Veterinarians and their team dedicate their lives to keeping your pet happy and healthy for as long as possible. We strive to prevent illness and detect problems early when they are more easily treated. Just like humans, annual visits to the doctor keep your pet in tip top shape. Some of the things your pet may encounter at their annual preventative medicine visit include vaccines, discussion on parasite prevention and nutrition, and possibly bloodwork.
Vaccines are one of the safest and most cost-effective means of infectious disease prevention. The American Animal Hospital Association, who sets the standard for veterinary excellence, created our vaccination guidelines to best protect the health of your pet. Core vaccines are recommended for every pet, while non-core vaccines may be recommended based on that pet's individual age, lifestyle, and geographic location.
Canine Core - recommended for all dogs
- Rabies - Oregon law requires all dogs to be vaccinated against rabies as early as three months of age. Additionally, Oregon law requires that un-vaccinated pets (dogs and cats) that may have been in contact with rabid animals to be vaccinated and quarantined for 4 months or euthanized. This could mean your pet if they're bitten by another animal. The only way to test for rabies is a post-mortem (after death) analysis. Making sure your pet has a current rabies vaccination is the only way to avoid this tragic situations. Rabies is also zoonotic, which means it can infect people. Vaccinating pets not only protects them but it provides a “buffer zone” between humans and rabid wild animals. The rabies vaccine is recommended for all dogs and cats. It is initially given at 12 weeks of age, repeated in one year, then repeated every 3 years for life.
- Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus (DAPP)- Distemper is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that
attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. It is often fatal, and dogs that survive usually have permanent, irreparable nervous system damage. Adenovirus has two types. Type 1 causes hepatitis, an infectious and potentially fatal disease of the liver, whereas Type 2 causes respiratory disease. Parainfluenza is a highly contagious respiratory virus and is one of the most common pathogens of infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as "kennel cough". Parvovirus causes serious gastrointestinal disease, often in puppies, commonly known as "parvo." The virus is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces (stool), environments, or people. The virus is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for months. Treatment involves hospitalization with intensive care, and is not always successful. Most deaths from parvo occur within 48 to 72 hours of onset of signs. Due to the severity of these diseases should a dog contract the virus, this combination vaccine is recommended for all dogs starting as early as 6 weeks old. It is given in a "puppy booster" series every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Then repeated in one year, then every 3 years for life.
Canine Non-core - recommended based on age, geography, and lifestyle
- Bordetella - Kennel cough, scientifically known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is a multi-factorial respiratory disease. It is caused by many different infectious agents, such as the Parainfluenza virus mentioned above, often in combination with each other. Bordetella bronchiseptica is the most common bacterial component of kennel cough. The Bordetella vaccine can lessen the severity of this contagious, respiratory disease and is recommended for dogs who will be spending time around other dogs, for example at grooming facilities, dog parks, boarding facilities, training classes, competitions or shows. Many of these facilities require the bordetella vaccine before allowing dogs to enter.
- Leptospira - These bacteria can be found worldwide in soil and water. They cause Leptospirosis, a zoonotic disease that affects animals and people. Infection in people can cause flu-like symptoms as well as liver or kidney disease. In dogs, the disease can cause a myriad of symptoms ranging from fever, vomiting, diarrhea, painful inflammation in the eyes, kidney failure, liver failure, severe lung disease, and bleeding disorders. When treated early and aggressively with intensive hospitalization and supportive care, the chances for recovery are good but there is still a risk of permanent kidney or liver damage. This vaccine is recommended for dogs whose lifestyle involves exposure to rivers, lakes, or streams; roaming on rural properties; exposure to wild or farm animals, even if in the backyard; and contact with rodents or other dogs.
- Lyme- Another zoonotic disease that affects both animals and humans, Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne (tick-borne) illness in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Transmitted through tick bites, the disease can be difficult to detect and can cause serious and recurring health problems. Therefore, it is best to prevent infection by taken appropriate measures to prevent tick bites, which may include topical or oral tick preventative products (see below), and/or vaccinating against the disease. Unfortunately, Lyme is not the only disease transmitted by ticks. Others include anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. For these reasons, topical or oral tick preventative products are typically recommended over the Lyme specific vaccine.
