Archive for November, 2012

Vaccinations in Cats

November 28, 2012


Recent advances in veterinary medical science have resulted in an increase in the number and type of vaccines that are available for use in cats, and improvements are continuously being made in safety and efficacy. Some vaccines are more or less routinely advocated for all cats (‘core’ vaccines) whereas others are used more selectively according to circumstances. However, in all cases the selection of the correct vaccination program for each individual cat, including the frequency of repeat, booster, vaccinations, requires professional advice.

Currently cats can be vaccinated against several different diseases:

Core Vaccines:

  • Feline panleukopenia, FPL (feline infectious enteritis) caused by FPL virus or feline parvovirus.
  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis, FVR caused by FVR virus or herpes virus type 1, FHV-1.
  • Feline caliciviral disease caused by various strains of Feline caliciviruses, FCV.
  • Rabies caused by Rabies virus

Non-core, discretionary vaccines: Feline chlamydial infection, Feline leukemia disease complex caused by Feline leukemia virus, FeLV

For cats in households where one or more cats go outside, we recommend the feline leukemia vaccine. Other vaccines, such as FIP, Giardia, and Feline bordetella, are not considered essential, and are not generally recommend.

Also vaccines come in various combinations, so that protection against more than one disease is achieved in a single injection or administration (some vaccines are given by drops into the nose rather than by needle). We will advise you on the most appropriate vaccines for your cat. Other vaccines, such as FIP, Giardia, and feline bordetella, are not considered essential, not generally recommended.

How do vaccines work? Vaccines work by stimulating the body’s defense mechanisms (the immune system) to a particular microorganism or microorganisms (virus, bacteria, or other). The animal’s immune system is then prepared to react to a future infection with that microorganism(s) and either prevent infection or respond and eliminate the microorganism and give rapid recovery. Thus, vaccination mimics or simulates the protection or immunity that a pet has once it has recovered from natural infection with a particular infectious agent. The immune system is a complex interaction of various cells and tissues and organs in an animal but the cells mainly involved are the white blood cells and main tissues are the lymphoid tissues such as the lymph nodes or lymph glands. One of the most important components of the immune system is the production of specific protein molecules called antibodies. A specific microorganism, such as Feline Panleukopenia Virus, has components called antigens that induce the immune system to produce antibody that specifically binds and neutralizes that organism and no other. Antibodies work together with other white blood cells (lymphocytes) that are able to identify and kill, within the body, those cells that have become infected by the microorganism. The involvement of lymphocytes and other immune system cells in immunity is called cell-mediated immunity.  After vaccination, just as after recovery from natural infection, the body ‘remembers’ the particular antigens so that when they are encountered again it can mount a rapid and strong immune response preventing the cat from developing the disease. The duration of this response varies with the disease, the type of vaccine and other variables. The likely duration will determine the recommended revaccination date.

It is important to realize that most vaccines work by preventing your cat from becoming ill during a subsequent exposure to specific disease-causing organisms, but vaccination may not prevent the cat from becoming infected. In such cases the cat, while itself protected against disease, may shed the organism for a period of time after exposure and be capable of infecting susceptible animals with which it is in contact. This is not a major consideration in the pet cat but may be important in the breeding colony.

What is the difference between the various types of vaccine?  Three major types of vaccine are produced for use in cats.

1.         Modified live vaccines– these vaccines contain live organisms that are weakened (attenuated) or genetically modified so that they do not produce disease but will multiply in the cat’s body. Live vaccines are generally considered to cause a stronger, longer lasting immunity than inactivated vaccines, but there is continuous improvement in all vaccines. It is not advisable to use modified live vaccines in pregnant queens or cats whose immune system is not working properly (cats infected by feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), etc.).

2. Killed (inactivated) vaccines – these vaccines are prepared using fully virulent organisms or genetically modified organisms that have been killed by various treatments. Because, on their own, they do not give such a high level of protection as the live, replicating type of vaccine, killed vaccines may have an ‘adjuvant’ added to enhance immune stimulation.

3. Subunit vaccines – These are vaccines in which the infectious organism has been broken apart and only certain parts are included in the vaccine. In some cases this is achieved by using genetic engineering techniques prior to the fragmentation.

When should my kitten be vaccinated?  Generally kittens are vaccinated for the first time at between 8 and 10 weeks and a second dose is given at 12 weeks. A kitten will not be fully protected until 7-10 days after the second vaccination. Under specific circumstances we may advise an alternative regime.

