Thursday, August 30, 2012

Interceptor Update

Those of you who use Interceptor for their heartworm prevention may know there has been a shortage due to a stop in production for quality control reasons of other drugs-mostly human OTC drugs.  There was not actually a problem with the Interceptor or the Sentinel.  

I read a statement from Novartis today indicating that Sentinel should be back in production this fall.  Sentinel, if you are not familiar with it, is essentially Interceptor with the insect growth regulator Lufenuron added.  Lufenuron sterilizes flea eggs but does not kill live fleas so I have always found this product to be very overrated.

There is no date yet set for the production of Interceptor to begin.  In fact, the company may not bring back Interceptor in it's original form at all, instead opting for a more broad spectrum product also containing the drug Praziquantel, which controls tapeworms.  This formulation is already available in other countries.  

I find this highly annoying because Praziquantel and Lufenuron are both expensive additions that my dogs don't need.  I almost never need to deworm my dogs for tapeworms and with the use of flea products that actually kill fleas, I also don't need to use a product like Lufenuron.  I think most people will agree that unnecessarily driving up the cost of heartworm preventative is not going to make anyone happy.  

I don't have any issue with Heartgard except that it does not control whipworms and I really like having that additional parasite covered since my dogs go so many places.  This development will probably make Elanco (makers of Trifexis) and Bayer (makers of Advantage Multi) happy since their products also control whipworms.  However they are also flea preventatives as well which some people don't need or want leaving  no options for those who just want regular old heartworm and intestinal worm control at a good price.  

Let's hope Novartis comes to their senses.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Corona Virus

This one is pretty easy.  Corona virus typically causes a sudden onset of diarrhea, sometimes with vomiting.  Anorexia and lethargy are also common.  Infection can also frequently go unnoticed, especially in older dogs.

The incubation period is 1-3 days and the primary source of infection is feces.  The virus can be shed in the feces of infected dogs for about 2 weeks.  Most cases are mild and recover without treatment in a few days, although supportive and symptomatic care is indicated in more severe disease.  Soft stool may persist for several weeks.  There are tests available but they are not usually very useful, and mostly not needed because of the relatively short and benign course of the disease.

There is a vaccination available and it is often a part of the combination vaccines that include parvo, etc. However, the corona portion of the vaccine is no longer recommended as the efficacy is unknown and the disease is typically not severe anyway.

See, easy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


This seems like a good place to pick up since I just attended a conference this weekend where I went to a lecture on this particular disease.  This can be one of the more confusing infectious diseases that we can vaccinate for, but also carries quite a bit of importance because not only can dogs become sick and die from it, so can people.

First of all, Leptosprirosis is caused by a bacteria, instead of a virus like the other diseases we have discussed so far.  And there are multiple strains of the bacteria which add to the complexity of this disease.  Leptospira bacteria are shed in the urine of carrier or infected animals with common sources being rats, other rodents and wildlife.  Infection occurs when contaminated water, urine or soil comes into contact with abraded skin or the mucus membranes of a susceptible animal or person.

Illness can occur anywhere from 5-14 days after exposure and signs can vary widely as can the course of the illness.  Some cases are subclinical and show no signs. Mild cases will show non-specific signs such at fever, soreness, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea.  In more severe cases there can be increased drinking and urination, acute kidney failure and even liver involvement.  Treatment is supportive with fluids and symptomatic care and use of penicillin or doxycyline.  Dogs that survive the severe form of the disease may have permanent liver or kidney damage.

Suspicion of diagnosis is based on history, possible exposure, clinical signs, and consistent laboratory changes.  Antibody titres can also be run, but vaccination can sometimes interfere-depending on how recent vaccination was or how high the the titre is.  There are also a few specialized urine tests that can be useful.

