• Home  »  Veterinary Services  »  Preventative Care

Preventative Care


Veterinarian Administering a Physical ExamRegular Visits to the Veterinarian
Next to you and your family, your veterinarian is one of the most important people in your dog's life. You should identify a veterinarian for your new dog before you bring it home and arrange for a first appointment as soon as possible. The first vet visit gives you and your veterinarian an opportunity to establish your dog's baseline level of health and identify any potential long-term or chronic health problems. This visit can confirm the health status identified when you purchased your pet.

When you meet with the vet, be sure to discuss your daily care routines, home environment, any anticipated problems or concerns you may have, ask questions about any behaviors about which you need more information and your grooming preferences, particularly nail clipping. Your vet will examine your dog to ensure healthy bones, joints and muscles, and good heart, eye, ear and other organ functions. Bloodwork and other tests will be discussed at each visit when appropriate.

Your dog may experience some stress going to the vet. The best way to alleviate this is with positive reinforcement, attention and happy visits. Stop in at the vet's office with your dog a couple of times when it doesn't need to be examined so that your dog associates the clinic with positive experiences. Pet your dog and give it praise when it behaves calmly and well at the vet's office. Take some treats to help keep your dog happy and to have staff give your pet. Fortunately, vet staff is experienced at handling dogs of all sorts and will likely make your job much easier.

After the first visit and your dog's initial vaccinations, you should plan on getting your dog checked by the vet once a year. Some pets need more frequent exams or lab work depending on the age or presence of any diseases.

Veterinarian Providing a VaccinationVaccinations & Vaccination Schedules
Many of the serious diseases of dogs and cats can be prevented by vaccination. With over 50 million pets in the United States alone, your pet is bound to come in contact with an infectious disease at some time. Even if you always keep your pet indoors, your animal can be exposed to viruses carried in the air, in dust, or on clothing. Vaccination is a safe cost-effective method of protection against costly treatment, or even premature death of your family pet.

Puppies
Vaccination series should be started at 8 weeks of age, and needs to be boosted every three to four weeks until the animal is 16 weeks of age. Puppies will receive a one year rabies vaccine at 16 weeks of age and again the following year.

Adult Dogs
Rabies

Rabies vaccines are required by law in most cities and counties. We offer both a one year and a three year rabies vaccine. The three year rabies vaccination may be administered to your pet after one year of age.

Combination Vaccines
The staff at Indian Tree Animal Hospital is concerned about the total well-being and health of your pet. Recently, numerous research studies have shown adequate antibody protection from combination vaccines beyond one year. In order to remain medically progressive, we are offering you the choice of having your pet receive this combination vaccination on a rotational schedule.

Other Vaccines
Other vaccinations we recommend are as follows:

Bordetella vaccine
For dogs that frequent the kennel, groomer, or dog parks, to name a few of those at risk for contracting this upper respiratory viral infection. This vaccine is given every 6 months.

Leptospirosis vaccine
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can be found in most animals, including livestock (cattle, pigs and sheep) and wildlife (deer, raccoons, opossums, skunks, rats, and other rodents). The bacteria are passed via the urine into water sources, where they reside and reproduce.

Leptospirosis is prevalent in rural, suburban and urbanized areas. The bacteria can be present in any stagnant surface water, moist soil and recreational water sources such as ponds and lakes. Additionally, natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes present and increased risk of exposure to this disease.
Your dog can become infected with leptospirosis by drinking, swimming in or walking through contaminated water. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through a cut in the skin or through mucous membranes (such as eyes, nose or mouth). Leptospirosis is a contagious disease and can be transmitted from dog to dog. In urban areas, infected dogs can transmit the disease to otherwise-low-risk dogs. Exposure risk increases during the summer and early fall months, and other periods of high rainfall.

Although cats are potentially at risk for leptospirosis, they appear to have natural resistance. For this reason, cats are not vaccinated for leptospirosis.

Kittens
Vaccination series should begin at 8 weeks and receive booster vaccinations every three to four weeks until 16 weeks of age. Kittens will receive a one year rabies vaccine at 16 weeks of age and again the following year.

Adult Cats
Rabies

Rabies vaccines are required by law in most cities and counties. We offer both a one year and a three year rabies vaccine.

Feline Leukemia:
Leukemia is a very serious viral infection. There is no treatment, and a cat that has it may spread it through direct contact (blood, saliva, urine, etc.) to other cats. They may not show distinct signs of illness as the virus attacks the immune system. It can also cause tumors. All cats should be tested for FeLV, and any cats going outside should be vaccinated. Kittens can receive their first vaccination at 12 weeks of age and should have a booster 3-4 weeks following. Adult cats should receive the vaccination annually.

