Regular vaccinations and examinations will help keep your pet healthy and happy. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you of the frequency that your pet should be examined, but most recommend either annual or six-monthly visits. This is because pets age an average of 7 times faster than humans and so by the time they reach 6/7 years old they are considered middle-aged. Larger breeds of dogs are often considered to be seniors by the time they reach 8.
Typical components of a wellness examination include:
- Checking the central nervous center
- Checking and cleaning the ears, treating if required
- Checking joints and mobility
- Checking skin and condition of coat
- Checking urinary and reproductive systems
- Dental examination
- Eye examination
- Listen to the heart
- Listen to the lungs
- Observation of alertness and response
- Palpate the abdomen checking for painful areas and/or growths or tumors
- Physical examination of the rest of the body for unusual lumps
- Weight check
Other tests that your pet may be given include:
- Heartworm testing (otherwise known as blood parasite screening)
- Fecal testing. This allows the veterinarian to check for the presence of internal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms and whipworms.
- Blood work. Blood tests screen for infection or disease that may not otherwise be detected through a physical examination. Blood work also allows a veterinarian a comprehensive assessment of your pets’ health.
When To Vaccinate
Puppies and kittens are usually protected from infectious diseases by their mother’s milk provided that she has been adequately vaccinated herself. However, this protection only lasts for a short while.
- Puppies should be vaccinated at 8, 11, and 14 weeks.
- Kittens should be vaccinated at 9, 12, and 15 weeks.
- Boosters should be given 12 months after the date of the last vaccinations.
- If you have an older pet, your veterinarian will be able to advise you on the correct vaccination protocol to follow.
Dogs should be routinely vaccinated against:
- Canine distemper
- Canine parvovirus
- Infectious canine hepatitis
If your dog is going to spending time in kennels, you should also inquire about getting them vaccinated against kennel cough. The vaccine is usually given via the nostrils and protects against bordetella bronchiseptica and parainfluenza virus.
Dogs will also need a rabies vaccination.
Cats should be routinely vaccinated against:
- Feline calicivirus
- Feline herpes virus
- Feline infectious enteritis
- Feline leukemia virus
(Current guidelines recommend that only ‘at risk’ cats are vaccinated against feline leukemia virus. Those deemed at risk include kittens and immune-compromised cats).
Rabbits should be routinely vaccinated against:
- Rabbit (viral) hemorrhagic disease (RHD)
If your pet is having single vaccines, then the myxomatosis vaccine should be given from 6 weeks of age, and the RHD vaccine from 8 weeks. Single vaccines cannot be given simultaneously. After this time myxomatosis boosters should be given every 6 months.
Combined vaccines offer annual protection against both diseases and can be given from 5 weeks of age.
If you are unsure about anything regarding your pet’s vaccines, please consult your veterinarian who will be able to advise you on the best vaccination protocol to follow.