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OUCH! MY KNEE!

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Cruciate Injuries in Dogs

Just like people, dogs can damage the cruciate ligaments in their knees (stifles).  In fact, damage to the cruciate ligaments is the most common orthopedic injury in dogs in North America.   Risk factors associated with cruciate ligament injury include large breed dogs, obesity, vigorous activity and conformation (straight-legged dogs).

Symptoms of cruciate ligament injury vary depending on the severity of the injury.  For example, if a ligament is just partially damaged you may notice your pet is reluctant to exercise, favoring one leg on occasion, or may be sitting abnormally.  If the ligament is completely damaged your pet will usually refuse to use their hind leg completely, swelling may be noted around the damaged knee, and they will be painful on manipulation of that joint.

Diagnosis a cruciate injury is done by your veterinarian.  They may use a combination of physical exam, joint manipulation tests, and radiographs to help determine the extent of the injury.   Treatment options include several different surgical approaches and/or several weeks of extremely strict rest. Your veterinarian will work with you to determine which treatment options are best for your pet based on the extent of the injury, the size of your pet, your pets energy level and your pets age.  

Vaccine Myth Busters: Cat Edition

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Myth #1: Indoor cats don’t need vaccines.

FALSE: While indoor cats may be at lower risk for infectious diseases, they still require vaccines.

  • If your cat ever gets outdoors, even by accident, their immune system will have no protection against the many diseases they will encounter, and they can become quite ill.
  • You can actually bring infectious diseases home with you on your clothes, and these disease particles can be passed on to your feline friends.
  • If you ever choose to add another feline to your household, the new cat may be carrying it’s own diseases and can infect your previous cat.
  • It is highly recommended that your pet, regardless of their lifestyle, be vaccinated for Rabies, due to the large human health concern regarding this disease.

Myth #2: My cat already had a vaccine, so it doesn’t need another.

FALSE: Vaccines require boosters.

  • The initial vaccine only creates a small immune response in the body, and does not create a protective response. The subsequent doses will trigger larger and larger immune responses, meaning more protective antibodies, and overall protection from the disease.
  • Kittens are born with protective immunity from their mothers. However, this immunity actually prevents the body from responding to the vaccine. His or her moms’ protection eventually decreases, but it does so at a different time in each kitten. In order to ensure a kitten is completely protected, both via vaccine and maternal immunity, we need to vaccinate them every 4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old.
  • There are only 2 ways we can guarantee the effectiveness of a vaccine. The first is to administer it according to the vaccine guidelines, which are based on research into how long protection lasts in the average animal. The second is to test a pet’s level of protection to a specific disease in their bloodstream (Titers). The downside to titer testing is cost, with titers normally being double to triple the price of the vaccine.

Myth #3: If my cat gets sick with an infectious disease, I can just treat it.

FALSE: Not all diseases can be treated.

  • The majority of diseases that we vaccinate for are viral, and don’t have a specific cure.
  • Panleukopenia (or the P in the FVRCP vaccine) has a 90% mortality rate, and is very expensive to treat.
  • For some diseases, such as the upper respiratory ones, your cat can still catch the virus if it’s been vaccinated, but it will have very mild and self-resolving symptoms. Without the vaccine, if your cat got the illness, it would be much more severe, would likely require hospitalization, and could cause death.