Preventative Medicine

Canine Vaccine Protocol

We strive to offer the safest protocols for your pets. In accordance with recent changing recommendations, we have lengthened many vaccination intervals from annually to every three years. With your input, we will tailor an individual vaccination protocol for your dog.


Rabies Distemper
Leptospirosis Lyme Bordetella
Puppy Boosters 1 2-4 2-3 2 1
Interval 3-4 wks. 3 wks. 3-4 wks.
Age at First Dose 12 wks. 6 wks. 8 wks. 9 wks. 8 wks.
Age at Last Dose 13-16 wks. 13-16 wks. 13-16 wks.
One Year Booster ~15 mos. old ~15 mos. old ~15 mos. old ~15 mos. old As needed
Subsequent Adult Interval Every 3 yr. Every 1-3 yrs. Annually Annually Every 6-12 mos.

Optional (Non-Core) Vaccines
Administration of these vaccines is based on individual patient risk.

Leptospirosis is given cautiously in small breed dogs, due to a higher risk of reaction.
Bordetella / Adenovirus Type 2 / Parainfluenza Virus
Kennel Cough Complex refers to a collection of highly contagious infectious bacteria and viruses that cause respiratory disease. Parainfluenza is also included in the injectable canine vaccine. This vaccination is required by most boarding facilities due to contagion risk. For dogs at risk for exposure (boarding, showing, grooming, contact with other dogs, possibility of adding other dogs to the home, etc.) we recommend vaccination.
Lyme Disease
Common in our area, Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial organism and carried by deer ticks. Symptoms can include lameness, inflammation of multiple joints, fever, lack of appetite and lethargy. Vaccination is strongly recommended for the high-risk population (hunting dogs, dogs that frequent wooded areas or fields, dogs that hike, etc.).

Though reactions are rare, we like to educate every owner about possible complications. If you notice anything abnormal following vaccination of your pet, please call immediately. Vaccine reactions can be as mild as lethargy or as severe as facial swelling, hives or signs of shock.

Feline Vaccine Protocol

We strive to offer the safest protocols for your pets. In accordance with recent changing recommendations, we have lengthened many vaccination intervals from annually to every three years. With your input, we will tailor an individual vaccination protocol for your dog.

Rabies Panleukopenia
Kitten Boosters 1 2-3 2
Interval 3-4 wks. 3 wks.
Age at First Dose 12 wks. 8 wks. 9 wks.
Age at Last Dose 13-16 wks. 13-16 wks.
One Year Booster ~15 mos. old ~15 mos. old ~15 mos. old
Subsequent Adult Interval Every 3 yr. Every 1-3 yrs.  Every 1-3 yrs. if at risk

Optional (Non-core) Vaccines
Administration of these vaccines is based on individual patient risk.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FELV)
FELV is a fatal virus transmitted from mother to kittens across the placenta and through nursing, or from cat to cat (primarily via saliva). We recommend blood testing of all kittens prior to vaccination and especially before introducing them to other cats in your household. Kittens with any risk potential should be vaccinated, as cats less than one year of age are the most susceptible to this infection. We vaccinate adults on an “as needed” basis, depending on environment and lifestyle. Vaccination is not currently recommended for indoor cats in a controlled environment with known FELV-negative.Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Like FELV, we recommend a quick in-house blood test to check for carriers of FIV. A cat could be carrying this serious disease yet look healthy. Both viruses are retroviruses, similar to human HIV, and are not transmissible to people. A new vaccine is available for FIV but not recommended at this time for most cats.Feline Infectious Peritonitis
An intranasal vaccine is available, but is highly controversial. This vaccine is not recommended by our practice.

To summarize: FIV, FIP, Giardia, Chlamydia and Bordetella vaccines not routinely recommended for companion felines.

Though reactions are rare, we like to educate every owner about possible complications. If you notice anything abnormal following vaccination of your cat, please call immediately. Vaccine reactions can be as mild as lethargy or as severe as facial swelling, hives or signs of shock.


