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Fall is the Perfect Time for Annuals

Is your pet up to date on her annual exam and vaccinations? It is extremely important that your pet visit his veterinarian each year for a physical exam, vaccines and laboratory tests needed for cats and dogs. A physical exam for your pet performed by a doctor is similar to the physical exam that you receive from your physician. The veterinarian will examine your pet’s ears, eyes, nose and mouth to make sure her teeth and gums are in good condition, her eyes are clear and there are no ulcers or cataracts developing, and her ears are clean and the ear drum is visible. The doctor will examine the skin, lymph nodes, abdomen, feet and tail of your dog and cat. This will help keep your pet healthy each year and help us detect any small changes that can indicate a problem before it develops into a bigger problem!

Canine Visits

We recommend several vaccines each year to keep your dog protected from diseases that your dog may contact in her environment. The first vaccine we vaccinate for is a Rabies Vaccine. Tennessee requires a rabies vaccine, vaccine certificate and rabies tag each year. This is also required for a city tag needed in Chattanooga and East Ridge. We also vaccinate your dog for Leptospirosis each year. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can infect the kidneys or liver of your dog. The usual exposure is contact with urine from infected rodents, the most common being water from lakes, puddles or creeks. Leptospirosis is also contagious to people so we strongly recommend this vaccination every year.

Do you take your dog to the groomer, dog park, boarding facility or doggie daycare? If the answer is yes than you will need to vaccinate your dog for Bordetella or Kennel Cough. This vaccine can be given in a nasal or oral form. Some facilities require a Bordetella vaccine every 6 months so check the requirements before your annual visit. The last vaccine that we recommend is actually a “four in one” vaccine for Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus, or DHPP for short. This vaccine is familiar to many people since we give it as a series of 4 vaccines when your dog is a puppy. Parvovirus has been in the news lately with outbreaks recorded in California and Nevada which show the importance of vaccinating your puppy for this potentially deadly virus. After your dog has received the series of vaccines and then a DHPP vaccination the following year, we vaccinate each dog on a 3 year basis for DHPP ONLY!

In addition to vaccinations and a physical exam we also test your pet for intestinal parasites and heartworms. These tests are performed in-house and take 15-20 minutes to run. For our senior friends we run in-house blood work each year to make sure that he is healthy and all organ systems are functioning well. By performing annual or semi-annual bloodwork on our older patients we can often detect a problem before your pet shows any symptoms.

Feline Visits

It is important that we see our feline friends each year, if not more so since cats will often hide problems or discomfort. Your cat’s doctor will perform a physical exam on your cat checking eyes, ears, mouth, skin, abdomen and all legs, feet and tail! You will receive a Pet Report Card that shows the findings of your doctor and any recommendations for your cat. Cats must have a Rabies Vaccination each year just the same as dogs, even if your cat only lives inside! You will receive a rabies certificate and rabies tag. If your cat does go outside, potentially come into contact with other cats or even just spend time on a screened porch we recommend each cat have a Feline Leukemia vaccination. This vaccine should be given annually to each cat that may be in a situation described above. We also recommend testing your new kitten during her first visit to make sure she is negative for this disease and other diseases. The last vaccine that we vaccinate is a FVRCP vaccine. This is sometimes called a “feline distemper” vaccination. The “FVR” protects against feline viral rhinotrachelitis, a respiratory disease. The “C” is for feline calcivirus, also a respiratory infection, and the “P” vaccinates against a potentially fatal feline panleukopenia virus. These three vaccines are sometimes called the “core” vaccines needed to keep your pet healthy and protected.

During your cat’s annual visit we will also check him for intestinal parasites. Cats are often prone to intestinal parasites and sometimes a test can result in a false negative. For this reason we recommend that all cats are dewormed twice a year. Luckily we now have a topical dewormer for your cats! So much easier than a tablet or capsule! We also recommend annual or bi-annual in-house blood work for our senior friends. This is especially important for cats. Every cat owner knows that cats are masters at disguising or hiding symptoms when something may be wrong. By performing annual blood work we can get a baseline for comparison in the future.

We try to tailor each vaccine protocol to the individual pet’s needs, considering your pet’s age, breed and vaccination history. We follow the AVMA guidelines which includes 1) vaccinating puppies and kittens for all of the recommended boosters and at recommended intervals; and 2) re-vaccinating in one year. We then follow a three-year vaccination protocol for their core vaccines. You can follow the link https://www.avma.org/KB/Policies/Pages/Vaccination-Principles.aspx for more information on AVMA Vaccination Principles. Please call or email us if you have any questions or to schedule an appointment for your cat or dog!