For All Pet Owners
The veterinary team at Vida Veterinary Care believes that providing education to pet owners is the best way to ensure that our patients receive the care they need throughout their lives. We invite you to click on the headers below to learn more about each subject of pet care. If you have questions about anything you read here, please contact us directly for more information.
Everything You Need to Know about Pet Vaccinations
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate: that is the question. We’ve all heard about the need for children’s vaccines, but are pet vaccinations necessary too? To better understand, let’s look at how vaccines work, what benefits they offer, and whether you should vaccinate your pets.
How Do Vaccines Work?
Vaccines help to prevent or reduce the severity of diseases caused by organisms such as bacteria and viruses. Vaccinations work by introducing a weakened or killed form of the organism into the pet’s body to strengthen the immune system into mounting an initial defense. Later, if your pet encounters the live organism — for instance, if it is exposed to another animal who has the disease — then your pet’s body will already be primed and prepared to fight off the organism.
What Are the Benefits of Vaccinating My Pet?
Vaccines protect our pets from contagious diseases, some of which could be debilitating or even fatal. In addition, there are some diseases pet owners can get from their pets such as leptospirosis and rabies. Making sure your pet is current on vaccinations is also important to protect your health.
Are There Any Side Effects to Getting My Pet Vaccinated?
Some pets experience side effects, but most do not. Vaccines could make a pet feel mildly sick for a short period of time. Symptoms may include reduced appetite, swelling at the injection site, depression, or fever. The most common allergic reaction is facial swelling but it can also be lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, or the worst case would be collapse. The best thing to do if you are concerned about your pet post-vaccinations is to call us at (303) 757-5638 or bring your pet in for evaluation.
What Kinds of Vaccinations Are Recommended for My Pet?
Typical vaccines for dogs include rabies, distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus, parainfluenza, and leptospirosis. If your dog goes to daycare, grooming, or boarding, additional vaccines such as Bordetella and influenza may be recommended.
Typical cat vaccines include rabies, rhinotracheitis, calcivirus, and paneleukopenia. If it is a cat that frequents the outdoors, leukemia will also be recommended.
Vaccines which contain a chemical called an “adjuvant” have been correlated with tumor growth at the injection site in cats. Vida Veterinary Care uses only non-adjuvanted vaccines for cats and strives to stay current with the most up to date and safest vaccines available.
Should my pet be vaccinated?
This depends on a number of factors including lifestyle, environment, and type of animal. During the health assessment and consultation we will discuss with you what vaccines are recommended for your pets.
For a personalized recommendation on whether your pet should be vaccinated, make an appointment today at Vida Veterinary Care.
What You Need to Know About Parasites and Your Pet
Understanding the potential problems that common parasites present are a necessary part of owning a pet. By learning about parasites, it will be easier to properly treat pets that become infected.
Heartworms are spread through the bite of a mosquito. The larval heartworms circulate through the body and when mature become lodged in the heart. If left untreated the foot long worms cause damage the heart and lungs and it can be a fatal disease. Luckily there are lot of good options to prevent heartworm infection.
The American Heartworm Society
Roundworm, Hookworm, and Tapeworm
Your pet can be infected with worms by ingesting them. After ingestion many of the worms end up in the digestive tract where they cause damage and illness. It is important to remember these parasites are zoonotic which means owners can get them from their pets. Because of this, it is extremely important to keep your pets on a regular schedule of deworming.
Whipworms are similar to hookworms in that they suck blood from a pet’s intestinal tract. Some pets might end up with an infection that causes blood loss, diarrhea, and weight loss complications.
There is a lot of information out there about pet food these days. The guidelines below are aimed at helping you make an informed decision about what food to feed your pet. It is best to remember there are a lot of sources of advice out there and they are not all equal. We have provided reliable sources of information at the bottom of the page.
- Does the food boast the label “holistic”? Don’t believe it. There is no legal definition of the term under pet food laws, so anyone can claim that their food is “holistic.”
- OK, we hear the word “natural” all the time, but what does it actually mean if a pet food is considered “natural”? According to AAFCO, the term “natural” requires a pet food to consist of only natural ingredients that have not been subjected to chemical synthesis. “Natural” does not mean that a food is also organic.
- So what is organic? Foods that are labeled “organic” must be certified as organic in accordance with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and AAFCO regulations. In order for a product to carry the USDA organic seal, at least 95 percent of its content must be organic by weight. To be organic, the components of a product must be grown with only animal or vegetable fertilizers, such as manure, bone meal compost. etc.
- Are by-products bad? Not really! They may actually be the best thing to feed pets because of the nutrition they contain and because they use parts of animals that would otherwise be thrown away when producing human food. By-products include vegetable oils, chicken fat, and pork, chicken and beef liver – the internal organs of animals used for human consumption that would otherwise be trashed. Feeding by-products = green living.