Leptospirosis is a serious bacterial disease that can be life threatening and is transmissible to humans. There are over 250 strains of the disease, many of which affect dogs. Currently we can vaccinate against four of these strains. The disease has become much more prevalent in the past 10 years and is on the rise.

How do dogs acquire the infection?
Common carriers of this disease include rats, skunks, possums, raccoons and small rodents. The organism is shed in their urine and can be picked up by dogs through sniffing of infected urine (soil), ingestion, bite wounds and contact with urine-contaminated water. Infected dogs can also act as a source of infection to other dogs and even people.

What are the signs of Leptospirosis?
Leptospirosis most commonly affects the liver and/or kidneys. Clinical signs may include fever, vomiting, lethargy, not eating, weight loss, excessive drinking and urinating, abdominal pain, back pain, diarrhea, jaundice, clotting dysfunction and joint pain.

What is the treatment?
Antibiotics are reasonably effective if they are begun promptly. However these dogs are generally so sick that hospitalization and intensive nursing care, including intravenous fluids, are required. The disease can be fatal (in 11 to 27 percent of cases), or cause permanent organ damage.

How Can Leptospirosis Be Prevented?
Vaccination. The parvo/distemper combination vaccination for dogs is now available with four strains of Leptospirosis protection. We have had vaccines against the serovars Icterohaemorrhagiae and Canicola since the 1960’s. But more commonly in our area disease is due to serovars Pomona and Grippotyphosa, which are included in this newer vaccine. More strains of protection are due on the market in the future.

Boostering the Vaccine
If this is the first time your dog is receiving this additional Leptospirosis coverage then your dog will need to return in about 3 weeks for a booster vaccination. Because this vaccine is new to the dog’s immune system it is given as a series of two injections to stimulate adequate protection. A technician will give this booster vaccine and you pay only the cost of the booster. Annual vaccinations are then needed to maintain proper immunity.

Can the vaccine cause reactions?
Of all the components of a dog’s annual vaccinations, the Leptospirosis portion is considered most likely to cause a reaction. However the company manufacturing the four Leptospirosis strain combination vaccine uses special technology to reduce the potential for adverse reactions. 1% of dogs in the PDA safety studies exhibited signs of reaction. These included lethargy, injection site pain, injection site swelling and itching at the injection site. More serious reactions can occur (from facial swelling to anaphylactic shock), but are even less common.

Miniature and toy breeds
Miniature and toy breeds such as the Chihuahua, Miniature Dachshund, Fox Terrier and Maltese had a three times greater incidence of reaction than larger breed dogs, especially as puppies. Even so, reactions were infrequent. We take all this into account when assessing risk versus benefit for vaccination.

How common is Leptospirosis?
Unfortunately, Leptospirosis is prevalent in our region. We recommend vaccination for dogs that are “at risk.” This is why we discuss the disease with every owner to determine your pet’s environment and lifestyle and potential for contracting the disease. Though we strive to educate and inform, ultimately the vaccine decision is yours. You can elect to have your pet vaccinated against the common canine viruses without any Leptospirosis protection. We feel that for most patients the benefits of protection outweigh the risk of vaccination.

Nutrition - Food for Thought

Rather than nutritional muscle meat, “by-products” are now the meat source for most cat and dog foods. By-products include bones, blood, intestines (often with fecal matter) and other “left over” parts. Further, these by-products vary widely in nutritional value, depending on the particular batch. Grain products, once considered only fillers, have also replaced meat as substitute protein sources for cats and dogs. Many cat and dog foods list corn as the first ingredient on the label. Corn is a much cheaper energy source than meat but much less nutritious.

Pet food companies, realizing that consumers are becoming more aware and health conscious, are making adjustments to keep their share of the market. Unfortunately, these changes are usually not in the ingredients, but in the marketing of the products. Next time you are in the grocery store look at the front of a bag of Purina’s Beneful. The bag portrays wholesome fresh veggies and beef chunks encircling a happy pooch and reads “With wholesome grains and real beef.” However, according to government standards, using “with” on a label merely requires that the ingredient make up 3% of the food by dehydrated weight. Turn the bag over and read the label. Three of the first four ingredients in Beneful are grains. Dried peas and carrots are 17th and 18th on the ingredient list, after sugar, salt and preservatives.

