Pros and Cons of Vaccinations for Your Dog

Vaccinations are very important weapons in the fight against infectious diseases in animals. However, vaccines are not without their limitations and there are failures. In some cases the reactions or side effects can be worse than the disease they are being used to prevent!

Luckily there are vaccines to help prevent many illness that affect your dog. It has long been considered one of the easiest ways to help him live a long, healthy life. There are different vaccines for different diseases, and different types and combinations of vaccines.

Here are answers to some most frequently asked questions regarding vaccines:

What exactly are Vaccines?

They help prepare the body’s immune system to fight the invasion of disease-causing organisms. If your dog is ever exposed to the real disease, his immune system is now prepared to recognize it, fight it off entirely or reduce the severity of the illness.

How Important Are Vaccines?

Vaccines are very important in managing the health of your dog. However, not every dog needs to be vaccinated against every disease. While most veterinarians highly recommend administering core vaccines to healthy dogs, factors that should be examined include age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle.

What Are Core Vaccines?

Core vaccines are considered vital to all dogs based on risk of exposure, severity of disease and transmissibility to humans. They include canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies.

Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dogs risk exposure.

What Vaccines Should My Puppy Get?

They must be vaccinated against rabies. They should also receive a series of vaccinations with a combination that protects against parvovirus, distemper and hepatitis.

Are Any Vaccines Required By Law?

Each state has it’s own laws regarding the rabies vaccine. It is a legal requirement to have an up-to-date canine rabies.

How Often Should My Adult Dog Be Vaccinated?

Your veterinarian can best determine a vaccination schedule. It depends on several factors:

  • Type of vaccine
  • Dog’s age
  • Medical History
  • Environment and Lifestyle

Some vaccines are required annually, others every 3 years or longer.

When Should My Puppy be Vaccinated?

Starting at 6-8 weeks of age a puppy should start receiving a series of vaccinations. If the mother has a healthy immune system, a puppy will most likely have antibodies from the mother’s milk while nursing. At 16 weeks the final dose should be administered.

Are There Any Risks Associated With Vaccines?

There is a small chance of side effects with any medical procedure. You must discuss your dog’s medical history before he is vaccinated.

What Symptoms Should I Look For?

  • Fever
  • Sluggishness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Facial swelling and/or hives
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain, swelling, redness, scabbing or hair loss around the injection site
  • Lameness
  • Collapse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures

Courtesy of

Side Effects and Adverse Reactions

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Autoimmune hemoltyic anemia
  • Local reactions
  • Systemic reactions
  • Nervous system problems
  • Reproductive problems
  • Musculoskeletal problems
  • Post vaccination sarcomas
  • Respiratory disease
  • Virus shedding
  • Maternal antibody interference
  • Certain drug therapies
  • Fever or hypothermia
  • Stress

It is best to contact your vet immediately if you suspect your dog is having a reaction to a vaccine.

Why Cats Should Never Be Declawed

Veterinary journal articles estimate that approximately 25% of domestic cats in North America have been declawed.

First, you should know that declawing is pretty much an American thing. It’s something people do for their own convenience without realizing what actually happens to their beloved cat. In England declawing is termed “inhumane” and “unnecessary mutilation.”

Before you make the decision to declaw your cat, there are some important facts you should know. Declawing is serious surgery. Your cat’s claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered that to remove the claw, the last bone of the cat’s claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat’s “toes”. When you picture that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery period. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing.

The surgery

Your cat is put under general anesthesia and antiseptic soap is used to prepare the toes. To prevent excessive bleeding, a tourniquet is placed on the cat’s leg just under the elbow. The procedure is completed using two methods. In the scalpel technique, the surgeon grips the tip of the claw with a hemostat, and then uses the scalpel to carve out the third toe bone, severing skin, ligaments, tendons, nerves and blood vessels. In the guillotine blade method, a sterilized veterinary nail clipper is used instead to cut the tissue. Surgical glue or sutures are then used to close the wound. Usually bandages are applied. Pain medications are not always provided.

What are the potential complications of declawing?

1) Post-Surgical Complications

Abscesses and claw regrowth can occur days or weeks or many years after surgery. “In one study that followed cats for only 5 months after surgery, about 25% of cats developed complications from both declaw and tenectomy surgeries” (digital tenectomy or tendonectomy is a procedure, sometimes promoted as an “alternative” to declaw, where the tendons that extend the toes are cut).

2) Pain

It is impossible to know how much chronic pain and suffering is caused by declawing. It is virtually certain that all declawed cats experience phantom pain in one or more toes.

3) Joint Stiffness

In declawed cats, the toe joints essentially become “frozen” after surgery retraction. The toes remain fully contracted for the lifetime of the cat, even though they can no longer extend. The fact that most cats continue to “scratch” after they are declawed is often said to “prove” that the cat does not “miss” her claws. However, this could also be explained by the cat’s desperate desire to stretch those stiff, contracted joints.

