Parkway Animal Hospital Recommends…
A Semi-Annual Physical Exam
The information we gather at each annual exam becomes part of your dog’s medical history. It can be critical when an emergency or sudden illness arises.
a. General Body Condition: Significant weight loss can be an early warning sign of disease. Obesity is a common problem for older dogs. We will assess your dogs diet and nutritional needs.
b. Gastro-intestinal System: Palpate the abdomen and analyze a stool sample.
c. Musculo-skeletalSystem: Assess the condition of your dog’s legs, hips, joints and spine.
d. Skin and Hair coat: Hair should appear healthy and well groomed. Dull, dry, brittle hair or hair loss may indicate an underlying illness. Check skin for infection or signs of fleas.
e. Internal Organs / Abdomen: Palpate your dog’s abdomen for things such as abnormal masses or pain.
f. Internal Organs / Thorax (chest): Listen to chest for heart murmurs, irregular heartbeat and abnormal lung sounds.
g. Eyes: Examine eyes for possible cataracts, glaucoma, inflammation, or other abnormalities.
h. Ears: Examine ears for things such as ear mites, infection or inflammation.
i. Nose / Throat: Evaluate nose and nasal passages for possible signs of upper respiratory disease.
j. Oral Cavity: 85% of all dogs three years or older have periodontal disease. Evaluate your dog’s teeth, and check color and condition of gums.
k. Lymphatic System: Palpate lymph nodes for size and signs of tumors or inflammation
An annual physical exam is your dog’s best health insurance. Even healthy looking pets can have diseases. Regular examinations can help avoid problems by deterring them before they become serious. A semi-annual physical exam at our hospital, together with an annual heartworm test, an internal parasite screen and a comprehensive vaccination program, are the best ways to keep your dog healthy.
To help protect your dog as well as other pets under our care, we require that pets be vaccinated for common infectious diseases, especially if they are to be hospitalized, boarded, groomed, or surgically treated at our hospital. If your dog was given vaccinations at another clinic we ask that you provide a certificate from a licensed veterinarian documenting the required vaccines, or that you provide us with the name of the veterinarian or clinic where vaccinations were administered so that we may obtain the necessary information. If your dog is not currently vaccinated, we will provide that service upon admittance to the hospital. Please see OUR WELLNESS PROGRAM page for additional information.
Annual Vaccines or Titer
Dogs are curious animals. Their natural exploration habits may bring them into contact with other animals, or other animal’s wastes – increasing their exposure to disease.
Several diseases that dogs can acquire may destroy the good health of a dog or they can be fatal. Puppies are at greater risk for disease and have decreased survival when they occur.
Fortunately for your dog, vaccines are available to help prevent many dog diseases. Vaccinating your dog is the best and least expensive way to prevent disease, and to assure the best quality of life for your pet. Listed here are the vaccines that the Parkway staff recommends to help prevent infectious diseases.
We care about your pet’s health, and we want to ensure animals housed in our facility are adequately protected if exposed to communicable diseases. We also have a responsibility to make sure other pets are protected within our hospital by requiring proper vaccination of your pet. For additional information see A PET OWNER’S GUIDE TO CANINE VACCINATIONS.
Canine Distemper Virus (CDV)
Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease. In recent years we have seen several cases of distemper in the Raleigh area, so this vaccine comes strongly recommend. Distemper is spread among dogs by contact through the mouth and nose. The virus affects the respiratory and nervous system, causing fever, lethargy, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and eventually death.
Fortunately we are able to vaccinate against this disease. We begin vaccinating puppies at 6 weeks of age and give them a series of vaccines until they are 16 weeks old. This vaccine is boostered annually.
Canine Adenovirus –2 Or Infectious Canine Hepatitis (CAV-2 or ICH)
ICH is a contagious disease of the liver. It is specific to the canine.
Lyme disease has become endemic in our area and is a risk to humans. Affected pets often don’t show symptoms until years after exposure to the disease. Lyme is a preventable disease with this vaccine. Vaccinating not only protects your pet, but also reduces the risk of human exposure to the disease.
Kennel cough, also called Infectious Tracheobronchitis (ITB) is an acute and highly contagious disease. There are several organisms that can cause ITB. They are Bordetella Bronchiseptica, Canine Parainfluenza (CPI), Canine Adenovirus 1 (CAV-1), Canine Adenovirus 2 (CAV-2), Canine Distemper Virus (CDV), reovirus and small organisms called mycoplasma. These organisms may act alone or in combination; however the most commonly involved organism are Bordetella, CPI and CAV-2. Symptoms include sever coughing spells sometimes followed by vomiting and gagging. The dog may also have watery eyes and/or a nasal discharge. This discomfort can last up to 12 weeks. Kennel cough is transmitted when an infected dog coughs and infective particles are inhaled by other dogs. It is easily transmitted where there are many dogs present.
