Posts filed under Dog Health

ballwalkpark's New Vaccine Policy

ballwalkpark is changing the vaccine protocol for clients. We no longer require annual vaccine certificates, and will gladly accept titer testing in it's place. Titer testing is recommended every 3 years. The only vaccines that are required are the 3 series of puppy shots and rabies every 3 years. 

We strongly encourage you to read through this blog post and inform yourself about vaccinations so you are able to make the best decisions for your pup. 

If you decide that you don't want to change anything, that is not a problem at all, but we don't want to be the reason you are vaccinating if you aren't comfortable with it. 

Why Do We Vaccinate Annually? 


When it comes to immunity and duration of immunity for vaccines, there is one clear expert.  Dr. Ronald D. Schultz is one of perhaps three or four researchers doing challenge studies on veterinary vaccines – and he has been doing these studies for 40 years.  It is Dr. Schultz’s work that prompted the AAHA and AVMA to re-evaluate vaccine schedules.  In 2003, The American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Taskforce warned vets in JAAHA (39 March/April 2003) that ‘Misunderstanding, misinformation and the conservative nature of our profession have largely slowed adoption of protocols advocating decreased frequency of vaccination’; ‘Immunological memory provides durations of immunity for core infectious diseases that far exceed the traditional recommendations for annual vaccination.’

‘This is supported by a growing body of veterinary information  as well-developed epidemiological vigilance in human medicine that indicates immunity induced by vaccination is extremely long lasting and, in most cases, lifelong.’

“The recommendation for annual re-vaccination is a practice that was officially started in 1978.”  says Dr. Schultz.  “This recommendation was made without any scientific validation of the need to booster immunity so frequently. In fact the presence of good humoral antibody levels blocks the anamnestic response to vaccine boosters just as maternal antibody blocks the response in some young animals.”

He adds:  “The patient receives no benefit and may be placed at serious risk when an unnecessary vaccine is given. Few or no scientific studies have demonstrated a need for cats or dogs to be revaccinated. Annual vaccination for diseases caused by CDV, CPV2, FPLP and FeLV has not been shown to provide a level of immunity any different from the immunity in an animal vaccinated and immunized at an early age and challenged years later. We have found that annual revaccination with the vaccines that provide long-term immunity provides no demonstrable benefit.”

Distemper- 7 years by challenge/15 years by serology
Parvovirus – 7 years by challenge/ 7 years by serology
Adenovirus – 7 years by challenge/ 9 years by serology
Canine rabies – 3 years by challenge/ 7 years by serology

Effects of Annual Vaccination

When illness follows, it’s often long enough after vaccination that the event is forgotten or negated as being causative. Until the questions are directed to “when did this illness begin?” A British vet discovered, by asking this very question of his clients, that 75% of his respondents answered that their dogs started itching about a month after their vaccines.

Dr. Richard Pitcairn, the vet who taught many of us homeopathy, wrote about the relationship between vaccination and the chronic disease it induces here, in a paper presented at the AHVMA conference in 1993.

It’s a remarkable treatise on how dogs vaccinated against distemper or rabies often develop chronic symptoms of either or both diseases.

Here’s his chart showing the natural symptoms of canine distemper compared to what we commonly see as symptoms in chronically ill dogs.

Immunity is like being a virgin – you either are or you aren’t and once you change, there’s no changing back again.

Titer Testing Now Accepted In Place of Vaccine Certificate 

A titer test is a simple blood test that measures a dog or cat’s antibodies to vaccine viruses (or other infectious agents)


To determine that animal is protected (suggested by a positive test result)</span>

To identify a susceptible animal (suggested by a negative test result)

To determine whether an individual animal has responded to a vaccine

To determine whether an individual vaccine is effectively immunizing animals

* from: Schultz, Ford, Olsen, Scott. Vet Med, 97: 1-13, 2002 (insert)



Distemper Virus


Adenovirus 2 (hepatitis)



Corona Virus [not recommended]

Rabies Virus (RFFIT: non export)


How To Get Titer Testing Done

Your vet may offer titer testing, but in about 10 calls I made to local Seattle vets, it doesn't seem to be a routine practice. it is also pretty expensive at local vets. I recommend having your vet do a blood draw and then you send it off to HemoPet, which is run by Jean Dodds. You fill out this form, send in the blood, and wait for the results! 

