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Survival Secrets: How Your Puppy Can Live Longer?
Stalked the Miniature Schnauzers?
"If you can help these remaining 11
puppies, " Ms Too
pursed her lips and wiped the tears off
her face with her right hand. "I will be eternally grateful to you."
She clasped the limp body of a Miniature Schnauzer puppy that had
died after a short illness of high fever, runny nose and a very smelly diarrhoea,
"You keep half the income when the puppies are sold."
She had her own worries as her mother had been hospitalised at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital for
high fever, muscle pain and difficulty in breathing. The doctor was
not saying what was wrong. But the signs and symptoms resembled
those mentioned in the newspapers' headlines. A new
frightening disease called "SARS (Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome)" virus had
infected some Singaporeans for the first time. She was worried about
her son, a second-year of junior college who kept late nights with
his friends almost every night.
A few of Ms Too's puppies died every week
for the past 2 months. Could the deadly SARS virus affect
puppies as well as people? No such cases were reported in dogs.
I had advised Ms Too to take the remaining puppies to a new place. To
quarantine them far away from the breeding kennel. But she asked me to
ward them at my Surgery. That was not possible. I could not put them in my Veterinary
Surgery as they would infect other dogs and puppies.
breeding kennel had one or more infectious and contagious disease of
dogs. She had three hundred and fifty Schnauzers and the
puppies were dying as they grew up to around 6 weeks of age.
Schnauzers puppies were normal before that. At
around 5 weeks old, a few stopped eating. Some were sleepy,
lost weight, had runny nose with green discharge. Every 2-5 days, a
puppy would die after fainting from fits or after passing
pure red bloody or black smelly stools.
The eleven puppies looked healthy
when I visited the kennels. Bouncing balls of dynamo wanting to
play. They were kept with their 3 mothers in 3 cages just next
to each other and had been weaned to eat dry puppy food. It
was a hopeless situation. It was none of my business. Or was
"Doc, if it is not too much trouble, don't let them die in the
kennels," an 18-year-old boy came out from the kennels. "The Miniature Schnauzers are being stalked by invisible
killers. They might survive if you could take them to a new
virus-free environment. It can't be your surgery as there are no
isolation facilities. How about your house? I will help you take
care of them." I looked up at his young man who was one head
taller than me. This must be Ms Too's son. He had
inherited her hot lips and her genteel manners.
"Do you really have time to help me since you are seldom at home?" He was
in junior college and most evenings he would put on his contact
lens, gel his hair, put on his T-shirt with patterns and spend late
nights out with his friends. This was one of those rare occasions I saw him
helping his mother.
There was a need to isolate the
puppies. But there were no special isolation and intensive
care facilities for so such situations in puppies. Besides it
would be prohibitively costly. It was too costly for any
breeder or veterinarian to implement the strict isolation and
hygiene practices of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
practised at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital which was designated as the
SARS hospital in Singapore to contain the spread of infection to all
Care-givers wore space-man like suits to attend to the infected
I housed them at home, in separate boxes with separate drinking and
Four puppies suddenly went into fits, eye white rolling up as if
they were knocked in the head and suffered a coma. They died within
2 days after crying non-stop due to internal pain. These were
probable nervous signs of the distemper viral infection. Others had green runny nose, passed smelly black
stools, vomited and cried non-stop due to abdominal pain. They died. The parvoviral
infection of the intestines were confirmed using test kits. The
killers were invisible but extremely lethal and virulent viruses of
puppies. It was very traumatic to see young healthy puppies
dying one by one over ten days. Only 3 puppies survived the 14 days.
Two of them are shown in
the picture here.
Too could not remember whether the dams had been vaccinated or not.
Or they had been given dud vaccines which would not be effective. No
puppies were vaccinated before they were eight weeks old and in any
case, there was no proper planning for vaccination of the breeding
stock or puppies.
After the deaths of these puppies, the next batch of weaned
puppies were kept in a distant area far away from the breeding
kennels when they were six weeks old for the next 12 months..
The breeding stock were vaccinated. Two subsequent batches of four
6-week-old puppies vomited, had yellowish diarrhoea and died. These
were the only losses and coronaviral infection was suspected.
Ms Too had no more mass deaths for the last 15 months.
She used the 9-in-one vaccines according to the vaccination schedule
recommended below. Distemper and parvovirus were the
invisible killers of Ms Too's puppies. Coronaviruses might be
present but there were no electronic microscopic facilities to
confirm their presence in dogs in Singapore.
