On Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend an online seminar put on by Maddie’s Fund. I was already interested in the topic, but expected to learn little new as I had already been reading up on the topic on my own. As it turns out, I learned a heck of a lot more information in the seminar than in the newspapers. Go figure.
The topic? What Animal Shelters Need to Know About the Canine Influenza Outbreak. The seminar was presented by Dr. Sandra Newbury from the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program. Dr. Newbury has been working closely with shelters since the outbreak and was able to share some details that the media has missed in their rush to join the hype.
She shared some of what shelter workers who have been dealing with after the spread of this virus, not only in the shelters in Chicago, but also in the surrounding areas and states. Wow. I cannot imagine the stress. They deserve our support. What they are dealing with is incredibly overwhelming. I imagine they are exhausted after managing through this for the past two months. They are not only caring for hundreds of sick cats and dogs, but also worrying about exposing their own pets to this virus. Imagine how scary it must be for them.
You can get a copy of the presentation handout here, but I thought I would share a few of the things I learned.
- The virus currently making dogs sick in Chicago (H3N2) originated in Korea, China and Thailand. It is suspected it came from the Avian influenza and transferred to cats and dogs. In Korea, China and Thailand, the virus also infected cats, who experienced a significant mortality rate when infected (something we have not seen here).
- Despite what we may think, there is no proof that the virus came in with a dog imported from these countries to the United States. They may never know how it made it to this country.
- The virus did not originate in a shelter, but started with one dog living in a home. Contraction of the virus most likely started in a training class, vet clinic, or doggy daycare.
- When it did hit animal shelters in Chicago, it hit them like a tidal wave. Example: One or two dogs started showing symptoms on Monday. By Tuesday, ten dogs were sick and by Friday, shelters were seeing 50-100 dogs sick. In CACC, they saw 200 dogs sick with the virus.
- Most of the dogs have had mild to moderate respiratory disease. Very few that have died, but some have developed pneumonia and needed additional treatment.
- Symptoms usually start with a cough and nasal discharge. Dogs sickened with this virus seem to feel worse than the dogs infected with the known virus, H3N8.
- This virus differs from the one we have previously seen in the United States (H3N8) in that it has a longer “shedding” period (the virus can still be shed by the formerly sick dog long after they seem well, thus making them still contagious after 19 days).
- This has had a huge impact on shelters and shelter workers. Because of the longer shedding period, shelters have had to stop or slow down the release of dogs to rescues and they have had to turn some dogs away in order to avoid infecting more dogs, sometimes diverting incoming dogs to other uninfected shelters. They are trying to be very, very careful to not spread the virus.
- Because this virus is new to the United States, many shelters were placing dogs up for adoption after seven days, when they appeared well, but they soon discovered that other dogs were getting infected when exposed to these dogs even though they (the formerly sick dogs) were well.
- Dr. Newbury said they are now recommending that dogs be isolated for at least 21 days after they were first diagnosed to prevent spread of the disease, but she cautioned that they are not yet positive that 21 days will be long enough, because they thought it would be fine after 14 days and discovered it was not.
- If a rescue or animal shelter chooses to adopt out a dog who was sick and no longer has symptoms, they should be apply two rtPCR tests and get a negative result from both before allowing the dog to be adopted, and even then, they should gain agreement from the adopter that they will keep them isolated for the full 21 days (no dog parks, no training classes, etc.).
- Shelters in Chicago are developing plans to release some dogs from their shelters to avoid an increase in euthanasia, but they are giving rescue groups very, very specific instructions on holding the dogs in isolation and away from other dogs. They do not want to move dog to an area that does not have influenza already.
- Sick dogs are not turning over to recovering dogs as quickly, but they are starting to see more recovered dogs than sick now. That is very good news.
While I still think this is a very serious outbreak, I feel better knowing more of the details. The speed at which this virus spreads and the fact that the shedding period is so long should be a concern for rescues as they import dogs from these sates. They may want to avoid the ones where cases already been confirmed for now.
