Why vaccinate my dog?

Periodic vaccinations are important for all dogs to help prevent disease. Vaccinations are especially important in puppies that are not fully able to protect themselves from serious diseases. These diseases can be fatal but are infrequently seen because of the widespread use of effective vaccines. Just because you have never seen these diseases does not mean you do not need to vaccinate your dog because some of them can survive in the environment for long periods, waiting to be picked up by an unprotected animal.

What are the minimum vaccinations my dog needs every year?

There is currently controversy about which vaccines to use and how frequently to vaccinate dogs. At this time we are recommending to vaccinate dogs every three years for DHPP (Distemper, Hepatitis/Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, Parvovirus) and either annually or every 6 months for Bordetella. Some kennels, doggie daycare and grooming salons require Bordetella vaccinations every 6 months, please let us know if you visit such a facility with your pet so that we will send you the reminder at the appropriate time.

How often does my dog need to be vaccinated for Rabies?

Dogs should receive their first Rabies vaccine at 16 weeks of age, and a Rabies vaccine booster 1 year later. Following this booster, the law requires re-vaccination every 3 years. Adult dogs with no known vaccination history should be vaccinated for rabies followed by a booster in 1 year.

Does my dog need to be vaccinated for Lyme Disease?

Most dogs are at low risk in Southern California. If your dog is a city dweller and you don’t take her hiking in the mountains or live in areas prone to ticks we don’t usually advise the vaccination against Lyme Disease. For pets that do live or go where ticks live, we recommend both vaccination for Lyme Disease and use of  a combo flea/tick preventative like NexGard.

Does my dog need to be vaccinated for Coronavirus?

There is no evidence that this disease is a significant problem in household dogs. Therefore, we don’t  administer the vaccine to adult dogs. We no longer vaccinate puppies for Coronavirus either, since we are following the most recent American Animal Hospital Association (AAFP) Guidelines, which includes Coronavirus on the not recommended list.

What vaccinations does my puppy need?

Puppies should receive a series of vaccinations to try to keep them protected as their maternal protection (through milk) decreases. We recommend starting the first set of shots at about 8 weeks of age. Vaccines given at a younger age will most likely be destroyed by the protection still received through the mother’s milk. After the first set the puppy will receive two more sets of vaccines each a month apart finishing the series no earlier than 16 weeks. Please ask a vet clinic staff member for a detailed explanation of the vaccine series. After the series of vaccinations is completed  it takes another two weeks before your puppy‘s protection is complete. Please refrain from taking them to a dog park until they have received their first Rabies vaccination, which is generally given 2 weeks after the completion of the puppy series. This will allow their immune system to prepare for any virus they may encounter and also protect you should they nip someone. One year after the last set of vaccinations  your dog is due for her next DHPP booster, Bordetella booster,  plus a Rabies booster.

Should I spay or neuter my dog?

We highly recommend spaying and neutering your animals. Not only will it prevent a further escalation of the overpopulation of pets, spaying and neutering prior to sexual maturity can also lower the risk of certain diseases, and improve a dominance aggressive animal’s behavior. Please feel free to ask our veterinarian for any further information.

Why is using flea control important?

Keeping your dog on a regular regimen of flea control products is very important to her health. Fleas not only cause your dog discomfort and can infest your home; they can also lead to health problems for your pet. Your dog can be infected with tapeworms by ingesting fleas or develop skin problems. There are several reliable products that kill fleas effectively. Most pet store’s have spot-ons like Advantage, Advantix, and Frontline over-the-counter. At First Care, we recommend Comfortis (a once-a-month tablet to kill fleas), Trifexis (a once-a-month tablet which kills fleas, provides Heartworm protection and controls roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm) or NexGard (a tasty, chewable, monthly oral treatment against fleas and ticks). All these products if given correctly and consistently will keep your dog flea-free and happy. Please talk to us to determine which product is right for your dog.

What is a Microchip? Why does my dog need one?

Microchips are the most reliable way of permanently identifying your dog. Just like a vaccination, a tiny microchip is injected under the skin of your pet where it remains safely for life. The microchip contains a one-of-a-kind identification number that is linked to you in a data base. You can update your information as many times as you need to while the microchip number remains the same. If your lost pet is found by a shelter or brought into a vet clinic, it will be checked for a microchip with a special scanner. Collars and tags can fall off, but a microchip is permanent.

Does my dog have Tapeworms?

If you have seen white, slimy segments of worms looking similar to rice grains in your dog’s feces, your dog most likely has tapeworms. When dried up they can also look like sesame seeds. Tapeworms can easily be treated with a complete de-worming tablet  in our vet clinic for dogs and a topical treatment for cats.. Luckily keeping your dog and cat tapeworm-free is easy. Since dogs are infected with tapeworms by eating fleas, we recommend that you use a flea control product year-around.

Do I need to protect my dog from Heartworms?

According to the American Heartworm Society, California is a low-incident heartworm area. Although, Los Angeles is a Heartworm Positive County and Heartworm Cases seem to be on the rise. It is considered optional at this point to be on a monthly Heartworm Preventative. If you and your dog travel to areas where Heartworm is endemic then monthly preventative is recommended. We now offer Heartworm testing on site at the clinic and offer Trifexis. Trifexis is a Heartworm Preventative, controls Intestinal Parasites plus controls fleas. We also have Heartgard and Sentinel available.

What diseases am I vaccinating my dog for?

Canine Distemper (D-HPP) is a widespread and often fatal disease that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, pneumonia and neurological problems.

(D-H-PP) is a viral disease which may lead to severe damage of the liver, kidneys, spleen and lungs.

(DH-P-P) may cause severe vomiting and diarrhea and is potentially fatal. It is especially dangerous in young dogs, but all unvaccinated dogs are at risk.

Parainfluenza (DHP-P) can cause mild to severe inflammation of the respiratory system.

Bordetella (Kennel Cough) is an extremely contagious infection of the upper respiratory tract that is characterized by a persistent, dry, hacking cough. This vaccine is necessary not just for dogs that get boarded in kennels.

Lyme Disease is transmitted by ticks and can damage joints, kidneys and other tissues.

Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of
a rabid animal. Rabies primarily attacks the nervous system and causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). Death occurs within days of onset of symptoms.

What can I do to make my dog’s visit to the vaccination clinic more enjoyable and safer?

Advise us of any medication your dog might be taking. Sometimes it is better to wait with the vaccination until the dog is not medicated anymore. Please also mention any other recent health problems like diarrhea and vomiting. The vet will give your cat a brief physical examination before administering the vaccines. This is not a substitute for getting the extensive exam that all pets should receive by a vet every year. If you know that your dog is sick please take her to a veterinary office. Our vaccination clinic is not equipped to diagnose or treat sick animals.

If your dog doesn’t get along with other dogs, we will come outside and do the vaccinations there. It is less stressful for everybody involved. We also have muzzles on hand, if you think your dog might try to bite please let us know immediately.