April 17, 2015

Canine Influenza Outbreak: Keep Your Dogs Safe

Dr. Jean Dodds tells us that limiting exposure to other dogs in public venues is the best way to keep your dogs safe from the canine influenza outbreak.

Cornell University issued a press release on April 12, 2015 that states that the ongoing canine influenza in the Chicago area is due to the H3N2 subtype of canine influenza, not the H3N8 subtype that has been seen in the U.S. previously. This is the first identification of the H3N2 subtype outside of Asia. At this time, it is not known if the currently available H3N8 vaccines will provide any cross-immunity to dogs exposed to the H3N2 subtype. I do stand by my statement that dogs should be restricted from dog-friendly areas and activities until we know more about this outbreak.

March 31, 2015

Rabies Challenge Fund: Five-Year DOI Study Results

It seemed a long uphill climb for the Rabies Challenge Fund in 2005 when it formed a 501(c)3 organization to privately fund a rabies vaccine duration of immunity study.

Rabies vaccine manufacturers would not take on the challenge; a study longer than three years "cost too much." The USDA, the body that regulates animal drugs, would not accept serum-based immunological studies that have demonstrated that rabies vaccine has a much longer duration of immunity than three years.

Rabies vaccine has been demonstrated to have a minimum duration of immunity of
seven years by serology by Dr Ron Schultz, and 4 years for cats and 5 years for dogs
by challenge by Aubert. Aubert’s study shows that the chances of a dog or cat
developing rabies in the United States that has had one rabies vaccination is less than
one in eight million, (<1:8 br="" million="">

Schultz, Ronald D, Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What We Know
and What We Don’t Know, Proceedings – Canine Infectious Diseases: From
Clinics to Molecular Pathogenesis, Ithaca, NY, 1999, 22
Aubert Michel F, The practical significance of rabies antibodies in cats
and dogs, Scientific and Technical Revue, 11(3) 735, 1992 Paris, France
For pet owners who had experienced the loss of beloved dogs and cats because of adverse reactions to repeat rabies inoculations, the only solution was to fund the study for ourselves.

And so we have.

Ten years downstream, results are beginning to emerge.
Our conclusion from studies with the initial rabies vaccine is that the immunity conferred by that product, and assessed by the in vitro RFFIT, was excellent for the first three years, then declined during the fourth year, and continued to drop during the fifth. Nevertheless, the dogs that completed the five-year study who were given a second rabies vaccine (even those with rabies antibody titers that dropped below the RFFIT positive level), demonstrated boosted rabies titers, indicating the presence of an active immune memory cell response. The second vaccine group, which is now three years from vaccination, will remain on study for at least two more years.

Read more here.

March 24, 2015

Heartworm Prevention - Proceed With Caution

Dr. Jean Dodds, among the foremost pet health experts in the world, has weighed in on the pro's and con's of monthly heartworm preventative.

As a rule, most of these drugs are well tolerated by a healthy animal. But as a rule, heartworm disease does not affect a healthy animal. Why risk an adverse reaction. And there is a risk.

In her blog, Dr. Dodds states:

Some individual animals affected with autoimmune diseases and their immediate relatives have been shown to react adversely to commercial, monthly heartworm preventives. When an individual’s immune system is compromised, any regular exposure to particular kinds of drugs, chemicals or toxins can produce significant adverse effects, whereas these exposures are well-tolerated by animals with healthy immune systems that do not carry the genetic susceptibility to these disorders. It is important to emphasize that the licensed drug or chemical is safe unless used in a genetically or physiologically susceptible companion animal. These adverse reactions usually occur within the first 10-14 days after the monthly product has been administered and typically begin after an animal has had 2-5 doses. Occasionally, animals that have been taking monthly preventives for a relatively long time will develop subsequent product intolerance. This usually indicates that some underlying disease process has emerged to explain the problem. Based on cumulative data, it is my recommendation that dogs affected with autoimmune diseases and their immediate relatives receive only plain daily heartworm preventive (Dimmitrol = diethylcarmbazine). If heartworm disease is not prevalent where the animals live, routine use of heartworm preventives is not recommended. This is especially important for dogs suffering from chronic diseases of the skin, hair and coat, or those with bone marrow, thyroid or liver disease.

 Please click through to the post to get her recommendations for administering heartworm medicine at a 45 day interval rather than 30 and only in those months when mosquitoes fluorish.

Her last note cautions dog owners about the use of Trifexis and Comfortis - marketed as both a heartworm and flea preventative. 

Spinosads are found in Trifexis, a monthly heartworm/flea preventive, as well as Comfortis for flea prevention. While I believe these are effective for flea prevention and killing, spinosads are contraindicated in epileptic or seizure prone dogs and should not be given to these dogs. Unfortunately, this is generally unknown and should be shared with your veterinarian, friends and family.
Is there a safer alternative?

My dog was one suffering so much chronic disease and make no mistake - allergies are a direct reflection of a compromised immune system - I chose to forego regular heartworm preventative. For one, it's not a preventative. The drug kills any heartworm microfilia that may be present. For another, heartworm disease is fast-acting. It's not going to kill your dog overnight. I had my dog's blood tested every six months for heartworm disease. Would he have been infected, the prevention was also the cure.