Kudos to all the shelter workers dealing with this and trying to make sure it is contained. You have a tough job on normal days. This is above and beyond what is “normal.”
I need to apologize to all of you.
A couple of months ago I wrote about Daisy’s insulinoma and shared my worries and my fears about her recovery, but I never came back to give you an update on how she was doing. I am so sorry. I was so in the moment of what was going on that I never realized that I had left you hanging on what happened or how she was doing! Duh!
So how is Daisy doing? Well, I will let you see for yourself. In pictures, of course. :)
She is back to walking with us at the dog park and walking with new energy and vigor.
Jasper is back to harassing (I mean, herding) her and she is happy about that.
She loves exploring and digging again.
She and Cupcake are still looking for cheese in the oddest of places.
Cuddling is still a priority (I will never tire of that).
Recently, I took her with me on an extended weekend vacation at a cabin on a lake.
While there, she enjoyed a couple dips in the lake.
She also explored the beach.
And, hunted for shells
Explored the woods.
Woke to the sound of loons every morning.
And, relaxed. A lot. :)
She’s looking good, isn’t she?
Having come through to the other side of things, I can honestly say that I am glad she had the surgery. I had a lot of doubts in those early days immediately following it, but now I am so grateful that I get to enjoy a little extra time with my girl.
I think I would lying if I did not admit that I am also hyper vigilant about any changes in Daisy’s behavior. I know that insulinomas almost always come back. I know that my time with her may be as short as a year or as long as 18 months. That is the reality. But if they really did get it all, and it never comes back, then I have her for as long as she can outlive her aging body. I am hopeful it will be the latter. For now, Daisy is doing well and loving life, and that is the best outcome of all. :)
Thank you for caring and sending your prayers and good thoughts. Daisy and I are forever grateful. Truly grateful.
I’ve been stewing on this issue for some time now, but the recent outbreak of canine influenza in Chicago, and some of the recent stories I have heard about dogs transported here, has led me to believe it is time for Minnesota to regulate the transport of rescue dogs into our state.
I know it is odd for a rescue supporter and pet adoption advocate to suggest such a thing (I have no doubt it will be considered blasphemy by many local rescues), but I come at this as more than just a supporter of rescues. I come at this as a pet owner, an owner with senior dogs, dogs who have had recent health issues. I come at this as an owner who has seen rescues, acting in the best interest of the rescue dog, make critical but unintentional mistakes that have the potential to harm the dog populations that are already here.
From a lack of proper foster parent training and education to a lack of proper care for sick dogs with the potential to expose other dogs to illness, rescues have the potential to cause harm to existing populations of dogs in our state.
Just last month, a group of dogs were transported in from another state and placed in foster homes (after an urgent call went out for people to foster) with little being said about the health checks these dogs received before they were handed off to their new foster homes. I know that the situation was an emergency, and that rescues had little time to act, but I wonder if they gave any thought to what they might be transporting in with them before they drove them across state lines? Were the potential dangers considered beforehand? Did they get a full health assessment and blood workup done before they handed the dogs off to their foster homes?
More diligence must be taken, especially in light of hearing that the canine influenza was likely imported with a dog that came from China or South Korea and that Canine Brucellosis was recently transported into Calgary, Alberta, Canada via rescues in the southern U.S. and Mexico. I wholeheartedly support saving dogs, but we need to be more diligent. We need to be more thoughtful and plan ahead. We need to make sure we are not saving one dog while putting a whole population of resident dogs at risk.
