Yearly Recommendations for your Dog

dog-at-vetMountain View Humane is able to provide spay/neuter services as well as a limited amount of additional services at the time of surgery. Unfortunately, in order to keep our costs as low as possible for our clients, we are not able to provide appointments for booster vaccines or for your pet’s other regular health care needs. For all of your pet’s annual health care needs, we recommend that you and your pet have a good relationship with your local full-service veterinary clinic in order to ensure your pet a long, healthy life. Here is a list of the annual recommendations for your dog that we recommend you receive at a full service clinic of your choice:

  1. Physical Exam: This is the most important aspect of your dog’s annual visit. Vital baseline information, such as weight and exam findings, help aid your veterinarian in noting any changes which may be early signs of future problems. If your dog later becomes ill or injured, your vet will then be able to compare the previous exam findings to his/her current condition. Often problems are found in apparently healthy dogs which, when treated, prevent irreversible damage or simply produce a happier pet. Common examples are painful dental conditions, abnormal growths, or inflammation deep inside the ear canals. In addition, your vet may need to discuss preventative measures such as weight loss or flea prevention, which will save both future suffering for your dog, and later, treatment costs for you if allowed to progress. Annual exams are very important for your dog to assess his/her current health and to provide appropriate preventative care. Remember that one year in your dog’s life is similar to five to seven years in a human life.
  2. Vaccines: To maintain high levels of immune protection from common infectious diseases, booster vaccinations are recommended each year. Your vet will review your previous vaccine history and will provide boosters accordingly.
    1. Canine Distemper: This potentially fatal disease is caused by a virus and is spread through contact with the bodily secretions of infected puppies or dogs. Signs may include diarrhea, fever, upper respiratory signs including runny eyes and nose, and neurological signs including muscle tremors and seizures.  The distemper vaccine provides good protection when given appropriately to puppies older than six weeks of age.  Many older dogs do not develop a life-long immunity to distemper. The vaccinations should be boostered for the life of the animal. The distemper vaccine is a combination vaccine which also provides protection against Parvovirus, Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and possibly other diseases, depending on the product.
    2. Canine Parvovirus: This is a commonly occurring viral disease that primarily affects unvaccinated dogs and puppies and is often fatal without treatment. Affected canines usually present with large amounts of watery or bloody diarrhea, vomiting and severe dehydration.  Parvovirus is highly contagious.  It is spread by contact with the feces of infected patients and can live in the environment for months to years.  Puppies need to have booster vaccines every 3 weeks until they are at least 4 months old. Again, appropriate vaccination and booster vaccines are very effective in preventing this disease.
    3. Rabies: This vaccine is required by law in Virginia. The initial vaccine is given at 12 weeks old and then again one year later. After that, the vaccine is required every 3 years.
    4. Bordetella (Kennel Cough): This is the most prevalent upper respiratory problem in dogs in the United States. The most common symptom is a dry hacking cough, sometimes followed by retching. Bordetella is one of the agents protected against through the intranasal kennel cough vaccine. Protection occurs as early as 3-4 days following vaccination. Try to give at least four days before contact with other dogs and preferably 7 days. This way you will protect your dog from becoming infected by other dogs, and protect those dogs from becoming infected by yours.
  3. Heartworm test: A heartworm test checks for evidence of the parasite that causes heartworm disease in your dog’s bloodstream. Antigens for the heartworm cannot be detected until six months after initial infection. For this reason, testing animals less than 6 months of age is not indicated. Testing every year is recommended for dogs. Testing is also recommended when a pet owner switches between preventative medications.
  4. Fecal Exam: A fecal exam is recommended each year in order to detect many types of intestinal parasites. If your vet does find parasites on a fecal exam, they will prescribe appropriate medication to get rid of the parasites.
  5. Flea/tick prevention: This is best addressed before an infestation invades your house! We recommend you treat your pet monthly with flea prevention product that you can purchase at your full service vet clinic.
  6. Heartworm prevention: This is to avoid a fatal parasitic disease, which is spread by mosquitoes. Monthly preventative has the added benefit of also controlling common intestinal parasites. It is best to keep your dog on heartworm preventative 12 months a year in Virginia due to inconsistent cold weather, allowing the survival of mosquitoes.
  7. Dental Care: Your veterinarian will check your dog’s teeth during his/her annual visit. Many dogs will need a full dental cleaning multiple times throughout their lives in order to prevent serious dental disease and serious systemic disease that can result from dental disease. You can also use a canine toothpaste and toothbrush at home to brush your dog’s teeth 3-4 times a week to prevent further tartar buildup.
  8. Grooming: Depending on your dog’s breed and lifestyle, brushing and bathing may be an essential routine in his/her life. Start early with gentle introduction to nail trimming, tooth brushing, and ear cleaning.
  9. Diet: Quality food is excellent for nutritional balance and good tooth and gum health. Try to minimize calories from treats and canned food.
  10. Behavior Topics: This is very important to address with your veterinarian. Unpleasant behavior problems are the number one cause of euthanasia for pets. This includes the thousands of dogs brought to shelters due to problems that are often both preventable and treatable. Start early, seeking advice when the problem is most correctable. Examples include house soiling, rough play, biting and aggression (with people/animals). Remember some behavior problems are actually a medical problem that can be treated (bladder infections, hiding due to pain, etc.).
  11. Microchip: A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. The microchip is implanted between the dog’s shoulder blades under the skin with a needle and special syringe. Once in place, the microchip can be detected immediately with a handheld device that most vet clinics and shelters carry. Once the microchip is placed, your pet must be registered with the microchip company. Then, if your dog runs away or is lost, he/she can be traced back to you if they are found.
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