FIV/FIP Vaccinations:
We currently do not recommend these vaccinations as part of the core protocol for cats. Current literature has shown questionable benefit and possibly increased risk of reaction. We will discuss them with owners of cats at risk on a need-based specific basis.

Parasite Control

Ectoparasites (Fleas and Ticks)
Fleas are external parasites that cause a skin allergy, a common skin disease for dogs and cats. Ticks latch on to the skin and burrow in to feed on blood. Both can be itching, annoying and unhealthy for your dog and you. Keeping your dog flea and tick free is easier today thanks to new products that can be applied once-a-month. However, you need to visually inspect your dog's skin for signs of fleas during daily grooming and check for ticks after returning from an area known to have them, like wooded camping sites.

We develop programs for the specific needs of your pet and your own particular environmental situation. We will review with you the best ways to control fleas in your house, in your yard and on your pet.

Intestinal Parasites
We recommend semi-annual or annual fecal testing depending on your pet's lifestyle. Dogs and cats also are commonly infected with intestinal parasites, some of which may be transmitted to people. This jeopardizes the health of pets and creates a significant risk to the public.

The public's exposure to zoonotic parasites is of a magnitude generally not recognized by veterinarians, physicians, or members of the general public. Three to six million people in the United States are infected with Toxocara larva migrans each year, and the overall seroprevalence ranges from an average of 3.5 percent to more than 23 percent in some areas. And while the prevalence of ascarids (Toxocara canis, T. cati) and hookworms (Ancylostom spp.) varies by locale, these parasites are present in virtually all regions of the United States, resulting in a relatively high infection rate in puppies and kittens.

Heartworm
• Adult Heartworms live in the right side of the heart.
• They are 6-14 inches long. Several hundred may be present in the dog!
• Heartworms impair blood circulation, resulting in damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. Serious damage may occur, even before outward clinical signs are detected by the owner.
• Advanced signs include difficult breathing, coughing, tiring easily, listlessness, and loss of weight, and fainting.
• Heartworms are found throughout the United States and Canada.

Mosquitoes spread heartworms:
After ingesting blood from and infected dog, the MICROFILARIA (“baby” heartworms) is transmitted to another dog or cat when the mosquito bites it. Once the heartworms mature, they begin reproducing additional microfilaria. A mosquito must ingest the microfilaria before they can become infectious. The mosquito must then inject the heartworm larvae into the susceptible pet. It takes about 6 months for adult Heartworms to develop in a dog after an infected mosquito bites it. Heartworms occur in all breeds of dogs: large and small, shorthaired and longhaired, inside-dogs and outside-dogs. Heartworms also now are known to infect cats. Diagnosis of Heartworms is by blood test to detect the “baby” heartworms in the blood. A special test to detect “occult heartworm disease” is sometimes required when heartworms are suspected, even if the initial screening test is negative, because a small number of dogs may have adult heartworms but yet have no microfilaria in the bloodstream. Treatment is very SUCCESSFUL when the disease is detected early. The adult worms are killed with an inject able drug given in a series of 2 injections. A few days later, the worms begin to die, and are carried by way of the bloodstream to the lungs where they lodge in small blood vessels. They slowly decompose and are absorbed by the body over a period of several months. Other injections are required to kill the microfilaria (baby heartworms) at a later time.

HEARTWORMS CAN BE PREVENTED!!!!
We strongly recommend the new once/month heartworm preventives, which also aid in the prevention of other internal parasites. It should be given all year long routine testing for Heartworms once each year is suggested for all dogs! Reasons for this include:
• The heartworm preventive medication may be vomited or spit out by your dog without your knowledge, thereby, exposing your pet to heartworm disease.
• Either by accident or oversight, you may forget to give the monthly preventive.
• None of the routine heartworm tests are able to detect immature or early heartworm infestation. Your dog may have had an undetectable infection at the time of his/her last heartworm test, and therefore, could have a dangerous infection. Heartworm preventives WILL prevent new infections of heartworms, BUT it CANNOT prevent the progress of pre-existing heartworm infection.