Unlike the human SARS virus, the distemper, parvoviral and
coronavirus causing infectious diseases in puppies can easily and
effectively be prevented just by vaccination.
Hard foot pads, the later signs of distemper, were present in
other older ones of puppies kept by Ms Too at her pet shop.
The vaccination schedule is a guideline from
Toa Payoh Vets as at May 1, 2005
Vaccinations are recommended for dogs at week 6, 10 and 12 and then
yearly vaccinations. Other veterinarians in Singapore will
have their own recommendations. Consult your veterinary surgeon
as the disease situation may vary.
Less than 1% of puppies vaccinated will have vaccine reactions
which include face and eyelid swellings, vomiting, loss of appetite
and lethargy for around 2 days. Death happens usually in not so
healthy puppies or in severe reaction, but this is uncommon. Always phone your vet
when you notice the puppy behaving abnormally after vaccination.
CONTROVERSIES REGARDING 2ND & 3RD VACCINATION
Singapore's veterinary authority, unlike Hong Kong's, has the
1. Imported puppies must be 3 months old, must receive 2
vaccinations and must be imported 2 weeks after the 2nd vaccination.
2. Although I have not received any regulatory letters, the
pet shop operators in 2005, cannot display a puppy for sale unless
they have got 2 vaccinations.
3. Vaccinations must be 4 weeks apart. This interval is commonly
stated in vaccination cards of many veterinary surgeries in Singapore.
However, 2 weeks' between vaccination is recommended by one vaccine
manufacturer and some surgeries, including Toa Payoh Vets, do
recommend 2 weekly for the first 3 vaccinations.
4. I note that an Australian veterinarian who vaccinates puppies
imported into Singapore, recommend the 3rd vaccination to be 6
weeks after the second. There is one veterinary practice
which adopts such a recommendation. One pet shop in Sengkang told its
client that the 3rd vaccination can be as long as 6 months (I received
a phone call from the dog owner on May 16, 2005) despite the fact that
my vaccination card stated 2 weeks later.
So, you can see, there is much confusion and controversies in
Singapore and all over the doggy world.
CONTROVERSIES REGARDING YEARLY BOOSTER VACCINATONS
Regarding yearly vaccinations, there are some controversies about the
need for vaccination boosters and the type of diseases to be
vaccinated against in the U.S. Much information on the controversies
have been published in doggy magazines and books and on the numerous
There are veterinarians in the U.S who recommend no more vaccinations
after the first yearly booster because the dog or cat is protected for
life when modified live viral vaccines (MLV) are used.
A 3-yearly vaccination booster
has been recommended by a veterinary association provided the vaccine
used is a MLV. The association stated that there is live-long immunity
if MLV vaccines are used, but as a compromise, 3-yearly vaccination is
recommended. Some dog book authors then recommend 3-yearly vaccination
in their books. Not all American or British vets adopt this 3-yearly
One vaccine importer showed me the literature for a "new" vaccine in
May 2005 he had been asked to import. He said, "Doc, bad luck to you!
You will have less business now since the dog owner does not need to
vaccinate yearly with this 3-yearly vaccine."
When I read the literature to him, he saw that the deadly parvovirus
was NOT recommended in this combined vaccine literature. It applies
only to distemper. So, if you don't read the FINE PRINT, you
will think that there is a 3-yearly vaccine available for ALL dog
There are other viruses like parvoviruses which are not in the
3-yearly recommendation, but the confusion is created by such
recommendations. One confusion is: Owners
ask why there is a need to recommend booster vaccination every 3
years when there is a life-long immunity after the first yearly
There are vets who recommend yearly vaccination only against distemper
and parvovirus but not leptospirosis. Some vets don't
recommend coronavirus (to save money for owners) and kennel cough
vaccinations in adult dogs.
Some do. A vet on the website recommended only two vaccinations and
no more, showing that his dog was still healthy for many years
although it accompanied him to the veterinary surgery (in the U.S)
daily. Some internet forums recommend that blood tests be carried
out and if the dog has no antibody levels to the diseases, then it
should be vaccinated.
It is not possible nor cheap to test the dog for antibodies against
diseases in Singapore. It is not possible to just get only distemper
or parvoviral vaccines.
Combined vaccines are the ones approved
for use in Singapore.
They include the diseases of distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis, leptospirosis and coronavirus.
They are presented in 6-in-one (excluding coronavirus),
8-in-one (excluding coronavirus) or 9-in-one (including coronavirus).
