Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Pet PT Pit Stop: Vaccinosis - A Vexing Conundrum

by Susan E. Davis, PT “pull in for a helpful refuel!”  

It’s all about guiding and empowering you to help your dog avoid injury, provide practical solutions and achieve rapid restoration of health and function!   

The familiar phrase “I’m dammed if I do and dammed if I don’t” describes the feeling a dog-owner has when making a decision about vaccinations.  If an adverse reaction occurs it is already too late to prevent the negative effects on the dog.

Vaccinosis is not a true official diagnosis but a term used to describe an adverse effects of vaccination.

In this article, I will describe various signs, symptoms and P.T treatment for vaccinosis as well as a testimonial of a client. I will not give advice as to whether to vaccinate as that issue extends beyond my professional boundaries as a physical therapist.  The decision whether to vaccinate belongs solely with the pet owner, in consultation with their veterinarian.

Today’s pet owners are more concerned about routine vaccination than in years past and typically use a judiciary, individualized approach.

I am not suggesting an ‘anti-vaccine’ philosophy, but advocate a thoughtful assessment of benefit vs risk.

In an effort to avoid over-vaccinating, many veterinarians offer titer tests for older dogs to determine the number or level of antibodies present in the bloodstream before vaccinating.  Veterinarians may advise against performing multiple vaccinations in a single appointment, instead spacing them at least 3 weeks apart.

If you and your vet determine that vaccination may not be safe, but your local jurisdiction requires it (ex: Rabies vaccination might be mandated where you live), obtain a letter of exemption outlining medical risk, which you can submit to local authorities.

How do you know if your dog might be at risk of a reaction? 

First, do research on the breed or breed mix to see if certain known sensitivities exist in otherwise healthy dogs. Be aware that some of the newer ‘designer combo’ breeds of first or second generation (such as Golden Doodle, Labradoodle, AussiePoo, Puggle)) may not yet have documented histories of such risks and sensitivities. It may take a few more years to see if any response patterns exist, but you might discover trends within clubs or local groups of dog owners.

Dogs that are not in optimal health, have compromised immune systems or are currently on immune-suppressive medication and those who are geriatric, may be at risk.
Jana's note: do not ever vaccinate a sick dog. This is actually in the vaccine manufacturer instructions. And yet, quite often people bring a sick dog to a vet who suggests boosters since the dog is already in the office. That's the worst idea ever. At best, the vaccine won't work. At worst, you're risking a serious reaction.

Vaccinosis symptoms usually occur very soon after the vaccination, often the same day or within 24 hours of administration. 

Symptoms may be widespread or localized - usually to the same side in which it was given. Signs can include digestive upset, seizure, tremors, weakness, loss of balance, pain, hypersensitivity to touch, swelling, and lameness. Often, vaccinosis becomes the final ‘diagnosis’ only by exclusion, after other possibilities are ruled out.  Treatments often include medication, acupuncture, physical therapy, chiropractic, etc. 

A client, Lauren M. L., offered to share her experience with vaccinosis after a rabies vaccination in her Labradoodle ‘Claude’:

“Lauren, what were Claude’s initial symptoms?”
“He was showing signs of limited movement right away after the vaccination. He was picking up his hind leg, near the injection site. He stopped running and jumping. Within a week, he was not able to get up without assistance. He would stand and his legs would splay out in all directions, unable to bear his weight. This was a dog that would jump four feet into the air and go on daily runs before the shot.”
“How was Claude diagnosed and how long did that process take?”
“It was difficult. We visited multiple vets and animal hospitals in an effort to help our dog.  (At this point, her husband Dan adds that finding the right care was extremely hard and they only succeeded because Lauren was so diligent in exploring every avenue and getting a range of opinions.) Some doctors wanted to do tests to rule out everything else, others said right away it was Vaccinosis. The original vet who administered the vaccine blamed us and directed us to contact the pharmaceutical company that makes the shot to file a claim for reimbursement for medical expenses incurred.”
“How did you help your dog receive the right care and treatment?”
“We finally found a vet who approached Claude’s care from both a holistic and traditional standpoint. (I interject to clarify that this would be an Integrative Veterinarian). This helped the most. She treated the Vaccinosis directly and saw immediate improvements.  She did medication and acupuncture initially. Once we were able to combine the medicine with the physical therapy treatments our dog’s health and physical strength were restored.”

Dan adds:” If we had listened to the original vet we worked with, I believe we wouldn’t have Claude with us today”.

“What challenges did you face as a pet owner, in coping with the illness?”
Dan provides this answer: “It was hard adjusting our lifestyles to meet his new needs. We put carpeting around the house to help him get traction, placed ramps on the doorways and made sure an adult was always close by in case he fell.  But it was and is painful to see our friend in such distress”.

