Preventative Care: Cat and Dog Vaccinations in Valparaiso, IN

Here are some important tips on preventative care for your pets.
Health exams and cat and dog vaccinations should be at the top of your list:

Dog Vaccinations

You will want to have your new puppy examined by a veterinarian to ensure that it has no major health problems and is started on a program of preventive care. Your puppy’s health care plan includes a series of vaccinations designed on the basis of your puppy’s risk of infection. These can vary depending upon your puppy’s age, breed, and environmental exposures. Vaccinations are usually given at 3 week intervals from 6 to 16 weeks of age. At 15 to 16 weeks of age, the puppy receives its first rabies vaccination. Puppies should also be checked for intestinal parasites (usually 2 stool samples 3 weeks apart), fleas, and heartworm disease (depending on age).

Cat Vaccinations

You will want to have your new kitten examined by a veterinarian to ensure that it has no major health problems and is started on a program of preventive care. Your kitten will need a series of vaccinations that are usually given at 3 week intervals from approximately 6 to 15 weeks of age. At 15-16 weeks old, the kitten can receive its rabies vaccination. Kittens should be checked for intestinal parasites (2 stool samples 3 weeks apart), fleas, and ear mites and appropriate medications given for these problems. The veterinarian may also recommend a preventative for heartworm disease, which is more commonly associated with dogs, but can also affect cats.

Cat and Dog Vaccinations in Valparaiso, IN

Be sure to call us with any questions or concerns at (219) 462-5901.

Rabies is a viral disease transmittable between animals and people. The best and most effective way to prevent rabies is by vaccinating dogs and cats. Rabies vaccinations should be given when a pet is four months old and continued on a regular basis throughout the animal’s life. This is the only way of controlling the spread of rabies from wild animals to pets and to people.

Pet Exams in Valparaiso: Dog Scratching Itself

Though the skin and haircoat of dogs and cats serve to protect the body, watch out for problems. Fleas cause great irritation to infected pets. Many pets are very sensitive to the flea bites and may display allergic skin reactions to even a small number of fleas. This condition is referred to as Fleabite Allergic Dermatitis. This dermatitis is recognized by the intense itching and scratching of the skin by the affected animal and may continue even after fleas have been removed because allergic signs can last for extended periods.

Dips, shampoos, flea collars, sprays, powders, and foams are available from veterinarians and from local pet stores. A product can be prescribed by a veterinarian to treat the dog orally which, in pill or liquid form, is absorbed into the blood system of the animal, and fleas, ingesting the blood of the pet, will be killed. Other oral flea control products are advertised in some stores. Pet owners are advised to consult with their veterinarian to obtain information on the best and most effective method of flea control for their pet and the environment.

A pet owner may take the following steps for flea control:

  • Shampoo the pet. Insecticidal shampoos have very little residual effect but will bring immediate relief to your pet.
  • Use an insecticide preparation for pets in the form of a dip, spray, or powder. Be sure to follow the directions carefully and to observe the precautions listed on the label.
  • Treat the pet’s environment by using insecticide sprays and by vacuuming the house (floors, carpets, and the pet’s sleeping area).
  • Consult a veterinarian for other recommendations and to obtain more effective or potent treatments.

And remember that whatever products are used on your pet, be sure to read and follow the directions carefully to avoid poisoning. Many products which can safely be used on dogs are poisonous to cats and other exotic animals. When an animal is undergoing severe itching and skin irritation, an owner should suspect allergic dermatitis and seek professional help. Your veterinarian can determine the cause of dermatitis and prescribe effective therapy.

Pet Exams in Valparaiso: Heartworm life cycle

Canine Heartworm Disease develops when a dog is bitten by a mosquito carrying microscopic heartworm larvae (juvenile worms) of a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis. As a mosquito feeds, these microscopic larvae are deposited on the dog and quickly penetrate the skin to begin their migration into the dog’s bloodstream. Adult heartworms can grow 10 to 12 inches in length and make their home in the right side of the heart and pulmonary (lung) arteries, often causing lung disease and heart failure.

Although easy to prevent, heartworm disease continues to be a major health problem for dogs.

Dogs can be infected for many years before symptoms develop. As heartworms slowly cause damage to the pulmonary arteries of the lungs, signs may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss.

Numorous blood tests are available for detecting heartworm infection. Annual testing is recommended for monitoring the success of any heartworm prevention program. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment before advanced signs of the disease occur is important for the well-being of the pet. Prevention is the best medicine.
Without treatment, heartworm disease will worsen and may lead to more serious illness. A thorough physical examination, radiographs, and blood tests may be needed prior to treatment to assess your dog’s level of risk.While treating heartworms is extremely effective, some dogs will not be completely cleared with a single course of treatment. Testing is recommended six months after treatment to ensure all heartworms were killed.

