(Part 1 of 2)
A happy dog is a healthy dog.
A healthy dog means less worry and fewer trips to the clinic that is stressful for both the dog and the owner.
Thus, a happy dog means one happy owner.
So how do we keep our dogs happy and healthy?
Here are some of what we have learned from vets and from experience.
However, a word of caution for dog owners, especially newbies: Please ask your vet for a medical schedule that will include the health care tips below as the dosage of medicine or schedule of preventive medicine varies for each dog. Also, these tips are for dogs with no known medical condition—chronic or recently developed.
1. HAVE YOUR DOG VACCINATED
On the sixth week of the pup and after, or when advised by the veterinarian, have your pup given the series of three vaccinations. Some vets recommend four. But we go for the three shots only. In the end, it is your decision as the owner based on your discussion with your veterinarian.
With the last shot, the dog is usually given the anti-rabies shot. This specific vaccine will be discussed further in another column.
We, officers of Save Animals of Love and Light (Save ALL), a SEC-registered animal welfare group, prefer the 5-in-1 vaccines which protects a dog from parainfluenza, distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis.
To some dogs, the 6-in-1 and the 7-in-1 vaccine may be too strong and can cause some problems later. Please ask your vet what is best for your dog, depending on the breed, size, and physical condition.
So why give your dog at least the 5-in-1 vaccine?
Med-Vet.com reported that dogs with distemper have a 50 percent survival rate, second only to rabies in global mortality rates. It stressed distemper is preventable with vaccination. Thus, the vaccine is important as a dog with distemper will suffer because it is progressive in nature.
“This disease eventually causes severe neurological, respiratory, and dermatologic illness,” Med-Vet.com said.
We have rescued dogs with distemper. Some died, some survived. Jelyn NC, a former Save ALL admin who recently got married, assisted in the rescue and medical treatment of Rex, a shih tzu with distemper. She later adopted Rex who survived the disease but still has some twitching. However, Rex is now one happy dog who loves to play with Jelyn’s other dog. Jelyn never thought of putting Rex to sleep. Like Jelyn, Save ALL always fights with and for the dog to the end—whether the dog will survive or not—and never opts for euthanasia or putting a dog to sleep (PTS).
Hepatitis, on the other hand, affects the liver. Med-Vet.com stressed that the vaccine provides 100 percent protection for both type 1 and type 2 Adenovirus infections, “which are incredibly contagious and the cause of canine hepatitis. Dogs of any age can become infected with canine adenovirus, via contact with infected urine, feces, saliva, or mucous.”
Parvovirus is also preventable through vaccination.
Med-Vet.com noted it is “a severe and life-threatening infection that causes bloody stool and vomiting to such an extreme degree that it has been known to cause shock and even death.”
It added: “This illness is immensely contagious and can affect dogs of all ages, however puppies are even more susceptible. Additionally, while the illness itself is very unpleasant, it also weakens the immune system and destroys the lining of the intestines, setting the patient up for additional infections. Treatment may be very costly, but around 80 percent of puppies recover completely.”
Parainfluenza virus, like parvovirus, is highly contagious. It is the most common cause of kennel cough.
“Kennel cough is characterized by a dry cough which can last for several months, even with treatment, and is very unpleasant for your dog—potentially leading to pneumonia and death,” Med-Vet.com said.
Cost of Vaccination vs. Cost of Medical Treatment
Each 5-in-1 vaccine costs P250-P350 only, depending on the clinic. Usually, professional fees are waived but some clinics may charge P150 to P300.
If the dog is an adult when you got him or her (the dog was rescued or adopted from a rescuer, thus there is no medical record), we still strongly suggest that you have the series of three shots given to your dog to ensure that the dog is safe from these potentially fatal illnesses.
Every year thereafter, we give a booster or one shot only to avoid over-vaccination.
How much will you save if you vaccinate your dog? Around 2k to 3k for tests alone. A complete blood test is done and a test for distemper, parvo, erlichia, or leptospirosis will be advised by the vet, depending on the symptoms.
Treatment, on the other hand, will cost you a lot.
Allow me give you an example:
If your dog is positive for distemper, not only will your other dogs be at a high risk of getting infected, you will need to pay for the following depending on the stage of distemper, among others:
A. A strong immune system booster specifically injected to distemper—positive patients: P1,100 minimum per day for at least 7 days
B. A medicine for the nerves hopefully to prevent neurological symptoms like twitching: around P300 per bottle if you buy it.
C. A medicine to boost the immune system: P350 per bottle if you buy it.
D. A liver cleanser: P380 per bottle of 60 tablets given twice a day if you buy the bottle to cleanse the liver of the chemicals from the other medicine
E. Vitamin B complex for the nerve system
F. In advanced stages, a special medicine is given at P2,500 minimum per shot. Most dogs will need 3-4 shots.
G. As a last resort, there is a procedure done which is very expensive.
All in all, you will spend at least P10,000 or even P20,000 for tests and treatment if you will buy most of the medicine and your dog will not be confined in the clinic.
