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.