Sabal Chase Animal Clinic

Sabal Chase Animal Clinic
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Distemper in Miami

Distemper in Miami: The Neverending Story

At a recent veterinary conference, a local colleague and I were bemoaning the onset of yet another distemper outbreak in our community.  A vet from New York joined in the conversation.  “I don’t mean to eavesdrop”, he said, “but did you say distemper? You’ve actually seen it?  I’ve been practicing for almost 50 years and I don’t think I could diagnosis it if my life depended on it!”   Sadly, even the most junior receptionist at just about any veterinary hospital in Miami is able to recognize the clinical signs of distemper.  We see it all the time, and we are seeing it now.

Buddha, one of our favorite patients,
survived distemper as a puppy!
Distemper starts as an upper respiratory infection.  Clinical signs can include coughing, sneezing, lethargy, inappetence, and a yellow discharge around the eyes or nose.  It soon progresses to the central nervous nervous system.  Dogs suffering from this stage of the disease may howl or cry for no apparent reason, startle easily, be overly sensitive to light or sound, or suffer from violent seizures.  Although many dogs survive distemper, the neurological damage can be permanent.  

While there is no cure for canine distemper, there is an affordable, effective vaccine.  Puppies require four boosters, administered three weeks apart.  Adult dogs should be vaccinated every 12 months.  I do not recommend three-year distemper vaccines for my patients as they have never been evaluated in a challenge-based study.  The disease simply has too strong a foothold in our densely populated city.  If you suspect your dog’s vaccine may be out of date, please give us a call and ask us to check your records.  Your dog will be in good company - Grendel gets her annual vaccine in July!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Dogs and Swimming

Dogs and Swimming

A question I am often asked during the summer is whether or not all dogs instinctively know how to swim.  Many breeds of dogs, such as Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Portuguese Water Dogs are both physically built and genetically wired for swimming, while many other breeds do not fare nearly as well.  Dogs with deep chests, such as Boxers, Weimaraners, and Great Danes are naturally top heavy, and may or may not be strong enough to make up for this natural imbalance.  Brachycephalic, or “smushy-faced” breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers tend to be very poor swimmers and are common victims of drownings.  While some of these dogs may enjoy the water, my recommendation is to only allow swimming if the dog is wearing a life-vest, on a leash, and very closely supervised.

While Dachshunds are not generally a water-loving loving breed, our little Grendel is a skilled and enthusiastic swimmer! That being said, she has yet to figure out how to budget enough energy to return to shore before running out of energy. This is not an uncommon problem, so dog owners should be certain to teach their dogs how to reach the side of the pool and climb out unassisted. Consider installing a doggie pool ramp and teaching your dog where it is and how to use it.  Dogs that swim in natural bodies of water must be taught to return to you on command without exception.  Since Grendel will not do this consistently, she is only allowed to swim in the bay attached to a long, extendable leash.  As she ages, we are more inclined to add the life vest.  It is important to remember our dog’s changing physical abilities as each new summer rolls around.  Dogs that are elderly, blind, deaf, or prone to seizures must never be left unattended near any bodies of water or unfenced pools.

Monday, June 2, 2014

June Pet of the Month

Tyler is a 3 year old Boston Terrier with a keen eye for invasive pests. Unfortunately, his encounter with a toxic bufo toad ended in an emergency trip to our clinic.  Thanks to his mom’s fast thinking, Tyler got the help he needed before the venom had time to do its worst.

Bufo toads are especially active at this time of the year.  While they tend to venture out in the evening and after rainfall, this is by no means a hard and fast rule.  Tyler’s mishap occurred during the day, so it is vital that pet parents be vigilant at all times.  As for Tyler, he’s back to his normal, happy-go-lucky self.

Congratulations Tyler, and share with your friends - you’re our Pet of the Month!