But the reality is, you will spend more than that if your dog is confined or the medicine is supplied by the clinic. It is difficult to monitor distemper patients and the distemper virus is highly contagious. The dog must be kept 500 meters away from dogs with no vaccines or have compromised immune system, especially from puppies and senior dogs.
The clinic has overhead expenses like payment for the staff, rental of their place, electric and water bills, and thus has to charge an amount that will allow them to continue operations and earn, too. Please remember clinics are not charity institutions or run by animal welfare groups. Owners and vets do have to earn an income also.
If you continue to be a responsible pet parent, you can avoid unnecessary trips to the clinic.
Even Save ALL partner vets Doc Anthony Prado Basa of Sha Sha Clinic, West Avenue, Quezon City and Doc Cerdy Deloso of Deloso Clinic in Deparo, Camarin, Caloocan always remind patients to give the vaccines to prevent illnesses and unnecessary expenses on the part of the owner. But more so, they stress this to PREVENT SUFFERING FOR THE DOG, AND WORSE, DEATH OF YOUR DOG.
Thus, through vaccination, you will not only save funds as you will spend only P1,050 for the three series of vaccination and P350 every year for the booster, you will also ensure your dog will live for a long time and enjoy quality life as well.
2. HAVE YOUR DOG DEWORMED
Have your pup or dog dewormed every three months or six months. The number of months depends on your place. Areas that are not cemented or full of gravel, or grassy might be a breeding ground for worms. It is advised that you give a dewormer—there is a tablet your vet can prescribe and can be bought for P100 a piece or even less if you buy in bulk. The dosage depends on the weight of your dog. Again, please ask your vet.
The clinics usually charge P150 to P250 depending on the kind of dewormer.
Worms can lead to death eventually. Treatment, as in other illnesses, will cost you thousands of pesos.
WebMD noted: “Because worms are so common in puppies, vets recommend de-worming them for the first time when they’re 2 to 3 weeks old. Worms can pass from mother to baby before birth or soon after, through her milk. It will take more than one dose. The first round kills the worms that are there at the time. The second kills those that hatch a few weeks later. Your vet may also want to give your puppy blood, as hookworms drain blood from the wall of the intestines and cause anemia.”
It added: “Treatment is much the same for adult dogs with worms. The same kinds of drugs are used, but your dog will get more of the medicine.”
“Dogs are ideal hosts—to worms and other parasites, that is. Animals that sniff, slurp, lick, and gobble anything in their paths, including dirt, trash, and poop, are bound to pick up pests. All the things they do with their mouths—groom, kiss, wrestle, and other social habits—can pass along unwanted guests to playmates and companions, canine and human alike,” it said.
It added: “Parasites worm their way into most dogs’s lives at one time or another. Your vet may suspect worms if your dog has diarrhea or is vomiting, coughing, chewing or licking under his tail, short of breath, or losing weight. The symptoms and treatments depend on the type of worm and where it’s living in your dog’s body… Most worms that infect dogs—including roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms—live in the intestines, so that’s the first place for your vet to look.”
3. GIVE HEARTWORM PREVENTION TO YOUR DOG
It is also important to give heartworm prevention to your dogs.
What is heartworm?
The US Food and Drug Administration described it as “a serious disease that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets, mainly dogs, cats, and ferrets.”
“It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The worms are spread through the bite of a mosquito. The dog is the definitive host, meaning that the worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring while living inside a dog. The mosquito is the intermediate host, meaning that the worms live inside a mosquito for a short transition period in order to become infective (able to cause heartworm disease). The worms are called ‘heartworms’ because the adults live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of an infected animal,” it added.
There are two types of heartworm prevention: in tablet form (P100 per tablet) and the chewable type (P260 to P380 depending on the size of the dog). The chewable type shows the number of kilos of the dog on the box. Please ask your vet for the proper dosage and then keep this instruction in your dog’s notebook.
4. GIVE MULTIVITAMINS TO YOUR DOG
Your vet will tell you the best multivitamin for your dog and the dosage depending on the age and weight.
5. PROTECT YOUR DOG FROM TICKS AND FLEAS
While an anti-tick and flea spot on—or a liquid put on your dog’s nape—can help remove ticks and fleas from your dog and keep them away for a month, your dog’s system will eventually develop a resistance to this anti-tick and flea solution. There are ways to keep ticks and fleas away (I will share these tips in another column) but every proposed solution is not 100 percent effective. These pests are everywhere and some even carry the dreaded erlichia disease. Erlichia is like dengue in humans. The best thing to do (as I will always stress) is to keep the immune system of your dog strong.
A healthy immune system makes the dog strong enough that disease will not have a serious effect on the dog, or minimizes the effects of the disease and will make the dog respond better and faster to the medical treatment.
Note: Please send questions to [email protected] and state whether you want your name included when we post the questions and answers from veterinarians and experts. I will not however include advice on medical treatment or dispense one as the licensed vet has to do tests and see your dog before a treatment plan can be designed for your dog. As part of promoting responsible pet ownership, we encourage owners to seek advice from the vets.