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November 2018
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Do You Have To Keep Vaccinating Your Pet?

Sunday, November 4, 2018
posted by Jim Murphy

Kim Campbell Thornton of NBC News published an interesting article about pet vaccinations. It was first thought that we had to get our pets vaccinated every year but that may not be the case anymore.  The detail are outlined below in the article.

Vaccinations have saved many pets’ lives over the years, but they aren’t without risk. Now, with new research showing that immunity may last longer than once thought, veterinary experts say it’s safer to decrease the frequency of most shots that typically have been given every year.

Side effects from vaccinations range from mild itching and swelling to anaphylactic shock leading to death. Cats may develop vaccine sarcomas, which are cancers that develop at the site of the injection. And dogs may develop certain autoimmune diseases.

Veterinarians have suspected for years that annual vaccinations for cats and dogs aren’t necessary, but large, well-controlled studies just didn’t exist to prove it one way or the other. With the exception of rabies vaccine, the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t require data beyond one year for any vaccine.

With that being the case, vaccine manufacturers arbitrarily recommended annual vaccinations, and most veterinarians, concerned about liability issues, concurred.


Sometimes immunity lasts a lifetime
More recently, however, several published studies have shown that immunity provided by some vaccines lasts for much longer than one year and in some cases for a lifetime.

“We know that for [canine] distemper and parvo, for example, the immunity lasts a minimum of five years, probably seven to nine years, and for some individuals for a lifetime,” says veterinarian Jean Dodds, founder of Hemopet, the first nonprofit national blood bank program for animals, located in Santa Monica, Calif.

“For cats, so far we have challenge data out nine years showing that immunity is still protective,” says Dodds. And with rabies vaccine, new data indicate the immunity lasts for at least seven years, she says.

What does all this mean for your dog or cat? As with many other aspects of veterinary medicine, vaccinations are becoming individualized, but in most cases, fewer and less frequent vaccinations are the way to go. Most animals need only what are known as core vaccines: those that protect against the most common and most serious diseases. In dogs, the core vaccines are distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis and rabies. In cats, they are panleukopenia, calicivirus, rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus), and rabies as required by law.

Three-year interval recommended
“Current vaccine protocol is to properly immunize puppies and kittens with two or three doses, starting later than we used to, maybe at eight weeks and not earlier than six weeks,” Dodds says. “Then you can give a booster at one year and either repeat it every three years, stagger it by giving one vaccine per year instead of combination vaccines, or do titers instead.” Titers are tests that measure the level of antibodies in the blood, which would indicate that immunity still exists.

That recommended three-year interval was a compromise decision. “Annual boosters for the core vaccinations are excessive for most dogs and cats,” says veterinarian Link Welborn of North Bay Animal and Bird Hospital in Tampa, Fla., and a member of the most recent panel of veterinarians that revised vaccination guidelines for dogs and cats. “Limited studies suggest that booster vaccinations for many of the core vaccinations last for at least seven years. However, given the limited number of animals involved in these studies, three years seemed like a reasonable compromise.”

There’s also an advantage to giving single rather than combination vaccines. “Giving more vaccinations increases the likelihood of side effects,” Welborn says. “Separating vaccinations allows the veterinarian to determine which vaccine caused a side effect if one occurs.”

If you’re concerned that your dog or cat will develop a vaccine-related health problem, but you want to make sure they’re protected against disease, annual titers are an economical alternative.

They’re reliable and costs are comparable to those for vaccinations. For instance, at Canyon Animal Hospital in Laguna Beach, Calif., the rate for a combination distemper/parvo titer is $39. If the dog turns out to need a vaccination, it’s given at no additional charge. Titers are also available for cats.

Consider changing veterinarians if yours claims that titers are too expensive to perform, charges $50 or more for them or wants to vaccinate because a titer level is “too low.”

“Any measurable titer to a specific antigen means you’ve got immune memory cells,” Dodds says.

Skip the annual exam, too?
So do these new recommendations mean that your dog or cat no longer needs an annual veterinary exam? Don’t get your hopes up.

The physical exam your veterinarian performs is far more important than vaccinations. In a recent study on longevity, 16 percent of dogs and 20 percent of cats were found to have subclinical — meaning signs weren’t yet obvious — diseases that were diagnosed through an exam and routine lab work.