With this information, you can make your own informed decisions on what vaccines your pup needs. As far as Rabies, you can have Dr. Dodds write a waiver of rabies booster, with justification by client veterinarian, with rabies antibody titer recorded, may be granted.

Hitting Too Close To Home

Bailey's cancer has opened my eyes to a ton of things regarding dog health and nutrition, and vaccinations are one of them. I had no idea how relevant this was to not only all of my clients dogs, and my dogs, but my dog's cancer too. 

Considering how much time I spend driving every day, I can't believe that I just discovered podcasts. One of the first ones I listened to on Animal Talk Naturally - it's called Vaccine Induced Disease with Dr. Patricia Jordan. You can listen to it here. I was so fascinated by this blog post that I set up a consultation with Dr. Jordan to discuss Bailey and her cancer.

If you have questions about vaccines, cancer, natural health, or nutrition, I highly recommend you contact her as well. She spent nearly 2 hours on the phone with me and send me 4 page Word document summarizing our talk with links to every source! 

Basically what I learned, was sarcomas (Bailey's cancer) are linked to vaccines almost 90% of the time. They are caused by heavy metal poisoning from the vaccines and just a total disruption to the body. She gave me some helpful tips for how to help detox Bailey, but the most important thing I took away from our convo was that I needed to spread the word to my clients. 

In Bailey's 9 years, she has received Rabies 3x, Distemper-Parvo 6x, Bordatella 4x and Lepto 3x.  That's 16 vaccinations in 9 years. And believe it or not, she is actually under vaccinated for a dog her age - blame that on me being a broke college kid for her younger years. 

Looking back at Bailey's vet records, I brought her into the vet 4 days after her last puppy shot series because she had been throwing up for 2 days. In the notes they commented on her recent vaccines and suggested possible vaccinosis (vaccine reactIon), but this was never mentioned to me. Had I known that she was sensitive to vaccines, and had I known there were alternatives, I could have made better choices for her going forward. 

Based on Dr. Jean Dodd's new vaccine protocol, which is the new standard for vaccines accepted by The Canadian and American Veterinary Associations, and all 27 vet colleges in North America, she should have Distemper-Parvo 2-3x, Rabies as a puppy then every 3 years after, and that's it. For Bailey's 9 years, on this new protocol, she would have been vaccinated 7-8 times, assuming she showed positive titers. 

After listening to Dr. Jordan's podcast, there are several clear links from vaccines to sarcomas, and there is no doubt that is what put Bailey on this path. Every dog is different, and hopefully most will handle these vaccinations better than my little girl.

Knowledge is power, and it is up to you to advocate for your pup. I hope this post will help you make better informed decisions about what's right for you and your pup. 


What Everyone Needs To Know About Canine Vaccines - Dr. Ron Schultz

Dr. Jean Dodd's Vaccine Protocol 2013-2014

Cancer in our Pet Population: Why Is It On The Rise by Dr. Patricia Jordan

Giardia: The Who, What, When, Why and How


As the weather changes and rain is in the forecast, puddles will be forming and that means an increased risk of Giardia. I've provided some info to give you a quick summary, but please always refer to your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns.

Ballwalkpark Clients: To help keep your pup and minimize the risk of spreading the disease, please err on the side of caution and keep your pup home from the dog park if you see any signs of diarrhea or vomiting, and take a stool sample into your vet. If your pup tests positive for giardia, we ask that you keep him/her home for the duration of treatment and get a follow up stool sample with clean results. Healthy pups are happy pups!

What: Giardia is a common intestinal parasite.

  • Symptoms include diarrhea, gas, abdominal discomfort, nausea, and vomiting
  • It is possible to be infected and not show symptoms, but be shedding Giardia into the environment.