Claude became my patient and began physical therapy three months after his rabies vaccination. 

He improved within the first 2 weeks of treatment. I believe his rapid response was enhanced by having prior acupuncture. His PT consisted of cold laser, massage, standing over a physio roll, use of quick stretches and limb patterning to facilitate movement, weight shifting and balance exercise, calf strengthening using a rocker board and resistive therabands. The family faithfully performed home exercises, helping Claude up and down steps and daily leash walks.

One year later finds Claude walking 20 minutes per day, running for short bouts in the yard, playing with toys, greeting the mail carrier, and climbing 2-3 steps in and out of the house. However he has residual deficits of elbow pain and is no longer able to climb the staircase to the second floor, but with the help of his family and occasional PT, he is back to loving life!

Further reading:
Preventing Vaccine Associated Illness in Pets
Symptoms and Treatment for Vaccine Associated Illness in Pets


Susan E. Davis (Sue) is a licensed Physical Therapist with over 30 years of practice in the human field, who transitioned into the animal world after taking courses at the UT Canine Rehabilitation program.  She is located in Red Bank, New Jersey.

She has been providing PT services to dogs and other animals through her entity Joycare Onsite, LLC in pet’s homes and in vet clinics since 2008.

She also provides pro bono services at the Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown, NJ.  Sue is the proud “dog mommy” to Penelope, a miniature Dachshund with “attitude”.  For more information see her website , or follow on Twitter @animalPTsue.

Sue is also the author of a fantastic book on physical therapy, Physical Therapy And Rehabilitation For Animals: A Guide For The Consumer.  

Physical therapy can do so many great things for your dog. Understanding all the possibilities physical therapy can offer will change your dog's life. This book definitely belongs on the shelf of every dog lover.

Articles by Susan E. Davis:
Functional Strengthening Exercises: the What, Why and How
One Thing Leads To Another: Why The Second ACL Often Goes Too
Compensation: An Attempt To Restore Harmony
Paring Down to the Canine Core
Canine Massage: Every Dog ‘Kneads’ It”
Photon Power: Can Laser Therapy Help Your Dog?  
Physical Therapy in the Veterinary World  
Reiki: Is it real? 
Dog Lessons: Cooper  
The Essentials Of Canine Injury Prevention: 7 Tips For Keeping Your Dog Safer 
It's Not Just Walking, It's Therapy! 
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part I)
Treatment And Prevention Of Canine Intervertebral Disc Disease (Part II Physical Therapy)
Range Of Motion: It’s A Matter Of Degree…
The Weight Of Water And How It Helps Dogs 
By Land or By Sea? A Comparison of Canine Treadmills 
Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part I)
Unraveling The Mystery Of Fascia And Myofascial Trigger Points (Part II) 
Scar Tissue: Is it Too Much of a Good Thing? 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Ramps! 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Indoor Duo Dog Exercises!
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Best Practices After Your Dog’s Surgery 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Ideas to Chew on - Can Physical Therapy Help with my Dog’s Digestive Problems?
Wrap It Up: Using Soft Supports For Your Dog
When Do I Use Heat versus Cold? : A Tale (or Tail) Of Two Temps! (Part I) 
When Do I Use Heat versus Cold? : A Tale (or Tail) Of Two Temps! (Part II) 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Safe Summer Boating Tips for your Dog 
Physical Therapy Tip Of The Month: Hip Dysplasia - What’s a Dawg Mama to Do?
PT Pit Stop: Wheeled Carts Keep Them Doggies Rollin' (Part I)
PT Pit Stop: Wheeled Carts Keep Them Doggies Rollin' (Part II)
Staying in the Loop with Targeted Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy
Addressing Frailty Syndrome in Geriatric Dogs 
The Pet PT Pit Stop: "Where's The Evidence?"
Physical Therapy is Great, Except When It Isn’t 
Top Dogs and their Toplines at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (Part I)
Top Dogs and their Toplines at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show (Part II) 
What's in a Dog's Gait? 
A Practical Method to manage your Dog’s Care Plan 
Wound Care 101 (Part I The Basics) 
Wound Care 101 (Part II Wound Management)
Prevention and Management of Hip Dysplasia in Puppies: Attention all Breeders!
Support and Braces

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Walking Two Black Dogs in a Bush

There are two big black dogs here

There are two big black dogs here also

Ah, here they are

Monday, August 31, 2015

Adoption Monday: Orion, Rottweiler & Labrador Retriever Mix, New Milford, CT

Orion is an absolute hunk! 

This big guy is a mush! He loves to give kisses and lean right into you.

Orion does great with other dogs and is also a fan of kids. 

This great dog is very stressed at the shelter. He is used to having a real home and is still adjusting to life in a kennel. He hopes he will not have to wait long and will find a family that will love him for the rest of his years!

