Spay and Neuter
Spaying and neutering is part of what every responsible pet owner should do. It is very important in order to prevent diseases such as mammary gland (breast) cancer, prostate cancer, testicular cancer and pyometra (potentially fatal infection of the uterus).
Overpopulation and stray animals are a concern in our country. By spaying and neutering your pet you contribute to controlling overpopulation. A heartbreaking consequence to overpopulation is massive euthanasia of stray and abandoned pets at shelters and clinics all over the country.
You should plan on spaying or neutering your pet between 4-7 months of age ideally. It is best to perform this surgery in females before they get a first heat cycle since this will decrease the chances of developing malignant breast cancer by 95-98%.
Physical exams are important to maintain optimal health for your beloved pet. We recommend bringing your pet at least once a year for a complete wellness exam. If your pet is over 7 years old, physical exams should be done twice a year. Dogs age quicker than humans - remember, one human year can be equal to about 5-7 years in your pet's life. A lot of changes can take place in that much time.
By performing a complete physical exam, your veterinarian can pinpoint signs of a chronic or silent illness. Examining the eyes and ears will assess degree of vision and hearing loss. Looking in the mouth can show dental disease and small tumors. Auscultation of the heart can detect murmurs that otherwise would go unnoticed until your pet shows signs of heart failure. Palpating the abdomen could reveal an enlarged liver, kidneys or spleen. Checking the skin could help you find out if that little lump you found a few weeks ago, is something to be worried about.
As your pet gets older, it is even more important to get a full comprehensive exam including tests to evaluate the function of the liver, kidneys, thyroid gland and bone marrow. There are health problems that most people will write off as just "old age” but that in reality can be diagnosed and treated. Our goal is to help your geriatric friend live his “golden years” with a good quality of life, free of pain and happy.
It is also important that you tell your veterinarian about any strange behavior or changes in your pet’s personality. Do not keep any concerns to yourself, thinking “it’s probably nothing.” You know your pet better than anyone else and if you think there is something wrong, you are probably right. A complete physical examination can pick up early signs of different diseases and by finding, diagnosing and treating these problems early, your pet will live a much healthier and longer life.
Puppies receive antibodies from their mother's milk. Unfortunately, this immune protection is temporary and begins to disappear after 6 weeks of age. In order to protect puppies, a series of vaccines is given every 3-4 weeks. The series starts with a combination vaccine that protects against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza, and canine parvovirus and in some cases, coronavirus (this vaccine is commonly abbreviated DHPPC). Many veterinarians will also incorporate leptospirosis in the vaccination series. Leptospirosis is a dangerous bacterial disease transmitted from rodent urine and it can affect humans as well. Another vaccine that is included in the puppy boosters is Bordetella (kennel cough). The rabies vaccine is given after 15 weeks of age. This is an important vaccine since rabies is contagious and fatal, not only to animals, but also humans. An additional booster of parvovirus is optional for certain puppies but it is strongly recommended on breeds that have a higher predisposition to the disease such as Rottweilers and Pitbulls. There are different and newer vaccines available that are not routinely given at Lake Howell Animal Clinic such as Lyme disease. If you would like more
information on any of these vaccines, please call your veterinarian.
If your puppy or adult dog has an adverse reaction to the vaccine (fever, vomiting, shaking,
facial swelling or hives) discuss the risk of annual revaccination with your veterinarian. It is
important o discuss the vaccination program with your veterinarian. Do not hesitate to ask
questions about the pros and cons of vaccinations.
Our vaccine protocol for puppies:
After these series of boosters is finished, your puppy will need more boosters one year after. For its first series of adult vaccines, we recommend DHLPPC, Bordetella and Rabies. The DHLPPC and Bordetella will be repeated yearly but the Rabies will be good for 3 year
Heartworm disease is a potentially deadly parasitic disease caused by a long worm that takes residence in the heart and blood vessels of dogs. When a mosquito bites a dog with heartworm infection, it will collect the heartworm infective stage and then pass it on to another dog or cat.
The important thing is to give a heartworm preventative that will not allow the infective stage to develop into an adult heartworm. Heartworm disease will injure the cardiovascular system. Some of the signs include coughing, respiratory problems and exerciseintolerance(gettingtiredeasily).
Prevention of heartworm disease is simple and affordable. A once a month prescription treatment is usually all that you will need to give your pet. Your veterinarian will prescribe these medications, only after making sure that your dog is not heartworm positive. Heartworm infection in dogs is easily diagnosed with a simple blood test. Using a heartworm preventative in a heartworm positive dog can cause a severe reaction.
Previous recommendations for heartworm test were for every 1 – 3 year testing but in 2005, the American Heartworm Society (AHS) changed to a yearly testing. Annual testing will allow your veterinarian to detect an infection with plenty of time to manage it effectively.
For more information about the most recent recommendations on heartworm prevention, visit the guidelines posted on the AHS website at www.heartwormsociety.org
Tick and Flea Control and Prevention
Ticks and fleas are associated with transmitting and causing diseases in dogs and cats. Ticks are considered excellent carriers and transmitters of diseases such as Ehrlichia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tick paralysis and Lyme disease.
