Tag Archives: pet health

Why Do Pets Need Vaccinations?

Pets need vaccinationsLike people, pets need vaccinations to stay healthy and to help prevent communicable diseases.

Vaccinations help prevent many illnesses that can affect pets. There are different vaccines for different diseases, as well as different types and combinations of vaccines. Vaccination have risks and benefits that must be weighed for every pet, depending on factors like age, medical history, environment, travel habits and lifestyle.

Most vets recommend administering core vaccines to healthy pets, however, not every pet needs to be vaccinated against every disease. Talk with your veterinarian about a vaccination protocol that’s right for your pet, and in compliance with your state and local laws. Each state has its own laws governing the administration of the rabies vaccine. Some require yearly rabies vaccination, while other areas call for rabies vaccines to be administered every three years. In almost all states, proof of rabies vaccination is mandatory.

Understanding How Vaccines Work
Vaccines help prepare the immune system to fight disease-causing organisms. Vaccines contain antigens, which are similar in structure to the disease-causing organism but don’t actually cause the disease. The vaccine enters the body to mildly stimulate the immune system to fight the ‘disease’. If a pet is exposed to the real disease, the immune system is prepared to destroy the disease-causing organism entirely or reduce the severity and duration of the illness.

Vaccinations for Puppies 
Puppies receive antibodies while nursing, if their mother has a healthy immune system. Puppies should receive a series of vaccinations starting at six to eight weeks of age. Your veterinarian should administer a minimum of three vaccinations at three- to four-week intervals. The final dose should be administered at 16 weeks of age.

Core Vaccinations for Dogs
Some adult dogs may receive certain vaccines annually, while other vaccines might be given every three years or so. Your veterinarian will provide guidance.

Vaccines for canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk and lifestyle. Non-core vaccines include Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria.

Vaccinations For Kittens
Kittens receive antibodies while nursing, if their mother has a healthy immune system. Once the kitten is around six to eight weeks of age, your veterinarian should administer a series of vaccines at three- or four-week intervals until the kitten reaches 16 weeks of age.

Core Vaccinations for Cats
Vaccines for panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat’s lifestyle. These include vaccines to protect against feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus. Adult cats might be revaccinated annually or every three years.

Your veterinarian can help determine what vaccines are best for your pet. Don’t forget, AZPetVet offers a FREE Vaccines for Life program that can help keep your pet healthy and protected for life, and save you some $$ along the way. (Use the savings for healthy treats and toys – they deserve it!)

Summer Pet Safety Tips – Pool Safety

Just like with kids, you should never leave pets unattended around the pool!
AZPetVet’s Dr. John Graham shares a few summer pool pet safety tips with Gina and the Your Life Arizona viewers.

Water Safety 
A pool is a wonderful way to beat the heat, but like children, animals should never be left unsupervised around water. Don’t assume your dog is a good swimmer or won’t go into the pool. The pool can be just as tempting for pets as it is for humans! If your dog jumps into the pool or falls in while you’re away from home, they might not be able to get out on their own.

If you can’t block their access to the pool, take time to work with them in the water. In order to pool-proof your pet, introduce them to the water gradually, and make sure they know how to get out.

As they swim, use your body and hands to direct them to swim the steps or a shallow area where they can safely get out or wait for help. Practice “swimming to the steps” with your pet until they are able to get out of the pool unaided. Plenty of praise and encouragement can help reinforce this safety lesson. If they accidentally fall in when nobody is around, this training can mean the difference between life and death.

For dogs that love to swim, be sure to rinse their coats after swimming to remove chlorine or salt. And while it may be a losing battle, try to keep your dog from drinking pool water – the chemicals can upset their tummy.

The Importance of Dental Health

Virtually no one likes going to the dentist…but we all know it’s important! Dental care for humans and animals alike is something that should never be ignored. Proper dental hygiene is a critical part of keeping your pet healthy and happy, helping to avoid potentially life-threatening issues that come with dental disease. Want to know just a bit more? Dr. Tressa MacLennan from our Scottsdale location did a quick segment with a brief overview! Check it out:

How to Prevent Heartworms in Dogs

prevent heartworms in dogsWhat are Heartworms and how can I prevent them in my dog? 

