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Ask Dr. Mike: Link Between Staph Infection & Diabetes PLUS Should Your Dog Get a Flu Vaccine?

Here you'll find the answers to a wealth of health and wellness questions posed by Healthy Talk fans.

Listen in because what you know helps ensure healthy choices you can live with. Today on Healthy Talk, you wanted to know:

Is it true that type-2 diabetes is caused by staph infection?

Diabetes is ultimately an insulin resistance disease and there are lots of different factors that contribute to diabetes, such as heredity and lifestyle factors. It's not as simple as correlating staph infection to the disease.

Should I give my dog the dog flu vaccine?

The canine influenza (also known as dog flu) is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs that causes symptoms similar to the flu in humans (sneezing, cough, runny nose, fevers, loss of appetite, and lethargy). Puppies and older dogs (just like babies and older adults) are more likely to get the dog flu.

There was a recent flare-up in the Chicago area that caused more than 1,000 dogs to fall ill. Dr. Mike isn't against vaccines, but unless you're in a city and an area where your dog is exposed to other dogs (like a dog park) he doesn't think your dog needs it.

If you have a health question or concern, Dr. Mike encourages you to write him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call in, toll-free, to the LIVE radio show (1.844.305.7800) so he can provide you with support and helpful advice.

RadioMD Presents:Healthy Talk | Original Air Date: June 3, 2015
Host: Michael Smith, MD

RadioMD. It's time to Ask Dr. Mike. Do you have a question about your health? Dr. Mike can answer your questions. Just email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call now 877-711-5211. The lines are open.

DR. MIKE: I have a question here about the dog flu vaccine. Maybe you are aware. I think it started in Chicago in some of the shelters. Dogs were actually getting the flu. There is a flu version for dogs. I think more and more vets are now suggesting to the owners of their patients that they should get the vaccine. I am going to get to that. I wanted to do something else real quickly. This question just came up.

Apparently, there is on radio on-line programs, maybe even on some morning shows, there are some researchers who are talking about Type 2 diabetes being caused by bacteria and particularly, staph. So a question just came into my email:

"Is it true that Type 2 diabetes is caused by staph infection?"

I find it interesting because I also know now that the vaccine industry is already jumping all over this research and are now looking at developing in the future Type 2 diabetes vaccines. I just wanted to address this real quick because the question just came in. You know, diabetes is ultimately insulin resistance and that, in and of itself, is multifactorial. It's hormonal. it's neurotransmitter based. it's dietary. It's stress related-- cortisol plays a role. It's not a simple linear, "this happens and you get diabetes," staph infection and you get diabetes.

It is not like that, there are lots of different things. Genetics play a role. This is where I have an issue sometimes with my training as an allopathic medical doctor. This conventional wisdom that there is one problem, one diagnosis, one drug, one treatment and then one outcome. This very linear-type thinking with conventional doctors and that is not how it works. Life is complex. Diseases are often complex, especially the age-related ones.

I think it is interesting. Could staph be an association; a risk factor? Maybe so. But to then jump all over this and spend billions of dollars developing a vaccine I think is a little bit ridiculous when we need to be spending more money on real cancer drugs, on new antibiotics. I just think the money could be spent better. That was more just getting on my soap box.

I have a dog, so I thought this was an interesting question. "Should I get my dog the dog flu vaccine?" I just had no idea how to answer this question, so I went to WebMD Pet Health. I don't use WebMD that often, but they have a really nice pet health section on-line and there is a writer there – I don't know who she is, I have never met her before – but I love what she writes.

Her name is Stephanie Booth. I don't even know what her role is at WebMD Pet Health. But she is just a great writer and all of her stuff is reviewed by vets and in this case, a Dr. Amy Flowers. We know that there is a dog flu. We know that it has always been around, but there was a flare up going on in--I think it was Chicago.