- ** Formulation method v. feeding trial method: If your pet’s food says something to the effect of “This food is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the Association Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)….” rather than “Animal feeding test using AAFCO procedures substantiate that this food provides complete and balanced nutrition….”, it means that the food did not undergo actual feeding or digestibility trials. The formulation method is quicker and cheaper, but does not document the effect on animals. **
- Ingredients are listed in descending order by their predominance by weight. However, weight values are not included in the ingredient statement, meaning that the listed ingredients could vary by weight only .1 percent, or by 20 percent.
- Pet foods that are labeled “dinner,” “platter,” “entrée,” “formula,” etc. are required to include only 25 percent of the main ingredient (chicken dinner, beef entrée, etc.) If you purchase a can of cat food labeled as “seafood entrée,” the manufacturer is required to include only 25 percent seafood in the product.
- If a label includes the phrase “with ingredient X,” the pet food is required to contain only 3 percent of ingredient X (chicken, beef, seafood, etc.)
- The only requirement for including the word “flavor” on a pet food package? It must be “recognized by the pet.”
Learn more about pet food label requirements from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
Useful websites with more information:
Pet Travel Tips
Traveling with pets can be stressful, not only for you but also for your animal.
For all transport: Make sure your pet is up to date on all required vaccinations.
Travel by car: For many pet owners and their pets, especially dogs, traveling short journeys by car is a fun experience. However, longer journeys require careful planning if you want it to be a stress-free journey. Here are a few suggestions.
- Get your pet prepared for a long journey by taking him on shorter car rides first.
- Limit food intake. Limit the amount of food you give your pet either immediately before or during a car journey. Also, stick to their regular food and avoid the temptation to drop scraps of your own food to them.
- Stay hydrated. Stop frequently for water breaks.
- Plenty of stops. Along with water breaks, be sure you stop frequently to give your pet plenty of bathroom and exercise breaks.
- Safe restraints. Pets shouldn’t be allowed to roam free in any form of transport. Make sure they are comfortably restrained using either pet seat belts, travel crates, or a pet car seat.
- Travel by air: Traveling by air incurs some extra preparations. Depending on the airline, pets can travel either as a ticketed passenger, in the cabin, or booked as cargo.
- Call the airline and get specific recommendations and requirements for travel with a pet as this can differ between airlines. Depending on the time of year, there are temperature requirements for dogs in cargo that need to be followed and a temperature acclimatization form signed off on by the veterinarian.
- Try to avoid too many connections.
- Pets can travel in cabin as long as their crate is small enough to store under the seat. Crates going into the cargo should be comfortable with room for the animal to stand, sit, and turn around in.
Understanding Subcutaneous Fluids and Your Pet
Subcutaneous fluids are fluids administered under the skin, which are then absorbed into the body. Using subcutaneous fluids is beneficial to pets for multiple reasons such as chronic kidney disease.
Administering SQ Fluids
- The fluids should be completely clear. If they’re cloudy, they could be contaminated and should be discarded.
- If it is a new bag of fluids, the dripset (or the tube that is inserted into the bag of fluids) needs to be inserted.
- Some animals do better if the fluids are warmed by soaking the bag in warm water or putting the bag in the microwave for about 10 seconds. Pinch a fold of skin on your pet’s back near the shoulders and gently hold it up. Using your free hand, insert the needle in the direction your pet is facing, parallel with his body. Release the skin and open the valve of the dripset.
- When the required amount of fluid is inserted, pull the needle straight out and apply pressure to the needle location in the skin to avoid leaking. Your pet can be released and allowed to return to its daily routine.
- When treating your pet with any form of medication, it’s important to always follow your veterinarian’s instructions.
To learn more or if you have any questions about subcutaneous fluids, contact us at the Vida Veterinary Care. We will be happy to address your concerns.
Why Veterinarians Recommend Blood Work
Veterinarians suggest blood work for a wide range of reasons. Blood work is not only suggested for older dogs and cats that might have health conditions, but also for young pets who seem perfectly healthy.
Blood testing in younger dogs and cats is a wonderful tool to obtain baseline data for the future. Having an understanding of the pet’s common readings will make it easier to determine if something is abnormal in the future. Older pets often end up with health conditions that require blood work to detect. When a baseline is already established, catching minor abnormalities is easier and the vet is able to find diseases much faster.
Pets do not always show illness on the surface. A dog or cat might not end up with a fever or noticeable symptoms until late in the stage of disease. Blood tests are performed to find any potential health conditions that the pet might have without symptoms or to confirm a suspected diagnosis based on history and physical findings.
Blood testing is an important part of caring for a pet. Following the advice of a veterinarian will ensure pets receive the best possible care. Call us for more information about blood testing.