In New England, the south to north dog transport (i.e., rescue transports from southern shelters to northern rescue groups) got so big that veterinarians became concerned. They started seeing more cases of parvo, rabies, heart disease and other dog diseases and parasites as a result of the dogs being brought into their states. Massachusetts was the first to implement laws around dogs being transported into their state, but others soon followed including New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
To circumvent the Massachusetts regulations, officials say, some rescue groups simply told adopters to meet them over the border. New England was caught in a geographic game of Whac-a-Mole, trying to ensure that only healthy dogs were being transported by responsible rescues. Dr. Scott Marshall, the state veterinarian in Rhode Island, says that state saw parvo cases blossom from two or three each year into two or three each week in recent years before enacting regulations that mirror the Bay State’s. Today, all the New England states have rules. Boston Globe, May 12, 2013
The laws in New England require:
- Rescues register with the state
- Each animal have a health certificate that is signed by a veterinarian
- Imported animals be held in isolation for 48 hours in an approved facility to allow dogs to recover from the stress of travel so their health status can be more accurately assessed
- Must be examined by a vet after the 48 hour holding period
I know that implementing something similar in Minnesota will cause hardship for many rescues, at least initially, but I think it is necessary. Importing dogs from out-of-state is such a common event now that regulation is necessary. In the rush to save more dogs, some rescues are choosing to cut corners and worry about the health of the dog once they get here versus before. This is not to say that rescues are bad. They are not. They are in the business of saving dogs’ lives. Their heart is in the right place. But if we are to do it in a way that protects all dogs, both those in and out-of-state, we need to ensure that all groups are following protocols that ensures this is the case.
As always, I welcome your thoughts.
Massachusetts Animal Rescue and Shelter Regulations (initial Draft)
The more you dig into puppy mills, the more you learn about the physical and physiological repercussions it has on the mother dog (and that doesn’t even take info consideration the genetic issues) and her puppies.
Last fall, when Dr. Frank McMillan spoke at an event (hosted by Animal Folks MN), he shared some data on the behavioral issues that show up in puppy mill puppies sold in pet stores. The results were quite startling:
- Out of 14 behavioral variables measured across puppies from responsible breeders and those sold in pet stores, the pet store puppies were found to have fared worse in 12.
- As they grew up, pet store puppies showed more aggression towards their owners.
- Pet store puppies also displayed more aggression towards other dogs.
- Puppies who are purchased in a pet store are more likely to escape and run away.
- Pet store puppies tend to be under-socialized because they are taken away from their mothers too early and are likely to experience trouble as they grow up.
You can read more about Dr. McMillan’s study via Penn State here: Penn Vet study finds pet store puppies come with increased risk
Puppy mill breeding dogs have their own set of behavioral issues – almost all due to a lack of socialization and fear and ongoing abuse, but now we can show that the puppies they bear have problems too. Why is this the case?
New evidence suggests that mother dogs experiencing extreme levels of stress can pass that stress on to their puppies, and that stress can impact their lives long after they have been weaned and adopted into loving family homes.
The body is designed to protect the puppies from normal amounts of stress:
“Normally, an enzyme inactivates cortisol at the placenta, protecting the fetuses from the level of cortisol that the mother is experiencing. But when the cortisol level is extremely high, some passes through the placenta to the developing puppies. They receive the extra cortisol as information: The world is scary. We should be prepared. “
You can read more on this in the Whole Dog Journal from their November 2014 issue, titled “How a Mother’s Stress Can Influence Unborn Puppies: A highly stressed mother dog may influence her unborn puppies and affect their adult behavior.”
That pet store puppies are more likely to carry this stress message in their systems should not be all that surprising. After all, past evidence has shown that the stress of the mother passes down to the baby, both in humans and rats.
Puppies born in mills experience the stress of the mother in utero and after they are born. When you add in the fact that they are then pulled away from their mothers at a very young age, shipped across country in trucks with other sick little puppies, manhandled and placed in a pet store window, where they are on display and handled over and over again until they are adopted, it’s a wonder any of them survive, much less make it into a home as a normal dog. That they fare poorly on 12 of 14 behavioral variables should not be surprising either. It makes one wonder why anyone would want a dog from a pet store at all.
Daisy’s last litter of puppies were kept by the organization that saved her life. They were going to be trained to be service dogs. I wonder how many of them failed to make the cut? I hope not many, but the more and more I learn about puppy mills and their impacts on the dogs and their offspring, the more I believe that they were doomed from the start.
Now how sad is that?