I took my dog to my vet. I take her there to get groomed and there was a sign there talking about dog flu vaccine. They didn't ask me about it but now that I think about it, there was actually a sign about a month ago. First of all, what are the symptoms? How do you know your dog has a flu? Ultimately, I just look for changes in behavior for my dog.

I think that is the best way to know if there is something wrong. Not eating, not sleeping, not doing the normal things they like to do. Kind of like us. Apparently, according to Stephanie Booth from WebMD, she writes, "Just like when people get the flu, you can expect your dog to sneeze, have a runny nose and even a cough." I don't think I've ever seen a dog...I saw a dog cough on a Seinfeld episode once. But I don't know if I've ever actually seen a dog cough.

But, definitely, the runny nose, the sneezing and all of that. And, of course, they can have fevers. If your dog is okay, you can do a rectal temperature. Make sure your dog is okay with that. They might not appreciate that. It goes on to say here, "Up to 20% of dogs with the flu don't show any symptoms. How serious is it?" is the next question, Stephanie asks. "Most dogs who get the virus don't die, but canine influenza can cause more serious illness than the average respiratory infection.

In some cases, it can turn into pneumonia. Just like with humans. At that point the disease becomes more dangerous. Puppies and older dogs, just like babies and older adults, are more likely to get severely ill once infected."

A very similar profile. Dog influenza has a very similar infectious profile as human influenza. "What are the chances my dog will catch it if they are exposed to it? Close to 100%. The vast majority of the dogs in the United States have not been previously infected or vaccinated against dog flu." It spreads easy, just like regular flu in humans.

It spreads easy. You have to be in close contact with another dog that has it. There is a good chance that your dog is going to get it as well. If your dog is a year old, up to 5 or 6 years old, probably nothing is going to happen and they may not even be symptomatic. But if it is a puppy or older dog, you may have to worry a little bit.

She mentions that there are certain breeds at most risk. Dogs with smooshed in faces like pugs, French bull dogs, although any dog can get it, these types of dogs tend to have more symptoms, more respiratory issues with it simply because of their anatomy. Let me answer the question, then.

"Should I get my dog the dog flu vaccine?" I do believe, coming from a background in immunology and microbiology - that was my undergraduate before I went to medical school. I have studied vaccine science probably more than most doctors have. I do believe in vaccine science. It does work. Exposing yourself a little bit to a stressor allows your body to deal with that stressor more. As a matter of fact, there are doctors who are researching that concept a lot more.

It is called hormesis. It is where you apply a little bit of a stress and see how the body responds and develops defenses. That's what vaccines are. Vaccines are a form of hormesis. Apply a stress and an immune system responds to it. The vaccine, of course, being the stressor.

I am not against vaccines. I think that they are important. They have eliminated a lot of chronic diseases, infectious diseases, and I think they have application even in cancer now. I do believe in them. But I also know that the vaccine industry, the companies that are investing a lot of money in vaccine development, tend to jump the gun a little bit. They tend to get a little over excited about something.

Here's the thing about dog flu. Dogs really don't travel all that much, do they? One of the reasons influenza can be so devastating to us, especially if it is a new strain, you know? The reason you end up having these epidemics and even global pandemics is because we travel all over the place as humans. Right?

Even back in the Spanish flu days, countries that did not have it told their people that they could not travel out of the country until this was dealt with and the Spanish flu never went into those countries. We know that if we eliminate travel and contact—exposure--the flu itself will die off and everything will be fine. Unless you are in a city, an area that it's known to be in and also that you are exposing your dog to other dogs, like at dog parks, I wouldn't worry about it. No, I wouldn't get the vaccine at this point.

I am in south Florida. As far as I know, the dog flu is not in south Florida. My dog goes to a couple of dog parks, but I'll keep an eye out on it. But I am not just going to throw a vaccine into my dog for no reason. So, if you are in an area where it's at and you are exposing your dog to other dogs, go ahead and get it. If not, leave it alone.

This is Healthy Talk on RadioMD. I'm Dr. Mike. Stay well.