- Influenza -Similar to the human flu, canine influenza is a highly contagious disease easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs. Fortunately, canine influenza does not infect humans, nor does human flu infect dogs. The virus is spread by direct contact, nasal secretions (through barking, coughing or sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars, and leashes), and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. The symptoms of canine influenza can look similar to kennel cough and be mild to severe. Most dogs recover within 2-3 weeks. However, some dogs may develop secondary bacterial infections which may lead to more severe illness like pneumonia. Vaccination may not all together prevent an infection, but it may reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness. If you own or spend time around dogs it is extremely important to practice good hygiene and sanitation, including hand washing and thorough cleaning of shared items and kennels. Unlike the parvovirus discussed above, influenza viruses do not usually survive in the environment beyond 48 hours and are killed by commonly used disinfectants.
- Rattlesnake - The rattlesnake vaccine is a fairly new development, with more research becoming available all the time. As of date, we do not have strong evidence demonstrating how well this vaccine works and how long any protection might last in the dog. Additionally, this vaccine is only developed to provide protection against the Western Diamondback specifically. There are many factors that may decrease the effectiveness of this vaccine including 1) the type of snake, which is often unknown; 2) antibody titers may be overwhelmed in the face of severe envenomation, and 3) an individual dog may lack sufficient protection depending on its response to the vaccine and the time elapsed since vaccination. Regardless of being vaccinated or not, dogs bitten by a snake need veterinary care immediately. Rattlesnake aversion training remains an effective measure to decrease your dog's risk of getting bite, especially until further progress is made on a vaccine.
Feline Core - recommended for all cats
- Rabies - Although not state mandated as for dogs, the rabies vaccine is absolutely recommended for all cats. Our feline friends may pose an even greater risk for contracting rabies as they typically spend more time outside and frequently hunt vermin. Even indoor cats can become exposed if they escape outside or infected carriers, like bats, get inside. Prevention is key, because otherwise the consequences are fatal. The furious form of rabies is most common in cats, with death coming within 10 days of clinical signs., so it is vitally important to vaccinate cats against rabies. Kittens should be first vaccinated at 12 weeks/3 months of age. Regardless of the age at first vaccination, a booster should be administered 1 year later. Subsequent vaccinations can occur every year or every 3 years depending on the labeled product used.
- Feline Rhinotracheitis (Herpes virus), Calicivirus, Panleukopenia virus (FRCP) - Rhinotracheitis, caused by Feline Herpesvirus-1, induces relatively severe upper respiratory tract disease with marked rhinitis, sneezing and conjunctivitis, which in some cases may lead to chronic signs. After infection, the virus goes into a latency period where it hides in the body without symptoms, until a stressful event allows reactivation of the virus and a flare up of signs. Disease is most commonly seen in young kittens and large groups of cats, such as in boarding and shelter facilities. Another contagious, respiratory virus is the Calicivirus. Similar to the herpesvirus, transmission is by direct contact or contaminated shared objects so groups of cats, as in shelters, are at the highest risk, particularly young kittens. Panleukopenia is a highly infectious disease with often high mortality. It is caused by the feline parvovirus, similar to canine parvo discussed above. Spread by fecal-oral route, signs include lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea and fever, and, in most cases, a profound leukopenia (decreased immune cells). Like canine parvo, the feline virus is remarkably stable in the environment, remaining infectious for up to a year, depending on the conditions. Kittens are at the greatest risk of infection. This combination is recommended for all cats with an initial series of vaccinations ideally beginning at 6 weeks of age and repeated every 3–4 weeks until 16–20 weeks of age. Revaccination should take place 1 year after kitten vaccination or 1 year after the first vaccine in older cats. Thereafter, cats should be vaccinated once every 3 years.
- Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) - Cats infected with the leukemia virus shed it through body fluids, including saliva, feces, milk and urine. FeLV transmission occurs through sustained close contact among cats. Behaviors such as mutual grooming, sharing of food and water bowls and litter boxes, and fighting can contribute to transmission, primarily via saliva. Following exposure to the virus, cats are at risk of developing life long infection. FeLV-associated disorders include lymphoma, anemia, and secondary diseases associated with immune dysfunction. Administering the FeLV vaccine is recommended for all kittens, but is non-core for cats after their 1 year booster unless they are at risk of exposure. Cats at risk of exposure to FeLV have access to outdoors, live with known FeLV-infected cats, or live in a multiple-cat environment where the status of all cats is not known.
Feline Non-Core - recommended based on age, geography, and lifestyle
- Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) - Unlike the FeLV virus, kittens do not appear to be at higher risk than adults. This virus is present in saliva of infected cats and transmission is efficiently passed through bites wounds. Therefore, FIV infection is most likely to occur in male cats and free-roaming cats. Once infected, the virus causes slow, insidious damage to the immune system. Clinical signs may not even be present until secondary illness associated with immune dysfunction occurs. Because post-vaccination antibodies cannot be distinguished by antibodies created from natural infection, it is essential to test for the presence of FIV before a vaccine is given to ensure a negative status. The FIV vaccine is non-core and reserved only for cats at a high risk of exposure.
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) - Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is an immune-mediated disease triggered by
infection with a feline coronavirus (FCoV). FCoV is found very commonly
in cats; it is transmitted via the oral–fecal route between cats. Not
all cats infected with coronavirus will develop infectious peritonitis.
At this time, there is insufficient evidence that the FIP vaccine
induces clinically relevant protection, and use of the vaccine is not
- Internal parasites - According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC), Deschutes County is a high risk area for hookworms, roundworms, and giardia, and moderate risk for whipworms. Thankfully, our climate does not support Heartworm as well as other places do. However, that doesn't include traveling anywhere else with your pet, which can drastically alter their risk of exposure, which is why it's so important to share your pet's travel history with your veterinarian at their annual wellness visit. Not only is the thought of worms in your pet gross, they pose serious health risks to both you and your pet. For example, did you know humans can get hookworms from their pets? Annual fecal exams can detect the presence of parasite eggs and indicate which type of dewormer is most appropriate. Once your pet is worm free, we want to keep them that way with year round parasite prevention. These products come in the form of a tasty chew treat for your dog or an easy to apply topical liquid for your cat. When given consistently, these convenient preventative products, like Interceptor, Revolution, or Profender, provide protection year-round for your pet and therefore protect you and your family as well.
- External parasites - On our side of the mountains, we have less fleas than those in the valley, however we have a much higher risk for tick exposure. Tick bites can transmit several different, serious diseases including Lyme, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. All of the wonderful outdoor activities Deschutes County has to offer also provides an excellent opportunity for tick exposure, both for you and your pet. The best way to prevent these diseases is to prevent the tick from being able to attach long enough to bite and transmit them. Preventative products, like Bravecto available in both a dog and cat formulas, is given every 3 months to protect against ticks, with the added benefit of flea prevention as well. Don't let ticks stop you and your pet from enjoying the great outdoors!
Nutrition has one of the biggest impacts on your pet's health and well-being. There are so many brands and products out there it can be overwhelming to select the right one for your pet. Marketing and trends in the human food industry can further confuse the issue. When recommending the right food for your pet, your veterinarian considers their age, breed, body condition, lifestyle, and any medical issues they may be facing or likely to develop in the future. Your veterinarian uses their years of education, knowledge, and experience to recommend complete, balanced diets with all the nutrients your pet needs to thrive. Diet modification can add years to your pet's life and dramatically enrich the special relationship you have with your pet. Kidney disease, diabetes, obesity, dental disease, arthritis, and allergies are just a few of the conditions significantly affected by diet. Call us to schedule a nutrition consult and get your pet on the road to a long, happy and healthy life. For more information on some of the ways nutrition can change your pet's life, visit Hillspet.com.