Who: Humans, dogs and cats.

  • Risk of contracting Giardia from your dog is very small, humans are usually infected with a different type of Giardia.

When: Dogs of any age can contract Giardia

  • Puppies are more susceptible until they build up their immunity
  • Since Giardia passed through feces and puddles that have been contaminated with Giardia infected feces, Fall is a common time for Giardia since puddles are forming for the first time in months.

Where: Since Seattle has such a high population of dogs, especially on Queen Anne, my vet, Dr. Spencer at Queen Anne Animal Clinic, says that dogs can get Giardia anywhere from the sidewalk in front of their house to the dog park.

  • Being in contact with infected feces (poop) from another dog or cat
  • Rolling and playing in contaminated soil
  • Licking its body after contact with a contaminated surface (for example, a dirty litter box or dog cage or crate)
  • Drinking water from a contaminated creek, pond, or other body of water

How: Giardia is detected by submitting a stool sample to your vet. They can usually diagnose the same day.

  • Your pup will most likely be prescribed a medication by your vet - there are no over the counter remedies.
  • You must keep your pup away from other dogs until the medication is complete
  • A follow up stool sample is required to return to the dog park

Why: I'm not sure why your pup got Giardia, but here's what you can do to prevent:

  • Get a fecal float test done every 6 months (even if symptoms are not present)
  • Clean up after your pup right away, or at least daily if you have a yard
  • Wash water bowls with soap and water regularly
  • Wipe paws after walks so they can't lick them after
  • If your pup has any signs of diarrhea, PLEASE KEEP THEM HOME for at least 24 hours to prevent spreading infection to other dogs and the park.

For more detailed info, see here.

In my experience, puppies dogs that are new to the area will often times come down with Giardia at least once, whether they visit dog parks or not. Once they are exposed to Seattle's soggy environment for a winter, they seem to build immunity and rarely become infected again. Every dog is different, of course. Some older dogs come down with it every year while some puppies grow up without every having it.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

Questions about pet insurance?

Thanks to Trupanion for this great infographic on understanding pet insurance! I wish there was an infographic for just about everything, don't you?? Click the image to see the larger version!
Pet Insurance 101
Pet Insurance 101 graphic created by Trupanion.

Posted on March 28, 2012 and filed under Dog Health.

Preventing Bloat in dogs

I came across this great article today and had to share. Bloat is a potentially life-threatening condition which can affect active, healthy dogs in the prime of their life. It can be deadly within hours and is a very serious condition which all dog owners should be aware of . You can read more about bloat here.

While I have read a lot about bloat, I have never read about how to prevent it, which is why this article was so interesting to me. It has some really great tips, some of which ar

  • avoid grain based kibble, or ideally, any kibble.
  • poultry, lamb or other small to medium size raw bones may be one of the best steps towards prevention of bloat, and also make for a happy pup.
  • don't feed your pup fruit and protein at the same time; they digest very differently
  • avoid vigorous exercise for 3-4 hours after eating
Read the whole article here

Posted on February 20, 2012 and filed under Dog Health, Uncategorized.

Pawsicles -- taking care of your dogs paws in the snow

This has been the craziest week of weather for us in Seattle! At the first sight of snow the dogs and I were esthetic to go play in the fluffy white stuff. Now a few days later, the honeymoon phase of the snow has faded, and it's time to start being practical! Ok, to be fair, if it were still all fluffy snow I wouldn't be complaining, but this sheet of ice covering the city kind of has me concerned. My main concern today, that I want to share with you, is our poor little pups paws in this weather. Here's a few things to look out for and suggestions to remedy/prevent potential problems:

