COMPANION ANIMAL BEHAVIOR PROGRAM
School of Veterinary Medicine
PROVIDE REGULAR VETERINARY CARE
|All dogs and cats need regular veterinary care. You should select a "family" veterinarian who is familiar with the species you have chosen. Your local veterinary associations, friends, and neighbors, or the yellow pages can help you find the right veterinarian for you and your animals. You may have to speak with several veterinarians before you find the right one for your circumstances. Staying with one veterinary group allows them to get to know you and your animal and provides continuity of care for your animals.|
Clinics are available to provide vaccinations without examination but annual examinations are still recommended even if you choose to obtain vaccinations elsewhere.
There is currently controversy about which vaccines to use and how frequently to vaccinate dogs and cats. Puppies and kittens should receive a series of vaccinations to try to keep them protected as their maternal protection (through milk) decreases. (See schedule in box.) Vaccinations after the initial series and in adults with an unknown vaccination history varies from every 1-3 years. Consult with your veterinarian. Most counties require that dogs be vaccinated for rabies but policies vary for cats. Where not required by law, discuss with your veterinarian the possible risks versus benefits of vaccinating for rabies.
Feline leukemia is a serious viral disease transmitted by exchange of bodily fluids between cats. This includes eating from the same food dish (exchange of saliva), and sharing a litter box. Since this disease is eventually fatal and there is no available treatment, all cats who roam freely outdoors (with the potential for meeting with unknown cats who may have the disease) should be vaccinated. For cats who stay indoors and/or those that never meet with cats that may have the disease, discuss if you should vaccinate your cat with your veterinarian. Since cats may have the disease without visible effects for a period and the vaccine is ineffective in already infected cats, testing is recommended before starting the first series of 2 vaccinations given to cats.
Vaccinations are never 100% effective so use common sense if you know someone\rquote s dog or cat is sick and don't expose your animals to them. Vaccinations just give your dog or cat the best chance of preventing the disease if they are exposed to it.
Heartworm is a parasite that is transmitted through the bite of mosquitoes. Adult heartworms live in the pulmonary artery (between the heart and lungs) and can cause no clinical signs initially. When the disease progresses, signs such as coughing and fatigue with exercise may be seen. The treatments available can be expensive and have severe side effects including sudden death. Depending on what area you live in, there may be pockets of this disease. Your veterinarian may recommend starting a preventative treatment even if the risk of your dog contracting this disease is low because of the severe consequences of the disease and difficulty treating it once contracted. Prevention is a simple once-a-month oral tablet (available as flavored treats). Yearly testing is recommended by the manufacturers in case your dog may have coughed up the medications or if you accidentally forgot to give any. Testing is also performed before starting the preventative because it does not clear a full infection that is already present.
Cats can also get heartworm infections but at a lower incidence than dogs
(even indoor cats get it). A monthly preventative is now available for them as
well. The disease is much more serious in cats and treatments can have death as
a significant risk factor. Cats can also get aberrant migration (worms migrating
where they normally would not) which can cause signs such as seizures. They also
can have sudden death as a sign of the disease.
Unless you are planning to breed your dog or cat and have already checked for
heritable diseases, your veterinarian will recommend spay or neuter of your dog
or cat. This is generally recommended prior to sexual maturity if possible. See
Reproduction for advantages and disadvantages of these procedures.
If your veterinarian feels that your dog or cat has a problem that would be best handled by a veterinarian who specializes in that field, he/she may refer you to a specialist in cardiology, behavior, surgery, internal medicine, etc.
In case of emergency, some veterinarian will take these calls or may refer you to an emergency clinic who can provide care during hours most clinics are not staffed.
If you see anything out of the ordinary (such as changes in appetite, water
intake, urination, or significant change in behavior) or any obvious injury or
illness, call your veterinary hospital to see if they feel an examination is