4) Arthritis

Researchers have shown that, in the immediate post-operative period, newly declawed cats shift their body weight backward onto the large central pad of the front feet and off the toes. If this altered gait persists over time, it could cause stress on the leg joints and spine.

4) Litterbox problems

Some declawed cats develop litter box problems due to pain and discomfort.

In one survey, 95% of calls about declawed cats were related to litter box problems, while only 46% of clawed cats had such problems – and most of these were older cats, many with physical ailments that accounted for the behavior. The majority of litter box problems was

5) Biting

Some experts believe that naturally aggressive cats who are declawed are likely to become biters.

6) Death

All surgical procedures carry a small but real risk of death from general anesthesia. Declawed cats should not be allowed outside – their ability to defend themselves, and to escape danger by climbing, is seriously diminished.

Is LASER declawing okay?

It causes less bleeding and swelling than other techniques. This reduces pain and complications in the first few days after surgery, but the long-term implications of the procedure remain the same.

Many veterinarians in the U.S. have become accustomed to performing the declawing procedure without thinking about the consequences. However, the “top U.S. vet behaviorists and the American Veterinary Medical Association agree that declawing should not even be considered until after all other options, such as training or deterrents, have been tried.”

No cat lover would doubt that cats–whose senses are much keener than ours–suffer pain. They may, however, hide it better. They instinctively know that they are at risk when in a weakened position, and by nature will attempt to hide it. This is not a surgery to be taken lightly.

Your cat’s body is perfectly designed to give it the grace, agility and beauty that is unique to felines. It’s claws are an important part of this design. Amputating the important part of their anatomy that contains the claws drastically alters the conformation of their feet. The cat is also deprived of its primary means of defense, leaving him prey to predators if he ever escapes to the outdoors.

Now that you are aware that declawing may be too drastic a solution, are you still concerned about keeping your household furnishings intact? There are several acceptable solutions. You can teach your cat to use a scratching post. You can trim the front claws. One of the most highly recommend products available is Soft Paws®.

Soft Paws® are lightweight vinyl nail caps that you glue on the cat’s front claws. They’re great for households with small children and are extremely useful for people who are away from home all day and can’t exercise the watchfulness necessary to train a cat to use a scratching post. Soft Paws® are easy to apply and last about four to six weeks.

You need to remember, though, that the caps and nail trimming should only be used on indoor cats who will not be vunerable to the dangers of the outdoors.

Despite all that you’ve read above, some people will always choose to declaw their cats. Their priority will always be their own convenience and safety of their belongings. The suffering it causes to the cat is not a significant concern. Fortunately most people consider their cats to be their “other” children and will want to do what’s best for all concerned.

Please make the humane choice and do not declaw!

Peace and Love are present in my world now,

Lovin Pet Care
Melanie Lovett

Disaster Preparedness for Your Pet

Emergency planning is something we all say we are going to do but never seem to get around to completing. “I’ll get an emergency kit ready for my pet tomorrow… or next week. Nothing will happen.” However when you think something isn’t going to happen, that’s usually when the unexpected occurs. You may not live in an area of the country that gets tornadoes, but a fire can occur anywhere at any time. What about a flood or a terrorist attack?

When you are deciding whether or not to stay home during an emergency it can be easy to overlook figuring your pets into that plan.

PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND if you decide to evacuate your home. Chances are they will not be able to survive on their own and you may be unable to find them when you return.

Please keep in mind that many public shelters do not allow animals. It is advisable to consider staying with a friend or loved ones outside of your immediate area who would be able to host you and your pets during an emergency.

Develop a plan with neighbors, etc to make sure someone will be able to care for or even evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.

The APSCA recommends these steps for disaster preparedness: 

  • Get A Rescue Alert Sticker
  • Include the types and number of pets in your household and the name and phone number your veterinarian.
  • Arrange a Safe Haven
  •  Contacting your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities and asking your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
  • Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets

Emergency Supplies and Traveling Kits

  • Pet first-aid kit and guide book
  • 3-7 days’ worth of canned or dry food
  • Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
  • Litter
  • Pet feeding dishes
  • Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
  • Photocopies of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires
  • At least 7 days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet
  • A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket (for scooping up a fearful pet)
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters

Choose “Designated Caregivers”

This is a person to whom you are entrusting the care of your pet in the event that something happens to you. Consider people who have successfully cared for animals in the past.

Evacuation Preparation

Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible
Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date information.
Always bring pets indoors at the first sign of warning of a storm or disaster

Never leave your pet chained outside if you have no alternative but to leave them behind, let them loose inside your home. Lift the toilet tank lid and brace the bathroom door open so they can drink.

These valuable tips may help save the life of your pet if an emergency were to unexpectedly occur.

Peace and Love are present in my world now,

Lovin Pet Care
Melanie Lovett