Prevention is based on vaccination and limiting exposure.  Avoidance of rodents and other wildlife is becoming increasingly difficult as wildlife continues to move into more and more urban areas.  Avoidance of standing or stagnant water is important as Lepto is more likely to survive here than in flowing water.  It is also more prevalent after rainfull/during wet seasons and in warmer weather.  Vaccination is also useful.  Although there are multiple strains of the bacteria there have been vaccinations developed against the four most common.  It is important to remember that this vaccine is not 100% protective and that your dog can also get infected with a strain not included in the vaccine.  The lepto vaccine has often been implicated as the cause of vaccine reactions but this has become less common as vaccine technology has improved.  The vaccine is given as an initial series of two and then boostered annually, although dogs at very high risk can be vaccinated every 6 months.  The vaccine is known to not have long-lasting immunity. This is considered a non-core vaccine meaning that only "at-risk" dogs should be vaccinated but with the urban wildlife population and given the way people travel with their pets these days, determining which pets are at-risk can be difficult.

If your dog is diagnosed with Leptospirosis it means you could also have been exposed-either from the same source or from directly from your pet.  Always contact your physician for advice.  Areas in your home that came in contact with urine can be cleaned with a dilute bleach solution and gloves should be worn when handling urine.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More of step 1

I am pleased to say that Legend did not even think about stopping at the end of the contacts today.  Who knew that would be a good thing right?  Well I guess it still remains to be seen if it's a good thing, but right now it's what we're going for.  In fact there were several times she was really, really driving over.  Yay!  We also worked a little on distance today.  It really wasn't very long distance but the response and control was great.  It's so nice to see them respond so well to subtle commands at speed.  Makes me feel good as a trainer!

Lyric worked on table and weave poles (the teeter needs some repairs of the repairs) and a little on start line stays and lead outs.

I had the day off so went shopping for a few thing we needed with the new floor-bathmats, etc.  The doggies got new beds too.  We had one nice dog bed (brown, to match our brown/green/purple theme) and a not so nice, not matching bed.  Usually at least one dog sleeps with us and the others choose the beds or carpet.  But without carpet I didn't wan't anyone to have to sleep on the wood if everyone was sleeping on the floor (no spoiled dogs here right?). So I picked up a purple bed and a green bed while I was out today.  Now everyone has something, it all matches, and the new beds add a little color to the room. And I removed the non-matching bed.  Now that the pees-on-everything cat is gone, I figured I could splurge a little for some decent beds.

Do I know how to spend the day off or what?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Second verse, same as the first

But longer.  We tackled the second room of our flooring project this weekend.  And I mean all weekend.  Laying the floor isn't actually that bad (ok, after 8 hours it is) but getting everything ready is.  Here is some of the "deconstruction" and the disarray created in the rest of the house.
 After seeing both sides of the carpet and the pad (and noting the stench left on my hands after handling it) I'm fully repulsed by the fact that we were too lazy and too cheap to do this sooner.  It would appear that this is the original carpet, making it about 20 years old.  And at least some of the previous owners had kids and pets.  Pretty rough life for carpet it would appear!  So even though I'm very excited about the new carpet we have picked out, I'm equally as glad we are only going to have two rooms of it to take care of!

It wasn't until I had baseboards laid out and cleaning them that I noticed they don't all match.  A little disturbing that it took me eight years to notice huh?  They don't actually match the door frames either in places.  I'm not sure why you wouldn't make everything match when you build a house but maybe that's the effect they were going for. 
I also noticed there are a lot of nicks and scratches not only on the baseboards but in strange places in the the door frames and and window frames.  Seriously?  How did some of that stuff happen?  Were there some really unruly dogs in the house?  And how do you even spend that much time close enough to a baseboard to inflict that much damage?

Anyway, a progress picture...

 Almost done, before furniture...
 Finished!  Well, almost, we still have a little trim to install and piece of baseboard to replace. 
 We were a little worried it would be overwhelming with all the wood furniture and brown walls but it really isn't.  We had thought about adding some throw rugs for color but I don't really think we need them.  Except for the bathroom where we will put some mats in front of the tub and sink. 

Now we just have to wait for the carpet!  Well, we actually have to move the furniture for the carpet people, but then we just get to sit back and watch.  And move the furniture back. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Step One

I started reworking Legend's contacts today and I'm happy with how it went.  I started with the low A-frame, and placed the manners minder several strides beyond it so she would get the idea to keep driving all the way across and then away from the obstacle.  At first she kept trying to stop at the bottom but with a little encouragement she was soon continuing on to the manners minder.  We alternated between the manners minder and throwing the ball and pretty soon she was having a great time with this game.  Then we moved onto the low (very low) dogwalk.  I wasn't sure she would even know what to think of it being only a few inches off the ground but she ran across like a pro.  We again worked with alternating between manners minder and ball and she did very well.  I wouldn't say "top" speed yet but much faster than "normal."  Not bad for day 1.