If a dog is found free of adult heartworms after examination by a veterinarian, a preventive medication can be prescribed. This medication is to be given at a calculated dosage on a daily or monthly schedule depending on the type of product used. Preventative treatment should be initiated when dogs are three months of age. Prevention of heartworms is based on the oral administration of either diethylcarbamazine, ivermectin or milbemycin oxime. These medicines halt development of the heartworm larva, and prevent the parasite from reaching the heart. Diethylcarbamazine should be given to the dog on a daily basis. Ivermectin (Heartgard) and milbemycin oxime (interceptor) should be administered once a month as a preventative. A dog must be free of heartworms when this medication is given or a severe reaction may result.

There is no treatment for heartworms in cats!
In cats, typically only a few worms develop to maturity, unlike dogs where large numbers develop. Unfortunately in a cat, even a single heartworm can have fatal consequences. Even indoor cats are at risk because mosquitos are often found inside homes. No medications exist for safe treatment of heartworms in cats. Since no treatment exists for elimination of heartworms in cats, the best option is routine use of heartworm preventatives to inhibit development of infection.

The following have been suggestions to ensure the continued health and well-being of your pet. Please feel free to contact us should you have any additional questions.

Pet Exams in Valparaiso: Lyme disease

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria known as Borrelia Burgdorferi, and is transmitted by deer ticks. We recommend testing approximately 6 weeks following potential exposure or when any symptoms consisted with Lyme disease are present. Symptoms most commonly seen include fever, decreased activity, limping, joint swelling, and lymph node enlargement. Approximately 90% of people who are exposed to Lyme Disease will experience symptoms. However, only 5% of dogs who are exposed will develop symptoms.

Lyme Disease can be treated with antibiotics. We highly recommend discussing your pet’s lifestyle with your veterinarian, to determine if an annual Lyme Vaccination is needed. We also recommend flea and tick preventative for all dogs. Most dogs can be treated from March until November, however dogs have exposure during the winter months should be treated year round.

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Pet Exams in Valparaiso: Leptospirosis in the United StatesCanine Leptospirosis (or Lepto) is a bacterial disease most commonly carried by wildlife and rodents. Raccoons, rats, deer, coyotes, squirrels,voles, skunks, opossums, and foxes are the main hosts for leptospirosis infection. Lepto is usually spread through the urine of an infected animal. Dogs typically become infected when they come into contact with wet grass, soil, puddles, streams, or ponds contaminated with the urine of infected animals. The bacteria can enter through a cut in the skin or mucous membranes such as the eyes, nose, or mouth.

Clinical signs of infection may include fever, weight loss, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, jaundice (yellowish color in the eyes or mouth), and kidney/liver failure. Leptospirosis is not limited to dogs, and can infect humans as well. A blood test is used to determine if infection is present. A series of antibiotic treatments is necessary to eliminate infection, and if left untreated, causes kidney and/or liver failure and is usually fatal. Vaccination is an easy and effective way to help prevent infection. We recommend that every dog at risk be vaccinated.

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We recommend getting ALL new kittens and cats tested for FIV and FeLV. Even if the mother or a littermate has tested negative, it does not guarantee your kitten will be negative.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is the feline form of HIV (or AIDS), and impairs a cat’s immune system. All cats are at risk, even indoor cats. FIV is highly contageous and is transmitted through saliva or exchange of body fluids through biting or breeding. It can also be transmitted from pregnant females to her offspring. Infected cats can show any of the following signs: vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, weakness, fever, pale gums, behavioral changes, swollen lymph nodes, or mouth sores. FIV is unfortunately incurable, but can be managed by protection against secondary infections. Early detection will enable you to manage the disease, maintain the health of your cat, and will also help prevent the spread of infection to other cats. With proper care, infected cats can live happy, regular lives.

We recommend getting ALL new kittens and cats tested for FIV and FeLV. Even if the mother or a littermate has tested negative, it does not guarantee your kitten will be negative.

Feline Leukemia (or FeLV) impairs the cat’s immune system similar to FIV. Feline Leukemia is spread by contact with infected cats, through licking, biting, sneezing, breeding, or sharing food bowls and litter boxes. There are no specific symptoms for FeLV infection. The virus mainly disrupts the immune system, highly increasing the risks of other infections and diseases. Infected cats are at high risk for developing cancer and other life-threatening disease. Currently there is no treatment, and vaccination before exposure is the best means of preventing FeLV infection. We recommend that any cat with possible exposure to other cats or the outdoors be vaccinated.

The best! Would never consider anyone else. Pets are family there!

-Wendy G.