It’s Gone to The Dogs!

How often should I bathe my indoor dog?
As dog lovers, we all tolerate a little hair around the house. However, most dog owners also appreciate a fresh, clean, fluffy dog. Sorting out how often to bathe your dog and what shampoo to use can be daunting with the number of products that are available on shelves these days. Let’s start examining a few factors to consider when thinking about a bathing regime for an indoor dog. For routine bathing, it’s wise to consider the breed of your dog, the environment you live in, and any dermatologic conditions they may have. All dogs produce natural skin oils important for maintaining both skin and hair health. The advancements of shampoos made specifically for dogs now allows bathing as often as needed without worrying about stripping the skin and hair of natural oils. However, just like with us, there is a wide variety of skin types and those with oily skin can withstand bathing more frequently than those with dry skin. Brushing can also decrease the need for bathing by helping to distribute skin oils, collect loose hair, and rid the coat of dust and dirt. Climate is another factor to consider when determining how often to bathe your dog. Warmer climates with high humidity often increase the need for more regular bathing. Dermatologic conditions including fleas, mites, allergies, and dander can be treated with the help of your local veterinarian. Most indoor dogs with healthy skin and coat can be bathed as needed every 4-8 weeks. Remember that your local veterinarian is the best resource to help formulate a plan for you and your dog. They’ll be able to recommend the best shampoo for your dog’s needs and help figure out how often to bathe.

My dog has been diagnosed with allergies. Are there allergy shots for dogs?
Yes, there are allergy shots for dogs. Also called “hypo-sensitization”, allergy shots consist of injections of a small volume of allergen (such as pollen) given to your dog at regular intervals for a long period of time. Allergies are caused by an over-reactive immune system, resulting in the release of chemicals in the dog’s skin that cause itching and irritation. The goal of hypo-sensitization is to acclimate your pet’s immune system to an allergen so that when an environmental exposure occurs, the immune response is less severe, and your pet is more comfortable. While they sound like a great idea, allergy shots are not ideal for every pet. Hypo-sensitization is only recommended for dogs suffering from canine atopic dermatitis (also called “atopy”). These dogs are predisposed to develop skin reactions like itching to common environmental substances like pollen or dust mites. Consult your family’s veterinarian to determine if your dog has been diagnosed with atopy and is a candidate for allergy shots. Other types of allergies are not responsive to hypo-sensitization. If your dog is a candidate for allergy shots, it is also important to consider the prolonged effort required to give allergy shots. The shots are given by the dog’s owner almost every day for several weeks, after which the pet may need to receive the shots for the rest of its life. It may take several months to see any improvement in your pet’s skin. Not all dogs will improve with the shots. It is important to consult your family veterinarian to determine if allergy shots are a good choice for you and
your dog.

Should we vaccinate our dog for Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is an infectious tick-borne disease caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi. The bacterium is spread by the Ixodes species of ticks, specifically Ixodes scapularis, which is also known as the common deer tick, and Ixodes pacificus. Although Lyme disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states,
it is thought that there are areas that are more endemic for the disease. I. scapularis is found in the Midwest and Northeast, whereas I. pacificus is found mostly in the Western costal states. For a tick to transmit B. burgdorferi it must be attached to the host for about 48 hours. Once a dog is infected with B. burgdorferi, the only way it can transmit the disease to other members of the household is by being a reservoir of the infective tick. The most common clinical signs seen in infected dogs are fever, lameness, joint swelling, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, and loss of appetite. The best way to prevent your dog from becoming infected with B. burgdorferi is through tick prevention and vaccination. Tick control is probably the most important thing you can do for your dog in order to
prevent him or her from becoming infected and avoiding areas of high tick infestations during periods when ticks are active is one of the best ways of control. You can also use insecticides that repel ticks on your dog, including products that contain permethrin (dogs only!), fipronil, or Amitraz. Vaccinations for Lyme disease are available, but the efficacy is unknown, and many veterinarians do not recommend their use. Even though animals that are vaccinated are less likely to contract this disease, some vaccinated animals still contract the disease regardless of their vaccination. The current recommendation is that only dogs that are exposed to ticks in areas where Lyme disease is a problem should be vaccinated. As a reminder, those areas would include the Midwest, northeast, and western costal states. If you choose to vaccinate your dog, vaccines can be started once your dog is 12 weeks of age, two doses should be given three weeks apart, and the vaccination should be boostered yearly after that.
Therefore, if you are in one of the listed endemic areas for Lyme disease, vaccination may be a helpful tool to prevent your dog from contracting the disease. Although vaccination seems like the primary route to follow, tick control and prevention is really the best way to prevent this disease.