Why vaccinate? Vaccines protect against contagious and potentially life threatening diseases such as Rabies. Vaccines are a cost effective ways to help prevent diseases that can otherwise cost a considerable amount for treatment or that are not treatable. Not only do some of the vaccines, such as the Rabies vaccine, protect your pet but they also protect you and your family as Rabies is a disease that can be transmitted to humans and is not treatable. Vaccines do not guarantee that an animal is fully protected against a given disease however; vaccinations have proven to be the simplest, safest and most effective means of preventing a number of diseases in pets. How do vaccines work? Vaccines contain viruses or bacteria that have been modified so that they will not cause disease. Vaccines trigger an immune response in your pet which prepares them to fight future infections by building up antibodies against the bacteria or virus. When the body is exposed to the actual disease the immune system is then able to react quickly to prevent the disease causing agent from causing disease or to make the impact of the disease less serious. Which pets should be vaccinated? All healthy pets should be vaccinated. Vaccines are only administered to healthy animals. If your pet is already ill or is receiving certain drugs, its immune system may not be able to respond to the vaccine properly and vaccinating it may overwhelm its immune system. For that reason, prior to vaccinating your pet, your veterinarian will ask you about your pet’s medical history and perform a complete physical examination. Even indoor animals should be vaccinated as some of the diseases are transmitted through the air and can come in an open window. In addition there is always the chance that your pet could sneak out and come into contact with other pets or wildlife. Boarding kennels, dog parks and grooming salons are all areas where your pet is likely to be exposed to contagious diseases. When to vaccinate? Puppies and kittens require a series of vaccinations during their first four months of life. Nursing pups and kittens receive antibodies (immunity) from their mother’s milk which helps protect them from disease during their first months of life. These same antibodies can prevent a vaccine from being totally effective. Therefore as the antibodies provided from the mother is wearing off your pet needs a series of vaccines spread over a period of 6 to 16 weeks of age, to provide your pet with the best possible protection as they are very susceptible to disease during this time. It is very important that you follow the vaccination schedule provided by your veterinarian. Missing a vaccine booster or being more than a few days late could put your pet at risk of contracting disease. Puppies and kittens should not be exposed to unvaccinated dogs and cats, sick dogs and cats, or places where there are a lot of other animals (off leash dog parks etc.) until they have completed their puppy or kitten series of vaccinations. Once puppies and kittens are fully vaccinated they require annual vaccine boosters in order to have the highest level of protection against the diseases we are most concerned about. The protection provided by each vaccine gradually declines over time and booster vaccines ensure that they will have ongoing immunity. The duration of immunity for each vaccine is not currently known. Until more is known about the duration of immunity vaccines are delivered annually to ensure the highest level of protection. Blood tests are available to check titre levels for immunity to the different diseases we vaccinate for as each animals immune system is different. If you are interested in vaccine titres discuss this with your veterinarian at the time of your annual physical exam. In addition to having regular vaccinations, it is extremely important that your pet has an annual physical examination. By performing a yearly physical examination, your veterinarian can detect early signs of organ dysfunction and illness. Early diagnosis allows for early treatment and a longer life of improved quality for your pet. Which vaccines should my pet receive? Core Vaccines–These vaccines are generally recommended for all pets of their species to protect against diseases that are more serious or potentially fatal. These diseases are found throughout North America and are easily transmitted. Noncore Vaccines-These vaccines are reserved for pets at specific risk for infection due to exposure or lifestyle. Dogs Core: Non-core: • Distemper • Kennel Cough • Hepatitis • Lyme Disease • Leptospirosis • Leptospirosis • Rabies • Giardia
What are vaccine reactions? Although uncommon, vaccine reactions can and do occur. Some of these reactions are mild and consist of only some discomfort at the injection site, lethargy, or anorexia which will only last a few days. Some reactions can be more severe and can present as an allergic reaction (swollen face, trouble breathing etc.) which can can be fatal. This can happen minutes or hours after vaccination. If you think your pet is having a severe vaccine reaction contact your veterinarian immediately. If your pet has reacted to a vaccine in the past inform your veterinarian prior to vaccination so they can be pre-treated with an antihistamine or have their vaccines split so that a reaction does not occur. In rare instances, vaccines can result in a tumor developing at the vaccination site or diseases that affect the blood, skin, joints, or nervous system. Contact your veterinarian for more information.
