Q: Does my pet need heartworm protection?
A: Heartworm is a parasite that is transmitted to pets through the bite of an infected mosquito and can be serious, however prevention is easy. We are fortunate to have a low incidence of heartworm disease in Vancouver. Some areas of B.C., including the Okanogan, are endemic. If you are travelling with your pet please check with us about where you are going and if heartworm is a concern in those areas.
Q: How often should I vaccinate my pet?
A: We recommend doing vaccinations at around 8 and 12 weeks for kittens, and around 8, 12 and 16 weeks for puppies. The young pets are given the first round of vaccines, then after 4 weeks they are given a ‘booster’ vaccine which will build up their immunity. Dogs require a third set of vaccines when they are puppies to boost their immunity while kittens only require the first two sets of vaccines. Rabies (and Bordetella for dogs) is usually given with the final set of booster vaccines. For small dogs we will often separate these by a couple of weeks. Once the puppy/kitten set of vaccines are given, we would then do a yearly vaccine with the annual physical 1 year apart from the puppy/kitten vaccines.
Q: Do you feel that vaccinating my dog yearly is necessary?
A: We recommend giving the puppy series and the first annual vaccination. If you are worried about over-vaccinating your pet then we would recommend doing a Viral Titer Panel. It is a simple blood test sent to our laboratory to determine if your dog can launch an immune response to Parvovirus and Distemper. Based on the results, we can then formulate a vaccines protocol to meet your pet’s individual needs.
Q: Do we have Rabies here in B.C.?
A: Yes. In British Columbia, bats are the carriers of the Rabies virus. So if an infected bat scratches or bites an animal, like a raccoon, it will become infected. Then in turn, if that raccoon scratches or bites your pet they too will become infected.
Rabies is also classified as a zoonotic disease, which means transferable to humans. It is because of this that we recommend having your pet having the annual Rabies vaccine. The first two vaccines are yearly to ensure that your pet has a built up immune system and then the third Rabies vaccine would be good for 3 years.
It is also good to note that if you are traveling with your pet across the American border (driving) you will need to have a Rabies certificate.
Q: Do I need to keep my pet on flea control all year?
A: Here on the North Shore we can see fleas at anytime of year. Other parts of the country do not see as many fleas during the winter months as it gets cold enough to kill these little guys off. However, due to our moderate climate, fleas can survive here all year round. The fall and spring tend to be the worst and flea protection is strongly recommended during those months. If your pet has skin sensitivities or has had flea allergy dermatitis in the past, year round protection is a must.
Q: What is Leptospirosis? Does my dog need to be vaccinated against it?
A: Leptospirosis (or Lepto) is a disease which attacks the liver and kidneys as well as other organs. The first symptoms include lethargy, vomiting and anorexia. Here in North Vancouver we have had several cases and routinely vaccinate against Leptospirosis. We strongly recommend the vaccines if you have a water loving dog as the Lepto organism thrives in stagnant water. The other major concern is that it is a zoonotic disease, meaning it is transmissible to humans. To protect your furry friend and your family, we definitely recommend that you consider vaccinating your pet against this disease. If you have any specific concerns, talk to your veterinarian about this on your next visit.
Q: My dog has been rubbing his bum on the carpet. I think he has worms; can I pick up a de-wormer?
A: Often, when a dog scoots or rubs their bum it is due to full anal glands. This is relatively common and happens when the anal glands are no longer expressing themselves. The anal glands are small sacs on either side of the anus. When a dog has a bowel movement a small liquid will come out of these glands to mark the stool with the dog’s scent.
Occasionally the glands do not empty the way they should or continue to fill to the point where they become uncomfortable. When this happens, the dog starts to exhibit symptoms such as scooting or licking of the bum. If the symptoms are ignored this can lead to an anal gland abscesses or even a ruptured anal gland.
The treatment for full anal glands is to have a veterinarian or veterinary technician express these anal glands to give your pouch some much needed relief.
Q: How long will it take to get my pet’s lab results back?
A: It depends on which test has be ordered. For all routine panels, we get the results back within 24~48 hours. For cultures, it takes 48~72 hours. Some tests (Rabies Titers for export for example) it can take a few weeks.
Q: How often should my pet have blood work done?
A: After 7 years of age, we recommend having blood work done when your pet comes in for their yearly physical exam. Often there can be changes in your pet, like kidney function, that will show up on a test before your pet would exhibit clinical signs of an underlying condition. Doing blood work yearly can mean early detection of a problem and this generally leads to better management of the condition.
Q: What should we do before surgery?
A: Your animal should be fasted the night before surgery. For both cats and dogs: no food after 6pm and no water after midnight (unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian). On the morning of surgery, the drop-off time is between 7:30am and 8:30am (unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian). Animals that are having routine surgery (i.e. spay, neuter, etc.) always go home the same day as their procedure. We recommend that you stay with your pet when they get home from surgery for at least the evening while the effects of the anesthetic are wearing off.