Then we moved on to working the "touch" separately.  I used an entirely different board for that.  She has never been asked to "touch" anywhere other than a contact so she didn't really seem to get it at first.  Towards the end it was going a little better.  I expected it might take her a bit to catch on to this but I'm sure she will.  

Then we finished up with a little tunnel entrance discrimination work as that was what she missed in her last jumpers run this weekend.  It was a tough angle but with all her NADAC training and as solid as she has been on her discriminations lately I felt confident that she would do it.  Obviously she didn't!  But she was 100% in practice today...go figure!

I worked Lyric a little on her three favorite things-teeter, table, weaves and she did them all very well.  She's getting a little too excited about the teeter though and jumping off to get treats before it hits.  Need to work on controlling that enthusiasm a little!

Eventually we will get back to diseases, I promise.

Monday, August 13, 2012

5K Fail

Saturday night we went to Joplin to run an evening 5K.  It was on a bike/running path through the woods, starting around dusk.  They lighted the trail with luminaries and handed out glow bracelets.  Overall it's a fun event and we are looking forward to doing the whole series of 3 races next year.  There is even a 10k option if we get abmitious.

That said, our first outing at this venue did not go well.  First off, there is no parking at the site.  Everyone had to park along the neighborhood roads and walk back.  So we spent all our time before the race walking to and from the car to pick up and drop off packets and such.  And waiting in line for the port-a-potty.  All this time there were announcements being made but they were hard to hear and plus part of the time we were too far away to hear as we were walking to and from the car.

So we really didn't hear them say the 10k runners were starting 5 minutes before the 5k runners.  Nor did we hear anything mentioned about the turnaround point.  Do you see where this is going yet?  So, we inadvertently started with the 10k runners.  About the time I hit the water station I felt we should be turning around, but no one else had turned around, there was NO sign and no one was directing 5k runners to turn around.  So I kept going for a little bit and still nothing.  I really felt something was wrong and stopped to ask one the volunteers directing traffic at a street crossing.  We were supposed to turn around at the water station.  Great.  I had been working on a pretty good time before this happened but when I realized I was not going to get neither an accurate nor a competitive time I slowed up a little.  No sense overdoing it for nothing.  I figure I would have had a pretty decent time once I accounted for the four extra minutes I ran and the decreased effort I put in on the way back.

Yes, we realize part of this was our fault but seriously, you would think there would be a sign or something, not just a cone?  And I know the volunteers in that area were not expecting 5k runners quite that soon but they had no way to be sure exactly when the 5k runners would start showing up and need to be told to turn around so there really is blame on both parts.

We waited around awhile to see hear the results, just in case, but ultimately decided we were really weren't going to place and went to get ice cream instead.  Which after all the junk I had already eaten that day really gave me a stomach ache.  Long ride home.  Went to bed at 12:30 and got up at 6:30 to run agility again.  At least the shirts were cool.

I checked the race results online and I still managed to finish 12/40 in my age group and would likely have placed had I stayed on course!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nothing's ever easy

So here's how it went.  Legend is running fast.  When she's not refusing contacts.  Thursday, she refused I think the teeter?  It was about obstacle number three.  Friday we left early (I worked in the afternoon and she did not get to run standard).  Saturday she refused the A-frame twice (obstacle #5) and today she refused the dogwalk (#2) and the teeter (#6).  I'm at a loss.  I feel like this is becoming enough of an issue I need to do something about it but I'm not sure what.  We have tried more trials, less trials, more training, time off, etc.  I feel like this is totally a stress issue-she has always started slow and even though that has improved it has never gone away.  Plus the obstacle in question varies and it's always in the first part of the course-she gets faster and more confident as she goes along, plus she never refuses them at home.