Rabies vaccination is not permitted in Singapore-born dogs as
Singapore is rabies free. Lyme disease vaccination is not done
For the ordinary dog owner, the controversies and the technical
aspects confuse them. For example, only 30% of the puppies at 6 weeks
of age need vaccination against distemper and parvovirus as they don't
have maternal antibodies. 70% will have maternal antibodies
which will make vaccination ineffective. Therefore, some vets
recommend vaccination at 8 weeks of age as more puppies at this age
will need to have vaccination. Some vets recommend that breeders
should not vaccinate their puppies at the veterinary practices because
they get the puppies infected with parvovirus from the veterinary
practice. A puppy importer advised buyers that two vaccinations
were sufficient according to the veterinary authority. Since
the puppies received two vaccinations in Australia, they did not
need any more vaccination.
PERSONAL DECISION OF THE DOG OWNER
depends on the presence of diseases in the country, money and priority
for research to be done in checking on how long the dog will be
protected against the serious viral diseases. Whether your dog will be
exposed to other dogs, e.g. in veterinary practices, boarding kennels,
dog parks and grooming centres. It is too expensive to check for
antibody levels in dogs to determine whether the dogs are protected
against the various viral diseases before vaccination is recommended.
Therefore, each owner has to decide for themselves as to whether they
should adopt the three vaccinations for their puppies at week 6, 8,
and 10 or week 6, 10 and 14 and then the annual vaccination booster
to protect their dogs against viral diseases.
As it not cheap to bring in single vaccines and most dog owners
don't want to pay for such vaccines, combined vaccines are used in
Singapore. Therefore, it is not practical to use vaccines to
protect against parvovirus, distemper or coronavrius only.
Vaccines are effective in preventing the deadly distemper and parvoviral diseases which are still present in modern
Shop around to get the least cost. Be well informed and read up.
Consult your vet.
Develop a healthy, respectful relationship with your vet. Try
not to doctor hop but you may need to get a second or third opinion.
In the end, your vet is your best friend's friend. You are number 1 to
him or her. But an excellent relationship with your veterinarian
results in a happy and trustworthy
situation for you and your pet.
TOA PAYOH VETS
AS AT MAY 1, 2005
Vaccinate puppies at week 6, 8 & 10. Before
estrus (female). 12-monthly for others. 9-in-one & Kennel
Cough vaccination important.
Vaccinate imported/unvaccinated puppies on arrival, 2 weeks
later and 2 weeks later. 9-in-one & Kennel Cough
Vaccinate at week 6, 8 & 10, then yearly vaccination.
9-in-one & Kennel Cough vaccination advised. Kennel Cough
vaccination 2 weeks before boarding if not vaccinated.
Orphan puppies that have no opportunity to suckle
colostrum will need to be kept away from other dogs while they
are growing up. Colostrum is the milk produced by the
dam in the first 48 hours of birth. It contains antibodies
against dog diseases if the mothers have been vaccinated or
have exposure to the diseases.
As at May 2005, Singapore does not have approved
vaccines to protect such cases, the puppies younger than six
weeks of age do not get protection.
5 vaccines are available for dogs in Singapore.
1. 6-in-one (Distemper, adenovirus, para-influenza,
parvovirus, leptospirosis x 2 serotypes).
2. 8-in-one (Distemper, adenovirus, para-influenza,
parvovirus, leptospirosis x 4 serotypes).
3. 9- in-1 (8-in-one+Coronavirus).
4. Kennel Cough vaccination is given separately.
KENNEL COUGH VACCINES are recommended for breeders, pet shop
operators and pet owners 2 weeks before boarding in places
with many dogs.
5. Rabies. No rabies vaccination is permitted in
Singapore resident dogs.
Consult your veterinarian as the disease situation may
be vary in your situation.
Maternal antibodies in the colostrum usually protects
the puppies for the first few weeks of life.
At the age of week 6, around 25% of the puppies would
be unprotected, assuming that all had received antibodies from
the mother via drinking milk in the first few days after
By week 12, almost 100% of the puppies would be killed off by
the viruses as their maternal antibodies no longer exist to
It takes about 14 days to provide full protection.
Puppies infected by viruses before vaccination will NOT be
protected when vaccinated. A very small percentage of
puppies do not produce antibodies even though they are
VACCINES AT TOA PAYOH VETS
8-in-one, 9-in-one and Kennel Cough are used for
residents in Singapore. Rabies for dogs for export.
contributed by: Dr Sing Kong Yuen, Veterinary Surgeon, Toa Payoh
Distemper and other viruses in a Singapore dog breeding operation in
August 2005 update.
Vaccination of Singapore puppies
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