Rattlesnake bites in California are up 17% this year. If you live in the foothills or take your dog there to hike or play, it is a good idea to get them vaccinated for rattlesnake bites. A rattlesnake bite can mean a costly trip to the emergency clinic. Antivenin injections can cost over a thousand dollars, but if your dog has been vaccinated against rattlesnakes, they may not need as extensive a treatment.
The downside of the vaccine is that in a small number of cases, a sterile abscess may occur at the injection site. If your dog is at risk for a bite, the risk may be worth it!
Leptospirosis is a bacterium that can cause problems with the kidneys and the liver. There have been increasing cases in California and we have seen a few cases in our area. The bacteria are transmitted by infected rodents, farm animals,and livestock. A recent patient of mine came into the clinic with very sick kidneys, but after treatment with antibiotics for the leptospirosis infection, the kidneys were much happier.
Hunting and farm dogs are more at risk than house dogs, but if your dog visits one of our wonderful county parks, they could be at risk. A newer leptospirosis vaccine is available for those dogs at risk. The “lepto” vaccine has usually been the worst for vaccine reactions, but newer vaccines cause fewer reactions.
Anytime humans go to the doctor with some chronic medical condition, they are usually advised to change their lifestyle or diets to some degree. The owners of my patients receive the same counseling. Like most vets, I was trained to diagnose and medicate chronic medical problems. I also added a prescription diet whenever it was called for. I figured that the prescription diet was better than most food available and wouldn’t do any harm.
To get off the cycle of endless medications, some dogs need to eat hypoallergenic food, canned food, raw food, or home cooked food. Just switching to another dry diet does not help some sensitive dogs!