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Dog Vaccinations and Check-ups Made Easy

"Dr. Schild with Geordie during his annual check-up and vaccines."

An annual wellness checkup is crucial for your dog’s health and wellness, and vaccinations are vital. The belief that a healthy dog does not need an annual checkup is a common misconception. It is during a check-up that our dog veterinarians are able to find early warning signs of possible problems so that prevention can be applied before they become serious–and expensive problems!

Keep in mind one year in a dogs’ life is approximately equal to 7 human years.  At the Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird hospital, we strive to make the annual visit as stress free as possible for you and your dog-our doctors and staff will be sure to handle your pet gently and provide lots of treats, pats and encouragement.

Vaccinations are another important component of a program for keeping dogs healthy and lengthening their lifespans. It is recommended to bring your puppy or dog for an annual check-up and needed vaccines.  Preventative veterinary care is the best care.

An Annual Check-up for Your Puppy or Dog is Important 

Note: A puppy needs a check up and vaccinations at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age and then yearly. Please see below and call us for more information.

A complete wellness “nose to toes” exam and consultation at the Kennedy Heights Animal and Bird Hospital includes the following:

  • Nose – Our dog vet will check your dog’s nose to see if there is any nasal discharge, a possible sign of respiratory infection.
  • Eyes – Dull and lifeless eyes can be a sign of internal parasites, stress, or serious illness. Dog eye infections can be painful and need to be treated promptly. The outer parts of the eye are checked for infection, ingrown eyelashes, scratches and small eyelid lumps. Our thorough examination of your dog’s eyes includes inspecting the interior parts of the eye using a special scope to detect potential problems not easily visible such as  tumors and cataracts. We also have special equipment to check for glaucoma if there is a concern.
  • Mouth – The gums will be closely inspected for any abnormalities or lump. It is vital to detect lumps early since they can be malignant and removing them sooner  provides the best outcome. Pale gums can may mean your dog is anemic (a serious condition meaning low circulating red blood cells). Our dog vet will also observe the condition of your dog’s teeth, which should be clean and white. If your dog’s teeth are laden with infection-causing tartar, or your dogs gums show gingivitis the vet will recommend dental cleaning and scaling.
  • Ears – Ears can be a breeding ground for mites, bacteria and yeast that cause ear infections and an unpleasant dog smell. There may or may not be discharge visible on the outside of the ear. Our vet will perform a thorough exam of the hidden part of the ear canal using an otoscope to detect hidden infections, tumors and other diseases.
  • Lungs – Congestion, abnormal breathing patterns, and coughs are carefully checked by the veterinarian using a stethoscope to listen to your dog’s lungs. Several problems like heartworm, bordetella (also known as canine or kennel cough) and heart disease can cause congestion and coughing.
  • Heart – Our vet will also use the stethoscope to listen and detect any heart problems such as murmurs. Take note that a dog’s normal heart rate is 90 to 160 beats per minute, depending on the dog’s excitement level and size (the smaller the dog, the higher the heart rate). Unusually high or low heart rates can be caused by heart disease, high blood pressure, thyroid problems and others.
  • Skin and coat – We’ll take a good look at your dog’s largest body organ to check for infection, swelling, lumps, dullness, fleas,  ticks, and other possible problems. Dull, dry haircoat and itchy skin can also be caused by worms as well as dietary sensitivites and allergies. A thorough check up is needed to determine the specific cause. Skin lumps can be cancerous but in many cases early detection and removal is curative.
  • Lymph nodes – These are the glands that respond to infection or disease in the dog’s body and if enlarged can indicate various infections or cancers.
  • Abdomen – Our vet will palpate (feel) your dog’s abdomen (stomach area). Did you know that the vet can feel and evaluate many organs this way? The kidneys, liver and spleen and intestines can be palpated in many pets, especially thin ones. If there is any sign of pain on palpation, this is abnormal and may indicate an illness.
  • Back and tail– Checking on these parts will allow us to find any spinal problems that warrant attention.
  • Hips and legs – Our vet will carefully feel and inspect the hips and legs, checking for any pain, joint swelling or stiffness that may be caused by arthritis and other diseases.
  • Paws and Toes – We look at the paws, toes and nails for any cuts, swelling infection or lumps.
  • Behaviour and Nutritional Consultation – We recognize that dogs can sometimes have  frustrating habits or behaviours and we will be happy to give you any advice needed in this area. We will also make a specific nutritional recommendation for your dog based on the check up.
  • Fecal Examination – We ask you to bring in a poop sample so we can do a microscopic intestinal parasite examination to ensure your dog isn’t carrying any worms. Not only are these parasites harmful to your dog, but many are transmissable to humans, especially children
  • Nuritional Consultation – Our veterinarian will discuss the best dietary options for your dog based on his physical exam and any problems. Examplse would be weight loss diets, arthritis diets, diets to prevent bladder problems etc

Dog and Puppy Vaccinations Are Lifesavers

Dogs, particularly young puppies, are highly susceptible to a number of serious illnesses, which is why you should have your puppy properly and fully vaccinated to build strong immunity.

At the Kennedy Heights Animal & Bird Hospital, we follow the guidelines set by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA).We assess your dog based on lifestyle, risk factors and the complete check-up and tailor the vaccine choices specifically for your pet.  Here are descriptions of the vaccinations and their schedules:

  • All dogs should have what are known as “core vaccinations”- these are life threatening and  pose risks for all dogs. They include distemper, a disease that attacks the lungs, intestines and brain, hepatitis a that attacks the liver and parvovirus a disease that causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting. These three are given as a combination vaccine so your dog gets only one needle.
  • The Bordetella vaccine protects against what is known as kennel cough or canine cough. It is highly contagious causes bronchitis and pneumonia. This dog vaccination is easy to give, it is a nose drop, no needle involved!
  • Leptospirosis is a serious disease causing liver and kidney failure and is also transmissible to humans. In the last few years there have been increasing cases of this disease in dogs in the lower mainland and vaccination is recommended.
  • Rabies Vaccine is recommended for any dog that might come into contact with wildlife and is required for crossing the border.

Adult dogs (that were fully vaccinated as puppies) require:

  • Annual Wellness complete physical examination/check up
  • Distemper-hepatits-parvo combination every 2-3 years
  • Bordetella and leptosirosis yearly
  • Rabies every 3 years

Puppies:

  • Exam & Distemper hepatitis parvo at 8, 12, 16 weeks
  • Leptospirosis at 12 and 16 weeks
  • Bordetella at 8 weeks or later
  • Rabies at 16 weeks

It is important that puppies get this series of vaccinations because their immune system is not yet mature and does not respond as fully to a single dose as adult dogs, leaving them susceptible to these serious diseases. Also, puppies will have partial immunity from the mothers milk for up to 16 weeks and this “maternal” immunity will not allow the vaccine to fully “take” until all of it has passed out of the puppy’s system.

Puppies die much more commonly if they contract these diseases so please ensure your puppy is properly vaccinated and do not expose him or her to other unfamiliar dogs until the vaccination series is complete!

Visit us at least once a year whether your dog appears healthy or not There is more to an annual exam than you may realize. It’s through this check-up that we are able to find signs or symptoms of early problems that allow us to prevent more serious issues. Most vaccinations can be scheduled to take place during the annual check-up.

We want to help you keep your pet well and happy, please call our Surrey animal hospital at (604) 591-5304 for an appointment.

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