What is a Titer Check?

Taking responsibility for your pet’s health would, naturally, entail yearly vet checkups and routine vaccinations, like rabies, distemper, bordatella and parvo virus. But have you ever stopped to wonder just exactly why you’re vaccinating your pet every year? Do you yourself get a chicken pox vaccination every year? How about a hepatitis shot?

We do not get vaccinations every year because we don’t have to and it’s possible our pets don’t either. Veterinary medicine is finally catching up to human medicine and the way vets think about vaccinations is changing for the better.

Shortly after your pet turns 16  weeks old, they typically have completed all their vaccinations, at which point, titer checks can be run for subsequent years to determine a pet’s immunity to certain viruses without blindly pumping them full of toxic vaccinations.

Titer checks are used to determine the existing levels of antibodies to disease in the blood. By drawing 1 ml of blood vets can test for actual immunity levels in your pet. If the levels come back too low, or negative, they might need another vaccination, however once a positive or strong immunity level occurs, the titer check will likely indicate that your pet will not need another vaccination.

“An animal with a positive test has sterilizing immunity and should be protected from infection. If that animal were vaccinated it would not respond with a significant increase in antibody titer, but may develop a hypersensitivity to vaccine components,” according to Dr. Ron Schultz, a renowned pet vaccination expert, who was recently quoted in Dogs Naturally.

Administering yearly vaccinations to a pet who is already immune can result in disastrous and expensive health issues, as it would in humans if we were vaccinated yearly. Vaccinations should not be given blindly or based on age. The determining factor for giving your pet a vaccine or booster shot according to Dr. Patrick Mahaney, an experienced vet, should be their immune system, “if your pet is sufficiently immune, giving them a vaccine doesn’t make them more immune.”

Cost

The cost of a titer check varies between vets, cities and states. In Charlotte, NC titer checks range from $70-$90 and near the D.C. area they run about $110. The cost of vaccinations can often be less than the titer check, which is why some vets do not offer it to many clients.

The cost of a titer might be slightly higher, but the price your pet’s health will pay for yearly vaccinations could be high.

Rabies

A titer check can be used to check for the rabies vaccine, however, rabies is required by law and states do not accept a positive titer check in place of a current rabies certificate.

Consult with your vet about replacing your pup’s yearly vaccination schedule with an annual titer check instead. Reach out to several vets in your area to discuss the benefits of titer checks, prices and what is best for the overall health of your pet.

 

Advertisements

Pet Insurance- How to Choose

We hear a lot about insurance today. Health, dental, vision. We seek it out as part of job packages and have to shift through pages of policy information that can seem foreign to those new to the insurance marketplace. Finding the best and most affordable insurance for yourself or  your family is hard enough let alone ever having to think about insurance for Fido or dear old Kitty.

Yep, you read that right, pet insurance. It is a real thing. Plan options, wellness add-ons, dental coverage. All of it and more just for your pet. While it might be hard to fathom paying for another insurance plan, think about how expensive vet bills can be for even the most common ailments. Think about your dog or cat’s breed specific conditions and hereditary issues- most of which are covered by almost all pet insurance companies. Paying a little each month is better than getting saddled with a $4,000 vet bill when an emergency happens.

Just like people insurance there are many different factors to consider when trying to pick out a plan for your pooch. Age, breed and your state of residence will affect your monthly premium choices but aside from the cost you will need to decide what coverage is most important to you. Things like dental, holistic and alternative treatments, reimbursements for medications, supplements and prescription food coverage.

There are several big players in the pet insurance marketplace: Embrace, Trupanion, Nationwide (formerly VPI), Healthy Paws, Petplan, PetFirst and Pets Best. Take our pet insurance quiz to find out which is best for you and then view our full comparison guide. Please keep in mind this information is in no way an endorsement for any particular insurance company and before purchasing any plans, contact each company with specific policy questions.

ins quiz

Snakes The Time

In honor of the Copperhead living in the bushes around my office, I figured snakes the time to talk about snakes -alright I know…all bad wordplay aside, snakes are a serious concern. Living in a region of the US that has several varieties of venomous snakes, I am always on the lookout for slithering neighbors around my house, office and often on the walking trail. But being a pet mother and pet safety instructor I am always watching. I can understand what a snake is but our pups are genuinely curious, learning by touching, sniffing, licking and do not always understand when they could be in danger.

The most lethal aspect about a venomous snake is not that they can inject you with poisonous venom, instead it is the fact they are often hidden. Hiding away in the yard clippings for the compost, seeking refuge in the wood pile, camping out in the cool shade of the bushes near the deck or wandering their way through the border grass and ivy so often used for landscaping. None of these places make their long moving bodies visible.

Worst part? These are places we reach, step, move and touch without looking. They are also places of great interest to the sniffing, licking, touching, curious pups we parent.

copperhead

Copperhead Snake

Majority of snakes try to retreat when they are encroached on, whether this encroachment happens by accident or not, the snake’s first reaction is often to get away. But there are some venomous snakes who get defensive, hold their ground and are more likely to strike.

Certain snakes, whether bumped on accident by your pooch’s paw or not, have a high probability of biting. In North Carolina, the Copperhead and Cottonmouth are quickest to strike and the Pygmy Rattlesnake normally attempts to slither away, but if further bothered, will quickly attack.