People considering pet insurance should assess their financial situation and consider their ability to meet unexpected expenses that may arise for veterinary care. Some people may be able to deal with these expenses as they arise through savings they already have, by putting it on a credit card, or by using medical payment card options. Some people may be able to budget and set aside money each month for pet emergencies and preventative health care. Others prefer protecting themselves through pet health insurance policies as emergencies or medical conditions can arise at any time and enough money may not have been saved by the time veterinary medical attention is required. Claresholm Veterinary Services is not associated with any pet health insurance company. We do however have information on some of the companies that offer pet insurance and can offer some advice. For those considering pet health insurance:
Be sure you understand what the policy covers. Some policies cover some preventative care, such as vaccinations, but there may be additional cost for this coverage.
Understand the exclusions such as pre-existing, hereditary, and breed specific conditions.
Understand what the deductible and co-pay requirements are. Some policies pay the actual incurred expenses and others pay a set amount for fees.
Be sure you understand how expenses will be reimbursed.
Ask whether or not the policy allows you to seek care from a veterinarian of your own choice.
Visit the websites of the Pet Insurance providers below:
Animal feces can carry parasite ova (eggs) capable of infecting humans, so deworming can be beneficial to both the animal and the owner. Parasitic infestations can cause severe illness, decreased weight gain, lethargy, poor coat and skin irritation, intestinal complications and organ damage. Clinical signs are not always present, so a fecal float can be helpful in determining if parasitic eggs are present in the feces. Puppies, kittens and their moms should be dewormed several times in the first few months of life. Adult dogs and cats need to be dewormed periodically depending on their exposure to parasitic vectors, for example, outdoor animals usually need to be dewormed more frequently than indoor animals. Talk to one of our veterinarians to determine how often your pet should be dewormed and which products should be used based on their lifestyle and risk category. Don’t forget there are external parasites that can affect your pet as well. There are many forms of preventative treatments to help protect your pet from fleas, ticks, heartworm and ear mites.
Obesity is a growing concern in our pet population. Just as with people, overweight pets are at an increased risk for a number of health problems including: • Insulin resistance, type II diabetes • Osteoarthritis • Cranial cruciate ligament injury • Increased blood pressure (leading to heart disease) • Increased anesthetic/surgical risk • Decreased immune function • Possible increased risk of cancer • Decreased quality of life • Decreased life expectancy If you think your cat or dog has some weight issues, we would love to assist you with helping them shed those extra pounds! We have created “Pet Fit!” a weight loss program for our furry friends that will provide you with valuable information about your pet’s dietary needs, exercise ideas, food and treat choices and we offer you direct support through regular check-ins, weight monitoring and advice. With a small commitment of time and energy you can absolutely improve your pets quality of life, and will likely also extend their lifespan! Sudden weight gain in pets can be the result of an underlying health problem, such as endocrine disease. If weight gain is accompanied by other clinical signs such as a change in eating or drinking habits, decreasing energy, changes in skin or hair coat etc., consider having a routine checkup to rule out underlying health problems before starting your pet on a weight loss program. If you are interested in joining the Pet Fit program please call to book a consultation.
