For Your Pet’s Well-Being – Preventive Veterinary Care in Burnaby

The best medicine for keeping our pets happy and healthy involves a preventive approach. Metrotown Animal Hospital’s preventive veterinary medicine involves education on a wide variety of issues relevant to your pet such as nutrition, behaviour, dental care, spaying and neutering, among others.


Annual Wellness Exams for Maintaining Good Health

An annual wellness exam is extremely important to assess all of your pet's body systems and to discuss any questions or concerns with your veterinarian. We recommend this complete physical examination at least once a year, combined with your pet’s annual vaccinations.


Assessing Your Pet’s Major Body Systems

Regular physical examinations are essential to maintain good health and allow for early detection of any problems, which will result in a more successful and economical course of treatment.


A variety of equipment is used to assess all major body systems. For example, in addition to visual observation, a stethoscope, otoscope and ophthalmoscope are used to check your pet's heart, lungs, ears and eyes. Lymph nodes, joints, skin and abdominal organs are some of the areas examined through palpation.


A complimentary nail trim is also included in the physical exam if necessary.

Vaccinations

Vaccinations are essential for your pet's continued good health as they can prevent a great variety of serious illnesses. We assess each pet's lifestyle, age and history to determine the best vaccine protocol.

Canine Vaccine Recommendations

Before the days of effective vaccines, dogs routinely died from distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus and complications of upper respiratory infections. Current vaccination programs protect our dogs from these and the threat of rabies. Despite the well-known benefits of vaccination, the practice of annual vaccination of mature dogs is a matter of healthy debate. Some veterinarians believe that annual revaccination is an important and critical part of preventive health care. Others suggest that there is little scientific information to suggest that annual revaccination of older dogs is necessary for some diseases. There is insufficient information regarding the duration of immunity beyond a year.


Certainly routine vaccinations are essential for prevention of infectious diseases in puppies. Puppies receive immunity against infectious disease from their mother's milk; however, this protection begins to disappear between 6 and 20 weeks of age.


To protect puppies during this critical time, a well-researched approach is taken: a series of vaccines is given every 3-4 weeks until the chance of contracting an infectious disease is very low. The typical vaccine is a "combination" that protects against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza and canine parvovirus (the four viruses are commonly abbreviated DHPP). Many veterinarians also recommend incorporating leptospirosis in the vaccination series. Rabies vaccines are given between 16 and 26 weeks of age in most provinces (governed by law). All vaccines require booster shots given one year later.


The protective effect of vaccinations for bacterial infections (e.g. bordetella and leptospirosis) typically does not persist for more than a year making yearly (and occasionally more frequent) booster vaccines advisable. If your adult dog has an adverse reaction to the vaccine (fever, vomiting, shaking, facial swelling or hives), discuss the risk of annual revaccination with your veterinarian.


Puppy Vaccine Recommendations

In puppies 4 to 20 weeks of age, a series of vaccines is recommended. These should begin between 6 and 8 weeks of age. Typically the last vaccination is given between 14 and 16 weeks of age. The vaccine should protect against canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus, parainfluenza and canine parvovirus.


If the risk of kennel cough is great, a vaccine against bordetella is recommended. Rabies vaccine should be given in accordance with the laws usually between 16 and 26 weeks of age. Other vaccinations that are sometimes given by your veterinarian include coronavirus, Lyme and giardia. These are not routinely given to every animal, and their use should be discussed with your veterinarian.


Specific vaccine requirements for individual dogs should be discussed with your veterinarian. The most appropriate vaccination program for your pet should be followed. Here is a guide to the diseases for which your pup will need vaccines:


Distemper is a contagious viral disease that affects the respiratory and nervous system of dogs. Distemper does not cause "bad temper." It is a serious illness that is almost always fatal.


Hepatitis is a viral infectious disease that affects the liver and eyes and may cause reproductive problems. Hepatitis is not contagious to people.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infectious disease that causes severe liver and kidney damage and may also affect humans.


Parainfluenza is a highly contagious viral respiratory disease that may spread quickly from dog to dog.


Bordetella is one of the bacterial causes of "kennel cough." Signs like a honking cough during the night can be stressful for the dog as well as the owner.


Parvovirus is one of the most serious contagious diseases for puppies. Parvovirus causes severe vomiting and diarrhea while suppressing the immune system and may be fatal even if treated. After the initial vaccination series, a blood test can be done to ensure adequate protection. Rottweilers, Doberman pinschers and pit bulls seem to be more susceptible than other breeds.


Rabies is a serious public health concern because the virus is carried by mammals including raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, dogs and cats and can be transmitted to humans. The virus is spread through wounds, via the saliva of a rabid animal, and causes symptoms such as: overly vicious or timid behaviour, lack of coordination and difficulty swallowing. Once these symptoms appear, the disease is fatal. While there is an effective post-exposure treatment for humans, there is none for animals.