It’s been a rough couple of weeks here at Casa del Mel. If you haven’t seen it on my Facebook page, Daisy had surgery to remove a tumor, called an Insulinoma, from her pancreas. A tumor, that up until February 6th, we knew nothing about. Now we know too much.
An insulinoma is almost always a malignant tumor that appears on the pancreas and starts messing with the insulin levels in a dog (or human). It causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), tiredness after exercise, collapse, seizures and sometimes brain damage. It is a progressive disease and will spread throughout the body, as all cancers do.
On February 6, I took Daisy in to our regular vet to have her teeth cleaned and a lump (an benign outgrowth of a sebaceous cyst) removed. I expected to receive a call later in the day to be told all went well and she was ready to go home but instead, I received a call a few hours after I dropped her off to tell me that they could not perform the procedures because her blood sugar was really low, abnormally low (hers was in the 40s, normal is 80).
I knew it was serious, but I did not know how serious until Monday. That was when my vet informed me it was likely an insulinoma, and that she was referring Daisy to her teacher at the University of Minnesota. Within 30 minutes, I received a call from the U of M to schedule an appointment (yes, it really did happen that fast).
This was the moment when I got scared. A call within 30 minutes? An appointment two weeks out was not soon enough? Oh my God.
We went in on Thursday for a consult and a CT scan was scheduled for the next day. It would tell us whether or not it had spread and what course of action we would take.
The hardest thing I had ever done up until that point was to leave Daisy at her regular vet, with people she knew, but on that Friday, I had to drop her off with strangers (albeit, wonderfully nice strangers) and leave her there for the whole day. It killed me inside.
When I got the call that she was done, the vet also confirmed it was an insulinoma (just as we thought). I was also informed that it was a single tumor and had not spread to her chest or other organs. There was some concern over a slightly odd-looking lymph node nearby, but it was small (2mm) and not as concerning as the insulinoma. The recommendation was surgical removal.
As the vet and surgeon both told me at our post CT scan meeting, they almost never see a dog with an insulinoma who has not shown any major symptoms (collapsing, seizures, etc.), and who has not already found to have multiple tumors or to have it spread throughout their body. By the time they see dogs with this type of tumor, they are pretty far gone. They were both pretty excited that Daisy had been caught early. They wanted to schedule the surgery for Tuesday, February 17.
To say I was completely overwhelmed would be an understatement. I was scared and freaked out and not sure what to do. I needed time to think. Should I do the surgery and get the cancer while it was early? Should I let the cancer spread and just maintain Daisy’s glucose levels as long as I could with drugs? What was fair to Daisy? What was best for her?The decision was agonizing.
I could not bear the thought of willingly letting the cancer, this insidious, awful curse of a disease, spread through Daisy’s body, but, I was also filled with doubts. What if she died in surgery or due to complications from surgery? What if her quality of life was better without surgery, even though it might mean an earlier death? What if I lost her in surgery when I could have had her for a few more months without it? Was it fair to put Daisy, my fearful girl, through this?
In the end, I decided to go ahead with the surgery, partly because it was already scheduled and partly because Daisy was the anomaly, the cancer had been caught early, and I couldn’t bear the thought of letting the cancer spread. Not if we could remove it and give her a good quality of life for a year or so to come. I wanted her to have a quality life, not a life slowly seeping away as the cancer ate through her body.
The surgery went well. Daisy came out of to with the left half of her pancreas gone (due to the location of the tumor), but her glucose levels we’re closer to normal and she made it through. In addition to the tumor, Daisy had the lymph node removed and a biopsy of her liver done. Both the lymph node and the liver biopsy came back negative for cancer. The tumor was, of course, positive for cancer, but they got it all out. Luckily, she can still function with the remaining half of her pancreas and her glucose levels have been normal since the surgery. Her prognosis is good.
But, I am still plagued with doubts. Did I do the right thing?
On Friday, Daisy started drooling, drinking water excessively, pacing, seemed restless, and suddenly developed a bloated stomach. I thought I was going to lose her. I thought she had bloat. Only another surgery would save her and I did not have the money for another surgery.