Orion is house trained, neutered and current on vaccinations.


The Animal Welfare Society of New Milford, is an independent, non-profit, non-destroy organization founded in 1965. Our mission is to aid and find loving homes for abandoned and abused cats and dogs in New Milford, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Roxbury and Washington, Connecticut.

We maintain our own shelter housing 80 cats and 20 dogs (and the occasional rabbit) and place approximately 350 animals each year.

The shelter is supported by the generosity of private individuals and local businesses, dues from our annual Membership Drive and special fundraising events held throughout the year. If you are interested in donating or purchasing an item from our shelter wishlist, please visit the you can help page of our website.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ever Wanted to Try Treiball with Your Dog? Here Is How to Start

Treiball is a great sport I always wanted to try with Jasmine. That didn't work out but I'm hoping to get into it with Cookie at some point.

This is probably the best video I've seen, demonstrating how to teach your dog to do this from scratch.


Donna Hill, Donna Hill B.Sc. B.Ed., has a degree in zoology and a teaching degree. She has 20 years experience in adult and child education and enjoyed teaching people how to observe animals in nature as a nature interpreter, field biologist and train-the-trainer for presentation skills and now applies her knowledge and skills to help people and their dogs. She helps people with disabilities to train their own service dogs and has experience working with autistic and developmentally delayed teens. She uses plain English to explain what you are doing and why and also provides analogies you can relate to. She was also a Girl Guide and earned the highest honor as well as worked in the Tourism industry as a information counselor. She loves to share key information with people!

Visit her blog at Online Clicker Training Tutorials & Coaching.

Check out her two Youtube channels supernaturalbc2009 and supernatural 2008 for more awesome videos. Her motto is "Yard by Yard, Life is hard. Inch by Inch, It's a Cinch!" Break everything down into it's simplest parts and it's achievable!

Don't forget to visit Donna's FB group Observation Skills for Training Dogs or connect with Donna on Twitter.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Is It Ever OK Not to Be Nice? Why Veterinarians Lie and more ...

Is It Ever Okay to Not Be Nice?
by Dr. Joanne Intile/PetMD

The simple answer to this question is no. It's never okay not to be nice. But that begs the question what constitutes being nice? If it means kind, thoughtful and compassionate, then absolutely so—it's never okay not to be nice. If it means avoiding to voice true and honest advice, then being nice can be harmful.

Sometimes the hard truth is what one needs to hear. Sometimes one needs a kind, thoughtful and compassionate slap in the face. Most of the time, though, we should take a good look at where the other person is coming from. Life is full of choices. There are very few ultimate truths and ultimate solutions; if any.

Most of us make our choices with the best intentions. We make our choices based on our past experiences and what we believe is the right thing to do. For that, we all deserve other people being nice. Kind, thoughtful and compassionate. But sometimes we also need people to speak up when it matters.

Being nice doesn't mean letting people jump off a cliff just because we don't want to disagree with them. But sometimes it maybe means letting people jump off a cliff because we understand why they need to do it.

On the other hand, it's never okay to be nice if it means letting a dog suffer.

Read Dr. Intile's thoughts.

Three Reasons Why Veterinarians Lie
by Dr. Patty Khuly/Dolittler Blog

"Veterinarians lie. All the time. In lots of ways. We don’t necessarily mean to—except when we sometimes we do. But does this make us bad people? Bad doctors?"
~Patty Khuly

Do I want to be lied to by my vet? I don't. I don't lie to them and I want the truth from them too. I find that really important.

Do I want my vet to adore my dog? Yes, I do. If it took a little white lie, so be it. But seriously, my dog is totally adorable.

While lies? I'm down with those.

Other than that, I want my vet to be honest with me. Always. Please. If you don't know, tell me. If you're not sure, tell me. If you are sure, also tell me. If you disagree, tell me. It's about the health of my dog.

Read Dr. Khuly's thoughts.

6 Subtle Signs Your Dog Is Carsick... And the Hidden Trigger Behind It
Dr. Karen Becker/Mercola Healthy Pets

We never had a dog get carsick. We never had a dog who didn't love going for rides. Could there be a correlation?

Just like people, dogs can suffer from motion sickness. I still remember the ferry ride across the channel on my way to England. About fifteen minutes in, half of the people's faces turned green and they made a mad dash for bathrooms. I thought it was interesting how it hit all of them at the same time. I was lucky; I just had a heck of the time trying to walk anywhere without falling. The ferry is huge and you wouldn't expect it to move much. But the weather was bad and water pretty wild.

In dogs, the signs if impending evacuation of the stomach content include yawning, drooling, whining, uneasiness or listlessness.