Feline Vaccinations

Vaccinations have saved the lives of millions of cats. Before the days of effective vaccines, cats routinely died from panleukopenia ("feline distemper") and complications of upper respiratory (herpesvirus, calicivirus) infections. Newer vaccines are available to protect against feline leukemia virus infection, feline infectious peritonitis virus and other infections. Current vaccination programs also protect our cats (and us) from the threat of rabies.


All kittens should receive FVRCCP, which is feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, chlamydia and panleukopenia, the so-called "4-in-1" upper respiratory/feline distemper vaccine. Additional vaccines include FELV, or feline leukemia virus vaccine, and rabies vaccine. For kittens between 6 and 20 weeks of age, a series of vaccines is recommended.


The first set of vaccines should be given when the kitten is 6-8 weeks old, and continue every 3 to 4 weeks until the chance of contracting an infectious disease is very low (typically the last "shot" is given between 16 and 18 weeks of age). A kitten may be lethargic for 1-2 days and show decreased appetite after the vaccinations. Occasionally, tumor development can be triggered by vaccination. It should be understood that, with very rare exception, the benefit of protection from disease by the vaccine far outweighs the chance of tumor development.

Parasite Control

One area of pet health that is frequently neglected is parasite control. Many common parasites go unseen by pet owners or are considered a minor or inconsequential problem. However, the impact that parasites have on an animal's health can be considerable. Parasites stress the animal's entire system and can make it vulnerable to other ailments.


Recent advances in parasite control allow us to minimize, and in some cases even eliminate, our pet's risk of common parasite infections. Internal and external parasites can affect both animals and humans. The fact that many of your pet's potential parasites can also affect humans (zoonosis) makes it doubly important to keep your pet parasite free. Some parasites can be avoided by diligent routine prevention programs.


Fecal parasite examinations can detect if your pet currently harbours intestinal parasites. If organisms, or their eggs, are detected upon this microscopic examination, appropriate medications can be dispensed to treat the infection.


Fleas and ticks are a common problem in the Vancouver area. Through routine screening and the use of safe, effective preventive products, parasites can be kept at bay! Poor hair coat, inflamed itchy skin, intermittent diarrhea and poor physique can be markers for parasitism.

How to Control and Prevent Fleas

The flea is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialized mouth parts to pierce the skin and siphon blood.


When a flea bites your dog, it injects a small amount of saliva into the skin to prevent blood coagulation. Some animals may have fleas without showing discomfort, but an unfortunate number of dogs become sensitized to this saliva. In highly allergic animals, the bite of a single flea can cause severe itching and scratching.


Remember that the flea spends the majority of its life in the environment, not on your pet, so it may be difficult to find. In fact, your dog may continue to scratch without you ever seeing a flea on him. Check your dog carefully for fleas or for signs of flea excrement (also called flea dirt), which looks like coarsely ground pepper. When moistened, flea dirt turns a reddish brown because it contains blood. If one dog in the household has fleas, assume that all pets in the household have fleas. A single flea found on your pet means that there are probably hundreds of fleas, larva, pupa and eggs in your house. If you see tapeworm segments in your dog's stool, he may have had fleas at one time or may still have them


Current flea control efforts centre on oral and topical systemic treatments. These products not only treat existing flea problems, they also are very useful for prevention. In fact, prevention is the most effective and easiest method of flea control. It is best to consult your veterinarian as to the best flea control and prevention for your pet. The choice of flea control should depend on your pet's lifestyle and potential for exposure. Through faithful use of these systemic monthly flea products, the total flea burden on your pet and in the immediate environment can be dramatically reduced. Keeping your pet on monthly flea treatments especially in areas of high flea risk is an excellent preventive method of flea control.


Gastrointestinal Parasites in Dogs

Most people are aware that their pets have worms, but just what are these worms, where do they get them and how do you get rid of them? When pet owners talk about worms, they are really talking about all gastrointestinal parasites. And there are several gastrointestinal parasites that commonly affect our dogs and cats, some of them in low numbers. They can cause stress on the pet’s body without us seeing them in their stools.


Roundworms
are visible in your puppy's stool or vomit. They are long and thin, similar to thin spaghetti.


Whipworms are another type of gastrointestinal parasite that affects dogs. It is a significant cause of large bowel diarrhea. The whipworm eggs are quite resistant and can live in the environment for up to five years.


Giardia are pear-shaped, one-celled organisms that infect the small intestine of dogs and cats. Most cases of giardia in young animals cause explosive, watery diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss and an unkempt appearance. Adult animals are capable of harboring the infection without showing clinical signs. Most domestic animals contract giardia from drinking contaminated pond or stream water.