I contemplated a plan all the way home.  I don't really want to take time off from trials because of getting her NATCH and wanting to go to NADAC champs next fall.  At least she can still Q in NADAC with the refusal.  I could at least take some time away from AKC and work on it.  Which would mean just running Lyric (assuming she starts doing all the obstacles) or not going at all.  I'd hate for Lyric to miss out on those AKC Q's but it would be so hard to be there and not run Legend!

Of course that still leaves me with the issue of how to fix it.  I wasn't even sure what to work on.  So I got to thinking about her contact performance at home (and when she does do them at at trial) and while she does not refuse them, she does usually either creep down and not really get her 2o2o or she totally blows her contact off.  Not exactly ideal.  So maybe her anxiety comes from not understanding what the criteria are?  At least it gives me something to try, and really something that needs worked on anyway.  Some of her trial dogwalk performances are painfully slow.  So my plan is to work running the boards fast separately from working the 2o2o and then start putting them together when she is doing them well.  Can't hurt anyway.  Other suggestions are welcome.

I also got to thinking if I'm going to work on "fixing" stuff maybe I will also give obedience another shot.  Maybe.

Oh, and she did run jumpers this weekend-Thursday she knocked a bar, Friday Q, Saturday wild with a few off courses, today one wrong tunnel entrance.

Lyric and I stumbled through Jumpers this weekend, I messed up some handling, she struggled with weave poles.  But today we pulled it together and even got a second place.

More training in store for both of them-lots to work on with two venues and multiple issues!  But cooler weather has arrived!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Lyric did the teeter today at the trial!  It wasn't great but it's progress.  I'm so proud of her-it was only the third obstacle but I was so excited I just went crazy praising her and left the ring to get her some cookies!

All other runs tonight were nice, but no Q's.

That's all for today.  I was just too pleased to wait until the end of the weekend to blog about it!

Monday, August 6, 2012

New Floor Room 1

After almost 8 years we are finally replacing our carpet.  It needed replaced when we moved in, but now it really needs replaced.  It's wrinkled, worn, stained, and I'm sure in some places-smelly.  I don't even know what this is, it was on the carpet when we moved in. 

Plus I've never like this color.  So, it was time to get something new.

In the living room and computer room we are getting new carpet installed (sometime next month) but in the extra bedroom (where the bunnies are) and the master bedroom we decided to go with laminate.  Partly because that is where the animals spend most of their time and partly because the carpet we picked out is so expensive!  The laminate we picked out was a really good price but installation wasn't cheap so we are doing it ourselves.  It's not so bad once you get started but prepping the room and laying the pad is kind of a pain.  Here we are partway through...
And here is the chaos in the living room while we worked...

The dogs spent a long, boring weekend shut in the bedroom to keep them out of the way.  They were not impressed.  Icy, who usually helps, found a nice spot out of the way for a change.

I put the bunnies penned up together in the dining room.  I thought they might bond over being in a new location, on a slick floor together.  The first day there was lots of irritated "thumping."  The second day Summer had resigned herself to the fact that she was stuck with him.  Kahuna then spent the day pestering her and it was an endless cycle of her hopping across the pen from one litter box to the other trying to get away from him.  But on the third day they were living happily ever after.
Also by the third day, we had completed room number one!  Zodiac wanted to be in the picture too.

Then the furniture returned.  The bunnies seem pretty happy with their new setup.

In a few more weeks we will tackle the next room!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Infectious Hepatitis

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver.  There are many causes of hepatitis and and many of the signs and treatments are similar.  Obviously, this post will focus on the type caused by canine adenovirus type 1. The virus usually enters the body via an oral or nasal route and does not require direct dog to dog contact.  It can be spread on food bowls, via people, etc.  The incubation period is 4-6 days.

Clinical signs of hepatitis can vary widely and include fever, GI signs, abdominal pain, enlarged liver, fluid in the abdomen, depression, anorexia, acute renal failure, and many more.  Labwork abnormalities include decreased white blood cell count, elevated liver enzymes, prolonged clotting times, protein and bilirubin in the urine.  There are special tests that can be sent to the laboratories to make an official diagnosis of adenovirus type 2 but this it is not usually necessary to do so in order to formulate an appropriate treatment plan.  Bile acids test (a liver function test) may also be abnormal.