“Many people, because the animal is living with them, don’t notice subtle changes in the behavior or the clinical state of the animal that a veterinarian would notice,” Dodds says.

Welborn likes to see veterinarians and pet owners working together to perform an annual lifestyle risk assessment. That means looking at the animal’s environment and habits to decide whether it needs such non-core vaccines as those for feline leukemia or Lyme disease or canine cough (probably not, unless the exposure risk is high) and whether it needs changes in diet or exercise levels to prevent obesity and its attendant problems, which include arthritis and diabetes.

“Care should be individualized for each pet,” Welborn says. “The days of treating all dogs and cats the same are gone.”

Kim Campbell Thornton is an award-winning author who has written many articles and more than a dozen books about dogs and cats. She belongs to the Dog Writers Association of America and is past president of the Cat Writers Association. She shares her home in California with three Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and one African ringneck parakeet.

Remember, your pets count!
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Our dogs have a little bit of diarrhea and vomiting from time to time. As long as this is just occasional, short term stomach trouble, we usually don’t worry. Long term episodes of vomiting and diarrhea may be signs of irritable bowel syndrome.  If your dog is diagnosed with I.B.S., your veterinarian may suggest a temporary change of diet.  You could be told to substitute with bland foods such as steamed rice or pasta. Sometimes increased fiber in the diet or pro biotic supplements will help.  Remember, irritable bowel is a syndrome, not a specific disease. Intolerance to certain foods can cause irritation as can stress. You and your veterinarian must work to find the cause and the solution. Your dog will thank you both!

Remember, your pets count!

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Our family lost one member earlier this year. My beloved cat Molly crossed the bridge on Feb. 3rd. Our other cat Millie is still with us and she is already 13 1/2 years old. Millie is now the “Queen of the house” since Molly was the dominant cat, Millie is now taking her turn being “in charge.” Molly and Millie never got along since both are females and Molly was our first meaning that she controlled everything.

We would like to adopt a dog but chose to wait. Since Millie is finally more comfortable and is getting all the attention, we wouldn’t want to traumatize her but taking in a new family member. Sometimes we do things like adopting a pet without thinking things through.

Remember, if you’re  thinking of taking in a new pet, take a breath and remember your other pets. What kind of disposition do they have? If you have a cat, would you want her to spend the rest of her life hiding under your bed because the new pet is terrorizing her? Never act on impulse. Analyze your situation before making a decision.

Remember, your pets count!

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Pet MD’s 10 Halloween Safety Tips For Pets

Wednesday, October 31, 2018
posted by Jim Murphy

It’s Halloween and a fun time for kids and adult alike but is it a fun time for our pets? We dress them up take them out to parties, parades etc but we must ensure that they are kept safe at all times. Pet MD has put together a comprehensive guide to pet Halloween safety. Please take a look at their article right here to make sure that you have their safety covered.


Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families. But for pets? Let’s face it, it can be a nightmare. Skip the stress and keep your pets safe this year by following these 10 easy tips.


1. Trick-or-treat candies are not for pets.

All forms of chocolate—especially baking or dark chocolate—can be dangerous, even lethal, for dogs and cats. Symptoms of chocolate poisoning may include vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and seizures. Halloween candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also be poisonous to dogs. Even small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures. “Xylitol ingestion can also cause liver failure in dogs, even if they don’t develop symptoms associated with low blood sugar,” adds Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor with petMD. And while xylitol toxicity in cats has yet to be established, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


2. Don’t leave pets out in the yard on Halloween.

Vicious pranksters have been known to tease, injure, steal, and even kill pets on Halloween night. Inexcusable? Yes! But preventable nonetheless. Black cats are especially at risk from pranks or other cruelty-related incidents. In fact, many shelters do not adopt out black cats during the month of October as a safety precaution. Make sure your black cats are safely housed indoors around Halloween.


3. Keep pets confined and away from the door.

Indoors is certainly better than outdoors on Halloween, but your door will be constantly opening and closing, and strangers will be on your doorstep dressed in unusual costumes. This, of course, can be scary for our furry friends, which can result in escape attempts or unexpected aggression. Putting your dog or cat in a secure crate or room away from the front door will reduce stress and prevent them from darting outside into the night…a night when no one wants to be searching for a lost loved one.