  • {ice will cut paws}the situation we have right now with a couple inches of snow and a covering of ice on top is dangerous for the pups paws b/c as they break through that layer of ice they can cut their paws. Also, snow and ice can get in between toes and stuck in the hair on the bottom of their paws.  In deep snow a dog will spread its toes and depending on the type of snow it can actually cause small cuts in the soft areas between the toes. Ice can be rough underfoot and also sharp, so it can cause abrasions and cuts.
        • {solution a} Booties - there are little rubber foot liners such as Pawz Dog Boots that are just little liners - they are cheap and disposable. While they don't help with warmth all that much, they will keep the snow out of the hair in their paws. I have seen them available at All The Best. Another option is Ruff Wear Bark'n Boots, these are much more durable and actually real boots for their paws. They provide great protection from the snow as well as the sharp ice. They are pretty spendy, and you will have to train your pup how to walk in them and get used to them. Here is a video of our buddy, Walker, learning how to walk in his snow boots: Vizsla in snow boots
        • {solution b}  Try and trim any excess hair in between paw pads to prevent snow/ice balls from building up. You can even even applying a small amount of petroleum jelly or olive oil to the area prior to the walk. Be sure to use an edible ointment/oil, as dogs often lick their feet and ingest what was applied. This will help to prevent chapping, cracking, and soreness.
        • {solution c} If you are in winter weather more often than we get here in Seattle, this may be something to look into, but considering this may be our only snow of the season, you may not be able to get this in time. With a little online research, Musher's Secret is all the rage for dogs in snow... They are invisible boots made of a clear wax. Sounds like a great idea!
  • {ice melt toxins} many of the de-icing products, as well as anti-freeze and other chemicals that are mixed in with snow on city streets are toxic to our pups. When dogs come inside they may lick their paws to try and soothe the irritation from cold snow and ice in their paws, which causes them to ingest the toxic chemicals. {solution a} Keep a bucket of warm water by the door and soak their paws and dry off with a towel before coming inside. Make sure to rub the pads to get off any harmful chemicals. {solution b} read the ASPCA's guide on top ten winter paw skin care tips {solution c} try the booties mentioned in section above!

{snowed in} If you and your pup are going crazy without your normal exercise routine, or possibly due to the fact that your dogwalker has cancelled due to snow (sorry...), you can try some indoor activities to provide some mental stimulation. This will help keep them busy and eventually tire them out. 

        • {solution a} indoor hide and seek or find the toy. depending on how much time you have, you can hide in the house and have your pup find you. Or you can show them a toy (something with treats inside helps so they can smell it better) and hide it then tell them to find it.
        • {solution b} any type of puzzle toy or interactive game toy. All The Best has a great selection of puzzles for dogs. They have to work for the treats in the toy and have to figure out how to work the toy right to get the reward. A good old bully stick can do the trick too.
        • {solution c} teach your pup a new trick! A few short 10-15 minute training sessions will provide mental stimulation and strengthen your bond. Have you ever wished your dog had a fun trick to show off? Or maybe teach your dog to close the door and turn out the lights at bedtime? Yes, I know a Vizsla who does this. Genius!  While you're both stuck inside together, now is the time! Here's a great list of dog tricks and how to teach them.

Have fun and be safe! Can't wait to see you all back at the park soon! 

Seattle dogwalker vs. Seattle snow

This is going to be a rant blog. Well, a rant and an apology blog.  I am so incredibly frustrated with Seattle's weather and the forecasting abilities. I understand that due to the ocean and mountains and other geographical elements this is a very hard area to forecast weather for, but seriously, this is ridiculous.

Based on the ever-changing forecasts and conditions on Sunday night, I cancelled all services for Monday. Turned out to be clear roads and no snow.... Today everything was planned to be on normal schedule until I got to the dog park and there was at least 1" of new snow on the ground and covering all the roads. To avoid getting stuck later on in the afternoon when the snow was originally forecasted to begin, I cancelled the afternoon park trip. I am now sitting at home on top of Queen Anne and there is not a bit of snow on the ground and the sun is shining. I am 0-2.

These pictures were taken at the same time - Kendal at Magnuson Park, and myself leaving Queen Anne.