As you might expect there is no specific treatment for the actual virus.  Treatment, like the other viral diseases is aimed at limiting damage, preventing secondary infection and controlling clinical signs.  Typical treatments would include appropriate IV fluids, antibiotics, anti-emetics if needed, plasma or blood transfusions (to correct clotting disorders and protein losses), antioxidants/hepatic support supplements, etc.

Dogs with  a poor immune response may not survive the initial infection. Other dogs may recover but have some long term effects. Because the virus is deposited in the ocular tissues and the kidney some dogs may develop uveitis, corneal edema, or nephritis.  Uveitis is an inflammatory condition of the eye and corneal edema is essentially a swelling of the cornea (the clear part of the eye).  Although this condition will often resolve in some cases it can progress to glaucoma and corneal ulceration.  Nephritis is an inflammation of the kidneys and may lead to chronic renal disease.  Some dogs will also develop chronic liver disease or fibrosis.

Virus is shed in the urine of recovered dogs for 6-9 months.

Unvaccinated dogs less than one year of age are (not surprisingly) at the most risk.  The adenovirus type 2 vaccine is cross protective and prevents CAV-1 infection.  As previously discussed this vaccine is given at 2-4 week intervals in puppies, one year later and then every 3 years or at whatever interval you and your veterinarian decide.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Infectious Tracheobronchitis

More commonly known as "kennel cough" this is a very common infectious respiratory condition of dogs.  As the name implies, the disease is most commonly picked up in boarding kennels, shelters, etc-where large groups of dogs are housed together in close quarters.  Kennel cough is spread in respiratory secretions which become aerosolized and are then inhaled by other dogs.  Kennel cough organisms can be eradicated by evacuating the premises for 1-2 weeks and using routine disinfection.

The hallmark sign of kennel cough (as you might imagine) is a dry hacking cough, sometimes coughing to the point of bringing up small amounts of mucus or phlegm.  The cough is often so characteristic you can almost make the diagnosis with the dog still in the lobby!  Upon exam a dog with kennel cough will typically have normal heart and lung sounds but will frequently cough when pressure is applied to the trachea (windpipe).  In uncomplicated cases cough remains the only symptom but some cases will develop nasal discharge or pneumonia and subsequent lethargy, anorexia or fever.

Kennel cough is caused by several infectious agents.  The bacteria, Bordetella bronchiseptica, is the primary agent in kennel cough. It can be accompanied by canine adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza virus, and canine distemper virus.  The incubation period is 2-14 days and dogs can shed Bordetella for up to three months post infection.

Most cases of kennel cough will get better on their own.  However many of these dogs are coughing so much that they require cough suppressants to make them more comfortable and allow them (and their owners) to get some sleep!  Antibiotics can also be prescribed to try and limit the portion of the disease caused by Bordetella.  Doxycycline is usually the antibiotic of choice.  Although the textbooks will say that dogs should recovered in 10-14 days, I have seen many dogs who cough for 3-4 weeks.

Vaccination and prevention is complicated by the number of agents involved in the disease.  Parainfluenza is considered a non-core vaccine and is only available in combination with other vaccines.  Therefore your dog may or may not receive this vaccine depending on which products your vet uses.  Boosters are administered as per the recommendation for whichever other disease that particular vaccine product is for.  Adenovirus type 2 is also typically found in combination with the other previously mentioned viral diseases.  Similarly, puppies are vaccinated every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age then one year later.  After that boosters are given every 3 years or at whatever interval you and your vet decide on.  There are some studies showing this vaccine to be protective for up to 7 years.

 Bordetella bronchispetica vaccines come as an intranasal, injectable, and now an oral form. The injectable form requires a second dose 2-4 weeks after the first to be effective and is then boostered annually.  The second dose should be administered at least a week before boarding, etc.  The intranasal form requires only one initial dose and immunity typically lasts 10-12 months.  The advantage to the intranasal is that it stimulates immunity in the exact site where the infection takes hold.  It also stimulates immunity in about 4 days, rather than one week.  Some boarding kennels require a vaccine every 6 months.  I do not have a lot of information on the oral vaccine.  This is considered a non-core vaccine and is only recommended to dogs "at risk."