 How often should booster vaccinations be given?  At Arrow Springs, the first Rabies is boostered at 1 year, then every 3 years. Feline Herpes, Panleukopenia, and calicivirus is given every 3 years. Feline Leukemia vaccine is given yearly.

Will vaccination always protect my cat?  Vaccination will protect the vast majority of cats but under some circumstance vaccine breakdowns will occur. Reasons for such breakdowns or apparent ‘vaccine failure’ include:

Variations between different strains of viruses: This is particularly a problem for example with FCV infections, where, like the “common cold” in people, there are a large number of different strains. Some of these strains are not covered or only partially cross-protected by available vaccines.

-Maternally derived antibodies: When a kitten is born and after it suckles its mother, it is acquires a proportion of antibodies from the mother. A well vaccinated queen cat will pass on some antibodies to the diseases she has been vaccinated against, and any others she has acquired naturally. Such antibodies protect the kitten against those diseases for the first two or three months of life, arguably the most critical period. However, during this same period, the maternally-derived antibodies can block the effects of vaccination of the kitten. This blocking effect decreases as the maternal antibodies gradually disappear over those two to three months. A point in time is reached when vaccination can be successfully given. Unfortunately, this point varies between kittens, mainly because the amount of maternal antibodies that each kitten receives is variable. This is part of the reason that two vaccinations are usually given two to four weeks apart in the kitten vaccination program.

-The cat was stressed or not completely healthy at the time of vaccination: ‘Stress’ can prevent a good response to vaccination. For this reason it is better to let a kitten settle in its new home for 5-7 days before a vaccination is given, and the physical examination before vaccinating helps ensure the cat is healthy at that time.

-The cat has been exposed to an excessive challenge dose of virus or bacteria in its environment and this has been sufficient to overwhelm the immunity.

-The immune system of the cat is under-performing because of some other disease, or complications associated with advanced age.

These are not the only reasons for vaccination failure but they are the most likely explanations.

If you feel your cat has contracted an infection for which it has been vaccinated then let us know so tests can be undertaken to try and establish why vaccination has failed to be protective.

What are the risks of vaccination?  There are very few risks to vaccination. We will be able to advise you on specific details concerning your pet. You may notice your cat has a temporary loss of appetite or is less lively a day or two after a vaccination, but this should resolve within 24 to 48 hours. In a very few cats, they may be allergic to one or more components of the vaccine and have more serious side effects such as difficulty in breathing, vomiting or diarrhea. If these signs occur, let us know immediately. A rare form of soft tissue sarcoma has been associated with a reaction to vaccine or vaccine components in a very small number of cats. Studies are in progress on this, but the benefits of vaccination greatly outweigh these small risks for most situations.  

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infection  This virus is widespread and infection of outdoor cats or cats in infected catteries is common. The vast majority of persistently infected cats will die either from tumors or as a consequence of the immunosuppression caused by the viral infection. Current vaccines provide a good level of protection and do not interfere with routine testing for the virus in breeding colonies. Because the virus tends to take many months before it causes disease, infected cats can appear completely normal and healthy. For this reason your veterinarian may suggest your cat have a blood test to make sure it is not infected before vaccination. Despite vaccination, a few cats will still become infected with the virus.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)    This is an uncommon disease although cases occur from time to time almost everywhere but infection with the causative and related viruses (coronaviruses) are common. We do not understand why a few infections lead to fatal disease whereas the majority cause minor illness. Vaccines are advised in some cases.

Rabies   This is such an important disease because of the almost 100% fatality rate of cases once symptoms occur, and because of its potential transmission to people by bites from infected animals. Rabies vaccination is an essential part of the vaccination program for all cats. We will discuss the frequency of booster vaccinations needed for your cat.


Is it time for your cat’s vaccines? Give us a call and find out about three-year vaccines.

The Veterinarians of Arrow Springs Animal Hospital 918-455-7107

Thanksgiving Tips for Pets

November 19, 2012

Don’t offer raw or undercooked turkey, which may contain salmonella bacteria.

