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Annual Health Checks & Vaccinations

Before your pet is vaccinated, one of our vets will perform a thorough health check and physical examination. Annual health checks are a very important part of your dog or cat’s healthcare program. During this 15 – 20 minute appointment we will discuss any concerns you have regarding your pet’s health and any other problems that we may find during the examination. We can then advise you on what may require attention either in the immediate future or over the long term.

What your vet will check during an examination;

Eyes

  • Check for conjunctivitis/ discharge
  • Cataracts
  • Eyelid/ eyelash problems
  • Ulcers
  • Eyelid tumours

Ears

  • Check for signs of infection or parasites (mites)
  • Fly nuisance or skin disease on ears (skin cancers – cats)

Skin

  • Check for hair loss, itchiness, infection, allergies, parasites, tumours

Lymph nodes/ glands

  • Check for any enlargement or tenderness
  • Check thyroid size in cats

Legs

  • Check for lamenesses
  • Nail and pad problems
  • Joint problems and arthritis

Anus

  • Check temperature
  • Check for anal gland problems, skin disease, tumours, hernias.

Nose

  • Check for any nasal discharge
  • Sneezing or irritation
  • Asymmetrical shape
  • Tumours such as squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer)
  • Skin disease of the nose

Mouth

  • Check for signs of tooth and gum disease
  • Oral ulceration or tumours
  • Tongue disease
  • Soft palate problems

Genitals

  • Check testicles for signs of inflammation or tumours
  • Check prostate for all entire male dogs
  • Check for vaginal discharge in females
  • Check mammary glands in female dogs for evidence of lumps/ cancer

Chest

  • Heart rate and rhythm, check for any murmurs
  • Lung sounds - check for respiratory disease

Abdomen

  • Check for any pain/ discomfort
  • Any abnormal masses in the abdomen
  • Check kidney size and shape in cats

Spine

  • Check for back and neck pain

General body condition

  • Loss or gain of weight and body condition

Our fantastic health care team is here to provide your pets with the highest quality of care.

Vaccinations

Vaccination is crucial for the protection of your dog or cat to some of the most serious diseases in our community. There are no specific treatments for many of the viruses we vaccinate against so prevention is the key. Vaccines contain deactivated viruses (or in some cases bacteria) which then stimulate the body’s immune system to produce protective antibodies in the blood, creating immunity. When your pet is exposed to the disease he/ she is better able to fight off the infection.

At our hospital we routinely vaccinate against 7 infectious agents.

Parvovirus

We still see many cases of very sick parvovirus infected dogs in our area so vaccination for this virus is crucial. Parvo is a very contagious disease that is spread through contact with an infected animal and especially via it’s droppings. The virus can survive in the environment for long periods and can be easily spread for example by shoes, clothing, dog’s hair or feet – so even puppies kept inside or away from other dogs are still at risk. Dogs of all ages can be affected but it is often more fatal in younger animals. An infection with parvovirus causes severe inflammation of the intestinal lining leading to vomiting, loss of appetite, profuse foul smelling bloody diarrhea, weight loss, abdominal pain and can result in death despite intensive care treatment. We do manage to save 80% of treated cases but this can involve extended hospital stays on IV fluids and other medications. Prevention is better than cure!

Distemper

A viral disease that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems. The disease is spread by direct contact with infected bodily fluids such as saliva or urine which become airborne and are inhaled by an unvaccinated dog. The first signs of infection are usually runny eyes and nose, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea. After several weeks nervous signs such as seizures can develop. Distemper is not common now thanks to vaccination programs but pockets of infection still exist.

Infectious Canine Hepatitis

A very contagious virus that attacks mainly the liver but can also affect the kidneys, eyes and respiratory tract. It is spread by contact with infected urine, faeces or saliva. Signs may include fever, loss of appetite vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Infectious Canine Tracheobronchitis (Canine Cough or Kennel Cough)

This is a highly contagious upper respiratory disease passed from dog to dog by coughing or sneezing or direct nose to nose contact. Although infection is usually associated with places where dogs mix with other dogs (such as in boarding kennels, at grooming salons, dog shows, the pound etc.) it can also be caught from sniffing infected secretions on communal areas such as footpaths. Signs usually consist of a dry hacking cough which can cause retching, fatigue and loss of appetite. In some cases the disease may progress to pneumonia. Dogs usually recover fully but this may take up to 3 weeks and your dog may continue to spread the infection for up to 14 weeks. The main infectious agents are the canine Parainfluenza virus and the bacteria Bordatella Bronchiseptica.

