Questions & Answers

What veterinary healthcare should my adult dog (1-7 years) receive?

Individualized Comprehensive Preventative Health Care Plan For Your Dog

Each comprehensive preventative health care plan recommended is individualized based on the age, breed, health status, environment, lifestyle and travel habits of your dog.

Comprehensive Physical Examination By the Veterinarian
This Comprehensive Physical Examination is the most important part of any preventative health care plan. The veterinarian will examine your dog from head to toe evaluating every organ system. You will be provided a written report of your dog’s examination and any
associated recommendations. This report will be reviewed with you verbally. Any questions that you might have will be answered as well.

Heartworm Testing and Prevention
Although easy to prevent, heartworm disease continues to be a major health problem for dogs living in Florida and throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the world. Fortunately, with a few precautions such as twice a year heartworm testing and the proper preventative medicine, your pet can avoid this deadly disease.

Rabies Vaccination
Infection with Rabies virus results in fatal neurological disease and infected dogs can transmit the disease to humans and other mammals. Rabies Vaccination is required by Florida Law. After the first adult Rabies vaccination, both Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties allow for either 3-year or 1-year Rabies vaccinations to be given. We generally administer 3-year Rabies vaccines since they are less expensive in the long run and are as safe and effective as the 1-year vaccines. Pasco County requires that Rabies vaccinations be given every year.

Fecal exam
A sample of your dog’s stool is examined microscopically for parasites (worms). Only two types of parasites (roundworms and tapeworms) can be seen in the stool with the naked eye. Others, particularly hookworms, can attach themselves to the walls of your dog’s intestines and literally suck their life’s blood away. These quick, silent killers can easily be eliminated if detected early by a fecal exam.

Distemper and Parvovirus Titers
The Canine Distemper Virus causes respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system symptoms. Parvovirus typically causes vomiting and severe bloody diarrhea. Dogs infected with either of these viruses often die. Furthermore, both of these viruses are found everywhere and direct contact with an ill dog is not necessary for your dog to become infected. You could literally bring either of these diseases into your home on your shoes. It is critical that all dogs be protected against these deadly viruses. Not all dogs need to vaccinated for Distemper and Parvovirus every year. As with any medication, vaccines can cause side-effects and should only be given to those individuals that need them. Fortunately there is now an accurate economical test called a titer which can be used to determine if your dog has adequate antibodies to protect against these diseases or needs to be vaccinated.

Leptospirosis Vaccination
Leptospirosis is a potentially fatal disease for dogs and people. It is usually transmitted by contact with the urine of infected dogs, raccoons, rats, skunks, cows, pigs, or sheep. This urine may be mixed with water in puddles, ponds or streams. Since most dogs could be exposed to leptospirosis at some point, we generally recommend annual vaccination for this disease unless a pet is confined indoors exclusively or tends to have adverse reactions to vaccines. We utilize the most broad spectrum vaccine available which protects against 4 different strains (Serovars) of the disease.

Bordetella (Kennel Cough) Vaccination
Bordetella infection generally causes a self-limiting, upper respiratory disease syndrome. However, it can rarely cause a life threatening disease. Bordetella vaccination is advised for all dogs which will be exposed to groups of dogs such as those found in a boarding kennel, a grooming salon, or at a dog show. This vaccine is required by most reputable boarding kennels, including the pet resorts within our animal hospitals.

Lyme Disease Vaccination
Certain ticks can transmit, Borrelia burgdorferi, the organism causing this disease to both dogs and people. Lyme disease in dogs usually causes fever, arthritis and kidney disease. Infected people often have skin lesions, arthritis, and meningitis. While Lyme disease can be very serious, we are fortunate that the ticks capable of transmitting are very rare in Florida. However, the Lyme vaccine is advised for all dogs that travel into areas where there ticks commonly transmit the disease, primarily the Northeast and Great Lakes regions.

Canine Influenza Virus
Canine Influenza is a newly emerging infectious disease caused by a ‘flu’ virus. In dogs, a highly contagious strain of the Influenza A virus, known as H3N8, is able to cause respiratory illness. Just like human ‘flu’ canine influenza is highly contagious. In fact, unless a dog has already had the illness and recovered, virtually every dog exposed to the virus will become infected. This is because the virus is relatively new, and dogs have no natural immunity to it. Dogs that do not show signs of the disease can still spread the virus to the other dogs. Since 2003, there have been numerous reports of influenza outbreaks in veterinary hospitals, kennels, and shelters. Some of these outbreaks were traced back to the presence of one sick dog that spread the virus throughout the facility and infected many other dogs. We recommend that all dogs over the age of 6 weeks old be vaccinated for Canine Influenza

What are the signs of this infection in dogs?
The signs of this illness in dogs are cough, runny nose and fever, however, a small proportion of dogs can develop severe disease.

How serious is this infection in dogs?
The percentage of dogs infected with this disease that die is very small. Some dogs have asymptomatic infections (no signs), while some have severe infections. Severe illness is characterized by the onset of pneumonia. Although this is a relatively new cause of disease in dogs and nearly all dogs are susceptible to infection, about 80 percent of infected dogs will have a mild form of disease.

How does dog flu spread?
Canine influenza virus can be spread to other dogs by direct contact with aerosolized respiratory secretions from infected dogs, by uninfected dogs coming into contact with contaminated objects, and by moving contaminated objects or materials between infected and uninfected dogs. Therefore, dog owners whose dogs are coughing or showing other signs of respiratory disease should not expose other dogs to the virus. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of respiratory disease.

What you should know about vaccine reactions:
Your pet has received vaccines today. Some pets have vaccine reactions, which are allergic reactions to some component of the vaccine. Small breeds of dogs tend to be more sensitive to vaccines than larger breeds of dogs, but it can happen in any dog breed as well as cats. With smaller breeds of dogs, if several vaccines are due at one time and we fell that they are at high risk for a vaccine reaction, we will time the vaccines being given at different times to decrease the risk of a reaction or to identify which vaccine is causing
a reaction.

Common reactions which normally subside within 24-48 hours:

  • pain or swelling at the injection site
  • tired and less active, more quiet than usual
  • loss of appetite

Severe reactions that require immediate veterinary care:

  • rapid, difficulty or noisy breathing or panting
  • trembling
  • facial swelling (will be obvious) and/or hives (raised, red bumps on the skin)
  • unresponsive sleepiness from which you cannot awaken your pet

Long term vaccine reactions:
If the site of the vaccination remains swollen or is getting larger a month following vaccination, or is still present

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