Denatal Care in Dogs and Cats
One thing that we can do to help keep our pets happy and healthy is to take care of their teeth. We look after our own teeth on a daily basis and our animals deserve the same care and attention! Starting preventative dental care in your puppy or kitten can help you build a routine early on and save a lot of problems down the road. Brushing teeth is a simple, effective way to disturb the buildup of plaque. Plaque is a colourless film that covers the teeth, it contains harmful bacteria which can cause infection in the gums and teeth which are very painful. Though toothpaste is not required when brushing your pet’s teeth, if you do choose to use it, make sure you only use pastes that are labeled for use in animals. NEVER use human toothpaste. There are also very effective dental treats and foods which help to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar Creating a routine with your pet that involves a combination of brushing, diets and treats can help keep their mouths happy and pain free a lot longer than if you choose to do nothing. Have your pets teeth checked annually by your veterinarian; or sooner if you notice any problems. Most animals do not exhibit any signs that they have painful mouths. Some signs you can watch for are pawing at their face, eating hard food on only one side of their mouth, refusing to eat hard food, weight loss, depression, strong odor coming from the mouth, swelling or discharge around the mouth or eyes. Your vet may recommend a dental cleaning if they see a buildup of tartar, gingivitis or other signs of infection or discomfort in your pet. A dental cleaning for pets involves them being put under anesthetic to have a thorough cleaning and dental x-rays. X-rays allow the veterinarian to asses tooth root health that is not visible by just looking at the teeth. Extractions may be required to help your pet have a pain free mouth and to keep the other teeth healthy. Dental disease not only causes chronic pain in your pets, it can also lead to other serious health problems if left untreated. Bacteria from the mouth can travel through the bloodstream causing serious problems in other areas of the body. Heart, kidney and liver disease are just a few of the secondary problems that can be associated with dental disease. Having regular dental cleanings can not only help your pet live without pain, they can also extend the life of your pet dramatically. Call us today to book an appointment to have your pet’s teeth examined.
Pet Food Labels
Have you ever wondered what all the words and percentages mean on a pet food label? Can you believe words such as Holistic, Human grade and organic? The pet food industry has become a multimillion dollar business; everyone wants a piece of the pie. When choosing a diet for your pet, it is important to understand what you are reading. The following is a list of a few items you may see on pet food labels. Guaranteed Analysis: This part of a pet food label contains the percentages of the ingredients in the food. Percentage of protein, fat, carbohydrates, etc. According to AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials) standards, it is only required to print the minimum requirements of such percentages. For example, if a label states 11% fat, is it really only 11% or is it a lot more? The “Guaranteed Analysis” of the contents of a bag of food is a poor indicator of the food’s nutritional value. Although the analysis lists the basic ingredients and their amounts, the quality of an ingredient is as important as the quantity. Meat By-Products: These are clean parts of slaughtered animals, not including meat. These include lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, liver, blood, bone, fatty tissue, and stomach and intestines (cleaned of their contents). It does not include hair, horns, teeth or hooves. Poultry By-Products: These are clean parts of slaughtered poultry, such as, heads, feet, and internal organs (heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and intestines). It does not include feathers. AAFCO standards can sometimes be misleading. The first standard states “is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for….” This means the food was tested in the laboratory and was found to have the recommended amounts of protein, fat, etc. But has it been tested on animals? Animal feeding tests using AAFCO’s procedures substantiate that this product provides complete and balanced nutrition for…. For a pet food label to be able to state this, it had to be tested on a population of animals and shown to provide adequate nutrition. When choosing a pet food, be sure the label says “Animal-feeding tests using AAFCO procedure”. This way, you can be sure that the food has been tested for palatability (taste) and proper nutrition on animals and not just made in a laboratory somewhere. “Natural” has been legally defined and requires pet food to consist of only natural ingredients without chemical alterations, except for vitamins, minerals and other trace nutrients. “Organic” has been legally defined for human foods by the USDA. Pet food companies can currently use the term organic if they follow the same rules as applied to human foods. NOTE: Natural and Organic are not interchangeable terms. “Holistic” has no legal definition and is unregulated with regard to pet food. Any pet food could use the term holistic in marketing their product. “Human Grade” is not a term that is permitted to be used on pet food labels unless the food is made in a plant that is approved for manufacturing human food. There are very few pet foods that are labeled human grade, however, this regulation does not apply to advertising and websites, so some pet food companies will put “human grade” ingredients in their products. “All Life Stage Diet” This sounds great right? You can buy one food and feed it to your pet for its entire life! Unfortunately an All Life Stage Diet is suitable only for adult animals. They are not formulated for proper nutrition in growing pets. As in human health, our nutritional needs change as we age, so do our pets nutritional needs. It is important to reassess nutritional needs as your pet grows and ages. The “All Life Stage Diet” may have ingredients at higher percentages that can be detrimental to our senior pets. Don’t be fooled by these diets. “Corn”: For many years the word corn in any diet has been considered filler and many people stray away from diets that list this as one of the top ingredients. The truth about corn is that it is actually a great carbohydrate that is very economical to use in pet foods. When corn has been ground down, it is very easy to digest. Have you ever wondered how your dog or cat can leave you so many presents in the litter box or back yard? This is due to poor digestibility of their food. Buying less expensive food usually means poor digestibility. As a result, you spend more money and have more to clean up from your pets. Take all your confusion away and come in to talk to us about your pets nutritional needs! We are happy to discuss any diet you are looking at feeding your animal.
