Our Standard Care Recommendations
The following is a representation of our basic recommendations for adult pets, these represent our core recommendations for the treatment of the pets you have entrusted to us. We will offer you these things at visits as they are part of what we value as preventative care. You may receive reminders for these vaccines and tests though you have not had them previously performed, as this is our effort to recommend the best treatment possible for your pet.
All adult cats and dogs should have a yearly exam until the age of 7, at that age we recommend examinations twice yearly for health concerns that become more prominent as pets age. This allows us to check your pet’s eyes, teeth, ears, skin, and body condition to detect any health issues as well as listen to your pet’s heart and lungs for any detectable abnormalities.
All pets should have an annual intestinal parasite screening to ensure they do not have an active parasite infection. Almost all parasites and their eggs are invisible to human eyes, because of this it is imperative to have your pet routinely tested for these parasites. Hookworms, coccidia, and whipworms are some examples of parasites that can go undetected without proper screening. In many cases, parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can be transferred to humans. Electing to have a parasite screening allows our staff or outside laboratory to examine your pet’s fecal sample for microscopic evidence of parasites. This preventative testing could be the difference in catching an infection early; before it becomes a major health concern for your pet. Remember, if your pet has a parasite infection you typically will not see any outward signs of the infection until it has become a major infection. Please, test annually to help ensure the safety of your pet and family members.
*One exception to parasites not being visible is tapeworm infections, in many cases tapeworms can be observed in a pet’s fecal sample. Evidence of a tapeworm infection is often indicated by the presence of rice-like segments in your pet’s stool sample.
An Idexx 4Dx test is recommended for all canine patients on a yearly basis. This test helps to identify patients who have been exposed to the tick-borne diseases Lyme, Anaplasma, and Ehrlichia and determines their heartworm status. Heartworms are spread through mosquitos and we have a year-long presence of mosquitos in this area. The American Heartworm Association: “The mosquito plays an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into “infective stage” larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal's skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to develop into sexually mature adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Because of the longevity of these worms, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in an infected pet.” ¹The ability to diagnose a heartworm infection before major damage has occurred within the heart is extremely important. Heartworm preventatives only kill microfilaria which is why they are termed as preventatives. When given every 30 days they prevent the immature heartworm from growing to a stage that the medicine in heartworm preventatives can no longer kill. Missed doses can lead to the heartworm maturing and no longer being susceptible to the preventatives. When a pet has enough purchased, weight appropriate doses through the veterinary clinic and the recommended yearly testing has been performed the company that manufactures the preventative used guarantees the product, meaning that in the unlikely but possible event that your pet is infected with heartworms or any intestinal parasites covered by that preventative, they will pay for the medical treatment for deworming the parasites and any medical issues arising from it.
State law requires “Pursuant to G.S. 130A-185, every owner of a domestic dog, cat or ferret in North Carolina is required to have their animal currently vaccinated against rabies by four months of age and maintain the animal’s current rabies vaccination status throughout the animal’s entire lifetime. The owner should retain the original copy of the rabies vaccination certificate, provided by the legally authorized vaccinator as evidence of the animal’s current vaccination status. There are no legal waivers or exemptions, rabies vaccinations are required by law for domestic dogs, cats, and ferrets in North Carolina” ², therefore, we require a current rabies vaccine consisting of a first vaccine given lasting the duration of 1 year for dogs and then a booster thereafter that lasts the duration of 3 years.
At Craven Animal Hospital we use adjuvant free rabies for our feline patients. The normal 3-year vaccine that has been used in years past and the same one we give our canine patients has been showed to increase the risk of injection site carcinomas in cats. “The 2006 AAFP Feline Vaccine Advisory Panel Report addresses concerns over the potential relationship among adjuvanted vaccine, vaccination site inflammation, and tumorigenesis.9 The report recommends that veterinarians avoid the use of inflammatory products whenever feasible. Whether or not this recommendation will have a measurable impact on the prevalence of vaccine-associated tumors is not known. However, the use of non-adjuvanted vaccines in cats does offer an important and rational alternative”³ We, in order to reduce the risk of any increased chance of an injection site tumor, use a one-year non-adjuvanted vaccine manufactured by Boehringer-Ingelheim.
