Annual Comprehensive Wellness Examination
An annual comprehensive physical examination is the basis for your dog's health program. Senior dogs (over 8-10 years of age) will greatly benefit from semi-annual health check-ups. Since our dogs age so much more rapidly than we do, health problems may arise in seemingly short periods of time. By 6 months of age, your puppy is the equivalent of a 3-4 yr. old child and by 8 yrs. of age your dog is the equivalent of a 55-65 yr. old person! You have probably heard it said that diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart ailments in people might be SILENT KILLERS. This is because often times there are NO obvious clinical signs until severe illness or death occurs. Likewise dogs have many "silent killer" diseases that afflict them. There is NO immunity to silent killers like heart, kidney, and dental disease. EARLY DETECTION through comprehensive anal or semi-anal examinations is the key to your canine companion's well being.
Puppies should begin their immunization series at 6-8 weeks of age. Vaccinations are boostered every 3-4 weeks between the ages of 6 weeks and 16 weeks of age. Once the initial vaccination series has been completed, booster vaccinations will be recommended every 1 to 3 years based upon your dog's assessed disease risk.
“Core” vaccinations are those vaccinations that are currently recommended for ALL DOGS. These include canine distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and rabies. Other vaccinations, like leptospirosis, infectious tracheobronchitis (bordetella), lyme, and influenza vaccines are recommended based on your dog's lifestyle.
Intestinal Parasite Control
The Center for Control (CDC) recommends that ALL puppies be routinely de-wormed for roundworms and hookworms, at least 2-3 times, whether or not eggs for these parasites are found in a stool sample. These parasites may infect the puppy by traveling across the placenta of the mother dog to the unborn puppy prior to birth. Additionally, the puppies may be infected with these parasite by migration of the immature worm in the mother's milk. Not only are these parasites dangerous to the health of the puppy, but the immature worm is capable of infecting people (primarily children) as well. It is for this reason that the CDC makes it recommendation. Annual fecal exams are necessary to check for a variety of intestinal parasites that may affect your dog.
ALL puppies and adult dogs should be maintained on heartworm preventive medication on a year round basis. Heartworms are parasites that are transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. The parasites live in the heart and lungs of infected dogs and are capable of causing heart failure. An annual blood test is recommended to assure that your dog is heartworm free.
Flea & Tick Control
These parasites are capable of causing extreme skin irritation to you and your dog as well as transmitting potentially dangerous diseases. Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of a tick, and is VERY COMMON IN THIS AREA. It can cause lethargy, fever, joint pain, and even kidney failure if left undetected and untreated. The recommended yearly heartworm blood test also screens for Lyme disease. However, beyond just screening for Lyme disease, the best thing is to PREVENT lyme disease. The best way to do this is to use a good flea and tick control product that will protect your dog from the bite of a tick. It is recommended to use flea and tick control all year long, for the life of your dog.
The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body. A healthy, clean mouth helps to insure a healthy body. Tarter and plaque on teeth harbor a wide variety of bacteria that may cause infections elsewhere in the body such as in the heart, liver, or kidneys. The practice of home dental care should be started with your puppy to get him/her used to having its teeth cleaned at an early age. Brushing is the most effective method of home dental care, but if this is not possible, other options may be beneficial such as the feeding of a specially formulated diet or offering treats impregnated with an enzyme that helps remove plaque. Regular dental exams along with professional dental cleanings are an important part of your dog's good oral hygiene.
Spaying and Neutering
Dogs may be spayed or neutered at any age, but the preferable age is approximately 6-12 months of age. It is of no health benefit to allow your dog to go through a heat cycle or to breed once prior to being spayed or neutered. Spay and neutering prevents annoying sexual behavior, prevents certain cancers and infections, and generally leads to a happier, healthier dog.
Heartworms are parasites that live within the heart and lungs of infected dogs, and occasionally cats
Transmission-The bite of an infected mosquito transmits the immature heartworm to your pet. The larva then migrates through the body and eventually finds its way to the heart where it matures into the adult form. It is within the heart that this parasite reproduces.
Diagnosis-A blood test is used to detect foreign proteins produced by the adult female heartworm. It is a much better to detect worms BEFORE clinical signs of heartworm disease are present.
Clinical Signs-Signs of heartworm disease may include loss of appetite, weight loss, exercise intolerance, and coughing. In cats, sometimes the ONLY sign is sudden death. Once clinical signs develop, heartworm disease may become life threatening and treatment becomes more difficult.
Treatment-Hospitalization is required for heartworm treatment. Chest x-rays and blood evaluation are necessary prior to treatment to evaluate the progression of heartworm disease and the patient’s ability to withstand treatment. For dogs, a drug called immiticide is the current drug of choice used to kill adult heartworms. The treatment consists of a series of deep injections of this drug into the muscles of the back. Currently, the ONLY WAY to treat cats with heartworms is to manually extract them from the heart during a surgical procedure. This can also be done for dogs, if they are too sick to survive the injection treatment. Once treatment has been completed, the patient returns home for approximately 6 weeks of strict CONFINEMENT. Major lung complications may develop if confinement and exercise restriction are not followed during the post-treatment period. If microfilaria (baby heartworms) are present in the blood at the time of treatment, then the patient returns for one additional treatment 4 weeks later. The patient will then return 2 weeks after the final treatment and again in 3 months for blood tests to confirm that all heartworms have been killed.
Prevention-The most important aspect of heartworm management is PREVENTION! Several different types of heartworm preventatives are available. The doctor can discuss the various types of prevention with you, and help you choose the one that is best for your pet.
Q: My pet ate something it shouldn't have, what should I do?
Q: My pet is on a heartworm preventative monthly, why do I need to test them yearly?
Q: What food should I feed my pet?