Yearly Wellness Exams

Valley West Animal Hospital recommends that every pet have an annual exam to help prevent and catch problems early and get them treated to ensure longevity and good quality of life. At the annual exam we recommend:

Fecal testing to look for intestinal parasites: Intestinal parasites are not only a hazard to pets but also to their owners, especially young children and elderly who may be in the household. Wild birds and feral cats can be a source of exposure of intestinal as well as external parasites to our pets. For those of you who take your pets to northern parts of Arizona, wild animals, lakes, and streams are another source of exposure.

Heartworm test and monthly preventative treatment: Heartworm disease has increased significantly here in Arizona. It is now highly recommended that all our dogs must be on monthly heartworm prevention year-round and tested annually to ensure the prevention is working. Puppies are usually placed on preventative medication starting at about 6-9 weeks of age and then tested with the first set of yearly vaccines.

Flu vaccine: recommended as a yearly booster, especially for dogs that are high risk which would include dogs being shown, dogs who go to boarding facilities, dogs who are groomed, go to dog parks, or do general traveling out of state.

Vaccines for dogs. Distemper/parvo and bordatella vaccines are recommended yearly and rabies vaccines every 3 years. With the recent development and spread of the influenza virus in dogs, we now recommend this vaccine as well, especially for high-risk dogs. High-risk dogs are those that go to daycare, boarding and grooming facilities and those that go to dog parks.

We are the hot spot in the nation for parvo virus and there is also a new, more virulent strain of the virus as well. In the last few years, we have seen a rise in the number of distemper cases as well. The only true way to ensure your pet is protected for longer than one year is to vaccinate yearly or have blood titer tests for these diseases performed.

Kennel cough vaccine is also recommended for every dog. Kennel cough is a disease that is transmitted through secretions in the air so your dog does not have to come in direct contact to get the disease. It’s not just for dogs that go to grooming parlors or boarding facilities anymore.

Puppy vaccines: In accordance with our vaccine manufacturers recommendation, we recommend starting puppies at 6 weeks of age, vaccinating every 3 to 4 weeks until they are at or very near to 20 weeks of age.

  • Distemper/Parvo combo vaccine – given at 6, 9, 12, 15 and 18 weeks of age.
  • Bordatella vaccine – given at 12 weeks
  • Rabies vaccine – given at 18 weeks, repeated with 1st year set of vaccines then every 3 years after that.
  • Flu vaccine – given at 9 weeks and 12 weeks

Vaccines for Cats: Feline distemper/upper respiratory vaccine for strictly indoor cats and feline distemper/upper respiratory/leukemia vaccine for indoor/outdoor cats. Rabies vaccines for all cats. Adult cats with no vaccine history should have 2 distemper/upper respiratory shots, as well as a feline leukemia vaccination for outdoor cats, 3 weeks apart.

Cats do not have to come in direct contact to be exposed to the upper respiratory viruses. So, vaccinating them yearly is also recommended even if they live indoors.

Kittens vaccines: We recommend starting kitten vaccines at 8 weeks of age, vaccinating every 3 to 4 weeks for a total of 3 sets of vaccines. With the leukemia vaccine given on the second and 3rd set starting at 12 weeks of age. Leukemia vaccine is strongly recommended for those kittens that will be going outside or exposed to outdoor cats. We also recommend vaccinating cats and kittens for rabies as well. A big source of rabies virus in Arizona is from bats, and we all know how much cats like to play with things that fly.