New puppy? New kitten? Let’s talk about your first visits to the vet! (Part 2)

Last week we talked about puppy visits, so now it’s time for kitten visits!

Kitten visits are generally scheduled every 4 weeks until the kitten is about 20 weeks old. Just like last week’s entry, we’ll go over all the visits first and then I’ll explain the vaccinations.

At 8-12 weeks your kitten will get a complete physical examination, and the FVR vaccination, as well as an intestinal parasite exam. It is also highly recommended at this time to have a Feline Leukemia/Feline AIDS blood test performed.

13-15 weeks, the kitten gets a physical exam, an FVR vaccination, an intestinal parasite exam, and a Feline AIDS vaccination. (Don’t forget, we’ll go over all these vaccines in a minute)

16-19 weeks, your kitten will get a physical exam, an FVR vaccination, an intestinal parasite exam, the Feline AIDS vaccination, and the Feline Leukemia vaccination.

At 20-22 weeks, your kitten gets a physical exam, a Rabies vaccination, an FVR vaccination, an intestinal parasite exam, a Feline AIDS vaccination, and a Feline Leukemia vaccination.

When your kitten reaches 6 months, your veterinarian may recommend a urinalysis, declawing, and microchipping. This is also a good age for your kitten to be spayed or neutered. (3 months or 3lbs for females to be spayed and 6 months for males to be neutered).

So, as you can see, kittens have different vaccinations than puppies. Let’s go over these vaccines and why they need to get them so often.

Vaccines are repeated in a series of boosters for the exact same reason as it is for puppies. When kittens are born they do have some limited immunity from their mother in the form of antibodies they receive in the milk when they nurse. This immunity only lasts a short while, however, and within 3-4 months of age most maternal antibodies are gone. At 6-8 weeks of age, your kitten should start getting the first vaccines so that your kitty is covered before the maternal antibodies drop to a level that won’t protect him/her from disease. Vaccines are given to kittens repeatedly in order to build their immunity and then usually once a year after that.

The first vaccination, FVR, is sometimes called feline distemper, and includes Feline Panleukopenia, Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calicivirus, and Chlamydia.

Feline Panleukopenia is highly contagious and often fatal. The disease is transmitted by contact with another infected cat, the feces of an infected cat, or a contaminated environment. This virus is very resistant and can survive outside a host in the environment for months. Signs of infection include fever, vomiting, loss of appetite, dehydration, diarrhea, abdominal pain, tremors, and lack of coordination.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis is caused by a herpesvirus, while Feline Calicivirus is caused by a calicivirus. Both of these respiratory infections cause discharge from the nose and eyes, ulcers in the mouth, conjunctivitis, depression, loss of appetite, and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Cats will recover, however, they are highly prone to persistent reinfection and thus can aid in spreading these viruses.

Chlamydia will also cause an upper respiratory infection, usually in tandem with Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis or Feline Calicivirus, thus increasing the severity of the other viruses.

Feline AIDS, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, is NOT contagious to humans. It is similar to human HIV/AIDS in that it attacks the immune system and causes the cat to be open to opportunistic infections and chronic secondary infections. This disease can affect the respiratory and urinary tracts, the gastrointestinal system, and the skin. Cancer may also develop. Feline AIDS is lifelong and a cat can live a long, quality life as long as infections are treated quickly. In fact, most cats remain ‘normal’ for extended periods of time until immunodeficiency occurs due to stress or infection.

Feline Leukemia has a high mortality rate. It causes an immunosuppressive infection that is followed by other diseases, like respiratory disease, diarrhea, or anemia. Cats that survive this usually develop cancer of some kind, hence the name of the disease. Feline Leukemia is transmitted by direct contact with infected cats, contaminated food/water dishes, or contaminated litter boxes. Because the majority of cats with this disease do not survive, it is recommended to test a new kitten as quickly as possible to help prevent the spread of this deadly disease.

Rabies is contagious to humans. It’s a viral disease that can infect almost all mammals. It infects nerve cells and travels through these cells to the brain causing behavioral abnormalities like aggression or withdrawal and also causing incoordination. This disease is ALWAYS fatal. There is no treatment or cure for Rabies. It is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Most small rodents cannot carry the disease. In Michigan, the biggest offender is the skunk, followed by the raccoon and the bat.