• 2-Way = Modified Live Rhino (EHV 1/4) and Influenza (EIV) • 3-Way = Eastern and Western Encephalitis, Tetanus • 4-Way = Eastern and Western Encephalitis, Tetanus, West Nile Virus • WNV=West Nile Virus • Strangles Vaccine = Streptococcus equi. subsp. equi • Killed Rhino = EHV1 (prevents EHV induced abortion/respiratory disease)- “Pneumabort” * Do not give modified live Rhino or Influenza to pregnant mares or to horses in contact with pregnant mares. Use only killed vaccines in these situations. High Risk Horses: These are horses which are kept in high traffic facilities (horses brought on and off the property continually), show horses which travel to events, breeding farms, etc. Low Risk Horses: These are horses which don’t travel off the property, kept on a low traffic property, and have minimal contact with other horses which are of high risk status Diseases in Horses Potomac Horse Fever This tick transmitted disease causes severe diarrhea, which can lead to death if left untreated. There is seasonal incidence with a peak in July and August. It occurs mainly in Ontario, the United States and Alberta (especially around the Red Deer River and the foothills region). Veterinarians recommend that horses travelling into these areas are vaccinated (if possible) two weeks prior to departure. Strangles Also known as Equine Distemper, Strangles is a highly contagious disease causing coughing, nasal discharge, fever, depression and thick walled abscesses. Young horses aged 1 to 5 years old, are most commonly affected especially if they are in a high risk, exposure situation (travelling, stress, shows, rodeos or crowded corrals for instance). Treatment requires rest in a warm, dry environment for at least 10 days as well as hot-packing abscesses. If left untreated, the infection may spread throughout the body becoming “bastard strangles” which may lead to death in severe cases. Vaccination is recommended for horses entering high risk situations. Suspect horses should be quarantined until final diagnosis is made. Rhinopneumonitis This herpes virus may come in any of the following three forms:
Respiratory Form – this is the most common form. Symptoms include depression, coughing, and yellow nasal discharge and is most common in younger horses.
Abortion Form – this is usually a problem in unvaccinated horse and usually causes the mare to abort in the last three months of pregnancy.
Paralytic Form – this is the least common, but the most severe form. It results in muscle weakness or partial paralysis.
Influenza Commonly referred to as the “flu”. This virus causes many flu like symptoms such as fever, depression, hacking cough and runny nose similar to Rhinopneumonitis. These symptoms can be treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories but the virus itself cannot be cured. As with most viruses, the risk of contracting it is increase with more exposure to other horses. Vaccinations are recommended for all horses not living in a controlled environment. Eastern & Western Encephalomyelitis Also known as “Sleeping Sickness” this disease is a mosquito borne virus that affects the central nervous system. Symptoms may begin as depression, fever, and lack of coordination but, may often deteriorate to permanent brain damage. With good supportive therapy, recovery is possible, but costly. Tetanus This bacterial infection is contracted mainly through wounds and dirty needles. The affected horse will often become reluctant to eat off the ground and its’ third eyelid may begin to cover the eyeball. The disease progresses to muscle stiffness and spasms. The tail extends outward with the head and ears very erect. Once the horse collapses, death is very possible. Rabies Rabies virus is rare in horses and is not often vaccinated. Although rare, fatality is certain if an unimmunized horse contracts rabies. The virus is contracted mainly through bites from other infected animals. If the horse becomes infected, some of the symptoms that may occur are excitability, viciousness, self-mutilation, tremors and muscle spasms. In the final stages of rabies, one will note difficulty swallowing progressing to paralysis, convulsions and death. West Nile Virus West Nile is most commonly spread by mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds but can also be transmitted by ticks. Symptoms of horses infected with this virus may include ataxia, depression, fever, head pressing or tilt, impaired vision, inability to swallow, decreased appetite, muscle weakness or twitching, partial paralysis, coma and death. Many of the symptoms are similar to those seen in rabies, but West Nile Virus can usually be confirmed with blood test. There is no cure for the virus so supportive therapy to reduce the severity of symptoms is the only treatment course.
