Preventative medicine can be all-encompassing and includes annual exams, vaccination, parasite prevention, dental and nutritional care. Please refer to the AVMA for more information and recommendations:
Visit AVMA Website
The annual exam
A physical exam is an essential part of your pet’s care. The veterinarian will make a nose to tail assessment of your pet and take a thorough history about daily behavior, habits and nutrition. The exam begins the second your dog or cat comes in the hospital as the doctor observes gait, posture, hair coat and behavior. Clear eyes, a shiny coat and clean teeth are signs of a healthy system, but the doctor will also listen to the heart and lungs, palpate the abdomen and look deep into the ear canals. Often, subtle problems can be missed by even the most diligent pet parents because our critters can not communicate with us and do not show pain in obvious ways.
Parasite detection and prevention
A fecal sample is recommended annually, or if your pet is having any intestinal problems, itchy hind end and feet, or weight loss. A common misconception is that worms can be seen by gross examination of the stool. Rather, each stool sample is processed in a lab and viewed microscopically for the eggs of roundworms, whipworms, hookworms and others. Some of these parasites are not only a problem for your pet, but can pose a risk for human family members as well.
Please see the CDC website or talk to your veterinarian for additional information:
Riverside veterinarians follow the national guidelines for core vaccines. Similar to vaccines for people, our pets are protected by stimulating an immune response to common contagious diseases. Puppies and Kittens are usually vaccinated monthly for a series of 3 or 4 vaccines. By the age of 4 – 6 months, the vaccine series is complete until the 1 year check. At 1 year, the core vaccines are boosted, then again every 1 – 3 years depending on the vaccine. Vaccines are typically administered at the same times as a physical exam so your vet can ensure your pet is healthy enough for vaccination.
- RABIES (core) – Rabies is a viral disease spread through the saliva of an infected animal. Your dog will receive one vaccine at about 4 months of age, then a second vaccine 1 year later, then every 3 years. If your dog is exposed to any wildlife or to other unvaccinated pets, usually a booster is recommended.Rabies is a life-threatening zoonotic disease (a disease that can be spread between people and pets). The rabies vaccine is required by New York State Law.
Please see the following link for more information:
- DISTEMPER (core) – The distemper vaccine can be confusing! It is usually a combination vaccine for 4 – 5 diseases and can be seen abbreviated as DHLPP or DHPP. Puppies start a series of distemper vaccines around 8 weeks of age, then boosted monthly for 2 – 3 months. The vaccine is then boosted 1 year later, then every 3 years like the rabies vaccine.
- D – distemper: It is a common misconception that the distemper vaccine has something to do with a dog’s temperament, but it is actually similar to measles in people. Signs can include nasal discharge and fever but can progress to skin lesions, stomach upset and seizures. This disease is treatable, but can be fatal.
- H – hepatitis: Infectious hepatitis is a viral disease in dogs caused by adenovirus and is often fatal.
- L – leptospirosis: Leptospirosis is another zoonotic disease (contagious between humans and animals) caused by bacteria that can be found in soil and water. It is passed through the bodily fluids of infected animals and can be fatal without treatment. ** This component of the distemper vaccine must be boosted annually.
- P – parainfluenza: Canine parainfluenza is a viral disease that can cause cold-like symptoms but can also lead to pneumonia.
- P – parvovirus: Parvovirus is considered ubiquitous, meaning it can be anywhere in the environment and is very contagious. It causes severe vomiting and diarrhea usually in young dogs and can be fatal even with treatment. There is no cure for this virus and treatment involves managing symptoms until the virus has ran its course.
- BORDETELLA – Bordetella is also known as kennel cough. This vaccine can be intranasal (dripped into the nose) or injectable. It is usually recommended for puppies, then for dogs considered “high-risk”. Your dog may be at risk if he or she goes to dog parks, grooming, boarding or any other high-volume area.
- CANINE INFLUENZA – Similar to human influenza, the dog flu is a highly contagious virus that affects the respiratory tract. This vaccine is recommended for high-risk patients on an annual basis.
- LYME – Lyme disease is caused by the Borrelia bacteria and spread by the bite of an infected tick. Most flea and tick preventative medications should also prevent lyme disease but a vaccine is also available.
- RABIES VACCINE– Required for all cats indoor or outdoor by age 4 months, then a booster 1 year later, then boosted every 3 years, with a booster in the case of a potential exposure.
- DISTEMPER– Distemper is a combination vaccine that can be abbreviated as FVRCP for Feline Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia. It is administered in a similar fashion as the distemper vaccine in puppies.
- Rhinotracheitis – Rhino is an infectious airway disease in cats caused by Herpesvirus. It is one of the most common causes of conjunctivitis in cats and can affect cats at any age.
- Calicivirus – Calicivirus is also a common airway disease and may cause lesions in the mouth as well.
- Panleukopenia – Panleukopenia is also known as feline distemper and is a parvovirus. It is another very contagious disease that causes vomiting and diarrhea and attacks the cells responsible for mounting an immune response. It can be fatal even with treatment.
- LEUKEMIA – Feline leukemia is a viral infection in cats for which there is no treatment. This vaccine is recommended for high-risk populations or cats who go outdoors.
Vaccine reactions are rare but can be serious and can happen to any pet at any stage of life. The most common side effects of vaccines are lethargy and pain or swelling at the injection site. If these signs persist for more than a day, please contact your veterinarian. More severe reactions can include vomiting, hives, facial swelling or even anaphylaxis with shock and collapse. Again, severe reactions are very rare and usually happen within 10 – 15 minutes of the vaccine while your pet is still in the hospital. They can be treated with emergency medications and supportive care. Please report any degree of reaction or concern to your vet so the proper precautions are taken.
Dental disease is very common in domestic pets and can lead to a variety of other health problems. The best way to take care of your pets teeth is to brush them daily! Though it sounds like a daunting task, many pets can be easily trained to daily oral care. It is important to know what is normal in your pets mouth so you can recognize the abnormal. Please see the ADVC website for more information:
Diet is just as important to our pets as it is to us! Diabetes, joint disease and skin problems can be associated with obesity and poor nutrition in dogs and cats. Many chronic medical problems can be managed with diet whether prescription, over-the-counter or even home-cooked. Proper nutrition is essential to your pets health and should be discussed with your vet on an annual basis or if problems arise. Please fill our Nutrition Questionnaire and bring to your next wellness visit.