So, why all the fecal exams? For that matter, what is a fecal exam? I’ll give you the short and less gross answer. A fecal exam is where we take a sample of your kitten’s poop and spin it down in a centrifuge before looking at it under a microscope. We’re looking for intestinal parasite eggs, like roundworm, hookworm, and tapeworm. The reason we check so many times is because, depending on the life stage of the adult worm, it may or may not be shedding eggs at the time we check. So, we check multiple times to make sure we don’t miss them. If your kitten has them (which most kittens do), we’ll treat with a dewormer. Your kitten may get intestinal parasites again, so most clinics will do at least one fecal exam a year to keep an eye out for them.

Ok, so that’s the wild ride of kitten visits! Keep those questions coming and enjoy the journey with your pets!

Published in: on August 31, 2011 at 4:10 pm  Comments (1)  

New puppy? New kitten? Let’s talk about your first visits to the vet! (Part 1)

So, you’ve got a new puppy or kitten and you’re getting ready to go to the veterinarian for the first time. Congratulations! Let’s go over all the things your first few visits will entail. I’ll start with puppies first and next week we’ll go over kittens.
Puppy visits are generally scheduled every 4 weeks until the puppy is 20 weeks old.
At 8-12 weeks, your puppy’s first visit will entail a full physical examination by the veterinarian. Your pup will then get a Distemper vaccine, have a fecal exam done, and be given a heartworm prevention pill.
At 13-15 weeks, your puppy will get another physical exam, a second Distemper vaccination, a second fecal exam, and a second heartworm prevention pill.
16-19 weeks and there’s another physical examination, another Distemper vaccination, another fecal exam, and another heartworm prevention pill. At this age, your veterinarian may also recommend a Bordetella vaccine and a Lyme vaccine. (Don’t worry, we’ll go over all these vaccines at the end).
We’re at 20-22 weeks and there’s a physical exam, a Distemper/Leptospirosis vaccine, a fecal exam, a Rabies vaccination (good for one year and then subsequent vaccines are good for 3 years), a heartworm prevention pill, and possibly the Bordetella and Lyme vaccines.
At 6-8 months, the veterinarian may recommend a urinalysis, a heartworm check, microchipping, and spay or neuter (some small breeds may need to wait a little longer if they’re too small).
Alright, so one of the first things you may have noticed is that the vaccines are repeated, as are the fecal examinations. Why is that? Well, we’ll talk about the vaccines first. When puppies are born they do have some limited immunity from their mother in the form of antibodies they receive in the milk when they nurse. This immunity only lasts a short while, however, and within 3-4 months of age most maternal antibodies are gone. At 6-8 weeks of age, your puppy should start getting the first vaccines so that your pup is covered before the maternal antibodies drop to a level that won’t protect him/her from disease. Vaccines are given to puppies repeatedly in order to build their immunity and then usually once a year after that, Rabies being an exception.
So, why all the fecal exams? For that matter, what is a fecal exam? I’ll give you the short and less gross answer. A fecal exam is where we take a sample of your pup’s poop and spin it down in a centrifuge before looking at it under a microscope. We’re looking for intestinal parasite eggs, like roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm, and whipworm. The reason we check so many times is because, depending on the life stage of the adult worm, it may or may not be shedding eggs at the time we check. So, we check multiple times to make sure we don’t miss them. If your puppy has them (which most puppies do), we’ll treat with a dewormer. Your dog may get intestinal parasites again, so most clinics will do at least one fecal exam a year to keep an eye out for them.
Let’s talk next about specific vaccinations.
Distemper is a vaccination that covers a number of diseases. It includes distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.
Distemper is a pretty widespread virus with a very high rate of mortality. It infects various different tissues of the body and can cause diarrhea, discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, respiratory disease, loss of appetite, and neurological problems. It’s very easily transmitted.
Canine Hepatitis also infects a wide variety of tissues including the liver, spleen, kidneys, and lungs. Dogs with hepatitis will usually get a fever and have abnormal bleeding. They also have a loss of white blood cells which lowers their immune system. Severe illness can occur, along with severe liver problems. Death is not uncommon.
Parainfluenza is a respiratory disease that is easily transmitted through the air or through direct contact. This disease can lead to pneumonia which can lead to death.
Parvovirus is a very nasty disease that causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting. It’s easily spread because the virus is shed in large amounts in the feces of infected dogs. In severe cases, the dehydration and loss of appetite can lead to death.
Bordetella is a respiratory disease also known as Kennel Cough or Infectious Tracheobronchitis. It’s a persistent disease that manifests with a dry, harsh cough. It is very contagious and is often a problem in kennels, grooming facilities, and breeding facilities.
Lyme disease is the same for dogs as it is for us. They’re lucky enough to have a vaccination against it. It’s transmitted by infected ticks through bites. If you live in an area near a lake or wetlands, you’ll most likely want this vaccination for your dog. If your dog gets Lyme disease, it can be treated, but it can take years to be rid of it. Also, if your dog gets Lyme disease, keep a close eye out on yourself and other family members. Lyme disease is not so ‘easy’ to treat in humans!
Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria. It infects the liver and kidneys and can cause fever, loss of appetite, depression, and generalized pain. It is contagious to humans! Of all the diseases we’ve talked about so far, this one and Rabies are contagious to humans. Infection occurs through exposure to contaminated urine either through direct contact or through contaminated food or water. Don’t let your pup drink out of puddles!
Rabies is also contagious to humans. It’s a viral disease that can infect almost all mammals. It infects nerve cells and travels through these cells to the brain causing behavioral abnormalities like aggression or withdrawal and also causing incoordination. This disease is ALWAYS fatal. There is no treatment or cure for Rabies. It is transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. Most small rodents cannot carry the disease. In Michigan, the biggest offender is the skunk, followed by the raccoon and the bat.
Ok, so that covers puppies! I know I didn’t address heartworm, but that is one nasty bug that needs its own article entirely! Next week we’ll talk about kitten visits. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you have any!