However, in most adult dogs, carsickness can have nothing to do with the motion but rather with stress and anxiety. I can relate to that too. There was a time I could not get on a bus without getting sick. Except I already got sick before the bus even left the station. That clearly didn't have anything to do with its motion.

Check out Dr. Becker's carsickness prevention tips.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Veterinary Highlights: Gene Therapy for Dogs Born Color Blind?

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and  Michigan State University are conducting a study on use of gene therapy to reverse inherited form of color blindness in dogs, achromatopsia (rod monochromacy or total congenital color blindness).

The viral-mediated gene replacement therapy treats day blindness in affected dogs.

So far, the treatment demonstrated functional rescue of cone cells in almost 100% of treated eyes.

Apparently, it is important that the cone cells are not fully degenerated for the treatment to work.

The treatment consists of two phases - first some of the light-sensitive cells are partially destroyed, which then allows for new growth. This is followed by gene therapy to replace the mutated gene.

Very interesting research.

Source article:
Dogs’ Born Blind Regain Vision

Further reading:
Penn-Michigan State Team Develops Novel Gene Therapy for Achromatopsia
Kom├íromy ​Comparative Ophthalmology Laboratory​ Research

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What’s in the Poop? (Part I)

The longer I’ve been a dog mom, the more attention I’ve learned to pay to poop. It started with Jasmine who had ongoing poop issues from the day she came to us. After years of being left in the dark, she was finally diagnosed with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). Every time her stool was normal, it made my day brighter.

Purina Fecal Scoring System

Why does it matter what poop looks like?

Our guys get a bad poop every now and then. This is more of a reflection of what they got into than an actual health issue. If the abnormalities continue though, I look into figuring out what’s behind it. When the stools are consistently or chronically abnormal, you need to investigate.

What I consider ideal poop could be best described as hand-rolled chocolate cookie dough—brown, well-shaped, firm but not hard, kind of segmented.

What’s in the consistency?

To some degree, consistency can depend on the dog and their diet. However, stool shouldn’t be consistently too hard or too loose. Which brings me back to the cookie dough.

Diarrhea is a more common problem than constipation for dogs. In fact, people often think that their dog is constipated when in fact they have diarrhea. Lots of straining with nothing coming out can be a sign of large bowel diarrhea as well as constipation. It is important not to try to treat constipation without having a solid confirmation (pun kind of intended).

Constipation may simply be caused by insufficient fiber and water intake but can also have a more serious underlying cause.

With Jasmine, I kept a detailed chart where I entered day-to-day information, including her stool quality and number of bowel movements. There are official fecal scoring charts out there, going into various amount of detail. For Jasmine, I was using 5 values with 5 being ideal and 1 being watery (Jasmine didn’t have problems with constipation). The most typical scoring system goes to 7 with 1 being constipated and 7 being watery. (I came up with my own scoring back then before I knew there were systems in place already)

Nothing – it’s not good when a lot of straining and hunching doesn’t produce any poop at all. Your dog could be constipated or even blocked up. As mentioned above, though, severe diarrhea and colitis can cause similar symptoms. In either case, see a vet.

Small, dry, hard pellets – yes, that’s constipation.  A couple of times Cookie got hard stools from eating too many bones and not enough vegetables. I immediately corrected that and things went back to normal. Constipation can have serious causes and effects. If Cookie had hard poops for more than one or two bowel movements and it didn’t resolve with adjusting her food, I’d take her to the vet.

Firm but not hard, dry logs that look segmented
– that’s good poop in my books. With Jasmine, every time she had a poop like that, we celebrated.

Moist and soggy but still formed – this kind of poop gets me in an alert mode. Something isn’t quite right. JD and Cookie get these every now and then with the next poop being normal again. Something didn’t sit right but all is now good. When Jasmine got these, it meant her IBD was starting to act up. If my dog had these type of stools consistently, I’d investigate.

– poop that loses its form once it hits the ground; there is texture to it but it doesn’t hold shape. The gut isn’t happy. When it continues for more than one or two bowel movements, it’s time to do something. Could mean intestinal parasites, such as Giardia, intestinal infections (bacterial, viral or fungal), immune/inflammatory disorders, metabolic diseases (e.g., liver failure), heart disease, cancer, and more.

Watery – the gut is really unhappy. When Jasmine got these, her gut was in trouble. Large volumes of watery diarrhea, with or without blood in it, can be an emergency particularly in smaller dogs and puppies.

Stay tuned for other aspects of poop, such as color, coating, etc.

Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for In Your Dog: Diarrhea
A Tale of Many Tails—and What Came Out From Underneath (part I)
Acute Small Intestinal Diarrhea
Acute Large Intestinal Diarrhea (Acute Colitis)
hronic Large Intestinal Diarrhea
Chronic Small Intestinal Diarrhea
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...