BENEFITS OF YEAR-ROUND PREVENTION:
• With the displacement of Hurricane Katrina dogs from New Orleans, we have seen an increase in dogs testing positive for heartworm even during the winter months.
• Only one bite can infect your pet.
• Eliminates the possibility of infection during the “off-season.” A year-round prevention program virtually eliminates the possibility of contracting heartworm disease because no “off-season” will exist. Mosquitoes can even survive the winter inside your home!
• Convenience. It will be more convenient to “stay on schedule” to remind you to give the Heartworm prevention
• Provides protection for dogs that travel to warmer climates during the winter. Many areas of the country, such as the Southeast, has a year-round population of mosquitoes. This may pose a threat to any dog not on year-round heartworm preventive if they travel or reside in those areas of the country that have a long mosquito season.

Spaying and Neutering
Most pet dogs are spayed (females) or neutered (for males) to remove reproductive organs and prevent pregnancy. But health issues provide other compelling reasons for spaying and neutering dogs.

Female dogs have a high incidence of cancers of the reproductive system. Spaying removes the ovaries and the uterus, preventing the production of estrogen, which leads to most of the reproductive cancers. Unspayed older females can contract a life-threatening infection of the uterus, call pyometra. This infection is caused by problems with progesterone, another female hormone which is eliminated through spaying. Female dogs should be spayed before their first heat, if possible, which generally occurs between six months and one year of age.

Males that are not neutered often exhibit extremely aggressive behaviors, which can be dangerous to them, other animals and people. A dog that was well-behaved and calm in its youth can suddenly show a pack mentality and become more aggressive, chase cars, try to get loose to roam freely, or bark and growl a lot -- all as a result of high testosterone levels. Many of these habits become hard to break. A male dog neutered between six months and one year of age will retain its youthful calm.

Spaying and neutering are common surgeries. Your dog may be under the weather for a few more days as a result of the surgery, but will heal within a matter of a week or so.

Senior Wellness Care
A thorough physical examination performed one to two times annually can check for signs of weight loss, heart, lung and dental disease, cataracts, glaucoma, arthritis and cancer. Lab tests, such as a complete blood count can help identify certain infections, anemia, certain types of cancer, bleeding disorders, and immune disease. A serum chemistry profile can identify internal diseases of the liver, kidneys, and endocrine disorders such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism. Some types of cancer can also be detected.

A complete urinalysis will test for kidney disease, diabetes, urinary tract infections and bladder stones, and urinary tract cancer. Another useful test, called a fecal exam, checks for internal parasites and intestinal bacterial overgrowth. Additional tests such as radiographs, electrocardiography (ECG), ultrasound/imaging and thyroid testing may also be recommended. A senior program offers significant health benefits! Ask us about how we can help your pet live a longer healthier life!

Canine Senior Care Facts

  • Most dogs are considered senior at 7 years old (giant breeds are considered senior at 5 years old).
  • Dogs age 5-7 years to every human year; significant changes in health can occur in as little as 3 to 6 months.
  • Senior pets need special health care: blood tests, urinalysis, fecal exams, radiographs, and ultrasound are tests that are recommended.
  • Nutritional needs change as your pet ages. Due to decreased activity, senior pets often need to consume fewer calories. Obesity is a serious health problem and can lead to other problems such as arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal disorders. Protein malnutrition may be associated with 50-70% of kidney or liver disorders.
  • Senior pets often suffer from dental disease. Inflamed gums and teeth can cause pain, infection, tooth loss, bad breath, kidney and heart disease.
  • Senior pets may have behavior changes; they may appear disoriented, forget their housetraining, sleep more and interact less with family members. Newer therapies can address senility behaviors.

Feline Senior Care Facts

  • Most cats are considered senior at 8 years of age.
  • Cats age 5-7 years to every human year: significant changes in health can occur in as little as 3 to 6 months.
  • Senior pets need special health care: blood tests, urinalysis, fecal exams, radiographs, and ultrasound are tests that are recommended.
  • Nutritional needs change as your pet ages. Due to decreased activity, senior pets often need to consume fewer calories. Obesity is a serious health problem and can lead to other problems such as arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular, respiratory, and musculoskeletal disorders. Protein malnutrition may be associated with 50-70% of kidney and liver disorders.
  • Senior pets often suffer from dental disease. Inflamed gums and teeth can cause pain, infection, tooth loss, bad breath, kidney, and heart disease.
  • Senior pets may have behavioral changes: they appear disoriented, forget their housetraining, sleep more, and interact less with family members. Newer therapies can address senility behaviors.

Copyright © Indian Tree Animal Hospital | P: 303-420-4422 | F: 303-420-4681 | welcome@indiantreeanimalhospital.com