Top Deadly Mistakes–Canine Edition

September 7, 2011 by Jamie Totten
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1. Not completing a puppy’s vaccine series and/or not giving vaccines.  Parvovirus is rampant and it kills.

Puppies need a set of shots. Puppy series shots generally start at 6-8 weeks of age. They should be vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until they are over 16 weeks of age. Canine parvovirus is a huge threat and it is in the vaccine series.  Most dogs who develop parvo are under two years of age and they almost always are dogs who have never had a vaccine or those who have been improperly vaccinated.  The ones who develop it as older dogs typically have a problem with their immune system or have a heavy load of intestinal parasites.  Always check with a veterinarian to make sure your dog’s vaccine series is updated and appropriate.  Always make sure you trust your source of vaccines if you buy them on your own because if they were shipped improperly and the vaccine was not cooled appropriately during the entire shipment, it is likely to be ineffective.

2.  Assuming that a senior dog’s weight loss/trouble getting up in the morning/lack of appetite, etc is “just getting old”

Age is not a disease (although aging does make one more prone to certain disease processes).  There is generally a reason behind the issues your geriatric dog is experiencing and addressing these issues early rather than later gives us a better chance for a cure or for more comfort in the long term.

3.  Letting your dog ride in the back of the truck.

Dogs fall out.  They see something exciting and they dive for it.  They do not generally comprehend potential consequences for their actions.

4.  Not keeping your dog on year-round heartworm preventive.

Please read Dr. Keith’s excellent post on this topic for more information.  There is NO treatment.

5.  Hot weather and dogs with big fluffy hair coats (chows, huskies, saint bernards) do not mix; neither do smooshy faces (pug, boston terrier, bulldogs)

These dogs are ineffective at cooling their bodies when extreme temperatures occur.  If they become overheated, they can develop heat stroke.  Short term survival is difficult, as heat stroke can lead to clotting problems and other system wide effects that can result in death.  If they are lucky enough to survive, long term consequences can include neurologic dysfunction and organ damage.

6.  Antifreeze poisoning.

A tiny amount of antifreeze is all that is required to kill a dog.  Ingestion of this sweet substance can lead to kidney failure.

7.  Ingestion of foreign bodies

Eating rocks, pantyhose, balls, shoes, string.  These can cause your dog to have a foreign body removed from his intestines, part of the intestine to be removed or rupture of the intestines (perforation).   Dog proofing is a necessity in a house with a new puppy or dog.

Next week, I will discuss the feline population and how to keep them protected.

What other tips do you have?

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3 Responses to “Top Deadly Mistakes–Canine Edition”

  1. CarolineNo Gravatar says:

    An excellent and informative post!

  2. KayNo Gravatar says:

    Can someone tell my why I cannot get rid of my dogs’ fleas this year? I’ve spent a fortune and tried everything but nothing seems to be stopping them. I’ve heard other dog owners talk about this.

    Speaking of which, can you overdose a dog on Frontline? I hate giving them chemicals anyway and wonder about what sort of side effects they could suffer from something as drastic as subcutaneous chemicals that are supposed to kill fleas for a month. I mean, it can’t be good for them. I worry about the poor things and all the chemicals that go into their bodies and wonder how much of it is really necessary and how much of it is profit driven propeganda. I really do not trust the medical industry in general, especially pharma and the dog health care industry is getting just as bad. I was turned down for pet insurance on one of my dogs because she has a pre-existing condition!

    Today I treated my dog with an all-natural flea remedy made out of sea shells. We will see if it works. I’m frankly tired of being guilted into constantly treating my dogs with expensive, harsh chemicals that do god-knows-what to them. I’m strongly suspecting that the dog industry in this country is becoming a real racket and I’m very suspicious of the motives of vets who constantly chide and push expensive treatments on dog owners. I mean, my last dog lived 14 years and I never gave him heartworm medicine or frontline. He was just an old houndog who could eat anything. Now I have these park avenue dogs that I’m spending fortune on and I’m getting a little tired of it.

    No offense by the way. I’m not saying that your advice is not good. This information is very helpful.

    • Jamie TottenNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Kay! Thank you for your comments. Flea control has come a long way in recent years. The development of frontline gave an alternative to the known toxic chemicals that used to be the mainstream treatments for fleas (some of which are still over the counter in common name flea products). The place where I see the most problem with flea control is not doing preventive measures of some sort and allowing the fleas to get into the environment. Once in the environment, fleas are very difficult to get rid of and that is when we have to do a lot more chemicals (ie flea bombs, sprays, etc) to treat environment as well as putting flea control on every animal in the household. There are a number of many good flea products out there and your veterinarian should be able to counsel you on the best plan for your pet. I tailor flea control protocols to the household based on exposure and will work with people to develop natural flea control protocols.

      As human beings (and veterinarians), I believe we are a product of belief systems and experiences. When we see a dog die a miserable death of a completely preventible disease like heartworm disease or parvovirus, our experience tells us to do all we can to prevent it. As a profession, we strive to practice evidence based medicine and the majority of our training is in western medicine. We know, through experience, that the products we recommend to our clients work well. We are responsible for researching the products we recommend. The products that come out that have known detrimental side effects (like promeris which ended up causing major skin problems in some dogs) are quickly pulled off the shelf. I honestly do not believe that veterinarians, as a majority, have any ulterior motives. We choose veterinary medicine because we love animals and their people. A trusting partnership if vital to that relationship and I openly welcome my clients to approach me with concerns they have with anything I have recommended.
      Thank you for the compliment and I hope to provide more helpful information! In fact, since you brought it up, I’m going to do more research on alternative (non chemical) flea control methods and write about that in a few weeks.

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