Fleas cause one of the most common skin diseases of dogs – flea allergy dermatitis. When a flea bites your pet, it injects a small amount of saliva to prevent blood coagulation. An impressive number of dogs are sensitive to the flea’s saliva. If your pet is highly allergic, the bite of one single flea can cause severe itching and scratching. Your pet may scratch and chew at himself causing hair loss, redness and a secondary bacterial infection. It is important to realize that a flea will spend the majority of its life in the environment and not on your pet. Hence, your dog may continue to scratch without you ever seeing a flea on him/her. The flea is also an intermediate host of the tapeworm, Dipylidium caninum. When pets are grooming or biting at themselves, they ingest an adult flea containing infective stage of the tapeworm. The tapeworm will mature in the small intestine. The worms are then shed in the feces. Another complication of flea infestation would be anemia in young puppies. Flea anemia can be life-threatening in very young or old animals.
Current flea and tick control products are safe, effective and friendly to the environment. There are oral and topical products available. These products are very helpful not only for treating but also for prevention. It is recommended that you keep your pet on monthly flea and tick treatments, regardless of them being exclusively indoors. In cases of heavy flea or tick infestations it is advisable for you to treat the environment (carpets, floors, yards) as well, at least initially.
One of the most common diseases in our domestic companions is dental or periodontal disease. Ironically, it is also one of the most preventable and treatable diseases. The following are recommendations for pet oral care.
Teeth brushing: You will need a pet toothbrush and veterinary toothpaste. Human toothpastes and baking soda may cause problems and be potentially toxic to pets. Pets accumulate plaque every day, just like humans. Therefore it would be ideal for you to brush their teeth every day. When plaque becomes mineralized, it will form tartar. Tartar can not be removed with brushing alone. To remove tartar your pet will need a professional dental cleaning. Talk to your veterinarian or veterinary technician for a demonstration on how to appropriately brush your pet’s teeth.
Diet: A good and balanced crunchy diet is preferred over wet food or table food only. You may also offer a variety of treats that are specifically design to prevent tartar formation.
Even with regular brushing and good diets, your pet may still need a professional dental cleaning at some point. Make sure to have your veterinarian examine your pet’s mouth at least once a year to determine if a professional cleaning is necessary.
Microchips are effective and reliable ways to identify pets. The microchip is a tiny computer chip that stores an identification number and is easily placed under the skin through an injection. Your pet’s identification code is unique. Inserting the microchip in your pet is only the first step. Make sure that you submit and mail your contact information to the microchip company. Without that, if your pet is lost, we will be able to scan and see his microchip number but we will not be able to find you – that defeats the purpose of the microchip.
There are two main companies that produce microchips for pets: AVID® and Home Again®. Each company has universal scanners that can identify chips from each other as well as other microchip companies that create chips that are also in their same frequency (125 Khz). Scanners are available at veterinary clinics, humane society shelters, SPCA, animal control and other rescue organizations to ensure that every stray pet is scanned and those with chips are reunited with their owners.
How microchips work: When a lost or stray pet is found and taken to a facility with a scanner, the pet is scanned. If a microchip is found, the owner can be found by using the pet’s ID number. All it takes is contacting the microchip company by phone or internet and with the number they’ll provide the owner’s contact information.
Obesity in pets, just like in humans, has become an epidemic in our country. Almost 40 percent of our pets are considered obese or likely to become obese. The primary causes of obesity are overeating and lack of exercise. There are also medical, hormonal or metabolic conditions that may induce obesity.
If you feel that your pet is getting “a little chunky”, see your veterinarian. Your veterinarian, through physical exam and laboratory tests, can determine if there are any underlying causes for obesity and make recommendations for weight loss.
Weight loss tips:
- Change to a low calorie or weight loss food or reduce the daily amount of food
- Increase exercise activity: daily walks, running/playing in your backyard, swimming, etc.
- To satiate your pet’s hunger, you may need to increase fiber in the diet and the water supply.
Obesity in pets can have the same consequences that it has in humans. Diabetes, painful joints, heart disease and hypertension are among the conditions associated with obesity. Remember, your pet can not feed itself so it is up to you to provide the appropriate type and amount of food in order to prevent them from developing devastating diseases.
The normal pregnancy or gestation period in dogs varies from 58 to 68 days (the average is 62-63 days). Conditions that may be confused with pregnancy include false pregnancy, mastitis (inflammation of the mammary glands), mammary gland neoplasia (cancer), abdominal enlargement due to fluid accumulation or organ enlargement, or pyometra (infection of the uterus).
If you suspect your pet may be pregnant but are not sure, your veterinarian can determine if your suspicions are real. However, puppies can seldom be palpated early in the pregnancy. The skeleton of the fetus is visible on an X-ray after 45 days of pregnancy. An abdominal ultrasound is an excellent way to diagnose pregnancy and estimate litter size.
If a pregnancy is confirmed we recommend feeding a puppy food to your dog during pregnancy and until the puppies are weaned. You should also have plenty of water available at all times for the mom to drink. It is important to have your veterinarian do regular check ups on your pregnant dog or cat to ensure that everything is going well.
When the time comes for your dog to give birth, you should be prepared for a possible lengthy delivery, especially if the litter has more than 5 puppies. A possible complication while giving birth is dystocia (difficulty giving birth). This could be due to the mom getting tired of pushing, to a fetus being to big for the birth canal or to problems with uterine contractions. If your pet has been pushing but no fetus is coming out, call your veterinarian immediately. Some pets may need an emergency C-section if the delivery can not be completed naturally.