Every dog should be vaccinated with a distemper vaccine yearly until the age of 7 years and subsequently, as their immune response should be well established, every 3 years. The distemper vaccine actually consists of protections against several other preventable diseases. The vaccine that we use is manufactured by Zoetis “VANGUARD Plus 5 L4 is for vaccination of healthy dogs 6 weeks of age or older as an aid in preventing canine distemper caused by canine distemper (CD) virus, infectious canine hepatitis (ICH) caused by canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1), respiratory disease caused by canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2), canine parainfluenza caused by canine parainfluenza CPiV, enteritis caused by canine parvovirus (CPV) and CPV-2c, and leptospirosis caused by Leptospira canicola, L. grippotyphosa, L. icterohaemorrhagiae, and L. pomona.”⁴ The leptospirosis component to this vaccine will receive a booster in the off years of the 3-year distemper vaccine so as to maintain your pet’s immune response to it. Leptospirosis is very prevalent in our area and spread through the urine of infected animals in soil and water, as well as a danger to humans as it is possible to be passed from animals to people.
Every cat that is exposed to the outdoors should be vaccinated with a distemper vaccine yearly. Every indoor cat should be vaccinated with a distemper vaccine every 3 years following the initial booster of their kitten vaccines at the age of one. Their risk of exposure to the diseases covered by the vaccine decreases greatly by being kept indoors. As with dogs the distemper vaccine actually covers multiple viruses and diseases-“PUREVAX FELINE 4 [Feline Rhinotracheitis-Calici-Panleukopenia (MLV) + Chlamydia psittaci (Attenuated)] is recommended for the vaccination of healthy cats 6 weeks of age and older for prevention of disease due to feline rhinotracheitis, calici, and panleukopenia viruses and as an aid in the reduction of disease due to Chlamydia psittaci.”⁵
All dogs should receive a yearly booster of their Bordetella vaccine. This vaccine is colloquially termed “kennel cough vaccine” as it is spread rapidly in areas like kennels where pets are housed closely but is not caused by being in a kennel. “Infectious tracheobronchitis results from inflammation of the upper airways. It is a mild, self-limiting disease but may progress to fatal bronchopneumonia in puppies or to chronic bronchitis in debilitated adult or aged dogs. The illness spreads rapidly among susceptible dogs housed in close confinement (eg, veterinary hospitals or kennels).”⁶ Your dog is at risk of this any time he/she comes in contact with another dog as it is highly contagious. This includes walks and even coming to a veterinary facility. It is required for boarding and grooming. This vaccine is also a guaranteed vaccine meaning that if your pet has been vaccinated properly and does present with a cough/respiratory issue that could be explained by infectious tracheobronchitis the company will pay for treatment for your pet including testing for actual Bordetella and medications to address cough and or infection.
All dogs should be vaccinated against Canine Influenza. The initial vaccine is given and then your dog receives a booster within 2-6 weeks. “Canine influenza (CI, or dog flu) is caused by the canine influenza virus (CIV), an influenza A virus. It is highly contagious and easily spread from infected dogs to other dogs by direct contact, nasal secretions (through barking, coughing or sneezing), contaminated objects (kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes), and by people moving between infected and uninfected dogs. Dogs of any breed, age, sex or health status are at risk of infection when exposed to the virus.” ⁷ Due to the extreme contagion of the virus (even passed by people who have been exposed to a dog with the virus elsewhere) we recommend this to all of our canine patients. It is a required vaccine for most boarding and grooming facilities (including ours). We use a bivalent vaccine which means it provides an immune response to the two most prevalent strains of canine influenza each season much like the human counterpart.
All cats should have an initial feline leukemia vaccine. Cats who remain indoors following this vaccine are considered low risk for contracting the virus and therefore are not vaccinated further. Cats who are exposed to the outdoors should be vaccinated yearly after testing negative for the virus as the vaccination is not given to positive cats. “FeLV transmission most commonly occurs through close, social contact. Contact with saliva from infected cats is a primary mode of transmission because the concentration of the virus is high in saliva. But the virus is also shed in blood, urine, feces, nasal secretions, and milk. Sharing food and water dishes, using the same litterbox, mutual grooming, and bite wounds are all possible methods of transmission. Infected queens can infect fetuses during pregnancy. Infected queens can infect neonates when the babies drink the infected milk.”⁸
All pets should receive routine blood screenings after they become geriatric at 7 years of age. “Your pet’s health changes with age, just as yours does. But our pets actually age much faster than we do. Regardless of your pet’s age, you play a key role in helping him combat illness and remain as healthy as possible. Remember, your pet cannot describe symptoms to you, but he will show you signs of disease or illness. Awareness of the signs of the most common diseases is one way to help reduce your pet’s risk. It’s a little scary to consider that 10% of pets that appear healthy to their owners during their regular checkups have underlying diseases. Testing can frequently detect illness in your pet before we see any outward signs of disease. Testing gives us immediate insights that we might not otherwise discover. And, treating your pet early can lead to a better outcome and possibly lower treatment costs.”⁹ Screens for common issues including diabetes, kidney failure, liver disease, and thyroid problems are part of medically managing your pet in their older age. It allows for faster detection of issues that may cause your pet’s health to decline.