Leptospirosis

A bacterial infection that primarily affects the liver and kidneys and is spread through contact with infected urine. Severe cases can be fatal or cause permanent kidney damage.

Coronavirus

A common virus affecting dogs of all ages but puppies being particularly susceptible. Coronavirus causes diarrhoea and other digestive system upsets. It has been shown to increase the severity of other diseases such as parvovirus. We recommend that pups have an initial course of at least 3 vaccinations. Because of the high risk of parvovirus in our area, a vaccine containing parvo is recommended to be given at 14 weeks of age or older.

1st Vaccination
6 - 8 weeks
2nd Vaccination
9 - 11 weeks
3rd Vaccination
12 - 15 weeks

An extra parvo vaccine can be given at 14 weeks if the pup was under 8 weeks at first vaccination.

Vaccines should be given 2 – 4 weeks apart during the initial course.

 

A full C7 vaccination is given again in 12 months time and then yearly boosters are required. A new vaccine is now available which gives protection against parvovirus, hepatitis and distemper virus for 3 years so we can vaccinate every 3 years for these viruses but the remaining diseases still require yearly boosters.

Behavioural problems are one of the most common reasons for pets being euthanased or rehomed. The crucial period for pups to be socialised is between 3 and 12 weeks of age. The vaccination regime used by our practice protects pups from disease during this important time so they can be safely socialised with other puppies, animals and humans. Puppy Preschool is a great way to do this.

The respiratory vaccines may sometimes not last a full 12 months. If you are planning to board your dog, vaccination for kennel cough should be boostered within 6 months of boarding for best protection.

A very small number of animals may fail to respond to vaccination or have a vaccination reaction (reactions can be treated by your vet).

At our hospital we routinely vaccinate against 5 diseases (given as one injection) and offer any cat with outdoor access the additional option to have the Feline Aids vaccine.

The ‘Cat Flu’ or Feline Upper Respiratory Tract Complex

Most of the cases of ‘Cat Flu’ that we see are caused by one or a combination of the following very contagious viruses;

  • Feline Rhinotracheitis (Herpes virus)
  • Calici virus

Other causes may include Chlamydia, Mycoplasma and Bordatella.

The ‘Cat Flu’ tends to affect the nasal and sinus passages, mouth, upper airways and the eyes. Signs depend on which virus (and secondary bacteria) is causing the infection as well as the age of the cat and strength of its immune system. Common symptoms include nasal discharge and congestion, sneezing, conjunctivitis – sometimes with corneal ulcers, drooling, mouth ulcerations and gum inflammation, loss of appetite, fever, pneumonia and sometimes joint and muscle pain.

Infection usually occurs through contact with an infected cat (via eye and nasal discharges) but can also be spread through contaminated food, bowls, bedding, hands etc

As there is no specific cure or antidote, the ‘Cat Flu’ is treated with supportive therapy. This involves keeping up water and food intake, controlling secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics and treating conjunctivitis and eye ulcerations. In severe cases IV fluids and supplemental oxygen are sometimes required.

Many cats that recover from the ‘Flu’ will become chronic carriers – this means that they appear to be healthy until stressed (boarding, moving house, becoming sick with another illness) when they will start to shed large amounts of virus in secretions from their mouth and nose. Some cats never fully recover and show signs of chronic snuffling.

Vaccination is the most important way of protecting against this disease. Kittens need a series of usually 3 but sometimes 2 vaccines (depending on age when first vaccinated) and adult cats require a vaccine each year to keep up immunity.

Vaccination is unfortunately not 100% effective but does dramatically decrease the risk of infection and severity of signs.

