Dear Dr. John,
The new joy in our family is a vizsla puppy that is 3 months old. We purchased our dog from a reputable breeder who cautioned us against vaccinations because of the threat of a condition called “HOD.” We want to do what is right, and we are now confused, because we took the dog to a veterinarian for a physical examination, and she suggested a vaccination schedule that did not line up with what the breeder told us to do. Besides, we signed a contract agreeing to terms with our breeder. What do we do and to whom do you recommend we listen? Thanks.
Your question is one that, as a veterinarian, drives me nuts. While I agree that we should not overvaccinate dogs, judicious and proper vaccination of puppies and adult dogs protects them from various infirmities, pain and even death — to say nothing of the expense to owners. HOD is hypertrophic osteodystrophy, a disease involving a decreased blood flow to the growth plates. It can affect areas of the bones, which on an X-ray will look somewhat eaten away. It is seen mostly in fast-growing large and giant breeds, and the onset is usually around 8-16 weeks but can be seen up to 7 months. The dogs become unable to walk normally, have swelling, pain and sometimes have arched backs. Treatment involves supportive care and the problem is often self limiting with an unspecified cause.
Vaccines are not the known cause! One theory is reduced Vitamin C uptake but supplements do not prove effective so non-steroidal treatments are used. My understanding is that the vizsla is not even a breed considered at risk, such as Irish setters, boxers, German sheperds, Great Danes and Weimaraners. So what do you do? With all due respect to some knowledgeable breeders, listen to your veterinarian. They have the science-based information as to what is best rather than anecdotal or rumored theories. If vaccines caused HOD, then we would not routinely vaccinate dogs, providing for healthier and longer lives.
John de Jong, D.V.M., is the owner/operator of Boston Mobile Veterinary Clinic and CEO/director at Boston Animal Hospital.Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/entertainment/lifestyle/view.bg?articleid=1061155857