Saturday, August 26, 2006

For the Love of Dog - Part Two

I'll continue my rant on dog vaccinations with Holly. Holly was a purebred Dalmatian. She was my Christmas puppy one year, and I loved her desperately. She was naughty -- worse than Felicity. She ate a submarine sandwich off the counter one day, running through the house with a loaf of French bread in her mouth. She snored loudly and had "running" dreams. She ate my Revenge of the Nerds videotape and a pair of black leather boots.

As my first very own dog, I wanted to do everything by the book. When she was six weeks old, we took her to the vet for her booster shots and got her the heartworm vitamins that she never ate because they tasted horrible. Since my parents knew dogs (and we lived in the country), I had them give her the annual booster that the books said was necessary for a couple years, then I started doing it myself. It's not hard to vaccinate a dog, especially when you talk it through and you have someone to help you. She got annual boosters and rabies shots until she was seven and I somehow got the idea that all those boosters were unnecessary. Rabies shots were required, but the boosters weren't unless the dog was being boarded. We boarded her once and she didn't poop the entire week we were gone; she saved it up for the back seat of the Mustang on the way home.

When she was four, we gave her the standard booster and rabies shot combo. She developed a knot at the injection site that didn't go away for two years. We tried treating it with heat, cold and massage. The knot was a minor side effect, but it was disturbing that something that was supposed to be good for the dog caused a lump that lasted for two years. She got really sick in 2001 and her health was really tricky until her passing earlier this year. We took her to a nutritionist when she got sick and she was put on a special diet, vitamins and all-natural anti-parasite medicine. She did really well, but she had to be kept on the regimen to stay healthy. We decided against vaccinations from the time she was seven. Her body had a hard enough time fighting what was going on inside that we didn't want to make the body fight the vaccinations. When someone's fighting off the flu, why would you try to give the body chicken pox, mumps and the fifth disease to fight off as well?

Many veterinary practices don't see things this way. Might as well go ahead and bring the animal to full health -- give them the shots while they're getting an operation for something else. Be sure they get those booster shots when they come in, even if it's mange that needs to be treated and not coronavirus or bordatella. That's part of the reason Holly didn't see a vet for the last years of her life, and that's a good part of the reason we haven't taken Piper and Felicity in to get their girly parts removed. The dog needs to battle one things at a time. We're going to deal with present illness, then one vaccine at a time, then surgeries. I love the dogs too much to have a drive-thru mentality for their health care.

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