VERO BEACH — I would like to share information about maintaining the health of your dog. There are quite a few health necessities that can improve and continue their quality of life and well being.
I recommend every dog see their veterinarian annually. In Florida, dogs need annual heartworm tests. Heartworms are transmitted by our state bird, the mosquito! A heartworm test requires blood be taken and inspected for heartworm larvae. Heartworm prevention is a necessity in our state. Also, the Florida State law requires your dog to have a rabies vaccination. This used to be an annual immunization, but newer laws recognize the 3-year vaccine. Rabies is the only vaccine dictated by law. And it must be administered by a veterinarian. These are two important reasons to see your vet every year.
Your veterinarian may recommend additional vaccinations. Parvovirus, distemper, leptospirosis are among the other diseases we commonly vaccinate to prevent. Most puppies carry immunities from their dam. They are then given a series of three vaccinations, combo shots if you will, at 8, 10 and 12 weeks of age. Then annual shots are often recommended.
Dr. Jean Dodds, a leader in canine hematology, has different recommendations for annual vaccinations. In order to prevent vaccinosis, a reaction to over-vaccinaton, Dr. Dodds suggests titer testing. A titer test is a simple blood test that measures a dog or cat’s antibodies to vaccine viruses (or other infectious agents). Titers accurately assess protection to the so-called “core” diseases (distemper, parvovirus, hepatitis in dogs) enabling veterinarians to judge whether a booster vaccination is necessary. All animals can have serum antibody titers measured instead of receiving vaccine boosters. The only exception is rabies re-vaccination. There is currently no state that routinely accepts a titer in lieu of the rabies vaccine, which is required by law. Titer testing is not inexpensive, but if your dog has adverse reactions to his vaccinations, this might be a good choice for you.
I like to have baseline blood work done on my dogs once they reach 9 years of age. I think it is helpful to know what is normal for your pet as they begin to age. I have the blood checked annually from this point on. This allows you and your veterinarian a way to track changes in your pets health as he ages.
Also, out of respect for your vet, you want an established relationship before there is an emergency. It is helpful to have a medical history for your pet if a problem arises. Most vets are happy to help a responsible client.
Cissy Sumner of Best Behavior Dog Training is Vero’s first Certified Professional Dog Trainer-Knowledge and Skills Assessed and Certified Behavior Counselor Canine-Knowledge Assessed as well as a Consulting Trainer and Behavior Counselor for the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County. If you have a training or behavior question, email Cissy at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.bestbehaviordogtraining.org for additional information.
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