Sage and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Dough
Don’t feed your pet raw bread dough. When raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may have vomiting, abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Be sure your pets keep their noses out of any batter, especially if it includes raw eggs. The eggs could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

 While you and your family are feasting, give your cat and dog their own little feast.    Offer them made-for-pet chew bones or pet treats. NO TURKEY BONES! You can also stuff their usual dinner—perhaps with sweet potato or green beans—inside a Kong toy. They’ll be happily occupied for awhile, working hard to extract their dinner from the toy. Just remember, it is best to keep pets on their regular diets even during the holidays.

From the Veterinarians of Arrow Springs Animal Hospital 918-455-7107


November 12, 2012

What Is Ringworm?  

   A microscopic fungal organism that results in skin disease in animals and humans causes ringworm.

What Is The Most Important Cause In Cats?

   Microsporum canis is the main fungus responsible for 98% of cat fungal skin infections.

 How Is Ringworm Spread?

   Ringworm is spread by direct contact with an infected animal (or person), or with infected bedding and grooming      tools.

Can Ringworm Be Spread To Other Species Of Animals?

   Yes. The fungal organisms that cause ringworm are very contagious and can be spread from pet to pet, pet to human, or human to pet.

 What Are The Signs Of Ringworm?

   Early signs include dry, flaky skin, broken hair, and bald patches on ears, front legs and around the eyes. More advanced signs include crusty lesions and infected areas that become red and sore.

 Why Is This Disease Called “Ringworm?”

    Healing of the infected areas occurs from the center out, creating a ring effect, thus the name “ringworm.”

 If My Pet Does Not Show Signs Of Ringworm, Does That Mean It’s Not Infected?

    NO!!! Many cats do not show clinical signs of ringworm but are CARRIERS!


Which Cats Are Most Susceptible To Ringworm?

    Ringworm is most common in young cats, and in cats with debilitating diseases.

 How Does The Fungus Survive?

    By invading the growing hair shaft and feeding on the protein contained in the hair and skin.

 Please call us with any questions or concerns.

The Veterinarians of Arrow Springs Animal Hospital 918-455-7107


November 8, 2012



What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of dogs and other mammals that particularly affects the liver or kidneys. There are many species of Leptospira and the traditional types affecting dogs are Leptospira canicola and L. icterohemorrhagiae. In recent years other species have become important in some areas. These “serovars” includeL. pomona, L. grippotyphosa, L. australis, and L. bratislava. There are other serovars that may infect dogs without apparently causing any signs or disease.

 How common is leptospirosis?

 Infections of dogs with L. icterohemorrhagiae and L. canicola are uncommon in areas where widespread vaccination of dogs has been practiced for many years. Outbreaks of the disease are still seen from time to time. As mentioned above, these may now involve serovars of Leptospira that have not traditionally been recognized in dogs, and which are not protected against by the traditional vaccines.

 How are dogs infected?

 Leptospira bacteria are carried mainly by rats and other rodents, but can also affect almost any mammalian species, including people. Infected or recovered “carrier” dogs can also act as a source of the infection. Ingestion of infected urine or rodent-contaminated garbage is the most important means of transmission, but some forms of the bacteria can penetrate damaged or thin skin. For instance, when dogs swim in contaminated water, they may become infected through their skin. The incubation period (from infection to onset of clinical signs) is usually 4-12 days.

 What are the signs of leptospirosis?

 Many infections go undetected, but other cases can be life-threatening. Certain strains (serovars) of Leptospira are more likely to be associated with disease than other strains, and the icterohemorrhagiae serovar is perhaps the most dangerous.

 There are three main forms of the disease: hemorrhagic (bleeding), icteric or jaundice (liver), and renal (kidney).

 In hemorrhagic disease there is high fever with lethargy and loss of appetite. Multiple small hemorrhages occur in the mouth and on the whites of the eyes. Bloody diarrhea and vomiting may occur. This form is often fatal.

 The jaundice form begins much like the hemorrhagic form and many of the signs are the same. It differs in the presence of a yellow color (jaundice or icterus) in the mouth and whites of the eyes. In severe cases the skin will turn yellow.

 The renal form causes kidney failure. These dogs are very lethargic, anorectic, and may vomit. Their breath may have a very offensive odor, and ulcers often develop on the tongue. Other signs include diarrhea, excessive drinking (polydipsia) and excessively frequent urination (polyuria). There may be red staining of the urine (blood). The dog may be reluctant to move and show abdominal discomfort. Fever is variable and temperature may actually be subnormal in the more advanced stage. Dogs that survive the acute renal form may be left with chronic kidney disease.

 How is leptospirosis diagnosed?