I know it seems that this shouldn't be such a difficult decision, but here are the factors that come in to play for us dogwalkers:

  • The majority of my driving is on neighborhood streets, alleys, and other lower traffic roads that are more likely to have snow and ice still
  • Just because I can pick up all of my dogs and get them to the park doesn't mean conditions couldn't drastically change over the next 3 hours and make it difficult to get home. Stuck with a truck full of pups in freezing temperatures is a recipe for disaster.
  • Precious cargo: a big factor in how well my truck handles the snow is how much weight is in the back, weight = precious cargo = your dog. If I had a truck bed full of sand bags I may not be so hesitant, but I do not want to risk it with the pups in the back. The tail end sliding out around a corner could be devastating... something I hope to never experience!
  • Brrrrr... it can get cold in the back of the truck! It is pretty well insulated and with all the heavy breathing on the way home from the park it stays pretty toasty, but not so much on the way there. Plus, at the park, snow gets stuck in the hair in between the dogs toes and can get really uncomfortable! See this article for some more tips on keeping your pup safe in the snow.

All in all, this "snow day" game is often more work than it's worth, and this city does not make it very easy to accurately plan for! Believe me, I love snow more than just about anyone. In fact, I woke up almost every hour last night and looked out the window like a little kid.... One of the many wonderful things about this job is that a snow day + work is even better than a snow day without work - I love going to the dog park on snow days and watching the dogs frolick and play. It is so much fun and something I look forward to all year long. Being able to safely get there and back is the issue....  If I am going to cancel park trips and walks, I want it to be a legit full-on SNOW DAY where there is obviously no way anyone is going to make it to work. A repeat of 2008 or nothing at all.

So, in summary, I would like to sincerely apologize to my clients for all of the hassle and inconvenience this week. And hopefully, third time is a charm and I will make the right call tomorrow!

Puppy vs. the Christmas tree

In the past week or two there have been a few incidents of my clients (the dogs, not the humans!) eating Christmas tree ornaments. The ornaments almost always seem to have sewing pins, glass, or something else a puppy definitely shouldn't be eating. It brings me back to my first Christmas with Bailey....

It was my first Christmas tree of my adult life, my roommate and I picked it out, set it up and decorated it with cheap ball ornaments from Fred Meyer.  The next day I came home to find broken shreds of glass (or whatever they are) all over the ground. A red, green, silver and gold glass shred confetti party on my living room floor. We turned the tree to hide the bare spots and display our other ornaments. Moments later, I watched little puppy Bailey leap up into the branches of the tree and CHOMP down on an ornament. How did I not realize this ball-obsessed retriever could understand these ornaments were anything but her favorite thing in the world - a ball for her to play with?! So, needless to say, we had a very bare Christmas tree that year.... Bailey was fine, going to the bathroom wasn't her favorite activity for a few days, but other than that she was perfectly healthy.

Here are a few of my suggestions for making sure your puppy and your Christmas tree both survive the holidays:

- Do not use tinsel on your tree, or if you do, make sure it is far out of puppy-reach. Tinsel can be very very dangerous for dogs - from the American Dog Trainer's Network:

Tinsel and Other Christmas Tree Ornaments

When ingested by a dog (or cat), tinsel may cause obstruction of the intestines, and the tinsel's sharp edges can even cut the intestines. Symptoms may include: decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, listlessless and weight loss. Treatment usually requires surgery.

- Be mindful of ornaments that may seem like a toy to a dog or puppy - anything ball shaped or plush stuffed animals. Bailey had a heyday with some little wooden Nutcracker men that had white poofy hair.... Keep these ornaments high up, or keep them in the box for this year... A sparse tree is better than destroyed ornaments and a puppy in the ER!

- Don't leave any presents under the tree that have food, especially Chocolate! Dogs can smell much better than we can and they will find that bar of chocolate or fruitcake or whatever else you may be gifting.

- Other holiday dangers you'll want to avoid with your pup are on the ASPCA page. Take a look - there may be some things you didn't know about - Holly? Mistletoe?

- Most of all, don't leave your pup unsupervised near the tree. Confine them in a different part of the house if you are gone during the day, or if they are crate-trained, this is a great time for them to hang out in their "house".

