Saturday, December 5, 2015

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Leptospirosis Vaccination Risks, Pet Suffocation Awareness, and more ...

Leptospirosis vaccination risks
Dr. Scott Weese/Worms and Germs Blog

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that's the question. Particularly when it comes to non-core vaccines, such as Leptospirosis. Vaccines against bacterial infections do have to be administered annually because they don't last longer than a year and really just a bit less. Leptospirosis vaccine in particular has a reputation of being one with highest risk of adverse reaction.

Daughter's Chihuahua had a severe and life-threatening reaction to it, when it was administered against owner's wishes.

While it's always been a big dilemma for me, down in Kitchener we always vaccinated our dogs against it. Up here I'm being told that the serovars found in our region are not included in the vaccine and our vet's recommendation is not to vaccinate as there is no use. And I am conflicted about that too.

So how is it with the adverse reactions? According to the newest study which examined records from over 130 thousand dogs the rate of adverse events was about 53 dogs out of every 10 thousand. That is about double the adverse reactions to other vaccinations. For more details check out Dr. Weese's article.

So what does all that mean? The best looking statistics won't make up for your dog getting a life-threatening reaction to a vaccine. But on the other hand, a friend's dog just recently died from Lepto. To complicate things further, though, it was the serovar the dog was vaccinated against ...

So the dilemma doesn't get any simpler, does it? If the serovars in our region were covered by the vaccine, though, I would most likely vaccinate against Lepto again.

I don't think these statistics, however seemingly useful, give us really anything to work with. What would give us something useful to work with would be a comparison between the chance of adverse vaccine reaction and morbidity of actual infection.

Morbidity and mortality depends on a number of factors. In one paper I found it says that with treatment, 80% of dogs who become ill are expected to survive even when kidneys are involved. With pulmonary complications, the prognosis is poorer. To make some sense of the numbers, to me it is saying that the chance of a dog having an adverse reaction to the vaccine is about 0.5%, while the chance of death from the infection is about 20%. That, I think puts things into clearer light.

Of course, things are never as simple as simple statistics, the adverse reactions calculated consists of those that happened within five days since vaccination. But still, something to think about.

How to Break Up With Your Veterinarian
Dr. Sarah Boston/Dr. Andy Roark

Through the years, we have worked with many veterinarians, be it our general vets, vets in the emergency room, vets at local teaching hospital and others. Our experiences were mixed to say the least. We worked with some really awesome vets and with some not so awesome at all.

There were vets we did have to break up with. Being a non-controversial person, I first found a new vet and then made up an excuse why we were switching. I'm always happy to sing praises about the vets I admire and the rest I just leave alone. Even when people asked me, I would tell them which vet I thought was fantastic and to me that was all they needed to know.

I believe any issues and difference can be resolved in a civil manner and where resolution isn't possible, to quietly move on. I don't see any need to yell at anybody and I have never seen yelling resolving any problems. So why do it?

Find out Dr. Boston's thoughts on the subject from the perspective of a veterinarian.

Bread Dough Intoxication – A Not-So-Yummy Treat
Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Alcohol poisoning doesn't mean your dog got into your booze. Most common cause of alcohol poisoning in dogs comes from ingestion of bread dough. Why is that? It's because once the dough hits the stomach, it starts fermenting. The result of that is carbon dioxide and alcohol.

This makes bread dough dangerous in two ways. The production of carbon dioxide puts your dog at risk of gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), otherwise known as bloat, extremely life-threatening condition. And ethanol, the type of alcohol produced during the fermentation process causes alcohol poisoning on top of that. Either of each will land your dog in an emergency room.

Keep your dough away from your dogs.

National Pet Suffocation Awareness Week – Preventing Heartbreak
Jason Nicholas/Preventive Vet

I believe that EVERY week should be pet suffocation awareness week. Dogs keep dying to suffocation in snack bags, cereal bags, treat bags ... Out of all causes of death, this is the most needless one.

People don't realize this risk. I even saw funny dog video compilations where a dog with their head stuck in a snack bag was considered funny. It's all fun and games until somebody looses a life. Death to suffocation takes less than 5 minutes!

Keep your dogs safe and help spread the word.


  1. Re: Lepto vaccination - at this point I believe it's a roll of the dice. We live in the country and have always vaccinated our dogs and horses. In spite of what happened to Jeffie, we'll continue to do that. It's certainly a dilemma and from what I've read, certain breeds can react to the vaccine differently, too.

    1. Yes, that's really what it boils down to. Some decisions are just difficult no matter how much thought a person puts into it. Or maybe because of that. I kind of miss the days when I blindly did things our vet told us to do and never knew or questioned anything. But that was a bad thing too.