4. Keep glow sticks away from pets.

While glow sticks can help keep people safe on Halloween night, they can add some unwanted drama to the holiday if a pet chews one open. “Thankfully, the liquid inside glow sticks is non-toxic, so it won’t actually make pets sick,” Coates says, “but it does taste awful.” Pets who get into a glow stick may drool, paw at their mouth, become agitated, and sometimes even vomit. Coates recommends that if your pet does chew on a glow stick, “offer some fresh water or a small meal to help clear the material out of the mouth.”


5. Keep Halloween plants such as pumpkins and corn out of reach.

While small amounts of corn and pumpkin can be fed safely to many pets, ingesting uncooked, potentially moldy Halloween pumpkins or corn displays can cause big problems. Gastrointestinal upset is a possibility whenever pets eat something they aren’t used to, and intestinal blockage can occur if large pieces are swallowed. Coates adds that “some types of mold produce mycotoxins that can cause neurologic problems in dogs and cats.” So, keep the pumpkins and corn stalks away from your pets. And speaking of pumpkins…

6. Don’t keep lit pumpkins around pets.

If you are using candles to light your jack-o-lanterns or other Halloween decorations, make sure to place them well out of reach of your pets. Should they get too close, they run the risk of burning themselves or causing a fire.


7. Keep electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations out of reach.

Electric and battery-powered Halloween decorations are certainly safer than open candles, but they still can present a risk to pets. Pets who chew on electrical cords can receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock or burn. Batteries may cause chemical burns when chewed open or gastrointestinal blockage if swallowed. Shards of glass or plastic can cause lacerations anywhere on the body or, if swallowed, within the gastrointestinal tract.


8. Don’t dress your pet in a costume unless you know they’ll love it.

If you do decide that Fido or Kitty needs a costume, make sure it isn’t dangerous or simply annoying to your pet. Costumes should not restrict movement, hearing, eyesight, or the ability to breathe. Coates warns that pets who are wearing a costume should always be supervised by a responsible adult so that if something goes wrong, it can be addressed right away.


9. Try on pet costumes before the big night.

Don’t wait until Halloween night to put your pet in a costume for the first time. “Any time you want to introduce your pet to something new, it’s best to go slowly,” Coates says. Get your pet costumes early, and put them on for short periods of time (and piece by piece, if possible). “Make it a positive experience by offering lots of praise and treats,” Coates adds. If at any time, your pet seems distressed or develops skin problems from contact with a costume, consider letting him go in his “birthday suit.” A festive bandana may be a good compromise.


10. IDs, please!

If your dog or cat should escape and become lost, having the proper identification will increase the chances that he or she will be returned. Collars and tags are ideal if a Good Samaritan is able to collect your wayward pet, but microchips offer permanent identification should the collar or tag fall off. Just make sure the information is up-to-date. Use Halloween as a yearly reminder to double check your address and phone number on tags and with the company who supports pet microchips.

Remember, your pets count!

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Can Feral Cats be Learn to Live Indoors?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018
posted by Jim Murphy

Feral cats are the ones that survive outdoors. They are continually hunting and looking for food. These cats may seem like they need a good home. Cat we ever really tame a feral cat? My cat Mollie came from a family of feral cats that lived in the swamps behind my apartment complex. I found her when she was only 5 weeks old.  She lived her whole life indoors in a comfortable, loving home. If you have other pets, how will this feral cat get along with them?  First, lets talk about the taming part. Animal behavior experts say that some feral cats can adapt to domestic life.  Prepare yourself for some touch and go moments and maybe even some disappointment.  Chances are, you missed that early socialization period.  The first weeks of a kittens life are the ones where they learn to deal with others, including humans. A feral kitten will adapt easier than a full grown cat. On the other hand however, a feral cat may just adapt better with the pets in your home.  It’s life in the wild has taught it the survival value of cooperation. So give it a try. In a few weeks, you may see your new pet playing with his cat toys and enjoying his life indoors!

Remember, your pets count!

