Annual Comprehensive Physical Examination:
A comprehensive annual physical examination is the basis for your cat’s health. Senior cats (over 10 yrs of age) will greatly benefit from twice yearly (semi-annual) health check-ups. Since our cats age so much more rapidly than we do, health problems may arise in seemingly short periods of time. By 6 months of age, your kitten is the equivalent of a 3 year old child and by 8 years of age, your cat is the equivalent of a 50-60 year old person! You have probably heard it said that diseases in people such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease may be SILENT KILLERS. This is because often times there are NO obvious clinical signs until severe illness develops. Likewise, cats have many “silent killer” diseases that afflict them. Many people believe that indoor cats are not susceptible to disease. Infectious diseases certainly are less likely to afflict indoor cats, but they have NO immunity to silent killers like heart, kidney, and dental disease. EARLY DETECTION through a comprehensive annual examination is the key to your cat’s well being.
Feline Leukemia & Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Test:
Feline leukemia (FELV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV or Feline AIDS) are two of the most important infectious diseases affecting cats today. Both are incurable and both may be fatal. It is extremely important to blood test your cat to make sure that your cat is not a carrier of one or both of these diseases. Kittens may be born with these diseases or may acquire them shortly after birth if the mother cat is affected. Cats may harbor these diseases hidden in their bone marrow for years before ever becoming sick. Always test a new cat BEFORE introducing it to a resident cat in your household!
Kittens should begin their vaccination (immunization) series at 6-8 weeks of age. Additional booster vaccines are given every 3-4 weeks until they are at least 16 weeks of age. Adult cats that have no prior history of vaccination need to be given an initial vaccine followed by booster vaccinations 3-4 weeks later.
“Core” vaccinations are those vaccinations that are currently recommended for ALL CATS. These include feline viral (RCP) rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia, and rabies. Other vaccinations, like the feline leukemia virus vaccination, are currently recommended for all kittens, and then recommended to be continued for adult cats based on their lifestyle.
FYI: A poorly understood problem in cats is a vaccine induced growth called a fibrosarcoma. While the incidence of this problem is low, studies have shown that the risks of developing a vaccination associated fibrosarcoma are most often correlated to the 3 yr Rabies vaccination and the feline leukemia vaccination. As a result of this, we use a line of vaccinations specially formulated for cats in an attempt to limit the precursors that may cause the formation of fibrosarcoma. Because of the special formulation of these vaccines- the Rabies vaccination is only approved to guarantee immunity for 1 year. We also limit our recommendations for vaccinating against feline leukemia to those cats that are outdoors for any time period, or being housed in the same environment that houses other cats that may be (or have been) exposed to the virus.
Intestinal parasite control:
The center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that ALL kittens be routinely dewormed for roundworms at least 2-3 times whether or not eggs for this parasite are found in the stool. This parasite commonly infects kittens prior to birth by migrating across the placenta of the mother cat. Not only are these parasites dangerous to the health of your kitten, but the immature worm is capable of infecting people (primarily children) as well. It is for this reason that the CDC makes the recommendation to deworm. Annual fecal exams are necessary to check for a variety of other intestinal parasites that may affect your cat. If you are not able to provide stool sample at the annual exam time, we recommend prophylactic deworming your cat.
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 kitten 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 cat’s good oral hygiene.
Flea and Tick control:
These parasites are capable of causing extreme skin irritation to you and your cat as well as potentially transmitting dangerous diseases. The bite of an infected flea is capable of transmitting blood parasites, and the ingestion of a flea can cause tapeworms. Not all over-the-counter topical products are safe for cats. Please let us advise you on what type of product may be safe and effective for your cat.
Studies now show that cats may become infected with heartworms. Heartworms are transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Although the incidence of heartworms in cats is much lower than dogs, the result of heartworm infection may be sudden death. At this time, diagnosis and treatment of feline heartworms is much more difficult in cats than in dogs. For this reason, if you have a cat that is “at risk” (ie. outdoors, etc) then placing your cat on a heartworm preventative is the best course of action.
Spaying and Neutering:
Cats 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 cat 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 cat.
Surviving puppyhood is not hard. Puppies are predictable. They chew everything, urinate and defecate everywhere and get into trouble every time they are out of sight. This is normal! Surviving puppyhood with some semblance of calm begins by planning for puppies to behave like puppies. Here are some hints:
Supervise: When your puppy is loose, he must be in sight. Treat him like a human toddler. You would never leave your toddler unsupervised. Don't leave your puppy either.