Come in and talk with our team about your horses vaccine needs and we can help you determine a suitable vaccine schedule depending on your horses risk factors.
In the veterinary profession, we are starting to see some parasite resistance to the dewormers we have for horses. Our current recommendation is to perform a fecal examination in the fall or spring to determine if your horse is shedding a high number of parasites and needs to be dewormed. We are finding that many horses are being ‘over-dewormed’ and MOST horses are low shedders and do not need to be dewormed. If your horse is determined to be shedding a low number of parasites, they do not need to be dewormed. A recheck fecal examination can be performed in the spring/fall to determine then if deworming needs to be done at that time. If your horse is a high shedder of parasites, then they would need to be dewormed. If you are interested in having a fecal exam performed bring in one fresh fecal ball (within 24hours of collection) per horse stored in a ziploc bag- labelled with the horse’s name. Store in the refrigerator until it can be brought in to the vet clinic. The cost of the fecal exam is approximately the same cost as a dewormer. For those owners that are not interested in the above we recommend coming in to discuss a personalized deworming schedule with our team.
The front teeth, called incisors, are meant to shear off grass and other forage. The back teeth, called molars, are designed to grind food into a digestible form. Because your horse uses its molars to grind food, theses teeth erupt continuously over the horse’s lifetime. This helps to ensure they have plenty of grinding ability as they mature. However, because of the continuous growth, minor problems in the mouth can become more pronounced over time. It is important for a horse’s mouth to have proper alignment to maintain their health as they age. A horse’s incisors also continue to erupt throughout their lifetime. In natural grazing environments, they will wear these teeth down as they tear their feed. Problems can arise in horses that live in stalls and are not using their incisors to tear grass and other forage. If a horse’s incisors become too overgrown, they can prevent the molars from contacting one another, therefore, compromising its ability to grind feed. Horses have two sets of teeth in their lifetime. The baby teeth, called caps, should all be replaced by permanent teeth by about 5 years of age. A lot of horses also have “wolf” teeth. These are small teeth that sit just in front of the molars on the upper jaw. These teeth are often removed as they can interfere with the seating of the bit. Horses should be examined by a veterinarian yearly to determine if they require their teeth to be floated. Horses may wear their teeth down so they have sharp points on the edges, ramps or ridges which need to be manually corrected to maintain their ability to properly grind their feed. These problems can cause ulcerations in the mouth which are incredibly painful for your horse. Signs that your horse may have dental problems are: Loss of weight Poor hair coat Fighting the bit Sensitive mouth Manure contains whole grains or long stems Eating hay before grain, picking at feed Packing cheeks, dropping feed, head tilting Discharge from nose and mouth Chronic colic Choking
A male horse needs to have his sheath and penis cleaned periodically. Most breeding stallions are probably washed enough during the breeding season; however, pasture bred stallions and geldings could easily be ignored. An accumulation of dirt and excretions called smegma builds up in the area, and must be removed. Mares experience the same afflictions between their udders. One of the first signs you may see if your horse has dirty genitals is rubbing. There can be several other reasons for tail rubbing (worms, lice, etc.), but a dirty udder or sheath should be high on your list of suspects. With routine genital cleaning you won’t need to wait for these symptoms. A swollen, inflamed and painful sheath is another sign you might see. Male horses should be cleaned thoroughly at least once a year, and some problem horses even as often as every 4 months. When cleaning the sheath, it is important to know that there is a pouch in the end of the penis, called the diverticulum, that needs to be cleaned out each time the sheath and penis are washed. Usually the pouch will contain one or more small lumps, or beans, or smegma. Beans are tan in colour and some can be as large as a walnut, obstructing the flow of urine through the urethra of the penis. Some horses may require sedation for this procedure, but many can be done at home yourself. We are happy to teach you how to perform a proper sheath clean. Call to book an appointment to keep your horse happy and healthy.