However, after an X-ray and a radiologist consultation, it was determined Daisy had food bloat. A very different type of bloat and much less scary that the stomach-twisting kind. Supposedly, she got into something and ate a lot of it – they can see lots of particles of something like dog food in her stomach. Unfortunately, she had very little opportunity to get into anything and I cannot find any missing items that would explain what she might have eaten, unless it was poop. So, I worry and wait for her to poop out whatever she supposedly ate.
For me, it is concerning that her stomach is still bloated, but it appears to be less so than Friday evening. The good news is that she is still eating and drinking and she is also acting more like herself. She is more tired right now, but that is to be expected after major surgery (not to mention the visits to the ER).
Being a lifelong worrywart, I think I will continue to worry about Daisy, and my decision to put her through surgery, for some time to come. Maybe I will feel better when I see Daisy back at the dog park with her siblings, running through the woods and begging treats from her friends at the dog park. Until then, I wait and hope and pray that I made the right decision.
While I would not wish this experience on anyone (who wants their dog to have cancer or major surgery?), I have learned a lot.
What I have learned:
- No one can make the decision for your dog’s healthcare except you. Others will weigh in and may even scoff at your choices, but in the end, the decision is yours. Also keep in mind what your pet would want.
- Know how far you are willing to pursue saving your pet. Ask yourself: How much is too much? How long do I keep trying to save them? What kind of quality of life is my pet getting? Before the CT scan, I had already decided I would not do surgery of the tumor had spread, even a little bit.
- Having a great vet who knows your dog, and knows when to be concerned, is a blessing. Find a good one. We have and we love her.
- Blood work before surgery is a must for my vet, I am guessing it is for most medical procedures involving anesthesia, but ask your vet beforehand. If my vet had not run Daisy’s blood work, she could have had a seizure on the operating table and/or could have died.
- The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center is a great place and filled with amazing people. They are responsive and kind and always willing to help.
- Be okay with saying “No” to a procedure if you feel it is not beneficial to your pet or will not extend their life. I had a hard time with this one at first. There is always one more procedure that can be performed, one more drug given, but in the end you have to decide if it is worth it.
- Get pet insurance. I wish I had. The costs add up quickly. My costs went above the estimated price, by a lot. Be prepared for it to do so.
ARE YOU READY????
Starting at midnight tonight through midnight tomorrow night (12:00 AM Central time, Wednesday, November 12th through 12:00 AM Central time, Thursday, November 13th) the most competitive charity game in all the land (that and being Minnesota, of course) begins!!!
What is it? GIVE TO THE MAX DAY!!!!
Give to the Max Day is the one day of the year when charities from around the state of Minnesota compete to raise money for their charities, and for the chance to not only double their donations via matching grants, but to also win additional prize money that will allow them to do even more to help their communities in the coming year .
For many charities, like Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR), it is a day that will determine how many Shelties we can save and how many will get a chance at a new life in a loving home. The money raised, starting at midnight tonight through midnight tomorrow night, will help us to continue to save Shelties like Maggie and Lenore, who both came from a puppy mill in Pine River.
Without MNSR, Maggie and Lenore would not have had the chance to learn about living in a home where loving hands care for them and provide them with a safe place to land and learn and grow.
Without MNSR, dogs like 14-year-old Lady and her 12-year-old son, Jasper, would have ended up in a shelter when their owner passed away. Instead, they found themselves in a loving MNSR foster home where they are doted on daily.
Give to the Max Day is a big deal. Huge.
Last year, Minnesota Sheltie Rescue (MNSR) was lucky enough to make the top 5 in the small charity category. It allowed us to say “Yes” to many Shelties in need, including Shelties from Pine River puppy mill raid.