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Our Pets Are Truly Our Best Friends

Sunday, October 28, 2018
posted by Jim Murphy

In a world that is so divided, where people have become so addicted to technology that they’ve lost all methods of communication except by that of their fingers,  we discover that people whom we think we know, exhibit disappointing behavior that leaves us empty and wanting to cling to our own comfort zones. In many cases that comfort zone is our pets. A pets unconditional, unchanging love provides us with peace and consistency in our lives. People change, deceive and disappoint constantly that as I get older I find myself spending more and more time alone or at home with my cat Millie. I  sometimes  actually  am more comfortable by myself. I go where I want, do what I want and don’t have to deal constant disappointments. Pets provide peace, harmony and unconditional love all the time. They will never disappoint. That’s a reason why my partner and I love and treasure our pets and will eventually add to our pet family, stay tuned!

Remember, your pets count!

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Pets and the Sale of Your Life

Saturday, October 27, 2018
posted by Jim Murphy

Sometimes you’ll see articles regarding pets and the sale of a house. One article that I read several years ago had the following title:

Don’t Let Your Pets ruin the sale

I was immediately turned off by the headline but went ahead to read the article. The article basically said that by having pets in the home could cause problems with a sale of a house and the Realtor recommended  boarding them during the time that the property is up for sale. Some things that she said did make sense like:

  • Removing pet stains from furniture and runs.
  • vacuum thoroughly
  • Make sure that you pet name and characteristics are on the listing sheet.
  • Make plans to keep your pet in his crate or in a separate area of the house during showings
  • Remove odors if any exist.
  • Make sure that doors are not left open during showings if the owner is not home. When I sold my home, I discussed the fact that I had a cat. A big note was posted to the door telling the real estate agents and prospective buyers not to leave any doors left open and to close the door behind them.
  • If a dog is present, the owner must be home during the showings.
  • Keep dog , cat beds and accessories in the appropriate places, not in the middle of a room.

Pets are part of our families and a part of our lives. It takes months to sell a home and the comment about boarding your pets during this time is really being cruel to the animal. I realize that having children and pets could slow down the process a bit but hey, they are a part of our lives. If a Realtor insisted on me getting rid of my pets during the time that my house was up for sale, I would just find another Realtor. The Realtor also mentioned that you could include your pets as part of the sale!!!  I really think that this women does not like pets. Our pets are not like pieces of furniture and her insensitive remarks made me question her qualifications.  My feelings, if you take the time and prepare properly and have a plan for your children and pets during showings, your house will sell. If someone likes it, pets won’t turn them off and if they do, they would probably be very very difficult buyers who will drive you nuts during the process anyway.

Remember, your pets count!

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The Best Places to Adopt A Pet

Friday, October 26, 2018
posted by Jim Murphy

Are you ready to add a furry little friend to your family? The first thing you think of is where is the best place to adopt? Where do I start looking? has put together a great article that will help to solve your problem. There are many places to consider and this article may help you get going. We wish you luck in this process.

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A Healthy Cat Should Have A Healthy Appetite

Thursday, October 25, 2018
posted by Jim Murphy

A healthy cat usually has a healthy appetite. If your cat suddenly stops eating, these are the things that you should look for. Is he still drinking water?  Is he lethargic? Is he vomiting or have diarrhea? If he appears fine and is drinking, he may be having a couple of “off” days. Try moving his food to a quiet place, or adding some wet food to his diet. Try giving his some cat treats. If  he does not start eating normally in two days, contact your vet. There could be an underlying cause that needs treatment right away. If he is vomiting, or has diarrhea, get him to the vet immediately! If you wait too long, it may be too late.  Cat illnesses come on very fast and can really take it’s toll on your cat.

Remember, your pets count!

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Did you now that over 40,000 pets perish each year because of house fires and other disasters such as floods or hurricanes?  Cats run and hide very easily and this makes them difficult to locate them in the event of a fire or quick evacuation. I would recommend that you keep their pet carrier close at hand and close to the door. At least you won’t have to worry about searching for it if you need to get out in a hurry. Don’t spend too much time, I know this is difficult, but in the event of a fire, every second counts! If you can’t find you cat, leave it to the experts, just get out fast.

You should let rescuers know that there is a cat inside that needs to be rescued. Do this by purchasing decals that say “In case of a fire, please rescue cat.” Put them in a few prominent places and keep them there at all times.  Having a decal on the door or windows will let firefighters or police know right away that there is a pet inside that needs help!  These few seconds could mean life or death of a pet member.

Always have a plan that includes the rescuing of your pet in the event of a fire or other disaster.

Remember, your pets count!

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