Village Animal Clinic

Vaccinations: Friend or Foe?

We have often been asked by clients about what vaccine protocol we recommend.  Presently, annual boosting of core vaccines is done and has proved to be very effective in preventing illness in our pets, and is a very integral part of preventative health care.

Many people have expressed concerns regarding possible side effects of annual vaccination (i.e. immune-mediated diseases, injection site sarcomas, etc.), but in reality, side effects are extremely rare and often unrelated to vaccination.

Some veterinarians have suggested that vaccinations need only be given every three years; however, this is not based on scientific data or substantiated by proper challenge studies.  The danger in adopting an every two- to three-year vaccination protocol is the risk of resurgence of serious infectious diseases.

The number of cases of Leprospirosis has risen dramatically in the past

several years, most likely due to increased contact between pet dogs and wildlife reservoir species in urban and rural areas.  We have seen several cases at our clinic, all of which resulted in a fatal outcome.  Leptospirosis can be either a subclinical disease (asymptomatic) or can cause acute renal (kidney) and/or hepatic (liver) disease.  Because the cornerstone of prevention of canine Leptospirosis is vaccination, we have incorporated this vaccine protocol.

Furthermore, measuring blood titres cannot accurately indicate adequate immunity in our pets.  So until further scientific data is available, annual vaccinations will continue to be recommended.

As well as annual vaccinations, the annual physical examination is as, or even more, important a part of the preventive health care program we provide at the Village Animal Clinic.  Detecting early signs of disease can enable us to address the problem immediately, providing the opportunity for cure or improved prognosis.  In addition, this medical history can provide critical information should an emergency or sudden illness occurs.

The annual physical exam includes:

  1. Weight gain or loss pattern:  weight loss can be an early warning sign of disease, and obesity is a common problem for older pets.  The animal’s diet and nutritional needs are assessed.
  2. Assessment of the condition of legs, hips, joints and spine: to detect changes in gait and muscle tone, and to determine if there is any lameness or pain.
  3. Assessment of the hair and coat:  dry, dull or brittle hair or hair loss may indicate underlying disease.
  4. Assessment of skin:  the skin is checked for infection or signs of fleas, ticks or mites.
  5. Palpation of abdomen:  to detect any abnormal masses or pain.
  6. Auscultation of the chest:  to detect any heart murmurs, irregular heart beat or abnormal lung sounds.
  7. Examination of eyes:  to detect the existence of inflammation, cataracts or glaucoma.
  8. Examination of ears:  to detect the existence of infection, inflammation or mites.
  9. Examination of the nose and nasal passages:  to detect any irregularities or signs of upper respiratory diseases.
  10. Examination of the mouth:  to detect any abnormalities and examine the teeth and the gums (colour and condition) for signs of periodontal disease.  As many as 95 percent of all pets over two years have periodontal disease.
  11. Palpation of the lymph nodes:  to check for inflammation or tumour.

In addition, a fecal test is strongly recommended to check for internal parasites.

We look forward to providing your pet with high quality, preventive healthcare to ensure a long, happy and healthy life for your four-legged family member!

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