The phone rings. A receptionist answers with her best professional, yet polite and warm greeting, “Veterinary hospital, may I help you?” A frantic voice rings out on the other end, “You have to help my dog, Hank!” “What’s going on with Hank today, sir?” The receptionist speaks in a collected tone trying to instill calm into the obviously frightened pet owner. “He is just lying around, moaning, and won’t eat anything!” “He has been vomiting and having really bad, bloody diarrhea for a couple of days.” A feeling of both sadness and seriousness wash over the receptionist all at one time as she tells the owner to get their pet to the clinic as soon as possible. She shakes her head with sorrow for both the animal and the owner, knowing if it is what she thinks it may be, poor Hank has maybe a 50% chance of surviving this sickness when he is showing such severe signs of disease, even with treatment. Hank is another possible victim of a terrible and very preventable disease.
Surprisingly, this scenario occurs almost every week at many Veterinary practices! This is the reality of parvovirus- a disease some Veterinarians refer to as the Ebola of the canine world. It is not at all Ebola, but it is as deadly and horrific of a death and spreads very easily. All puppies and all other young, unvaccinated animals within a household are at risk of infection.
The parvovirus is just one of the diseases that Veterinarians highly recommend vaccination from during the beginning weeks and months of a dog’s life, and routinely in following years. It’s vaccination is contained within a combo shot often given at clinics called DHPP, which stands for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza. Also highly recommended is the Bordetella vaccination, which protects against a highly contagious disease commonly known as kennel cough, and the more well known, state mandated vaccination against Rabies.
Although they love their animals, many pet owners, including farmers, ranchers, and good ol’ country people, do not see these vaccinations as necessary. After all, they grew up in a time when most people didn’t get these done for their animals and many seemed fine. The truth is, these diseases, including parvo and rabies, have been around for many years and were very rampant before these vaccinations were introduced. Although Old Yeller was a fictional movie, the story of the rabid dog was all too real; and, like an animal, once a human is infected with rabies it is almost an absolute death sentence. This is why it is law for animals to be vaccinated from rabies. With these vaccinations, the advent of many of these diseases, has dropped dramatically. For example, according to the CDC, rabies related human cases have dropped from over 100 annually in the early 20th century, to almost nonexistent now. http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/location/usa/index.html.
Even still, as with the story told above, Veterinarians see some of these diseases often, and it almost always presents in an unvaccinated animal. Many people do not realize the great protection provided by these vaccines and the great importance of giving them, even for good ol’ Hank. Whether he is a hunting dog, a herding dog, or a part of the family, or both, he still needs this protection. The cost of the vaccine (which is relatively low) is nothing compared to the cost of treatment or the heaviness of the owner’s heart when their animals are infected. Please, call your Veterinarian and make an appointment to get your animals vaccinated today!