Jenn Pet Vet's Blog

Happy Halloween !!! October 31, 2012

This is my favorite Halloween photo. My Bullmastiff, Petunia (the angel), and her sister, Mousse (the devil). Mousse would not leave Petunia’s halo alone … little devil!



Halloween can be a super fun time for you and your pets but there are some things to be aware of the keep you and your fuzzy four-legged friends safe.

I love dressing up my dogs for Halloween!  But I also have seen some of the problems that end up on my veterinary doorstep during Trick Or Treat time.

Here are some things to do (or not do) to make sure Halloween stays happy. 

Don’t give your dog any candy.

The excess fat and sugar that is typical in candy can cause some pretty bad problems for your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and pancreas. If this happens your pooch might experience vomiting and diarrhea and possibly a trip to the hospital or having to call me for a housecall if the symptoms are severe.

Avoid these toxic foods:

Chocolate, especially solid dark chocolate, in a large enough amount can be toxic. The typical things that occur with chocolate ingestion are vomiting, diarrhea, increased drinking, increased urination, incoordination, hyperexcitabilty, and it can even cause heart arrhythmias.

Xylitol is found in a lot of sugar free products like chewing gum (and toothpaste – I always remember trick or treating at a dentist’s house when I was a kid and he gave out a toothbrush and toothpaste).  This sweetener is extremely toxic to dogs and causes severe low blood sugar and liver failure. The typical signs of xylitol toxicity are vomiting, diarrhea, depression, incoordination, and seizures.

Macadamia Nuts if they are in any cookies, plain, or my favorite – the chocolate covered variety – can cause neurological problems in dogs. If a dog has ingested a toxic amount of macadamia nuts they might have tremors, joint pain, hind limb weakness, depression, incoordination, hypothermia, vomiting, and be unable to get up.

Raisins (and grapes and possibly currants) can cause kidney failure in dogs and possibly in cats and ferrets. It’s not exactly known how this happens and toxicity is not dependent on the amount they eat – a small amount ingested can be just as toxic as a large amount. Symptoms of toxicity may include anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.

If your dog does eats or if you suspect they may have eaten any of the above mentioned toxic foods call your veterinarian immediately or contact the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435. 

Keep your pets inside

Especially cats! As much as I can’t comprehend how anybody would want to hurt an animal, there are reports every year of cats and dogs deliberately being harmed when some kid’s pranks take a turn for the worse.


I hope all of this helps to keep you and your pets happy and safe this All Hallows’ Eve!

And as always …

Peace, love, and plenty of tail wags~

Jennifer Forsyth, VMD


The Scoop About Vaccine Titers October 24, 2012

Which Vaccines Does My Pet Need???

Sometimes deciding the appropriate way to vaccinate your pet can be very confusing. Beyond deciding which vaccines, there is also the question of how frequently should your pet get those vaccines. The vaccine titer is a useful tool that can help determine when your pet needs a vaccine and result in your pet getting fewer vaccines.

So what is a vaccine anyway?

A vaccine is a weakened form of the disease that it is meant to prevent. When a live vaccine is administered it will cause a mini-disease in order to stimulate the immune response. This immune response should then, in theory, protect your dog or cat from the real deal.

A vaccine is not 100% effective. There are many factors that contribute to a vaccines effectiveness. If a pet is sick, has a problem with their immune system, or is otherwise weak their immune response to the vaccine will be diminished.

What is a vaccine titer and what are the pros and cons?

A vaccine titer is a blood test performed by a veterinarian. It measures the amount of antibody in the blood to a specific disease. An adequate titer indicates that the body should be able to fight off that disease.

Pros: The benefit to performing a titer over blindly giving vaccines at predetermined intervals is that it provides a much more fine tailored approach for vaccination. The decision to vaccinate or not is determined by the individual’s immune response, not an arbitrary vaccine schedule. And because vaccines have been linked to autoimmune diseases and other chronic conditions like allergies, seizures, arthritis, endocrine disorders, gastrointestinal problems, and cancer – the fewer vaccines, the better.

Cons: A vaccine titer does cost more than the actual vaccine. But providing a pet with good health is definitely worth the extra cost. There is also a small possibility that because vaccine titer can’t predict future immunity, your pet’s immunity could drop in the months after the titer test.

For which diseases are titer tests performed?

The main diseases that are titer tested for in dogs are Parvovirus and Canine Distemper Virus. There are titer tests for Rabies but this is a vaccine that is required by state law. There are times when a rabies titer might be accepted by a certain jurisdiction, but you will need to contact the local authority that issues rabies licenses in your area to see if they will accept a titer result instead of a vaccine.

For cats the main disease that is titer tested for is Feline Panleukopenia.

If you are performing titer tests for your dog or cat make sure that your veterinarian is able to give individual viral vaccines. This means Parvovirus, Distemper Virus, or Panleukopenia on their own, not the typical DAPP (Distemper, Adenovirus, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza) or FVRCP (Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Panleukopenia) combination vaccines.

I hope that all of this information is helpful in helping you  and your pets on your journey towards good health!

If you’d like more information on vaccinations, please consider joining me on November 3rd from 7 pm until 9 pm at WonderDogs in Berlin NJ for my complete vaccination discussion. 

Peace, love, and plenty of tail wags~

Jennifer Forsyth, VMD



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