Coccidia are intestinal protozoa that invade and infect the lining cells of the small intestine. There are many species of coccidian, and almost all domestic animals can become infected.


Other common gastrointestinal parasites of dogs are the tapeworms and hookworms

Feline Parasites

Most people are aware that their pets have worms, but just what are these worms, where do they get them and how do you get rid of them? When pet owners talk about worms, they are really talking about all gastrointestinal parasites. And there are several gastrointestinal parasites that commonly affect our cats


Tapeworms are very common in dogs and cats and, despite what you may think, rarely cause illness. Most people see the tapeworm egg packets as they pass out the rectum and crawl on the animal's fur. Animals infected with tapeworms may scoot on the floor since the egg packets tend to crawl on the skin, causing itchiness.



Giardia are pear-shaped, one-celled organisms that infect the small intestine of dogs and cats. Most cases of giardia in young animals cause explosive, watery diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss and an unkempt appearance. Adult animals are capable of harboring the infection without showing clinical signs.



Hookworms and whipworms are the other commonly observed worm eggs found on fecal analysis. Annual fecal testing and deworming (with vaccinations) is advised as part of preventive care for all cats in order to avoid parasitic problems as well as to decrease the stress of worms on your cat.



Roundworms are visible in your pet's stool or vomit. They are long and thin, similar to thin spaghetti. This parasite can pass through the placenta (only in puppies), through the milk (puppies and kittens) or be ingested (puppies and kittens). Some animals become infected after ingesting another animal with roundworm eggs.


Hookworms and whipworms are the other commonly observed worm eggs found on fecal analysis. Annual fecal testing and deworming (with vaccinations) is advised as part of preventive care for all cats in order to avoid parasitic problems as well as to decrease the stress of worms on your cat.


Flea Control

For millions of pets and people, the tiny flea is a remorseless enemy. The flea is a small, brown, wingless insect that uses specialized mouthparts to pierce the skin and siphon blood. When a flea bites your cat, it injects a small amount of saliva into the skin to prevent blood coagulation. Some animals may have fleas without showing discomfort, but an unfortunate number of cats become sensitized to this saliva. In highly allergic animals, the bite of a single flea can cause severe itching and scratching. Fleas cause the most common skin disease of cats: flea allergy dermatitis.


Remember that the flea spends the majority of its life in the environment, not on your pet, so it may be difficult to find. In fact, your cat may continue to scratch without you ever seeing a flea on him. Check your cat carefully for fleas or for signs of flea excrement (also called flea dirt), which looks like coarsely ground pepper. Current flea control efforts center on oral and topical systemic treatments. These products not only treat existing flea problems, they also are very useful for prevention. In fact, prevention is the most effective and easiest method of flea control.


It is best to consult your veterinarian as to the best flea control and prevention for your pet. The choice of flea control should depend on your pet's life-style and potential for exposure. Through faithful use of these systemic monthly flea products, the total flea burden on your pet and in the immediate environment can be dramatically reduced. Keeping your pet on monthly flea treatments especially in areas of high flea risk is an excellent preventive method of flea control.

Nutrition

Providing your pet with the proper nutrition they require is essential for maintaining good health. Due to the vast variety of pet foods available, choosing the best diet for your pet can be very confusing. We deal only with companies who are dedicated to producing the highest quality food.


Discussing food options for your pet with your veterinarian is important as many different factors should be considered. For example, age, breed, activity level, and existing medical conditions must be examined when choosing your pet's diet. We provide education in this area, stock a wide variety of food, and can order food for you if we do not have it currently available. Choosing the correct diet for your pet can help reduce the chance of many health problems, ensuring a happy and healthy life.

Senior Care

As your pet ages, his nutritional needs and physical abilities change. Subtle, sometimes undetected, changes begin to occur. Your aging pet may become more susceptible to cancer, kidney disease, heart problems, pancreatic disease and hormonal imbalances such as thyroid conditions or diabetes. Dental disease may occur and predispose your pet to a host of other problems. Arthritic conditions cause pain and immobility and change the way your pet is able to interact in the family. Behaviour changes and unexpected bad habits, such as house soiling, can suddenly make your beloved friend a difficult housemate.


Mature animals are seen at least once every twelve months, usually at vaccination time. As one pet year is equal to about seven human years, we like to check older pets more frequently – at least once every six months. The good news is that early detection and treatment can often add years to your pet's life. Current tests frequently detect disease before symptoms are even apparent.

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Learn about More of Our Preventive Services

In addition to programs for kitten and puppy socialization, Metrotown Animal Hospital offers preventive veterinary care. Follow the links to learn more about our wellness services for your pets:

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