We vaccinate for these organisms in two ways. The Canine Adenovirus-2 and the Canine Parainfluenza vaccines are given as a combination vaccine along with the CDV, and the CPV annually. We also vaccinate for Bordetella and Parainfluenza intra-nasally or orally every 6 months. This vaccine is referred to as the “Kennel cough vaccine.” The Bordetella vaccine is recommended for any dog that will be coming into contact with other dogs, or will be coming into the hospital for any reason. A PET OWNER’S GUIDE TO BORDETELLA BRONCHISEPTICA contains additional information.
Outbreaks of canine influenza have occurred across the USA for years. However the strain of influenza that hit Chicago in the Spring of 2015 has spread to Atlanta and North Carolina. Symptoms of influenza include fever, coughing, and lethargy. More severe signs including pneumonia can be seen in more severe cases. The vaccine is administered by injection initially in 2 doses separated by 2-4 weeks followed by an annual booster.
All warm-blooded animals (dogs, cat, livestock, wildlife, and people) can become infected with rabies virus. Because rabies cases have been documented in almost every county in North Carolina, the state requires all pets to be vaccinated.
Rabies is a virus that attacks nerve tissue. The disease develops over 10 days to several months. Infected animals may withdraw and avoid contact with people and animals. Others may become unnaturally aggressive and may attack. Death always occurs once a rabies-infected animal shows signs of disease.
In North Carolina, raccoons are more likely to be the source for rabies than any other animal. However, infected animals, such as cats, dogs, foxes, skunks, bats and farm animals can also transmit rabies through a bite or contact with saliva. Therefore an unvaccinated pet involved in a fight with a wild animal or with wounds from an unknown animal should be suspect for rabies. When rabies is suspected, animals must be quarantined and observed. This may lead to euthanasia to obtain a definite diagnosis by laboratory testing for public health reasons.
If humans are exposed there are a series of post exposure injections.
Dogs should be vaccinated at 16 weeks of age or older, boosted 1 year later and again every 3 years (in NC we vaccinate every 3 years, other states may vaccinate annually).
Intestinal parasite screen
We recommend an annual intestinal parasite screen. Parasites are transmitted to a puppy through the placenta, in its mother’s milk, and in the stool from its mother and other dogs. Some parasites migrate through the lungs and liver to the intestines. While other parasites will remain dormant until a stress occurs years later in your dog’s life. Yes, that is how an indoor dog with no exposure to other pets can develop intestinal parasites. By routinely checking your dogs stool we monitor for parasites of the gastrointestinal tract.
Tapeworms, Roundworms, Hookworms, Whipworms and Coccidia are routinely tested for in stool samples. If your dog is ill or has diarrhea we may perform additional tests for Giardia or bacterial diseases.
People, especially children, can be exposed to animal parasites when they work or play in contaminated soil, such as a sandbox or the garden, and accidentally put dirty hands in their mouth. Parasite eggs cannot be seen by the naked eye but are present anywhere stool from an infected animal is found.
Humans infected with parasites can have problems ranging from intestinal upset to death. It is estimated that 10,000 children in the United States are annually infected with roundworms and that 750 will suffer permanent visual impairment or even blindness.
The monthly heartworm preventative also is helpful in controlling parasites. Additional worming medications will be dispensed when stool samples confirm the presence of parasites. See A PET OWNER’S GUIDE TO INTERNAL PARASITES for additional information.
Heartworms live and circulate in an animal’s blood. The symptoms associated with heartworm disease are similar to the signs of heart failure. These include lethargy, weight loss, a mild, nonproductive cough, and death. In advanced stages of infection these signs are very severe.
Mosquitoes transmit heartworms. A mosquito bites an infected dog, drawing out some of the dog’s blood. The mosquito then bites an uninfected dog and injects saliva, contaminated with microfilariae into the uninfected animal. Heartworm disease occurs only where mosquitoes are present.
In North Carolina we recommend keeping your pet on heartworm preventive medication year round. We also require that all dogs be tested once a year for heartworms. On your puppy’s first visit we will start them on heartworm preventive medication. When they come in the following year for their annual boosters we will test them for heartworms before dispensing a refill of this medication. The heartworm test is a blood test that takes less than 10 minutes to perform. There are several types of heartworm preventatives available for dogs that we would be happy to discuss. Our general recommendation is either Trifexis, Iverhart Max, or ProHeart 6. Iverhart is a monthly flavored chew for heartworm prevention and intestinal parasite control. Trifexis is a monthly flavored tablet that combines flea/tick protection with heartworm and intestinal parasite protection. ProHeart 6 is a convenient injectible heartworm protection that lasts 6 months. Additional information about heartworms can be found in A PET OWNER’S GUIDE TO HEARTWORM DISEASE IN DOGS.
Flea and Tick Protection
Fleas are another big concern in North Carolina and because of our mild winters, flea season never ends. Fleas are small biting insects that takes a blood meal from dogs and when starved they will bite humans as well. The bite can cause an uncomfortable itchiness, allergic reactions, and can transmit diseases.
Animals that become severely infested with fleas can develop anemia due to blood loss. Pale gums and weakness are the main signs of anemia.
