DEAR DR. FOX: We lost our beloved 12 1/2-year-old springer spaniel last February. I should have never allowed the vet to give him a rabies vaccine. It made the last six months of his life miserable. Just two or three days after the shot, he woke up panting wildly; he lost his vision and acted rabid, which continued every night for six months. Nothing really calmed him enough to get a full night's sleep -- for any of us.
I reported the bad reaction to the Food and Drug Administration and the pharmaceutical company. Our vet never followed up as requested.
Interestingly enough, I stopped giving my dog distemper and parvo vaccine at age 6 and had titers done instead. He never needed another DAPP vaccine again!
We now have a new springer pup born Aug. 6. The breeder gave the DAPP vaccine on Sept. 17 and Oct. 1. My vet wants to give it three more times, but my breeder says the pup needs only two more. Our vet says the manufacturer recommends 10-week, 13-week and 16-week boosters. Is that too much? What do you think about the Lepto vaccine? The vet wants to give it twice. Is that overkill? -- S.B., Branson, Missouri
DEAR S.B.: The Lepto vaccine is very questionable if there is no risk of exposure. It's best to give the DAPP "core" vaccines at 12 and 16 weeks since at 10 weeks, antibodies from the mother could interfere with the pup's immune response to the vaccine. If the vaccination status and history of the mother is unknown, earlier vaccination between 8 and 10 weeks may be advisable. Don't give the rabies vaccine until he's much older!
I would go to another veterinarian. To find a holistic veterinarian who is not gung-ho with vaccinations, search ahvma.org.
Readers, please take note of these issues. For more details on dog vaccinations and the risks of vaccines, see the reports posted at DrFoxVet.net.
"SHOULD YOU LET YOUR DOG LICK YOUR FACE?"
This is the title of an article by Christopher Mele in The New York Times. Citing some medical and veterinary authorities, the article asserts that there are risks of bacterial and parasitic diseases being passed on from dogs' mouths to humans -- especially when their saliva contacts various mucous membrane areas of our bodies.
From my perspective, provided you do not have an impaired immune system and your dog is healthy and does not eat other dogs' poop, the risks are far less than when we do not wash our hands thoroughly before every meal, after gardening, after handling poultry and other meats and vegetables possibly contaminated with bacteria from improperly processed farm animal fecal "fertilizer," and when pet food is contaminated with these various bacteria.
We may be more at risk from shaking hands and kissing each other than from letting our canine companions give us a few affectionate and solicitous licks. Canine saliva has healing properties, as several people with various skin ailments have attested. Some of the bacteria will colonize family members and can reduce the incidence of allergies and frequency of antibiotic use for ear and other infections. Our germophobic society and excessive use of hand and other sanitizers, disinfectants and antibiotics have far more serious adverse public health consequences than the tender tongue kisses of happy and healthy dogs.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
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DEAR DR. FOX: We own a 13-year-old female beagle-mix dog who we rescued when she was almost a year old. She has never been an extremely playful dog, and in the last few years, even less so.
For the last year, she will not sleep through the night, and she barks to wake us up two to four times a night to either go to the bathroom or alert us that she has already gone to the bathroom (urine and/or stool) in the kitchen, where she stays during the evening. Our vet prescribed a sedative (lorazepam) that we have given her.
We expected that with the sedative, she might become relaxed and possibly that might result in the release of her bowels unexpectedly, so we have diapered her during the night and when we are away for a few hours. So that she doesn't tear the diaper away, we also place a cone collar on her. At night, the sedative has had no effect on her, even when giving her two tablets. She's used the diaper only twice -- once to pee and once to poop, but only when we were not home to take her out. I am usually home during the day, so taking her out when she needs to go is not a problem, although the frequency has increased over the last year.
My husband and I are at our wits' end regarding this interruption in our sleep. We love our dog and do not want her to be in distress during the night, but we are struggling to find a way to deal with her needs. Getting additional costly extensive tests done is not an option for us. -- J.E., Baltimore
DEAR J.E.: lorazepam would not be my drug of choice for your dog, nor would I consider lowering your dog's quality of life unnecessarily by putting a cone collar on her to stop her from removing the diaper.
Provided that chronic cystitis and renal failure are ruled out, I would address this as part of the old dog (and person) syndrome where incontinence and sleeplessness or restlessness are common problems. Give her last meal at 5 p.m., and restrict her water intake after 7 p.m. Feed her three small, low-fiber meals daily, along with a few drops of fish oil and digestive enzymes. Before bedtime, give her 3 to 6 milligrams of melatonin, which has helped many dogs with insomnia.