Preventive Care Exams and Vaccinations
We stress the importance of preventive care examination on all types of pets because of the more rapid aging of pets compared to humans. Thorough checkups, detailed discussion of care and preventive care can help alleviate serious health problems. The Pet Hospital of Penasquitos is dedicated to providing the highest quality care for your pet. We feel that following the most progressive vaccination schedule will extend the life of your pet.
Puppies and kittens need vaccinations early in life as antibodies they receive from their mother begin to decline around 6-8 weeks of age. It is during this time that puppies and kittens need to be vaccinated in order to start building their immune system. This is when we should begin a vaccination or health care regimen for your pet. Our veterinarians will discuss with you to develop a specific plan of action tailored to meet your pet's needs. We encourage and appreciate you the pet owner to be an active participant in planning what is best for your pet's health.
Vaccines are divided into two classes. 'Core' vaccines for dogs and cats are those that should be given to every dog and cat. 'Noncore' (optional) vaccines are recommended only for certain dogs and cats. Whether to vaccinate with noncore vaccines depends upon a number of things including the age, breed, and health status of your pet, the potential exposure of your pet to an animal that has the disease, the type of vaccine and how common the disease is in the geographical area where your pet lives or may visit.
Below you will find a comprehensive listing of the recommended vaccination schedule for dogs and cats according to their ages. Our vaccination recommendations are based on the American Animal Hospital Association's vaccination guidelines.
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We also recommend spaying or neutering your puppy or kitten by six months of age. After 13 years of age some vaccinations may not be considered appropriate for your dog and cat. We will gladly discuss your senior dog's vaccinations needs with you.
Puppies and kittens receive a series of 2 to 3 vaccinations depending on their age. One year from the last puppy and kitten vaccinations they need a booster, then some vaccinations are boosted once a year (Bordetella, Rattlesnake) and others are given every 3 years (Rabies, Distemper, Parvovirus). All dogs and cats should have a physical examination and intestinal parasite examination yearly, discussion of any concerns and heartworm testing for dogs. Once your dog or cat is over 7 years of age we recommend more extensive blood testing (complete blood count, chemistry panel, thyroid level, and urinalysis) in addition to fecal and heartworm testing.
For ferrets we recommend distemper and rabies vaccination with vaccines specific for ferrets. Kits receive 2 to 3 distemper vaccinations at 3 week intervals, the last after 14 weeks of age. Rabies are given after 16 weeks and boostered a year later then every 3 years. Distemper is also boosted a year after last kit immunization then every 3 years thereafter. We recommend annual examinations for ferrets and blood testing (complete blood count, 4 hour fasting blood panel) starting at 4 years then annually to detect diseases such as lymphoma, adrenal and insulin tumors.
Our recommendations for rabbits and all rodents include a yearly physical, intestinal parasite exam and husbandry review. It is very important to spay female rabbits and rats to avoid cancers.
For reptiles and amphibians (herps) we recommend once a year physical exams, weight check, husbandry review (please be ready to provide information on lights, caging, substrates, calcium and vitamin supplements, temperatures and what you feed your herp), yearly parasite exams and further diagnostics if indicated after physical exam. We find improper care a leading cause of disease in reptiles, once a year review of this is one of the best ways to safeguard your herp.
For birds we recommend an annual physical examination, weight check, husbandry review (please be prepared to tell us what you feed your bird and the name of any supplements you use). Blood testing (complete blood count, chemistry panel, protein elecophoresis, parasite examinations and fecal gram staining) is recommended once a year.
Remember, if at any time your pet is sick, we need to examine your pet to determine what is wrong. Please don't try and make us diagnose over the phone it is impossible to do without examining your pet first.
Should I vaccinate my dog against rattlesnakes?
That's a good question. We don't know the efficacy of Red Rocks Biologicals Crotalus Atrox Toxoid (rattlesnake vaccine) because no one has, or ever is, going to do controlled studies, where they inject dogs with snake venom and compare vaccinated dogs to unvaccinated dogs, for obvious humane reasons.
Comparing vaccinated dogs bitten by rattlesnakes to unvaccinated dogs bitten by rattlesnakes is also difficult because of the many variables going into a snake bite (dry bites, size and species of snake, amount of venom injected, toxicity of the venom, bite location, type of first aid provided, timing and treatment methods, complications, size and health status of victim, etc.).
I do know humans can increase their resistance to snake venom by injecting (US) or tattooing themselves (India) with snake venom or after repeated snake bites (Australia) and dogs bitten repeatedly tend to do better with subsequent bites, but not always. So dogs should develop resistance with a toxoid (vaccine). Not all rattlesnake bites are fatal but most are very bad and I have seen dogs die from snake bites.
If your dog is bitten you should restrict its activity (carry if possible) and get to a veterinary hospital ASAP. Most bites are on the muzzle or a front leg, start to swell quickly, are extremely painful and, in San Diego, are at night. Most clients see a snake but sometimes they just see their dog yelp and jump back from a bush. Don't wait to see what happens, if you think your dog was bit get to a veterinary hospital immediately.
I had one patient, a big dog, that died within 45 minutes but never did swell. I definitely recommend antivenin, fluids and aggressive treatment for shock and pain even if vaccinated.
Back to the question, yes we do recommend vaccination, (two doses at a one month interval, then one once or twice a year) but I do not know the toxoid efficacy. Toxoids tend to have shorter durations of immunity than vaccines. I always recommend other preventative measures as well, such as keeping your dog on a leash in rattlesnake habitat (open space), and rattlesnake avoidance classes. Dogs are bit so commonly because they can smell the snake and follow the scent trail right to the snake, whereas a human may walk right by the snake without seeing it. Rattlesnakes tend not to rattle if they are undetected.