During this time of stress and uncertainty, we at Veterinary Medical
Associates want you to know we are currently open to serve our clients
and address any of your pet’s urgent needs. We are still accepting new
patients, and if needed, we will temporarily waive our requirement for
full medical records.
At this time we are considered an essential
service and will remain open unless legislation directs us to close. In
order to maintain required social distancing, you have the option
of bringing your pet to the front door and then handing the pet over to
a technician, or, you may come into the clinic, be placed in a room and
then give the pet to a technician. Either way, the veterinarian will
perform the examination in a separate area. The history/complaint and
subsequently the examination findings and treatment options will be
discussed after the exam either in the clinic or over the phone if you
prefer to stay in your vehicle. If you feel ill, please stay home. A
friend or family member can transport your pet and the questions and
treatment options can be discussed over the phone.
Purchase of medications and pet food can continue as usual provided
that the required social distance is maintained in the hospital. If you
prefer not to enter the hospital, you may call us upon arrival and the
items can be placed outside the front door or brought to your vehicle.
We can also take your credit card payment over the phone. Thank you for
your patience and understanding as we strive to keep ourselves, our
clients and pets happy and healthy.
PARVO VIRUS AND THE IMPORTANCE OF VACCINATING
In the 1970s and 1980s, Parvo virus reared its ugly head and caused an epidemic that led to the death of hundreds if not thousands of dogs. It attacked dogs of all ages but was especially severe in puppies. Certain breeds also seem to be particularly sensitive to the virus, most notably Rotweillers and Doberman Pinchers. Because the virus causes the intestinal lining to die and slough, these dogs presented with severe bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and vomiting. As their bodies tried to fight the virus, they would often progress to electrolyte abnormalities, organ failure and, in the worst cases, death. Fortunately, there is a vaccine made for this virus. It is part of the DHPP vaccine (commonly called the distemper vaccine) and should be given monthly to all puppies until the age of 12-16 weeks and boosted every 3 years in adult dogs. However, as this case will show, all dogs react differently to vaccines and the degree of immunity relies on the response to the vaccine, the amount of exposure, in addition to the quality of the vaccine itself. On September 24th, “Pink” presented for vomiting and diarrhea of one day duration. As a Rotweiller, the owner, who is also the breeder, was concerned about Parvo virus. A test was immediately run and sadly our fears were confirmed. Pink was positive for Parvo virus. Even more concerning was the fact that the breeder also owns her litter mate, Blau; and recently another of the puppies, Scarlet, had been returned after being adopted out and was living in the home. While both Blau and Pink had been vaccinated for Parvo virus every 4 weeks since the age of 8 weeks, Scarlet had only received her first DHPP vaccine before being adopted at 10 weeks of age. The adoptive owners had failed to continue her vaccinations after her initial series with the breeder. As of this point, only Pink was sick. Pink was immediately isolated in our hospital and supportive measures were started. There is no medicine that can kill the virus, so we could only try to support Pink and prevent secondary infections from taking over her body. Pink was presented on a Wednesday and by Saturday, Blau and Scarlet were also sick and in isolation in the hospital. The illness was tough to watch. The puppies had bloody diarrhea and vomiting for over a week. Finally the day came when, as we took Pink outside to an isolated area, she tried to play with some leaves that were falling! It was the start of her turnaround. Over the next several days, Pink continued to improve and after 11 days of hospitalization, she was discharged home. Blau took a bit longer, but she too eventually came around and was sent home. Scarlet, however, did not do well. With only one vaccine to stimulate her immune system given months ago, she had virtually no immunity to the virus. Her disease progressed. The lining of her intestines sloughed and her protein levels dropped. Despite multiple antibiotics, she became septic and her liver and kidneys began to shut down. When she developed pneumonia, the difficult decision to euthanize her was made 6 days after she was admitted. She was only 18 weeks old. So what’s the take home message? To successfully create an adequate immune response to any disease requires multiple factors with vaccines being only one. We don’t know where these puppies acquired the Parvo virus, but keeping young puppies away from areas with multiple dog exposure (dog parks, pet parades, etc.) is always a good precaution to take. However, vaccines made a difference in this case. While all the dogs got sick, only the dog with an incomplete vaccine history succumbed to the disease. And finally, vaccine companies are on your side. They want to keep pets healthy and they stand by their products. Merial, the company that made the Parvo vaccine used on these puppies, reimbursed the owner $3,500.00 to help cover the cost of treatment for her dogs because she did follow protocol for the two dogs that she owned. Both Blau and Pink are now at home and doing great. The owner reports they are eating like crazy to gain back all the weight they lost. Her only complaint is that they both are getting too active and are bothering the adult dogs with all their play! The two adult dogs in the home never came down with any infections (both adult Rotweillers) presumably because they have a competent, adult immune system that adequately responded to their vaccines.
Hans or “Hansie” (as his owners, Steve and Ruth Ann Proko most often referred to him) was a thriving 8 year old German Shepherd when he began having weakness in his rear limbs and dragging his paws. In December of 2013, he was diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy, a progressive neurological disease. When Hans began really struggling, the Prokos obtained a Walkin’ Wheels dog cart which he readily adapted to and was able to resume a more active lifestyle.
Sadly, Hans recently passed away but through the Proko’s endeavors, he was able to enjoy more freedom throughout his life