Here are just some of the things Minnesota Sheltie Rescue has done to help Shelties in need:
- Spent $49,000 in Foster Dog expenses in 2013. This includes veterinary and other expenses directly related to caring for foster dogs. Some of this money went to care for…
- Sheltie sisters, Mindy and Mandie, who came to MNSR when their dad died. We made sure they were vaccinated, spayed, microchipped, tested for heartworm, and we treated Mindy’s ear infections. Vet bills totaled over $1180. Mindy and Mandy are now in a forever home with loving families who love them just as much as their dad did.
- Lady and Jasper who came into our care when their owner died. Lady had a dental with 8 extractions, a full mouth gingivectomy, oral cyst removal, and treatment for UTI, and Jasper had a dental with extractions and treatment for his skin as a result of allergies, plus routine veterinary care. Their vet bills totaled $2,040.
- Zach, who was treated for two tick-borne diseases and for additional surgeries needed to make him a healthy and happy dog. Zach is now in a happy home with a loving family.
- Treatment for Sadie who has diabetes and needs dedicated help to control infections. Sadie also required extended dental work with X-rays and extractions, along with spay and other routine veterinary care. Sadie’s vet bill was $1070.00.
- Found new, happy and loving homes for over 34 Shelties in 2014.
- Donated $500 to help pay for a much needed surgery for Grace, a Sheltie who was lost and then hit by a car in Duluth Minnesota.
- Helped many Sheltie owners seeking information on Sheltie health and behavioral issues. Some of this training assistance helped Sheltie owners to keep their dogs instead of surrendering them.
- Educated Sheltie owners on keeping their Sheltie safe and what to do if they get lost.
MNSR currently has 34 dogs in our foster program, including 9 special needs long-term foster dogs. These are dogs like Maggie and Lenore who need additional time and care before they will be ready for adoption and like Jasper and Lady who need long-term care because of their age and health.
You can help us do so by contributing to Minnesota Sheltie Rescue in the next 24 hours.
Can’t give much? That’s okay. Remember, for every dollar you donate, a Minnesota organization is contributing a matching dollar amount to Minnesota Sheltie Rescue.
If you give $5, MNSR gets $10.
And, if your donations help Minnesota Sheltie Rescue to make it into the top 10 for their category, they will also win additional prize money that can be used to help more dogs.
First Place: $10,000
Second Place: $7,500
Third Place: $5,000
Fourth Place: $2,500
Fifth Place: $1,000
6th place through 10th place – $500 each
Every hour one donation is selected at random to receive a golden ticket. This means if your donation to MNSR is chosen, an additional $2,000 will be awarded to our rescue organization!
Not only that, but at the end of the event an additional Super Golden Ticket will be randomly awarded to one donor’s charity in the amount of $20,000! Just think how many Shelties we could help with that kind of money!
How to donate: Click here and make a contribution. That’s it.
Want to know how we’re doing throughout the day? Just go to the main LeaderBoard and look under the SMALL charity tab. You can also check out our Give to the Max Minnesota Sheltie Rescue page to see how much money has been contributed across Minnesota to various charities.
Check it out several times a day and cheer us on!
Thanks for your support!
I had planned to write about pancreatitis, but changed my mind at the last minute and decided to write about canine vaccinations.
Let me state up front, I am not one of those people who is going to tell you to avoid vaccinating your pet. While I may believe that we are over-vaccinating our pets, I am not someone who believes we should skip them altogether. The risks are too great to assume we know better than our veterinarians.
Instead, I want to share my own experience with vaccinations and what I do now to, hopefully, prevent the same thing from happening again.
Indy was the very first dog I had ever adopted. She came into my life at a time when I was really missing my childhood dog, Alicia. Adopting a new dog after losing one that had been a part of my life for 15 years was hard, but saying yes to adopting Indy was never in question. She picked me as much as I picked her.
Indy was a Shepherd/Collie mix and the absolutely perfect dog one could ever have. She was well-trained, attentive, smart, a quick learner and very, very sweet. I loved her with my whole heart. Some of my favorite memories of her are of our walks together in the woods. I used to love hearing her rumble up behind me to catch up after she had stopped to sniff something alongside the trail. The sound of her thundering feet when she ran, the smile on her face when she knew we were heading out on the trail, and the swish of her tail in complete happiness; these were all things I loved about her. She was a very special dog.
