Downtown Veterinary Clinic

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Canine Preventative Care

Canine Preventative Care

Pets are like kids–it’s a never-ending job to keep them safe and happy. Routine preventative health care such as vaccinations, heartworm/tick-borne disease testing, and intestinal parasite screenings are very important to minimize certain diseases.

While any medical treatment involves some degree of risk, in the case of vaccinations, the benefits far outweigh any potential side effects. Adverse reactions are rare and usually mild and short-term when they do occur.

Which vaccinations and routine screenings should your dog have?

Below are the different types of vaccinations and preventative health screenings that we offer and recommend to our canine patients:

Rabies- Considered a “core” vaccination.

Rabies vaccinations are required by law and meant for the protection of people more so than your pet. Rabies is a fatal disease for which there is no cure and our pets tend to be the “middle man” so to speak between humans and Rabies due to their tendencies to come into contact with other wildlife that may be carrying Rabies. Any pet, who is not properly vaccinated for Rabies, who bites, scratches or otherwise breaks human skin in any fashion may be subject to Rabies observation in accordance with the law. Rabies vaccination is given as early as 12-16 weeks of age and is good for one year. Subsequent Rabies vaccinations for dogs are every 3 years.

DHPP- considered a “core” vaccination.

DHPP stands for Distemper-Hepatitis-Parvovirus-Parainfluenza. These viruses are life-threatening and highly contagious even in the most inclement environment. It is especially important for all puppies to be properly vaccinated in order to stimulate their immune systems to fight off any exposure to these viruses. Typically, puppies will receive their first DHPP vaccine at 8 weeks and receive additional boosters at 12 and 16 weeks. The minimum number of boosters for a dog of any age who has never been properly vaccinated for DHPP is a series of two vaccines, given 1 month apart, followed by an annual booster. At Downtown Veterinary Clinic, we practice a 3-year protocol for DHPP, so after your pet has received their first annual booster, they will only need a DHPP booster every 3 years thereafter. We also offer titer testing for clients who wish to determine if their pet’s immune system is still mounting an adequate response to these diseases in lieu of periodic vaccination.

Bordetella- commonly referred to as the “kennel cough” vaccine.

Kennel cough is an umbrella term used to describe a highly contagious upper respiratory infection caused by the bacteria, Bordetella. This infection typically presents as a dry hacking cough and can also be accompanied by ocular or nasal discharge, lethargy, and inappetence. In severe cases it can lead to pneumonia, especially in young puppies or dogs with a compromised immune system. Again, we prefer to use the safest vaccines for our patients, therefore we prefer to use the intranasal Bordetella vaccine with has a rapid onset of stimulating immunity, a 12-month duration of immunity and minimal to no risk of vaccine-related reactions. This vaccination is recommended (and sometimes required) for any dogs exposed to other dogs either by daily walks, dog parks, doggy daycare, grooming, boarding or obedience classes. Due to the lifestyle of our clientele here at Downtown Veterinary Clinic, we recommend vaccinating for Bordetella every 6 months versus annually and consider it to be a “core” vaccine in our area.

Leptospirosis- considered a lifestyle vaccine.

Leptospirosis is a disease contracted by the bacteria, Leptospira, and it can cause acute kidney disease and/or failure. Leptospirosis is contracted through the urine of infected animals either by direct contact or contaminated soil or water. Leptospirosis is also zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted from animals to humans. Vaccination for Leptospirosis is a two shot series, one month apart and then boosted annually. Typically we recommend starting the Leptospirosis vaccine with your dog’s puppy series, however, the series can be started at any age. At Downtown Veterinary Clinic, we strongly recommend this vaccination for all dogs regardless of lifestyle.

Lyme- considered a lifestyle vaccine.

Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-borne illnesses we see in dogs. It is contracted though the Deer Tick which is very prevalent in the state of Wisconsin, especially in the northern regions. Lyme disease causes joint swelling, pain, and stiffness and in severe cases, it can also damage the kidneys and central nervous system. This vaccination is recommended for any dogs whose lifestyle involves activity in tick-infested areas such as wooded areas, tall fields, camping or hunting. At Downtown Veterinary Clinic, we encourage all dogs to be on year round, monthly flea and tick preventative regardless of lifestyle, however, tick preventative does not replace the immunity provided by a vaccination so it is important to examine your dog’s risk for Lyme disease to determine if this vaccination is appropriate for your pet.

Heartworm Testing- annual preventative care testing.

Heartworm is commonly mistaken for an intestinal parasite, however, it is actually a parasite that targets the heart and is contracted through infected mosquitoes. Infected mosquitoes transmit microfilaria into the bloodstream of their host (your dog) while feeding. The microfilaria then migrates to the heart where they mature into adult heartworms. When left undiagnosed and/or untreated, heartworm disease can be fatal due because the adult worm begin to fill up the heart preventing it from pumping properly. All dogs are subject to heartworm disease regardless of how often they go outside and regardless of the time of year. Heartworm testing is simple and only requires small blood draw to run what is called a 4Dx Snap Test. This test takes about 10 minutes and screens your dog for Heartworm Disease as well as three of the most common tick-borne diseases: Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasmosis. At Downtown Veterinary Clinic, we recommend annual heartworm testing as well as year-round monthly heartworm prevention.

Fecal (Stool Sample) Testing- annual preventative care testing.

Fecal testing screens your dog for various intestinal parasites such as Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms, Tapeworms, Coccidia and Giardia. These parasites are contracted through fecal-oral ingestion by a number of ways including coprophagia (directly eating stool), contaminated soil, contaminated water, communal dog grounds, or doggy daycare. Other ways they can be contracted is ingestion of wild animals or fleas. Intestinal parasites can cause diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, inappetence and weight loss. Puppies are especially sensitive to intestinal parasites and they can make them very sick very quickly. All puppies should have their stool tested for parasites when they first come in to see us along with a second follow up test at some point before completing their puppy vaccination series. Prophylactic deworming for common parasites in puppies is also performed even in the event of a negative fecal test. We recommend all adult dogs have their stool tested at least once yearly if not more often depending on lifestyle. Monthly Heartworm preventatives also treat and prevent against common intestinal parasites which are another reason to have your dog on monthly prevention all year long.

Your pet’s routine preventative care is very important to your pet’s overall health and well being. The team at Downtown Veterinary Clinic is dedicated to educating and advising you of the best recommendations for your pet based on age, health, and lifestyle. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call us at 414-323-7587.