However, I have seen dogs that never leave the yard contract "kennel cough."  Doesn't mean they didn't have contact with other dogs, but technically they were not in high risk situations.  On the flip side I have seen fully vaccinated dogs who make an unfortunate trip to the pound come down with kennel cough.  This leads me to believe that either other agents are playing a part and/or the vaccines for this disease are not as good as for some of the others.  Probably both.  That said, I do vaccinate my dogs for this-not necessarily because we go to agility trials (those dogs are generally healthy) but because we may have a foster or transport dog that has come from a shelter.  And many of the shelters here have kennel cough running rampant.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


This is a nasty, but fortunately, relatively uncommon disease.  One of the reasons distemper is uncommon (other than routine vaccination) is that the virus does not survive long outside the body (unlike parvo).  Distemper virus is easily inactivated by routine disinfection and even with inadequate cleaning, only lives 30 minutes to a few hours.  Distemper is most common in puppies but adult dogs who have never had any vaccines are certainly susceptible, although they are unlikely to come into contact with the virus unless they enter a contaminated shelter, etc.

Transmission of distemper is typically airborne or via nasal droplets, hence requiring direct dog to dog contact, or contact with very fresh respiratory secretions.  Within 3-6 days after infection the puppy will develop a fever which may come and go unnoticed.  Days later, as the virus attacks the respiratory tract other signs will appear including nasal and ocular discharge, cough, and pneumonia.  The virus then moves on to the GI tract causing vomiting and diarrhea.

The virus can then move on and hide out in the skin and central nervous system for varying amounts of time.  This can cause hyperkeratosis (hardening) of the foot pads.  But worse, it can cause neurologic signs, even weeks after appearing to have recovered from the initial symptoms.  Neurologic signs include, but are not limited to, seizures, tremors, convulsions, "chewing gum" fits, weakness and imbalance.  These can be progressive to the point of death or warranting euthanasia or they may be non-progressive but permanent.  Sometimes recovery is possible even at this stage.

The extent and severity of disease is determined by the puppy's immune response.  A strong immune response will clear the virus before severe signs develop and the puppy will be fully recovered within 2 weeks.  A weak or failed immune response allows the virus to reach the epithelial cells which line many organs and tissues including the nervous system.  This phenomenon accounts for the wide variety of clinical presentations with some pups only having a few mild respiratory signs and some progressing to seizure and death within weeks.

To compound the complexity of this devastating disease, there is no good way to make a definitive diagnosis.  Unlike Parvo, there is no quick and easy in-house test to perform.  Even the tests that can be sent out to laboratories can be inconclusive because vaccination will often interfere providing a false positive.  Because many of these puppies come from shelters or pet stores they were often vaccinated at least once-just not in time to prevent infection, instead it interferes with diagnosis!

Treatment, as with most viral diseases is aimed at controlling the clinical signs and secondary infections.  Prevention, luckily, is pretty simple.  Routine vaccination every 2-4 weeks from eight week of age until 16 weeks of age is the general protocol.  Vaccine failures are likely for similar reasons as parvo-damaged vaccine, non-responding animal etc.

Unlike parvo, distemper can leave some tong term effects on dogs.  As mentioned, some will have permanent neurologic defects that may affect their quality of life, or require long term medical management.  Also, because  the virus attacks epithelial cells the developing teeth of a puppy can be affected leaving them with enamel lesions when their permanent teeth erupt.  Finally, some recovered dogs harbor the virus in their central nervous system for years, only to break with "old dog encephalitis" years later.  It is not well understood why these dogs suddenly present with neurologic signs so many years after recovery.

Distemper is shed in body secretions for 2-3 months post recovery and suspected cases should be isolated from other susceptible animals during this time.

Following puppyhood vaccines, a booster is usually given one year later and then every 1-3 years depending on the hospital protocol.  Every three years is generally considered adequate.  The same issues with with titers exist as with parvo.  Some immunology specialists feel that it is not worthwhile to repeat vaccines in a well-vaccinated dog even if it has a low titer.  The logic behind this is that they are likely a non-responder and more vaccines will not change this.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Barn Goddess

We don't limit her to household chores...our little Cinderella scoops poo as well!

And here is Squirt-just looking handsome.  I guess he figured if someone was scooping his poop, he better at least look good.