- When your pup is allowed to be near the tree, try giving them a super amazing toy (this is my new favorite - the only toy ever that has proven to be indestructible to Miss Bailey - you can get it at All The Best). If they only get this new toy whenever they are around the tree, it may help distract them from all the shiny fun toys hanging from the tree. Stuff with peanut butter and freeze overnight for longer lasting effects.

- Remember, this too shall pass! It's all a part of the joys of having a puppy. Yes, even if your puppy is 3 or 4 years old.... or older!  If you come home to a ornament confetti like I did, I highly suggest taking a picture before you get too mad or start cleaning it up. And post it to my facebook page ;)


Posted on December 13, 2011 and filed under Dog Health.

It's a must...

A lot of people laugh when I ask if they have pet insurance, but I bet they aren't laughing when their pup chews apart its favorite rubber toy and swallows who knows what and needs hundreds of dollars in X-rays. It's one of those things you always think is a good idea in theory, but never find the right time to actually sign up, and then when you need it you wish you had taken that minute to sign up. Well, here is your minute! Go to Healthy Paws Pet Insurance using this link - - and sign up now! You will get 10% off your pet's coverage for life. You can choose your own deductible/coverage amount and they cover up to 90% of your vet bills, including genetic diseases, accidents, illness, all that good stuff. Here are some of my favorite things about Healthy Paws:

  • They are a small enough company that when you call, you talk to an actual person, every time. They actually care to talk to you and help you. Genuinely.
  • I told them that I prefer to use naturopathic treatments on my dogs and their plan doesn't mention covering them - they said that if something like that comes up, give them a call and they will see what they can work out. They want to help do what is best for my pet.
  • They sent me this super nice letter explaining the 70% increase in vet costs over the past couple years and their need to increase monthly premiums - by less than $2/month! *Bailey is with a different company (pre-Healthy Paws) and they increased her premium by 25% this year and 15% next.... I can't switch her b/c she has a ton of pre-existing conditions.
  • When I submitted my first claim for Bambi, I had to submit her health record. The woman who processed my claim emailed me back to say she would reimburse me for the claim, and that she noticed there were a couple other office visits on Bambi's record and she would be happy to reimburse those as well. Who does that?!?!? I was thrilled!
  • I don't have to worry about how much my pet insurance company may think a certain procedure should cost (some companies have certain amounts allotted for certain types of claims) - they just cover a percentage of my actual vet bill!
Now for the best part, why you have read this far, there is something in this for you too! Whether you sign up for insurance or not, whether you even have a pet or not! If you also sign up for Healthy Paws' Refer A Friend program, you get $25 for each and every one of your friends who signs their pet up too! You can get that $25 in cash or gift cards - OR you can donate it right back to pet adoption groups through their Foundation

Posted on May 11, 2011 and filed under Dog Health.

Warning for dog owners!!!

An article in the West Seattle blog today warned dog owners of a deadly disease called leptospirosis. If you don't follow the link to read the full article, at least read this part: "Dogs usually contract the disease by coming in contact with rat urine, which can be found in still water such as a backyard rain puddle. In both cases the dogs threw up; then appeared to recover; then later became ill a second time. One of the dogs had killed a rat; the other dog is believed to have come in contact with rat urine in the yard. This disease can fool you. It first appears as a simple, 24-hour ‘doggie flu,’ after which the dog appears to be normal and well while the disease works in the background. Then the dog becomes ill a second time — in my dog’s case, about a week later. At that point he went from seemingly healthy to irrecoverable in just over a day.”

There is a vaccination for lepto, but it is a "recommended" vaccination at most vets, and not required as a part of the normal vaccination series by most dog walkers, doggy day cares, boarding facilities, etc.... My vet encouraged me to get it for my dogs - he said he had lost two clients in the past year to this disease and that was all it took for me!

Vaccinated or not, it is good to be aware of this disease as it sounds like there isn't much warning!

Posted on February 28, 2011 and filed under Dog Health, magnuson park.