Meet our buddy "Tank!"
This handsome man was seen for his second rattlesnake vaccine. He lives on acreage in Murrieta and has a high risk of running into a rattlesnake during his daily jaunts on the property. His awesome mom wanted to protect him from a potentially fatal bite, so she had him vaccinated and took him to rattlesnake avoidance training. Since he had never had the vaccine before, he had to have the initial vaccine, and then have it boostered a month later. The days are getting longer and warmer, rattlesnakes are emerging from their dens, thus rattlesnake season has begun.
So, do you know if your dog needs a vaccine? Since we shouldn't over vaccinate our animals, we need to consider if they are at high risk. Do they live on acreage or near hillsides? Even if they live in a tract home, does the home back up to the creek or wooded/brush filled areas? Do they go hiking or camping with the family? Do they live in an area that is a long distance away from a veterinary hospital or emergency clinic? Is there a defined high risk for rattlesnake exposure?
A big misconception about the vaccine is that it will protect the dog from any bite, and the dog will not require veterinary treatment. Not true at all! What the vaccine does is buy you time to get your dog to the vet for emergency care. It may lessen the severity of the venom and as a result there may be less pain, swelling, tissue damage, clotting issues and organ involvement. The dog also may not require as much antivenin. Sounds good, but all of this is influenced by other things such as the dog's age, health, breed, location of the bite, how much venom was injected, how much time elapsed between bite and treatment, and how much physical activity between bite and treatment.
We really hope Mr. Tank avoids any rattlesnake that he may encounter, but if he should get bitten, we are happy to know that he has a little back up protection from the vaccine until help arrives! Happy trails Tank!
The number one problem I see dogs (and to a lesser extent in cats) is itching! I hear, "Doc, she is scratching all night long; it is driving me nuts" or "he licks his feet constantly". Itching is most commonly a sign of allergies. Other causes can include mange, fleas, a foreign body like a foxtail or thorn, a bug bite, etc. But skin allergies are VERY common.
It's difficult to simplify allergies, but in general they fall into a few categories:
1. Environmental--this is due to pollen and dust that either gets inhaled or
touches your pet's skin. It doesn't have to be plants just in your backyard. The pollen can be from trees and plants blooming miles away that blows in on the wind. Even if you keep your windows shut all the time, you yourself still walks outside from time to time and can carry in allergens.
2. Fleas/Ticks/Mosquitoes--a true flea allergy is an animal that is allergic to the saliva of the flea bite. So it only takes one bite to set off an allergic reaction. See the picture below for an example of flea "dirt" and a dog with a typical presentation for a flea bite allergy. Flea "dirt" is actually the feces from the flea. When you dab it with a bit of water on a white paper towel, you will see it turn red because the flea's feces is basically dried blood. For some reason, fleas really like the base of the tail, in the armpits and in the groin areas. For this reason, most dogs and cats will chew the heck out of their lower back and sides when they have a flea allergy.
3. Food Allergies--This is a slow brewing process where dogs and cats have an allergy to one or more ingredients in their food. It is not like a child with a peanut allergy that is very sudden and life-threatening. Food allergies tend to cause excessive gas, soft stools or diarrhea, scooting or "carpet surfing". Carpet surfing is when a dog rubs its face along the floor or a couch, especially after he/she eats food. That can indicate his/her face is very itchy. Food allergies can and do contribute to skin allergies overall, but it is not as common as people seem to think. Allergies from something in the environment and fleas are by far the most common causes. That being said, I will always recommend trying to reduce potential food allergens to eliminate them as a contributing factor.
4. Bacteria and Yeast--Bacteria and yeast are always present on our pets' skin in healthy numbers. When an animal has allergies, they often traumatize the skin by scratching it creating small breaks in the skin. Allergies also cause changes in the pH of their skin. The pH change and the tiny breaks in the skin allow bacteria and/or yeast grow in excessive numbers. This leads to stinky, smelly, super itchy dogs and cats. To make matters worse, some animals are allergic to the very bacteria and yeast that grow on their skin. Most animals with allergies have some type of bacterial or yeast overgrowth, which is why we have to use medicated shampoos and oral antibiotics or anti-fungals to treat the secondary infections that have developed. Below shows a slide image of yeast (the large "footprints") and bacteria (the smaller purple dots).
There is relief, however! There are many options that can help your dog or cat who suffers from allergies. Two newer medications such as Apoquel and Cytopoint are doing absolute wonders for my canine patients. Check out www.itchcycle.com to understand the biology behind allergies. If your animal is suffering from an itch that never stops, please give us a call so we can find the right solution for your pet!
Hello Temecula Valley! As we are nearing the end of our summer, we are still seeing cases with foxtails in our pets. These pesky grass awns have a nasty way of finding their way into ears, noses, in the mouth, under eyelids, between the toes...I've even removed one that migrated up the lady parts of a female dog! They have also been reported to migrate into the body cavity burrowing their way into the spine. These are nasty plants! See some examples below:
If you see your dog shaking his head vigorously or scratching at his ear, or a swelling between the toes, or sneezing hard all of a sudden...these are good reasons to give us a call!