PAYOH VETS PTE LTD
Blk 1002, Toa Payoh Lor 8, 01-1477,
Singapore 319074. Tel: +65
Focus: Small animals -dogs, cats, guinea pigs, hamsters,
pet rats and mice, birds and
November 14, 2020
"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.
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.
Ms Too's 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.
The Miniature 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 it?
"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 people.
I housed them at home,
in separate boxes with separate drinking and eating bowls. 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
Unlike the human SARS virus, the distemper, parvoviral and
coronavirus causing infectious diseases in puppies can easily and
effectively be prevented just by vaccination.
pads, the later signs of distemper, were present in other older ones of
puppies kept by Ms Too at her pet shop
schedule is a guideline from Toa Payoh Vets
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 websites.
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 recommendation.
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 viruses.
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 booster vaccination?
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
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
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
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
Rabies vaccination is not permitted in Singapore-born dogs as
Singapore is rabies free. Lyme disease vaccination is not
done in Singapore.
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
Much 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 Singapore.
Shop around to get the least cost. Be well informed and read up. Consult
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
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 vaccination advised.
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 2020, Singapore does not have approved vaccines for
puppies younger than six weeks of age.
Some vaccines available for dogs in Singapore.
1. Leptospira vaccine.
2. Parainfluenza vaccine.
3. 8-in-one (Distemper, adenovirus, para-influenza,
parvovirus, leptospirosis x 4 serotypes).
4. 9- in-1 (8-in-one+Coronavirus).
5. 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
6. Rabies is permitted in Singapore resident dogs.
Consult your veterinarian as the disease situation may be vary in
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 birth.
By week 12, almost 100%
of the puppies would be killed off by the viruses as their maternal
antibodies no longer exist to protect them. 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 vaccinated.
VACCINES AT TOA PAYOH VETS
9-in-one and Kennel Cough. Rabies for dogs for export, but are
permitted in Singapore resident dogs .
Article contributed by: Dr Sing Kong Yuen, Veterinary Surgeon, Toa
Can you take less than 2
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