Many chemicals are added to pet foods as preservatives, flavorings and colorings to improve the overall appearance of the food. Anecdotal reports indicate that such “poisoning” of our pets has contributed to the increase of cancer, degenerative disease, autoimmune disorders and skin problems seen in the past couple decades. Add to that recent recalls of many foods due to ingredients from China causing illness and death in pets, it is no wonder pet owners are overwhelmed and scared about nutrition and food for their pets.  As our practice philosophy has become more “wholistic,” we have come to realize the value of nutrition.

Each pet has individualized nutritional needs. Factors such as breed, age, condition, lifestyle, allergies and individual preferences all affect nutritional recommendations. Undeniably, nutrition is a cornerstone of health.

After reading about many foods, listening to the experience of my clients, talking with colleagues and trying different foods on my own pets I have come to recommend Annamaet brand pet foods.  The ingredients are from the United States and Europe.  They will not use cheaper sources that may contain preservatives and chemicals.  They are VERY selective in protein sources, vitamin sources and mineral sources.  The meat they are using has low ash content.  I am feeding this diet to my own pets and have been very impressed with the results.  Annamaet is well regarded by the Whole Dog Journal.  I encourage you to visit the Annamaet website and read more on the founder and the products.  Other Vetcetera approved brands include Wellness, Innova, California Natural, Wysong and Solid Gold (canine lines). Purina’s Pro Plan and One diets are better quality than the rest of their lines. There are many other excellent quality diets on the market.

We encourage you to take an active role in researching the best nutrition for your pet! Remember, by law ingredients must be listed in descending order of their amount in the product. Look for meat at the top of the list. Become a label reader.

Ask us to teach you how to body condition score your pet so you can monitor his/her weight regularly at home. An extensive recent study demonstrated that the lifespan of lean dogs was two years longer, on average, than their chubbier counterparts. This data can be extrapolated for our feline patients too. We recommend that you strive to keep your pet lean for optimal health.


Preventing Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is the number one disease of pets today. It is a diagnosis common to all pets, in all age groups, becoming more advanced with age. This disease affects 85% of middle-aged dogs and cats, but can affect pets as early as nine months of age. It is, however, a very preventable disease.

Factors that influence the development of oral disease include genetics, diet and home care. Many veterinarians believe that there is no more beneficial procedure for our pets than periodic professional dental cleanings coupled with home dental care.

ph_Tooth_tartar_cleaned.jpgPeriodontitis, inflammation of the tissues and structures surrounding the teeth, not only causes bad breath but more importantly, pain, discomfort and potential tooth loss. A pet with periodontitis can send a bacterial shower into the bloodstream every time they chew. These bacteria can affect the heart valves, lungs, liver and kidneys.

Clinical signs of disease in the oral cavity may include bad breath, excessive salivation, appetite changes, facial swelling, weight loss, pawing at the mouth and behavioral changes. Many of our clients are surprised when we point out dental disease in their pets on physical exam. A thorough oral exam is one of the most important parts of our physical exam. Inevitably, we suggest home dental care and perhaps professional dental care for your pets, depending on severity. Home dental care is a classic example of preventative medicine.

We can’t change the genetic code of your pet, but we can significantly slow the progression of dental disease through home care.

We teach all puppy and kitten owners basic teeth brushing techniques as part of grooming and training. Daily brushing is ideal. It takes 6-8 hours for bacteria to attach to the tooth’s surface. The bacteria then absorb calcium from saliva and become mineralized, forming tartar or calculus. This is why brushing is recommended daily, to continually break this cycle. While brushing a few times a week is helpful, brushing weekly does not inhibit the formation of calculus. Do not use human toothpaste when brushing your pet’s teeth. Human toothpaste may cause tummy upset and the fluoride levels can be toxic to their kidneys. We recommend and sell CET enzymatic toothpaste, in chicken and vanilla mint flavor.

