Canine Preventative Medicine Recommendations
Preventative medicine recommendations in veterinary medicine are undergoing radical changes. This is particularly so regarding vaccinations and concepts of early intervention.
Vaccines are powerful tools that save countless lives. However, they can have adverse effects. These adverse reactions may be mild, such as hives, or rarely there may be life threatening immune system problems. These issues are not new. We are just addressing them differently.
Early intervention is recognizing that your pet ages more rapidly than you do. The old adage of 1 year per 7 is approximate enough to use. We do have more exact charts based on your pet’s breed size. Blood tests or other diagnostics to serve as both a baseline and for early detection of problems is now a priority.
Here at the Woodbury Animal Hospital, we are taking a critical look at our patients’ vaccine needs. Each individual animal will have different exposures to infectious diseases. Each animal needs to be vaccinated with this in mind. The goal is to minimize vaccines without compromising health. We use two simultaneous approaches to this. The first is to look at the vaccines available and determine which diseases your pet might be at risk for. The second is to look at the frequency with which the vaccines need to be given
Core Preventative Medicine
Distemper/Parvo Vaccination– This vaccine will be given as the standard puppy series and a booster one year later. We will then vaccinate every three years instead of yearly. Current recommendations are getting away from a once a year booster. In lieu of revaccination, titers may be used (see below).
Rabies Vaccination- This will be done as we have always done, keeping legal and liability issues in mind.
Fecal Exam- This should be done several times as a puppy and yearly after that. If you take your dog to a variety of places (parks, school yards, dog runs etc.) then it might be wise to do it more often.
Heartworm Testing– We recommend that all dogs be on heartworm preventative. These medications do not just help prevent heartworm disease, but they also help protect against other intestinal parasites. The American Heartworm Society still recommends testing once a year even if they are on the medication year round.
Optional Preventative Medicine
Bordetella Vaccination – If your dog uses a groomer, goes to a boarding kennel, or if they are exposed to other dogs at parks etc. then we recommend this vaccine. The intra-nasal vaccine that we use is not generally associated with the vaccine side effects that we worry about.
Lyme Vaccination – This is a controversial vaccine. If your dog has exposure to areas where there are deer ticks (there do not need to be deer) then we recommend its use. Long Island is a Lyme disease endemic area. The use of this vaccine is recommended in dogs with a known high risk of exposure.
Leptospirosis Vaccination – If your dog has exposure to areas where there are raccoons, possums, or rats (they do not have to have direct contact), then you might consider this vaccine. Cases are rare, but they can easily be fatal. We have a separate handout to read on Leptospirosis.
Flea Preventative* Use as needed based on potential exposure and past history
Tick Preventative* Use as needed based on potential exposure and past history
*these parasites can carry diseases and well as being a nuisance.
We offer blood test (titers) for certain diseases to assess an individual’s need for booster shots. If titers reveal that an animal has adequate immunity (that is, the animal is sufficiently “protected” against a particular disease), then there is probably little need for annual booster. Titering is an alternative to yearly boosters or to the three year protocol. However, a negative test does not necessarily mean negative protection. Titering does have its drawbacks. First, the blood tests are more costly than annual booster shots. If the tests reveal that your pet is “unprotected,” then they will need a booster shot. Titers may not be appropriate for all the infectious diseases for which we regularly vaccinate your dog. The list below indicates titer availability for infectious diseases in dogs:
*We can run titers for rabies, but they are not accepted by the Health
Department as legal proof of your pet’s rabies vaccination status.
This would leave you exposed to legal and liability issues.
The above approach in vaccinating/titers is consistent with recent trends in veterinary medicine. If you use a boarding kennel or groomer, you may need to check on their requirements. Most boarding kennels and groomers accept these changes. However, please confirm this well in advance of your pet going to the groomer or kennel.
Early detection and intervention begins with blood tests in young to middle-aged dogs. Many disease processes common in older animals are present long before you see signs of illness. There are also specific problems that can manifest at an early age. Non-invasive and relatively inexpensive blood and urine tests allow identification and management of these conditions when they are more treatable and before your pet feels ill. As your pet gets older, we may also suggest x-rays or other diagnostics. Additional testing would fall into more of a problem based category.
Blood and urine tests to assess the immune system, kidneys, liver etc. are easy to do, and inexpensive. They can serve as a baseline as your pet ages. They can also help in early detection of problems before your pet show sign of illness.
Our preventative medicine and early intervention programs are designed to keep your pet healthy. However, should your pet need advanced diagnostics or therapies, you should be aware that we have a lot to offer. We can provide radiology, ultrasound, and endoscopy at our practice. We also work very closely with facilities that have CT, MRI, radiation therapy, critical care, and a variety of veterinary specialists.