Heartworms are every bit as disgusting and horrifying as the name suggests – they live inside the heart, lungs, and arteries of affected animals. A single worm can grow up to a foot long. Think about that for a minute.

Adult female heartworms also produce tiny baby worms called microfilaria that circulate through the bloodstream. Baby worms. Swimming in the bloodstream. It’s the stuff of horror movies. Only you and your vet can help prevent it.

How is Heartworm Disease Spread? 

Mosquitos are nature’s vampires and they spread heartworms. When an infected animal is bitten by a mosquito, it not only ingests the blood, but also the microfilaria contained in the host’s blood. Over the next 10-14 days, the microfilaria mature into infectious larvae.

The mosquito is now highly infective, primed and ready to transmit the larvae the next time it bites an animal. It will take about six months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms in the host animal, and from there, the cycle begins all over again.

  • Mature heart worms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats.
  • Each mosquito season put animals at risk for developing the disease or growing numbers of worms in already infected animals.

Signs of Heartworm Disease in Dogs 

In the early stages, many dogs will show few symptoms or worse, no symptoms at all. The longer the infection is present, the more likely symptoms will develop. Get your dog tested, and onto a course of preventive treatment if your vet recommends it. Signs of heartworm disease may include:

  • Mild persistent cough
  • Lethargy/avoids exertion
  • Fatigue after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

Signs of Heartworm Disease in Cats 

While most heartworms do not survive to adult stage in cats, it can happen. The signs can be very subtle or very dramatic. Symptoms may include:

  • Coughing or asthma-like attacks
  • Periodic vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

Treatment of Heartworm Disease 

Prevention, prevention, prevention. Effective treatments for heartworms in dogs do exist, but they are expensive and painful for your pet. There is no treatment for heartworms in cats. 

Five Basic Steps for Pet First Aid Readiness

Emergencies can happen at any time. Would you know what to do in case of an emergency with your pet? Here are five great Pet First Aid steps you can take today.

1/ Every home should have a First Aid Kit, including one specifically for pets. Basic Pet First Aid kits are available online and through some veterinary offices, but with a little guidance from your vet, you can easily put together your own.

Remember, emergencies are not always health related, so it’s smart to include important phone numbers (see tip #2), health records, current photo/s, feeding instructions, along with copies of your pet’s registration and microchip numbers.

2/ Keep emergency numbers near your home phone and put them into the contacts list for your cell. Start with your regular veterinarian, the poison control center, plus the nearest 24-hour emergency vet clinic (handy for after hours). If your pet is microchipped (and it should be) be sure to record the actual microchip number. When was the last time you updated the contact information tied to the micrchip? If you’re not sure, check.

National Animal Poison Control Center: 888.426.4435
Pet Poison Helpline: 800.213.6680

3/ Take a Pet CPR class! The American Red Cross and many other organizations offer training and certification classes for Pet CPR. YouTube also has a wealth of video training. Search “Pet CPR classes” plus your city to find a range of resources, both online and off.

4/ Of course there’s an app for that! The American Red Cross offers a free Pet First Aid app for smartphones. Owners have access to step-by-step instructions, videos and images for more than 25 common first aid emergencies. In the interest of being prepared, it might be a good idea to download the one for people, too! Text “GETPET” to 90999, or visit the Apple App Store or Google Play Store for direct downloads.

5. Know when to seek emergency veterinary help. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) emergency list:

  • Severe bleeding or bleeding that doesn’t stop within 5 minutes
  • Choking, difficulty breathing, or nonstop coughing and gagging
  • Bleeding from nose, mouth, rectum, coughing up blood, or blood in urine
  • Inability to urinate or pass feces (stool), or obvious pain associated with urinating or passing stool
  • Injuries to your pet’s eye(s)
  • You suspect or know your pet has eaten something poisonous (such as antifreeze, xylitol, chocolate, rodent poison, etc.)
  • Seizures and/or staggering
  • Fractured bones, severe lameness, or inability to move leg(s)
  • Obvious signs of pain or extreme anxiety
  • Heat stress or heatstroke
  • Severe vomiting or diarrhea – more than 2 episodes in a 24-hour period, or either of these combined with obvious illness or any of the other problems listed here
  • Refusal to drink for 24 hours or more
  • Unconsciousness