Though there is no substitute for brushing, because it mechanically breaks up the plaque, there are other home care options when brushing simply is not possible. These include swabbing the teeth with medicated wipes, rinsing the mouth with an antiseptic prescription rinse and offering chews, such as CET Enzymatic Chews and Greenies. While chewing on hard crunchy foods and treats may reduce calculus, be aware that chewing on real bones, rocks and even ice can cause fractures of the teeth.

Start home dental care now. Incorporate this as part of your puppy/kitty training program. This is one of the best gifts you can give your pet!

Preventative Products

For heartworm prevention we offer Sentinel Spectrum.  It protects against heartworm, roundworm, hookworm, whipworm, tapeworm and fleas.


We suggest Activyl Plus, Seresto Collars for preventative flea protection and more! Check out these products for further details.

Oral Nexgard gives flea and tick coverage for dogs. Please click the link to find out more about this wonderful product!

Spay/Neuter Recommendations

We recommend spay/neuter at five to six months of age, prior to sexual maturity. Sexual maturity generally occurs between five and twelve months of age, depending on genetics.

An ovariohysterectomy, or spay, involves the complete surgical removal of a female’s ovaries and uterus. The ovaries produce hormones that are responsible for heat cycles and potential behavior problems. It is a myth that females should be allowed to go through one heat cycle before spaying. If sterilization occurs before the first heat cycle the incidence of mammary cancer development later in life is greatly reduced.

Spaying also prevents pyometra, a serious uterine infection. This condition causes the pet to be very sick and can be fatal. Emergency surgery is usually required.

Often our male clients cringe at the mention of castration, but as with females the benefits are lifelong. Neutering is the male sterilization procedure. It involves the surgical removal of the testicles. One of the most important benefits involves the prostate gland, which under the influence of testosterone will gradually enlarge over the course of the dog’s life. This enlargement can become uncomfortable and affect bowel and urinary function. Prostatic infections can also occur and can seed to the kidneys. Other health benefits of neutering include the prevention of certain types of tumors of the testicles and anus.

In addition to the health benefits, some undesirable, hormone-driven behaviors can be controlled. Intact male dogs and cats are prone to wander in search of females, increasing their risk of fighting with unvaccinated/diseased animals and being hit by cars. Females in heat may vocalize excessively, show nervous or anxious behavior and attract unwanted males.

Spaying and neutering is also a commitment to your community. Approximately 71 percent of cats and kittens, and 55 percent of dogs and puppies entering shelters are euthanized. One female cat and her offspring can produce 420,000 cats in 7 years. One female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 dogs in 6 years.

Veterinary science has proven that spaying/neutering your pet is in the best interest of your pet’s health. Please don’t avoid this routine surgery because of myths or fears. We strive to make this one-time procedure as safe and pain-free as possible. Please discuss any questions or concerns about these procedures with our staff!

Wellness Exams

ph_Vaccine_Injection.jpgSeveral non-invasive tests and procedures, when performed regularly, can help in the detection of early-stage disease as well as provide a baseline for measuring changes.

These diagnostic tests include:

  • Complete blood count
  • Serum chemistry profile
  • Complete urinalysis
  • Thyroid hormone levels
  • Fecal exam
  • Heartworm testing
  • Other tests as appropriate

While an annual exam may be suitable for younger pets, an exam every six months may be better for an older dog or cat. For a dog, this length of time is the equivalent of five to eight years in the life of a human. For a cat, this represents four to six years of equivalent time.

A proper diet, exercise and veterinary care are critical to your pet’s continued health and comfort. For senior dogs we may advise modifications including special diets or exercise regimens. Senior cats may require special diets, easier access to litter pans, and assistance with routine grooming.

From vaccine protocols to pain management to heartworm prevention, we evaluate each individual pet’s needs based on their environment and lifestyle.

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