Published in: on August 24, 2011 at 3:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Pet Pantry of Michigan needs your help!

My previous entry was about donating anything you could to a cause you believe in, specifically for this blog those causes are animal related. The Pet Pantry of Michigan needs immediate aid as they are looking at the unfortunate possibility of having to close this September.

Published in: on August 20, 2011 at 10:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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Donations Are Not Just Monetary

We’ve all seen the commercials with the big-eyed dogs and cats sitting miserably behind cage bars seemingly begging us to save them. In this economy, those of us that are moved to help often find ourselves feeling bad because we simply don’t have the money to give. It’s easy to fall into that money ‘trap.’ No rescue organization needs just money. They have many other needs that don’t have to break your bank. Almost all shelters rely on volunteers to walk the dogs, socialize the cats, and help clean the kennels. Sure, monetary donations are great, but helping out understaffed and overworked shelter personnel can be a big help. It allows you to help homeless shelter animals without having to scrape up change from your ash tray.

Don’t have time to spare or a lot of money? Try checking out your local shelter’s website for their grocery list. Every shelter has items they need and use on a daily basis. Here’s an example of a list from a shelter near me:

 Bleach
Powdered laundry soap
Spray cleaner  
(no pine scented please)
              Clay cat litter  (please, no clumping, no silicone)
              Dry dog food
Dry cat food
Natural colored dog chews
White out  
(Liquid and dry)
20# white copy paper
Kitchen and garbage size plastic bags
Cloth
towels
Paper towels
Gift cards
 (Meijer, Walmart, Petsmart, etc.)
Rubbing alcohol
Cotton balls
Q-tips
Liquid hand soap
Bandaids
Dog and cat shampoo
Flea dip

The next time you do your own groceries maybe you can spare an extra 4 or 5 bucks on a few bottles of bleach or some cat litter. If you’re going to buy food, just check with the shelter first to see if they have any preferences.

A lot of times we get the mentality that we have to help in a big way or we can’t help at all. For these rescue organizations any and all help is greatly appreciated and even the smallest donation can be put to good use. Don’t have time or money? Do you have a mouth? A big part of the work these organizations do is education. The next time you hear a friend talking about getting a pet, suggest the local shelter. If you know a friend with a recently acquired pet, recommend that they get that pet spayed or neutered. Anything we can do to help is a step in the right direction and benefits a homeless animal.

Published in: on August 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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