You can easily identify venomous snakes by these markers, according to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences:

  • A pit between the eye and nostril and the scales on the underside of the tail are not divided
  • No pit between the eye and nostril and most scales on underside of tail are divided
  • Tip of the tail has a “rattle” or “button”
  • Top of head with large symmetrical plates
  • Top of head with irregular, fragmented scales
water moccasin

Cottonmouth Snake

When you spot a venomous snake, you have time to assess and move away. But dogs walking in the border grass and accidentally waking a Copperhead, do not have the same time to move away. According to PetTech, the first international training center for pet first aid and CPR for cats and dogs, the majority of snake bites “occur on a dog’s head, neck, front legs and paws because they investigate their world with their nose, head and paws. Bites to the head and neck can become very serious because of the potential to interfere with breathing.”

What you do in the first few moments of a venomous snake bite can result in the life or death of your pup. What then can be done? Aside from the basics of prevention- making sure you never let your dog walk in tall grass, ivy, get into bushes, under the porch or into the woodpile, snakebites may still occur regardless of how careful you might be.

Once bitten symptoms will immediately start to occur.

Signs venom has been injected include:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding around fang punctures.

Other signs include:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Vomit
  • Weakness or nervousness
  • Convulsions

Take immediate action to restrain, muzzle and immobilize your dog, keeping the bitten limb level with the rest of the body if possible. The sooner you can get our pup still the slower venom will spread giving you a better chance to save your dog’s life. Treat for shock and begin transportation to a vet as soon as possible.

Call the vet on the way to let them know the situation so they can be ready and waiting for you when you arrive. Do not waste a second of time getting your pet in the car and to the vet. After a venomous snake bite, dogs need to be monitored for 24 hours to ensure no further complications or infections occur.

Shock management, restraining, muzzling and snakebites are all topics covered in the PetTech first aid programs. Summers are great for hikes, long walks, trips to the mountains and even just enjoying a stay-cation in your own backyard. But nowhere will you be completely snake free. It is important to remember that even after killing a venomous snake, the snake can still possess the nerve reflex to bite.

Taking a pet first aid class today will help prepare you for a snake bite situation in the future. You never want to be sitting there wishing you knew what to do. Be proactive in your safety and the safety of the four-legged children in your family.

Enrolling in a PetTech PetSaver class will give you all the tools you need to keep your pets happy, healthy and alive during these snake infested summer months.

To find our more information on how you can help improve the quality of your pet’s life visit Nana’s Pet First Aid & CPR.

Pet First Aid Awareness Month

Video

It’s April and that means Pet First Aid Awareness Month is in full swing! I love April, not just for the beautiful flowers, blooming trees, pollen everywhere (just kidding on the last part, I could go without that layer of green dust everywhere), but most of all I love April because it is National Pet First Aid Awareness Month.

There is so much that goes into pet first aid, CPR and care, I have an entire business devoted to it! You might be asking why, exactly, this month is so important…well let’s find out!

For information on classes visit: nanaspetfirstaidandcpr.com or pettech.net

For free first aid and wellness printables click here.

 

Pet Temps & Thermometers

As a pet parent and human parent I have come to notice that caring for both types of children have a lot in common. Especially when it comes to getting sick. When a child laments about not feeling well often the first thing a parent will do is place a hand on the forehead to feel for a temperature. If the child feels warm, we take that as an indication of true sickness.

Sick Ill Dog

Picture courtesy of petcarefacts.com by Esther Johnson.

But what about your pets? Have you ever taken your dog’s temperature when you notice they are a bit sluggish or not eating like they normally do? I will take a guess here and say no. You might not even know how to take the temp of your dog (one hint: you use a thermometer- but it’s not going in their mouth).

A dog’s temperature is supposed to hover between 100°-102.5°, anything else and the dog should be headed immediately to the vet. Especially if the temp is higher than 102.5°. Once it rises, the dog will start to overheat, become dehydrated and, of course, a high temp means there is something more serious going on inside your dog.

For the cat pet parents out there, the safe temp range is also 100°-102.5° and newborn puppies and kitties temp is 96°.

But how will you know when your dog has a high or low temp? By following these simple steps:

  1. Turn on your digital thermometer. Never use a glass thermometer; it may break off inside your dog posing a serious health risk.
  2. Apply a non-petroleum based lubricant to the thermometer for easy, pain-free insertion.
  3. Hold your pet securely or get help from another person if possible. Hold up the tail and gently insert the thermometer into the anus about 1/4 inch, a very short distance in, and keep in place until it beeps, which indicates it has measured the current body temperature.
  4. Remove and record temperature.
  5. Clean thermometer and store safely, marking it for pet use only.

It is important to keep a running log of your pet’s temperature and check as often as hourly when sick. Any slight variant in temp when sick should be an immediate trip to the vet. With pets it is often hard to tell exactly when something might be wrong and since they cannot speak up, we must have protocols in place to eliminate hesitations on taking them to the vet. If you get an inkling that something is not quite right with your pet, take the temp immediately and take them to the vet. Simple and easy as that, no hesitations needed.