Like most pet owners, I was diligent about getting Indy in for her vaccinations and yearly check ups. When she was 9 years old, I brought her in for her usual vet visit. Everything that visit was normal, completely normal, even the vaccination portion of the visit. Indy received all her vaccinations at once – rabies, canine parvovirus, distemper and bordatella, and appeared to be fine. But, as it turned out, all was not fine.
The next morning Indy had a major seizure and was rushed to the vet and then on to the emergency vet. She had to be given Valium to stop another seizure and to let her body rest. The vets suspected that Indy was having a reaction to the vaccinations she had been given the day before. The rabies vaccine seemed to be one of greatest concern.
Indy spent the night at the emergency vet so they could observe her in case she were to have another seizure. She was released the next day – groggy and disoriented.
At home, she recovered quickly and soon we were taking our walks in the woods again. All was well.
Until the next month.
Indy had another seizure. We made another trip to the vet, but by then she seemed to have recovered. I was given a Valium pill to take home with me as a precaution. I was nervous and afraid and worried. The next month, Indy had yet another seizure, and then another one the month after that. As the months went one, Indy’s seizures increased in frequency. Now they were every 3 weeks, then every two and finally every week.
Each time she came out of it extremely disoriented and unable to really understand me. She would stumble around the house, despite our best efforts to keep her lying down. She would eventually collapse on the floor and sometimes drool. Often she would sleep the rest of the day, her body exhausted from the seizure. Sometimes she had accidents as her body was wracked by the seizure. It was so sad to see her this way.
When her seizures became more frequent (every other day), we made the difficult decision to say goodbye. It was probably one of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make. She was one of the best dogs a girl could ever want.
In every other way, Indy was a healthy 10-year-old dog, but her quality of life was not what it had been. She was not the happy dog she used to be. Each seizure seemed to take something from her, leaving a confused empty shell of a dog behind. We said good-bye with her lying in my arms.
What I learned
What I did not know then but I know now is that the rabies vaccine can cause serious side effects. It is also the one that can be the hardest on your dog’s system. The vaccine stimulates an animal’s immune system in order to create protection from specific infectious diseases. This can create mild symptoms, ranging from soreness at the injection site to fever and allergic reactions, to severe reactions like seizures, muscle weakness, autoimmune diseases, etc. Because of the virulence of the rabies vaccination, it is best to avoid giving it with the other vaccinations.
Don’t give any other vaccination in combination with the rabies shot. Veterinarians have reported that risk of reaction increases with the number of vaccinations given. Request that your veterinarian not give your dog a combination shot and wait a few weeks before giving another vaccination.
What I do now
I can never know for sure that it was the rabies vaccine that caused Indy’s seizures, but in all likelihood it was the culprit. Although it is not a an experience I ever wanted, my experience with Indy did teach me a lesson I will carry with me the rest of my life – my dogs will always receive the rabies vaccine separately from the rest of their vaccinations. It is not an option for me.
My vet is aware of my concerns and supports me fully. We usually schedule my dog’s rabies vaccinations so they are 3 weeks before or after their other core vaccinations. This may be a slightly more expensive route to go, but the peace of mind I get in return is worth it. Does this mean none of my dogs will ever experience what Indy went through? No. I know there is never a guarantee of that, but it does make me feel like I am doing everything I can to reduce the chances it will happen again. Titers are another route to go if you choose to do so. I have chosen not to do so. Yet.
Disclosure: Please keep in mind that while I have consulted professionals regarding Indy’s care, this post is not advice on how to heal your pet, but more of a cautionary tale that may be worth heeding. As always, please consult your vet before making any health decisions for your pets.
This post is part of the Caring for Critters Round Robin hosted by Heart Like a Dog. You can find a huge list of helpful posts about a variety of pet illnesses and needs by clicking on the image above. Check out last yesterday’s post from Cascadian Nomads on the dangers of Salmon poisoning.