Showsight May 2017

O n April 22nd, 2017, a March for Science was held in Washington DC, along with more than 600 satel- lite marches throughout the country and around the world. While the event has come and gone, support for sci- ence is not just a one-day thing. Science impacts our lives every single day and it also impacts our dogs. Here is why we should all support funding for scientific research and learning. MEDICATIONS Admittedly, I have drugs on the brain thanks to my pharmacology course this semester. But modern medicine is a huge boon to all of us and enables our dogs to live much happier, more com- fortable lives. Fenbendazole (Panacur ® , for example) is to keep puppies worm- free and enable them to use all of the nutrients that they ingest for their own growth instead of supporting parasites. Metronidazole is for those moments of dietary indiscretion that lead to stinky nightmares. Ivermectin and milbemy- cin oxime is to prevent heartworm infection. Glucosamine and chondroi- tin protect their joints. Doxycycline treats Lyme disease and a wide variety of topical and oral medications that can

be given to repel or kill ticks to prevent getting Lyme in the first place. Meloxi- cam and carprofen is to ease pain and inflammation. Some medications origi- nally come from plants or other natural sources, but scientists are the ones who work to figure out how much of a sub- stance is needed to be effective, how much is safe to give and veterinarians determine which drug is appropriate for each given situation. VACCINATIONS & TITERS Vaccinations play an incomparable role in preventing illness. Rabies is a horrific disease with extremely high mortality, but widespread use of the rabies vaccine has significantly decreased the incidence in our cor- ner of the world. This also protects us, because humans are more likely to get bitten by a dog than a wild ani- mal. A rabies vaccine for a dog is typi- cally in the $15–20 range, whereas my pre-exposure rabies series was over $800 (reportedly a steal!) and post- exposure rabies series can run over $3,000 according to the Center for Disease Control. Distemper, parvo, hepatitis and parainfluenza are four other diseases that we don’t have to worry about

nearly as much thanks to vaccina- tion. The rattlesnake vaccine can save your dog’s life from a rattler bite and the Bordetella vaccine can spare your dog from kennel cough or lessen the effects depending on what strain your dog is exposed to. Leptospirosis and Lyme vaccines are becoming safer and more effective. And for the dogs that have severe reactions to vaccines (which are not very common) or those with immune system deficiencies, we can run titers to determine whether or not a vac- cine is actually necessary. In a nutshell, titers measure the amount of antibodies for a particular disease that are present in your dog’s bloodstream, which evalu- ates whether or not your dog is protect- ed from that disease. Titers are also used to deter- mine how long a vaccine is good for, which helps us to develop the best possible vaccination regimen that both protects our beloved dogs and eliminates unnecessary vacci- nations. We have already seen the shift from one-year to three-year vac- cines and there is evidence that some vaccines may be good for much longer periods of time. This is not true of all vaccines, however. PARASITE SCREENING While tapeworms do count as a natural weight loss method, infection with parasites is not fun. Today we have a variety of diagnostic tests that allow us to determine if a dog has a para- site infection and identify what it is.

DOGS MARCH FOR SCIENCE 100 • S how S ight M agazine , M ay 2017

Many parasites are zoonotic, so identifying and treating infect- ed dogs protects not only them but the people who love and live with them.

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