 Because the clinical signs are variable and easily confused with other diseases, definite diagnosis can be difficult. There are no readily available rapid and definitive laboratory tests. Taking blood samples during infection and again in the recovery period and showing an increase in antibodies to Leptospira in the blood serum (at least a four-fold increase in antibody titer) is supportive of the diagnosis. A single test finding of Leptospira antibody, even if the level (titer) is high, may not mean that the dog has Leptospirosis because infection with less harmful serovars can still result in high antibody.

 What is the treatment?

 Antibiotics are reasonably effective if begun early. Most affected dogs require intensive care in the veterinary hospital. An extended course of antibiotics may be prescribed even in the recovery period to ensure that all the Leptospira organisms are cleared and the dog does not become a chronic carrier.

 How can leptospirosis be prevented?

 The vaccine for leptospirosis is not always part of the routine vaccination program for all dogs. Your veterinarian will consider the risks and options for your pet. Annual boosters may be needed to maintain best immunity.

 Can the vaccine cause side-effects?

 Of the components of a dog’s vaccination program, the portion for leptospirosis has been the more likely to cause a reaction. This usually takes the form of lethargy for a few days and possibly loss of appetite. But in some dogs (Miniature Dachshunds and West Highland White Terriers seem to have slightly increased risk) a more general shock-like reaction may occur shortly after vaccination. Other dogs may develop a skin rash (urticaria), apparent on hairless areas. These reactions can be controlled medically, so if you are concerned call your veterinarian immediately. Modern vaccine production methods, such as the use of “sub-unit’ or genetically manufactured vaccines may reduce the incidence of side effects.

 NOTE: Leptospirosis can be transmitted to people, so owners of dogs that may have the disease should avoid contact between the owner’s bare skin and their dog’s urine, and wear rubber gloves when cleaning up any areas the dog may have soiled. Any areas where the dog has urinated should be disinfected. The organism is readily killed by household disinfectants or dilute bleach solution.

 –From the Veterinarians at Arrow Springs Animal Hospital



November 1, 2012

Why should I have my pet neutered?

Neutering should be considered if you are keeping any male dog as a pet. Tulsa County, City of Tulsa and the City of Broken Arrow, to name a few areas, all require neutering of pets.

What are the advantages of neutering my male dog?

  • Reduces the risk of prostate cancer and prostatitis
  • Reduces the risk of hormone-related diseases such as perianal adenoma
  • Eliminates the risk of testicular cancer
  • Removal of sexual urge which results in less roaming behaviors
  • Reduction of certain types of aggression

Is neutering performed for any other reason?

The operation may be performed to treat testicular tumors and some prostate gland conditions. It is also used to control hormonal (testosterone) dependent diseases. Neutering may also be used in an attempt to treat certain forms of aggression.

What are the disadvantages?

Most of the perceived disadvantages are false. The most quoted of these are that the dog will become fat, characterless, and useless as a guard. Obesity is probably the most commonly quoted disadvantage of neutering. Obesity is the result of overfeeding. By regulating your dog’s diet and caloric intake, you can prevent obesity in neutered or intact males. Neutering does not cause a change in personality, guarding instincts, intelligence, playfulness, and affection.

When should the operation be performed?

Research reveals that neutering a pet at an early age does not cause any increased risk. We recommend neutering at six months of age.

Are there any dangers associated with the operation?

Neutering is considered a major operation and requires general anesthesia. With today’s modern anesthetics and monitoring equipment, the risk of a complication is very low.

What happens when I leave my dog for this procedure?

Your pet will be examined and pre-anesthetic blood tests are usually performed. If everything is acceptable, your pet will then be anesthetized. Most pets will have an intravenous catheter placed to administer the anesthetic and to provide fluid therapy during the surgery. After your pet is anesthetized, a breathing tube will be placed in his trachea. This will allow us to deliver oxygen and the gas anesthetic. We usually use absorbable sutures so that no sutures will have to be removed.

Are there any post-operative precautions I should take?

Rest and restriction of activity are the primary post-operative care. Most dogs can resume normal activity five to ten days after surgery. Remember to leash walk your pet to avoid running while outdoors. If your pet must be alone, consider keeping him in a kennel to limit his activity while you are gone.

We perform neuters Monday-Friday. Please give us a call for questions or if you would like to make an appointment.

Veterinarians from Arrow Springs Animal Hospital 918-455-7107