle known as Persin. The Guatemalan variety is most toxic – but all have toxic potential. They cause vomiting/diarrhea – primarily gastrointestinal distress.

Chocolate (all forms)
Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic.
Initial excitation.
Increased drinking and urinating.
Vomiting and Diarrhea.
Theobromine causes an increased heart rate and arrhythmia -.
Seizures can then be seen.
Death is then possible.
ACTION PLAN: Induce vomiting, give activated charcoal, and go to
the Vet if depression and seizures begin. Baker’s chocolate and
high cocoa content chocolate is the most toxic; the toxic dose is
2 baking squares for a 10lb dog. Regular chocolate bars have
little real chocolate and are seldom toxic.

Coffee (all forms)
Coffee contains dangerous components called xanthines, which cause nervous system or urinary system damage and heart muscle stimulation

Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin, which can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscles of dogs. This has lead to paralysis. A small number of nuts and even the butter can cause this.
Moldy or spoiled foods
Many molds contain a type of toxin called an Aflatoxin. This is thought to be a common cause of “compost toxicity”. Signs include GI (Vomiting/Diarrhea), muscle tremors, in-coordination, elevated temperature, excessive salivation, and liver damage. Avoid feeding ANYTHING moldy to your dog or cat.

Onions, onion powder
Onions contain the toxic ingredient thiosulphate.
Pets affected by onion toxicity will develop anemia. 1 Onion can cause this. Fortunately ALL dogs recover once they are stopped from ingesting onions.

Xylitol is a artificial sweeter found in “SUGAR FREE” Products, such as gum, candy etc.
Signs relate to a sudden drop in glucose (blood sugar), in-coordination, collapse and seizures.
Avoid feeding any gum/candy to your pets.

High levels of nutmeg can be toxic, even fatal.
The toxic component is unknown..
Signs of toxicity include tremors, seizures, nervous system abnormalities or death.

Tomato leaves & stems (green parts)
The green parts of the tomato plant are considered toxic because they contain solanine, which has the potential to produce significant gastrointestinal and central nervous system effects.

CA law clearly states that it is illegal to perform veterinary medicine on other people's animals unless you are a licensed veterinarian.

It is legal to "assist" someone performing veterinary medicine on their own pets, provided there is no charge.

Please folks, do not support profit-mongering individuals trying to get around the safeties that the AVMA has set up.

Here are some legal ways to provide free and low cost vaccine to your pets:

Shots For Spays
Non-profit org that gives in-home free vaccines as long as you are fixing your pets.

Pet Network Vaccine Clinic
Low cost vaccine clinic, rotating around different locations in the county.

Shots For Pets
Mobile vaccine van that visits different communities every month.

PETCO Vaccine Clinics
petco vaccine page
A schedule of low cost vaccination
clinicsatlocal PETCO stores - you have
to look up your store for their hours of operation.

St. Vincent de Paul's
Contact them about free vaccination events for low cost pet owners.

SDDAC Shelters Rabies Clinics
$6 rabies vaccine every Thurs afternoon from 1-2pm at all three county shelters (licensing available for dogs on location)


















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