Tag Archive: deadly


Vaccines,What are the Risks and Benefits to Your Pets.

By: Dr. Bob Baker Dr baker with penny

As a veterinarian I am faced with questions about vaccinations every day, what are the risks? what are the benefits?  To say that vaccines are safe is true, however there are adverse effects associated with vaccination.  While extremely rare, anaphylactic allergic reactions can occur and must be dealt with immediately. Other allergic reactions, fever, vomiting, facial swelling occur on occasion, but are still rare. The old feline vaccinations were associated with development of an injection site sarcoma; this occurred more commonly in patients with a genetic predisposition to cancer. So yes there are some risks associated with vaccination.  When it comes to vaccination, we have to assess the relative risk of vaccination vs. the risk of the disease.  Rabies vaccine however is always indicated as it is state law to vaccinate dogs and cats.  Most pets however, do not have the social risk factors of humans, there  are some such as those that go to groomers, boarding kennels, and day care.  These pets have risk factors more like us, where we go to work, school, shopping; where we interact with others that may or may not be vaccinated or be incubating or spreading a contagious disease.

DSC_0854When an animal or person is vaccinated, most will form antibodies to the false infection that will protect from the real infection when the subject is exposed to the pathogen.  There are however, some individuals that are genetic non-responders, meaning they cannot form antibodies to the vaccine.  These are the individuals that get sick despite vaccination.  This happens in canine parvovirus on occasion because the dog, no matter how many times they have been vaccinated, simply cannot respond to the presented antigen.  So how do we protect these “non-responders” in the population, along with the individuals that cannot receive vaccines because of illness, immunocompromise, or allergies.  The key is a concept called herd immunity, and it derives from infectious disease management mostly in the cattle and dairy industry.  The more individuals that are vaccinated, the more protected the herd, including those that cannot be vaccinated or are non-responders.  The more individuals that do not receive the vaccine, the more likely the herd immunity will fail and an outbreak will occur.

Measles is a virus that belongs to a group of viruses  called Morbillivirus.  It evolved from a cattle virus called Rinderpest around  1100-1200 A.D.   When the measles virus first adapted to infect humans, it had a high mortality rate, killing up to 60% of those infected.  Over time, the virus (and us) have changed to be less fatal, but still is very infective.  It is interestingsierra to note that Rinderpest, the cattle morbillivirus, has been eradicated by a global vaccination protocol, similar to what we did with the Smallpox virus in humans, and almost did with the Polio virus until the Taliban in the tribal areas of Pakistan started shooting the vaccinators.  The canine morbillivirus causes a disease called distemper, which most veterinarians in practice today will never see because enough people continue to give their dogs the vaccine to keep herd immunity up and individuals protected by a highly safe and effective vaccine.

Holiday Pet Hazards

By: Bob Baker,DVM Dr. Baker

The Holiday season brings out many potential problems for your pet.

Chocolate exposure and ingestion can cause anything from mild stomach upset to life threatening medical emergencies. If you are giving chocolate as a gift, it is best it does not get put under the tree. The nose of a dog will be able to sniff through the package and gain access to the goodies.

Sugar free treats made with an artificial sweetener called Xylitol can cause liver failure in the dog, Picture 217but is safe for humans. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. Macadamia nuts are also toxic to dogs. Some dogs will like the taste of eggnog, and the optional alcohol can be a real problem.

Other dietary misadventures with bones, fatty leftovers, candy etc. can cause significant gastrointestinal upset. Bones can cause obstruction and require surgery, there can be an association of high fat foods and pancreatitis that can be life threatening.

Decorative plants such as poinsettias, holly, mistletoe and lilies can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal upset and holly mistletoe_dogand mistletoe can cause rhythm disturbances in the heart.

Tree tinsel and gift wrapping ribbon can be very entertaining to a curious cat, unfortunately cats can swallow these objects creating a linear foreign body which are incredibly dangerous. They cause a plication (accordion movement) of the intestine on itself and can saw right through multiple areas of intestine. It is very important your cat be seen as soon as possible if you suspect a linear foreign body. People will sometimes put a bow or ribbon around an animals neck which if equipped with a breakaway safety feature could result in choking

The Christmas tree itself can be a hazard, the water in the base can be a source of bacteria or can contain toxic substances to maintain freshness of the tree . We have also seen the curious pet try to climb the tree causing it to fall.

dog-christmas-lights 1Christmas lights have their associated electrical cords are another hazard. Chewing electrical cords can cause painful oral burns.

If you have any questions, just give us a call at (775) 358-6880.

Happy Holidays !

Ethylene Glycol or Antifreeze Ingestion

By: Jackie Pulver

Ethylene glycol or most commonly known as antifreeze, is a serious health hazard to pets. Exposure to small amounts of the substance can be  fatal to both cats and dogs. Ethylene glycol is present year round, but exposure is most common during winter. The substance has a sweet taste, so pets are often attracted to it. After ingestion of the ethylene glycol, an animal will often appear “drunk” within 1-2 hours. They may stumble, vomit, and be in a stupor. As the “stupor” phase subsides, the animal may become more quiet and depressed, and an owner may notice the animal drinking and urinating more. Animals ingesting ethylene glycol can develop irreversible kidney damage that is often fatal. Animals with suspected antifreeze ingestion need to have immediate medical attention.

Treatment for ethylene glycol includes the induction of vomiting if it has been within 60 minutes of ingestion. These patients also need supportive care with intravenous fluids. Due to the kidney damage caused by  ethylene glycol, these patients need to have their kidney function monitored closely after recovery. Antifreeze is a substance that is present in almost every household. A small amount is deadly. If you have any concern that your pet may have ingested this substance, please seek medical attention immediately.