Panleukopaenia (Feline Enteritis)

This is a very contagious viral disease of cats and kittens, similar to the one that causes parvovirus in dogs. It usually causes diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, loss of appetite, low white blood cell counts and sometimes seizures. In young cats (3 – 5mths old) this disease can be fatal. Pregnant cats may have stillborn kittens or kittens born with tremors, incoordination and sight problems. Spread of infection is usually via the urine or faeces of an infected cat and the virus can live in the environment for several years. Spread can also be via contaminated items – food and water bowls, bedding, clothing etc or passed from a mother to her unborn kittens.

Regular vaccination is the most important way of preventing infection.

Chlamydia (Feline Chlamydiosis)

This is quite a common bacterial infection that causes flu like signs including sneezing, clear nasal discharge and runny eyes/ conjunctivitis. It can also cause pneumonia and Fading Kitten syndrome. Spread is usually by close contact with an infected cat. Chlamydia can be treated with a course of appropriate antibiotics but can be very uncomfortable for your cat/ kitten while they are infected.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

This virus can cause immunodeficiency (a weak immune system) and number of cancers including leukemia. Infected cats may appear normal for a long period of time, not showing signs of illness for sometimes months to years.

FeLV can cause many different signs including weight loss, fever, increased incidence of other illnesses (chronic respiratory, mouth or skin disease), anemia, gastroenteritis, neurological problems, cancers and leukemias.

Spread of disease is mainly via nose to nose contact, cat to cat grooming, and sharing of food and water bowls. Other sources include contaminated litter trays, being bitten by an infected cat and spread from mother to kittens via the placenta or milk.

Multi cat households appear to have the greatest risk of infection.

Some cats can completely clear the infection after being exposed but around 30% become persistently infected. The vaccine is not 100% effective but is recommended, particularly if your cat has access to other cats, goes outside or is boarded.

We can do a quick blood test to check whether or not your cat may have Feline Leukemia Virus.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV or Feline AIDS)

This virus attacks the immune system reducing the cat’s ability to fight off other infections and cancers, much like the human virus HIV. Humans are not at risk from the feline virus as it is species specific (only affects cats).

The virus is shed in the saliva so is usually spread from one cat to another via a bite wound, putting free roaming cats at higher risk of infection. Clinical signs of disease are diverse but can include; lethargy, loss of appetite, fevers, swollen glands and weight loss (as well as many other signs affecting specific parts of the body; oral infections, respiratory disease, gastroenteritis, anemia, neurological disease, various cancers). There is no ‘cure’ but infected cats can be given various treatments depending on their clinical signs.

We highly recommend FIV testing and vaccinating your cat if it is not 100% indoors and particularly if it has suffered a bite wound.

All of these diseases (with the exception of FIV) can be protected against by using an F5 vaccine (all in the one injection). For any cat with access to outdoors the FIV injection should also be given.

As a guide for the initial kitten vaccination course;

 

1st Vaccination
6-8 weeks (usually an F4)
2nd Vaccination
9-11 weeks (F5 or F6)
3rd Vaccination
12 -15 weeks (F5 or F6)

A final FIV injection will be required on its own for owners who have elected to cover for FIV.

Vaccines should be given 2 – 4 weeks apart during the initial course.

 

A full F5 or F6 (with FIV) vaccination is given again in 12 months time and then yearly boosters are required.

A very small number of animals may fail to respond to vaccination or have a vaccination reaction (reactions can be treated by your vet).

Calicivirus or Haemorrhagic Viral Disease

This is a fatal and incurable disease introduced to Australia to keep wild rabbit populations under control. The virus infects many organs including the lungs, the bowel and the liver. It causes acute hepatitis and widespread haemorrhage leading rapidly to death. Rabbits usually become very quiet and stop eating or drinking before quietly passing away within 30 hours of infection.

There is no treatment for this disease.

The virus is spread either by direct contact with flying insects such as mosquitoes, via direct contact with infected wild rabbits or sometimes via contaminated food or other objects.

To minimize risk of infection it is best to keep your bunny in an insect proof enclosure, avoid any contact with wild rabbits, quarantine new rabbits for 7 days before introducing them to others, maintain good hutch hygiene and most importantly have your rabbit vaccinated every year.

Only one dose of vaccine is required from the age of 10 – 12 weeks – after this a yearly vaccine is required to keep up immunity. We will give you rabbit a thorough annual health check at this time.