Entertain: Puppies have active minds as well as active bodies. Get several safe toys and rotate them so your puppy doesn't get bored. Don't give them all the toys at once. Variety helps to keep them interested.
Educate: Your pup is learning every day he is with you. Start teaching him manners right away. Use short sessions with lots of praise and food rewards (freeze dried liver is a great training treat). Even seven-week-old puppies can learn to sit, stay, and come. Educate yourself as well. There are many books and videos available to help you successfully raise a puppy.
Prevention: Put things away. Close cabinets and doors. Coat electrical wires with an anti-chew product (gold Listerine in a spray bottle works well for many pups).
Confine: Confine parents use cribs and playpens. Puppy owners use crates and kennels. Small room with baby gates can be used but remember; a puppy can strip wallpaper, chew the ends of cabinets, or bite holes in drywall. Therefore, our preference is to always use a crate or kennel.
Enjoy: Your puppy is exhausting, frustrating, and demanding. He is also charming, innocent, adorable, eager, smart, and wonderful. Enjoy him every day.
By 4 months of age your puppy should be well on his way to becoming a well-mannered member of the family. To help him achieve this goal, we outline some major "expectations" you should attempt to achieve. Your pup should:
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.
Vaccinations are essential tools for disease prevention. Use of vaccines has helped to minimize and in some cases eliminate disease in both human and veterinary medicine. Vaccination is a mainstay of preventative medicine.
Vaccinations are not given without some risk of side effects or reaction. The vast majority of pets have no obvious ill effects from vaccination. Others may exhibit “normal” side effects including lethargy, mild fever, and soreness at the injection site. These side effects should resolve within 24-48 hours.
More significant allergic type reactions include:
What to do if your pet exhibits these signs:
Why we should care about dental disease:
Nearly 85% of all dogs and cats over two years of age have some degree of dental disease. Dental disease varies from mild tarter accumulation to advanced periodontal disease. Gingivitis (red, inflamed, painful gums), gum recession, abscessed (infected) teeth and gums and tooth loss may result as dental disease progresses. In addition, dental disease may lead to other serious problems. Bacteria found in abundance on tartaric teeth may spread through the blood and result in liver, kidney, or heart infections.
People may ask “why should we treat dental disease now when we never used to and our pets seemed to live a long life?” The answer is simple! Advances in veterinary medicine, such as good preventative dental care, are adding quality years to the lives of our pets. We once considered a 10 year old dog or cat to be “old.” Now they are just senior pets. “Old” dogs and cats are now reaching 15-20 years of age.
What YOU can do to prevent oral disease:
Your pet’s teeth and gums require routine maintenance in order to stay healthy. Tooth brushing helps to prevent bad breath, dental disease and poor health. A routine of home dental care on your puppy or kitten helps to condition them early in life to this important procedure. Specially flavored toothpastes, rinses, and gels are available. A soft bristled child’s toothbrush, a specially designed finger brush, or gauze sponges may be used to brush your pet’s teeth. We will gladly demonstrate the use of these products!
Chewing on appropriate items such as rawhide, hard rubber chews, or nylon chews is enjoyable to most dogs and is helpful in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Enzymatic, plaque removing chew treats are also available for cats and dogs. Finally, some diets help reduce plaque formation.
What WE can do to prevent & treat oral (periodontal) disease:
Once tarter has accumulated on your pet’s teeth, professional cleaning becomes necessary. Professional cleaning requires the use of general anesthesia to do a thorough job. The most important aspect of cleaning is to scale the portion of the tooth you can’t see below the gum line. Tarter accumulation begins in pockets beneath the gum line. Once scaling is complete, polishing the teeth follows. Some teeth may have such heavy tarter build-up that we cannot evaluate the tooth until it has been cleaned. Extractions of some teeth may be necessary due to abscessed roots or erosions of the enamel that extend into the pulp cavity that house the nerve and blood vessels for the teeth. Tooth extractions will not discourage your pet from eating. On the contrary, your pet will enjoy easier, pain free eating once the diseased teeth have been removed.
A yearly comprehensive physical exam and dental cleaning are important to help ensure your pet’s continued health. Quality years are being added to the lives of our pets through advances in veterinary medicine and dental care.