So we discussed the “core” vaccines last week. This week’s blog will go over a few elective vaccines. You should discuss your puppy’s lifestyle, home environment, and travel plans with your veterinarian to determine if he/she is at risk for these diseases and could benefit from vaccination.
Canine influenza is similar to human influenza and often presents as coughing and sneezing. Very young and very old dogs are at the highest risk of severe disease symptoms, such as pneumonia. Influenza is transmitted between dogs and can be spread before an infected individual even starts showing any symptoms. Vaccination for this virus may be recommended for dogs which are likely to be around lots of other dogs at parks, boarding facilities, daycare, or travels to regions that report a high number of influenza cases. There are many strains of the flu virus, just like with people, so the vaccine targets the most common strain at this time. Fortunately, this particular canine strain is unlikely to infect humans.
Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks, and most commonly causes issues with a dog’s joints and kidneys. Stopping a tick from attaching long enough to transmit Lyme disease or one of many other tick-borne diseases, is the most important component of preventing disease. All dogs should be kept on monthly flea and tick prevention that kills ticks quickly. There are many options for these, and your veterinarian can help you select one that works best for you and your puppy. The Lyme vaccine is an added layer of protection and can help prevent or decrease the severity of Lyme disease if a tick slips by your monthly preventive medication. In our area of northern Virginia, there is a high tick load, and a large percentage of these ticks are positive for carrying Lyme disease. If you live near woods, go hiking, or find lots of ticks in your yard, talk to your veterinarian about this vaccine. While Lyme disease does infect humans, transmission requires a tick bite, so humans cannot be directly infected by contact with their dog. However, this is just another reason to be sure your dog is on an effective preventive, so they don’t bring ticks inside the house!
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease transmitted in the urine of wild animals, like mice and deer. Dogs are typically exposed by sniffing around areas outside, or drinking from water sources outside, like puddles or ponds. This disease causes liver and kidney damage in dogs and can be transmitted to humans by contact with an infected dog’s saliva, urine, or feces. There are multiple strains of this type of bacterial fortunately the vaccine covers for several all in one immunization. Many deer claim neighborhoods in our region as their home, so even if you’re not planning to take your puppy on hikes/camping trips in the future, you should discuss your dog’s individual risk with your veterinarian.
Aldie Veterinary Hospital’s staff is here to work with you and determine the best steps to protect your fur baby against potential diseases. In Skipper’s case, he lives on a small farm with tons of wildlife and creeks. He is also exposed to lots of dogs through my work, and from coming to the clinic, so I developed a timeline to vaccinate him against all of the above and ensure he is protected. Canine Influenza, Lyme, and Leptospirosis vaccines are each given as a two-part initial series, with a booster given 2-3 weeks after the first vaccine. After that initial series, these vaccines can be maintained with one booster at your dog’s annual examination. Skipper, like most of our patients, has yet to even notice when he’s gotten a vaccine, because he’s always so distracted by the love and pets and $20,000 squeeze cheese from our lovely assistants!
Much love & squeeze cheese distracting!
-Dr. Conroy & Skipper
Skipper is about 16 weeks old now and growing like a little weed! Potty training is going very well; we only have a handful of accidents per week! He’s been enjoying playing with his sister terrier at home and the other doctors’ dogs from work (Check out our Instagram for pictures of the Skipper Conroy & Phebe Luce playdate!). He’s also learned a few commands; high five is my most favorite of these. I have grand plans for this to be a gateway into a “touchdown” trick for next football season. As it turns out, he’s a little lanky and unbalanced which results in him just tipping over these days, so we’re going to table that one for now.
With every growing inch, Skipper finds access to new places. Coffee tables apparently house very fun things, like all the cat toys that have been way more interesting than his 800 dog toys. Teaching him to stay off the couch was also much easier when he was half this height… and his maximum launch distance was shorter. Also, in his defense, Lily the terrier sabotages him by pulling him on to the couch during tug of war battles. As Skipper grew to couch access height, it became important for him to learn “off.” I picked “off,” because “get down” sounds too close to “lay down” for such a young pupper to differentiate. In my opinion, it is easiest to teach commands along with their opposite. For couch purposes, I taught Skipper “on” and “off” using lots of treats and a very sturdy wooden box. Now, when we correct Skipper for putting front feet on the couch, his (reluctant) retreat is another command worthy of earning praise and a treat.
Now, possibly more than ever, it’s important to keep everything positive, including corrections. Puppies can be very sensitive; disciplining early or incorrectly can damage your relationship together, and cause the puppy to misinterpret a situation. For example, if the puppy pees on the floor, refrain from pointing at the mess and yelling, “Bad dog!” He may act sheepish and seem like he understands, but keep in mind that puppies are pretty literal. Your pointing at the yellow liquid on the floor can make him think the pee itself and his proximity to it is bad, not the act of peeing on your floor. Shame and guilt have the same emotional appearance to us, but there’s a critical distinction. Guilt is a feeling of that one has done something bad; shame is thinking that one is inherently bad. There may be some level of satisfaction and accomplishment from these phrases and that sad puppy face you receive in return, but it is in fact a façade, and all we’ve done is derail the puppy’s confidence in your relationship.
Gently startling a pup to get his attention and redirect it is appropriate in many situations, but remember, you’ll need to remove and replace the undesired activity. Skipper greatly enjoys “shopping” for shoes and socks in the closet. He will oh-so-proudly return to a room and proceed to nom on his selection. This is an issue for two reasons. First, he can’t chew on expensive shoes. Second, socks, shoes, and clothes make excellent foreign bodies and could be life threatening. Your first instinct may be to chase the puppy and retrieve the item promptly. This incites a super fun game of chase! This may work for a little while, but my kiddo is going to have the legs of a deer and is definitely going to outrun me. A dog running away with a toxic or dangerous item is the last thing I want to encourage. To avoid rewarding Skipper with attention for stealing an off-limits item, we nonchalantly approach with another toy, ask him to “leave it” and then trade for an appropriate chew toy. Ideally, we keep the “fun” things out of his reach, or distract him on his way into the closet. If Skipper doesn’t know an item is off-limits, the allure of taking something he’s not supposed to have will likely fade away. Conversely, if every time he takes my shoe earns him a game of chase and attention, I’ve just increased the value of the shoe exponentially.
Let us know what fun things your pup has decided to have an affinity for, and how you’re working on it at home! We love updates through Facebook and Instagram!
-Dr. Conroy & Skipper