Why does my pet need vaccinations?
Puppies and kittens are born with immature immune systems which make them highly susceptible to contracting disease. Thankfully, their mothers transfer to them part of their own immunity via colostrum when they nurse. Colostrum is a substance found in the mother’s milk for the first few days after giving birth. It provides her newborns with important protective proteins against several diseases. These agents are known as “maternal antibodies”. As long as maternal antibodies to a particular disease are active in the newborn’s system, they will help give protection against that disease.
However, they will also render useless any vaccine given against that disease during the time they are functional. How long these maternal antibodies last varies between individuals and is affected by many factors. We do know that maternal antibodies are gone by 16-20 weeks of age.
Therefore, the typical puppy/kitten vaccine series starts around 6-8 weeks of age. Boosters are administered every 2-4 weeks until around 16 weeks of age in hopes of narrowing the “window of opportunity” for infection. This window of opportunity is the time period between when the maternal antibodies wear off and the vaccines are able to stimulate the individual’s own immune response to a disease. If animals are over 20 weeks of age and receiving their first ever set of vaccines, they will receive a series of two vaccines, 2-4 weeks apart. There are some exceptions to these rules (i.e. rabies). The incidence of disease and death is significantly higher in areas where vaccinations are not commonly administered. This is especially true for Canine and Feline Distemper, Parvovirus and Rabies.
What does the physical exam do for my pet?
A physical examination performed at a minimum of every six months will enable us to detect the presence of small problems or changes in your pet’s health before they can become major health problems. A thorough physical examination alone is not capable of detecting all possible health problems. It is impossible to obtain and understand a complete picture without also performing other tests. Blood work gives us a means of checking your pet’s internal functions in a non-invasive manner.
De-Worming your pets
Do you ever wonder why your veterinarian wants to check a sample of your pet’s feces on those routine examinations or anytime your pet is vomiting or has diarrhea? Well, it’s to look
for evidence (e.g., eggs) of worms that could be living in your pet’s gastrointestinal tract.
Some worms can live in relative harmony with your pet, and you may not know they even exist. But most gastrointestinal worms pose risks to your pet’s health, and some are a health threat to humans (especially children) because the eggs of these parasites contaminate the soil.
Why does my pet need blood work if he appears to be healthy?
Even though our pets may appear to be healthy based on physical appearance and activity, many clinical signs of disease do not develop until late in the disease process. Pets cannot tell us when they do not feel 100% and because of their instinct to protect themselves, many animals will ‘hide’ their illness. A good example of this situation is a cat with kidney disease. This patient may be afflicted with kidney disease for months to years before developing signs of disease because a pet can lose up to 75% of kidney function before clinical signs will develop. Performing blood work will detect early changes in kidney enzymes and allow us to manage this disease process properly—allowing the patient to live a longer and healthier life.
When should my pet have blood work performed?
Pets of any age can have problems with their internal organs. Many young purebred cats and dogs will have congenital liver, kidney, and heart problems. As pets age, their immune system and health starts to decline and they can have multiple organ problems.