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Preserving Pet Health - The Dangers of Taking Shortcuts
By Glenn Kalick, D.V.M. / March 2012

My daughter calls me old-fashioned. I don't like to buy stuff over the Internet when I can see it, touch it and buy it at a store and potentially return it to the store if I don't like it. I don't buy hot dogs or seafood from the back of trucks parked on U.S. 441 on the weekends. I also don't get flu vaccines at the local neighborhood pharmacy when I can get them at my doctor's office. This brings me to an interesting situation that happened last fall.

I met Sparky, a three-year-old Shetland sheepdog, at a softball field in Plantation. The owners, who live in Palm Beach County, were in town for a softball tournament. In between games, the family and Sparky went out for lunch. They saw a tent in front of a grooming salon that was offering vaccinations for pets for a few hours that afternoon.

Typically, I wouldn't get a flu vaccine, and then spend the next few hours in the direct heat. But that's me. During the next game, someone who knew I was a veterinarian asked me to help one of the other families whose dog was having trouble breathing. As soon as I saw Sparky's swollen muzzle and area around the eyes, I knew he was having an allergic reaction to something. We looked all over Sparky for insect bites or a stinger from a bee or wasp but didn't find one. I told the owner the dog needed to go to the emergency hospital for an injection of Benadryl to bring down the swelling.


The man took Sparky to my friend's hospital in Plantation and the woman thanked me. Then she told me that she hoped it wasn't the vaccines that Sparky got earlier in the day. I asked her if her veterinarian ever gave the dog Benadryl prior to his yearly vaccines or split the vaccines up. She told me that she had them done at the shot clinic down the street and no one asked her anything.

She called her veterinarian's office and found out that Sparky never had an allergic reaction to vaccines before and he was never given Benadryl prior to vaccination. I told her that there is a first time for everything and she will have to probably split his vaccines in the future.

It is interesting that the shot clinic is in town to provide discount services but is nowhere to be found when there is a problem. I asked her whether anything else, other than the vaccines, was done to Sparky. The woman told me that she was given a prescription that could be filled by the company for worms. I asked if Sparky had a stool sample taken to diagnose intestinal parasites and she said that she didn't think so. I told her to bring a stool sample to her veterinarian before she fills the prescription.

As she was walking away, she asked me one last question. She wanted to know my feeling on the heartworm prevention prescription that she was given. She mentioned that, if she fills it online from the pharmacy owned by the shot clinic, she would get $10 off. She said that usually her veterinarian gives her Interceptor brand heartworm tablets, but the shot clinic gave her a prescription for another brand because it doesn't carry Interceptor.

I told her that her veterinarian recommended the better prevention for Sparky. For a few breeds, such as the Sheltie, collie and Australian Shepherd, the active ingredient Ivermectin in the new prescription can cause severe reactions. Most veterinarians typically will avoid giving medications with Ivermectin to these breeds, unless we test them for the ABCB1-1 mutation first.

A very frustrated and nervous woman ended up sitting with us for the rest of the day. Her husband came back to pick her up at 7 p.m. because Sparky was still at the emergency room. He said that the swelling was coming down slowly and the veterinarian said that he would be fine. But the man was not happy that he missed the whole tournament. When he tried to get in contact with the vaccination clinic, all he got was an answering machine.
Glenn Kalick, D.V.M., is the owner of Brookside Animal Hospital in Coral Springs.




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