Fleas can be hard to find on animals with thick fur, however, they leave a telltale sign behind – flea dirt. These little black specks are actually flea feces. Even if you are unable to find a flea, flea dirt indicates fleas are present.
Flea control involves two steps. First, you must eliminate fleas from the animal. Second, you must eliminate fleas in the environment. The topical medication called Vectra 3D is recommended for killing fleas on your dog and long term use for environmental control. An oral chew called Bravecto will provide 12 weeks of flea/tick protection.
We also offer Knockout ES Area Spray for indoor environmental application and Yard Spray for exterior environmental control of fleas. Additional information on fleas may be found on A PET OWNER’S GUIDE TO FLEAS.
Routine Blood Testing
We recommend to all dog owners routine blood screen. The veterinarian will be glad to discuss their recommendation for your dog. These tests provide us with an assessment of key internal organ health. The routine physical exam cannot tell us how well your dog’s organs are functioning. By running routine blood work we can establish “baseline normal” for your individual dog, and may allow us to see a deteriorating trend thus enabling us to diagnose illnesses before they become a noticeable problem. Early detection allows more (and often less costly) treatment options. See A PET OWNER’S GUIDE TO HEALTH SCREENING for more information.
The recommended blood work consists of:
• A complete blood count
• A chemistry panel to evaluate electrolytes, organs, and their function.
• A urinalysis to evaluate the kidney function
• A thyroid panel is recommended for large breed dogs 5 years and older, and at 8 years for smaller breeds.
For Puppies we recommend Science Diet GROWTH and LARGE BREED GROWTH for those that will grow to 55 pounds or more. For Adult dogs Science diet MAINTANCE. And for older dogs (5 years and older for giant breeds, 8 years and older for smaller breeds) we recommend Science Diet SENIOR. HILL’S PRESCRIPTION DIETS may be recommended by our veterinarians for certain diseases or conditions. We recognize that there are numerous brands of dog food making a variety of claims. We are also aware of the (too) many pet food recalls that concern us all. Our veterinarians have been trained in nutrition and will help you to interpret the nutritional value of any foods you choose for your pet. Additional nutrition information can be found in A PET OWNER’S GUIDE TO PREMIUM PET FOODS for more information.
We all appreciate the importance of dental hygiene in maintaining the health of our teeth and gums. Your dog is no different. He or she needs regular brushing to avoid gum disease. Dental cleaning along with brushing will help prevent the development of one of the most common diseases in dogs periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is started by bacteria present in plaque, which attack the gums, bone and ligaments that support the teeth and hold them in the jaw. Most pets suffer from this disease to some extent. It is a progressive disease, which usually starts out as gingivitis, an infection affecting the gum tissue. This will appear as a thin red line and sometimes swelling at the edge of the gum. At this point the disease is still reversible with adequate oral hygiene. However, if the disease is not treated, it may progress to the moderate stage. Moderate disease is characterized by damage to the gums, bone and other structures that support the teeth. The appearance at this stage includes red, swollen gums, which bleed easily. There may be mild gun recession causing exposure of the roots of the teeth. Advanced periodontal disease results in severe gum recession with the loss of supporting bone and subsequent loss of teeth. A further complication of periodontal disease is that the bacteria involved in causing the disease enter the blood stream and travel to other parts of the body (kidneys, liver, and heart) causing serious infection.
The first step in preventing periodontal disease is maintaining good oral health for your dog or cat at home. There is no substitute for brushing your pet’s teeth at least every other day. Brushing helps to remove plaque before it forms tartar. Most dogs can be introduced to brushing and will even enjoy it. Be sure to use toothpaste safe for pets such as the C.E.T. brand. Science Diet T/D is specifically formulated to remove plaque from teeth and can be helpful when used as a treat or after meals. We offer a variety of dental treats to improve your pet’s dental health.
While brushing is the major part in the maintenance of good oral health, it is still necessary to have your dog’s teeth cleaned on a regular basis by your veterinarian to remove tartar. This allows the gums and supporting structures to return to a healthier state. During the annual physical exam, we can screen for periodontal disease using an OraStrip. This will provide you and the veterinarian a quick assessment of your pet’s oral health. The combination of home care and regular visits to the veterinarian will help control the build-up of plaque and harmful bacteria, contributing to successful treatment of periodontal disease. We may ask you to begin antibiotics 2 days prior to the dentistry to avoid infection in the event that bacteria are released from the teeth into the bloodstream during the procedure.
Sometimes cracked, broken, abscessed, or loose teeth are found upon close inspection during the dental procedure. These teeth should be extracted to prevent pain and infection at the roots.
Remember, the early stages of dental disease are more easily treated than the advanced stages, with better long-term results.
Additional information can be found in A PET OWNER’S GUIDE TO PREVENTING PERIODONTAL DISEASE.
If your pet has been vaccinated by you or someone other then a licensed veterinarian, we ask that it be properly vaccinated by our staff or any licensed veterinarian prior to hospitalization. The health and well being of your animal and the promotion of responsible pet ownership are our primary concerns.