"How many vaccinations does my puppy/kitten need?"
It isn't the number of shots, but rather the age at which the vaccines are given. Vaccines need to be given every three weeks from the time a puppy/kitten is six to eight weeks old and until they are over sixteen weeks old.
"Which vaccines does my puppy/kitten need?"
We recommend that puppies get DHLPP/C (Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus, and Coronavirus) and Bordatella, as well as the Rabies vaccine, which is required by law. We recommend that kittens get RCPC (Rhinotracheaitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia, and Chlamydia) and FeLV (Feline Leukemia) as well as Rabies. Law in California does not require rabies, but cats represent a large risk to humans without the vaccine.
"Why should I get my dog/cat spayed?"
"Spaying" a female involves the surgical removal of the entire reproductive tract, including the ovaries and the uterus. In addition to pet overpopulation issues, there are great health risks to non-spayed females. Dogs are at great risk for uterine infections, called pyometra, which can be quite suddenly fatal. Additionally, dogs that are not spayed before their first "heat" are at risk for breast cancer. Female cats should be spayed because of the same health risks, but also because "heat" behavior is highly objectionable, and nearly always results in pregnancy.
"Why should I get my dog/cat castrated?"
Again, population issues are primary. The surgical removal of the testicles in a dog or cat results in a healthier pet, and an easier pet in many cases. Dogs who are not neutered tend to be at greater risk for many kinds of cancer, including testicular and prostate cancer. Intact (non-neutered) dogs are also more likely to be aggressive and display behavior that can be less attractive, including "marking" territory and roaming. Male cats that are not neutered are at high risk for a fatal virus called Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Also, male cats will "spray" highly malodorous urine throughout their territory, including the house!
"What is Parovirus?"
Parvovirus is an highly contagious disease of dogs. It is most dangerous to younger dogs. Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, and Black Labs are at highest risk for contracting the disease. The virus causes massive fluid loss through vomiting and diarrhea, and causes severe immunosuppression. Death occurs due to overwhelming infection and/or dehydration. Treatment can be lengthy and expensive, but results in over 80% survival rate in non-high risk breeds, and over 60% in high-risk breeds. The disease can be prevented by proper vaccinations, and by limiting the puppy's exposure to areas frequented by large numbers of dogs: parks, etc.
"Why does my dog/cat need a physical exam every year?"
Your pet ages at anywhere from 4 to 7 times faster than humans do. Having your pet examined every year is equivalent to you seeing your doctor every five years. Changes in your pet's health are not always evident to the casual eye, and changes occur slowly, making it difficult for owners to appreciate. A yearly physical allows your pet's doctor to catch problems early.