Preventing and protecting pets from health problems is the heart of veterinary care.
Several ingredients are needed:
People often think that the purpose of an exam or “office visit” is to receive vaccinations. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The most important reason to have your pet seen by a veterinarian is for comprehensive physical examination and medical care designed to prevent and detect disease. Prevention and early disease detection are the keys to your pet having a longer and healthier life!
View the Human-Animal Age Conversion Chart (PDF) to see how old your pet really is!
Semi-annual physical examinations are the focal point for keeping your pet on the road of good health. During the 6 months between exams, your pet actually ages 3-5 years! Regular comprehensive examinations are critical to preventing and detecting disease because:
Vaccinations are designed to effectively reduce the extent and severity of infectious disease in our pets. It is recommended that vaccination protocols are selected for each individual animal based on risk of exposure, health status, age, and the individual needs and lifestyle of your pet.
There is always a potential risk for an adverse reaction to a vaccine. Although the risk is very low, it is still there. Possible reactions include an immediate hypersensitivity reaction, auto-immune disease from over-vaccinating and the development of vaccine associated sarcomas in cats.
We tailor your pet’s vaccination program to your pet’s lifestyle to reduce the risks of both diseases and possible side effects. It is important that you understand both the benefits and risks of the vaccination program that we have outlined for your individual pet(s). We are happy to discuss any questions or concerns that you may have regarding our vaccination protocol.
Rabies vaccination is required by law for dogs. Not only is there no cure for rabies but there is also a human health risk since people can contract rabies from an infected animal.
This is a combination vaccine commonly referred to as the “Distemper” vaccine. This 3-way vaccine protects against the core group of viral disease in dogs: Distemper, Adenovirus and Parvovirus. All puppies and dogs that are not immune compromised should be protected against these diseases. Our 3 year vaccine provides the protection from these diseases while eliminating the concern of vaccinating every year.
We also offer Vaccination Titer Screening as an alternative to reduce the risk of overvaccinating.
Kennel cough is an upper respiratory “complex” generally caused by Bordatella bronchiseptica bacterium and parainfluenza virus. We use an intranasal vaccine for Kennel Cough (the vaccine goes in the nose rather than by injection). The intranasal vaccine offers faster protection and provides immunity against these diseases both systemically and locally (upper respiratory tract) where the infection occurs. This vaccine is recommended and often required for all dogs that will be exposed to other dogs (e.g. shows, training classes, boarding facilities).
Canine influenza is a relatively new virus, so virtually all dogs are susceptible to infection when they are newly exposed because they have not built up natural immunity. Most dogs that develop influenza have a mild illness, but some dogs become very sick and require supportive care. The vaccine is recommended for dogs who will be in close contact with other dogs (boarding, grooming, daycare etc.)
Lyme disease is caused by an organism called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to dogs by infected ticks. Wisconsin is an endemic area for Lyme disease and we recommend vaccination for any dog with the potential to come into contact with ticks (wooded areas, etc.).
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease spread primarily by wildlife. Common carriers include raccoons, skunk, opossum, small rodents, deer and livestock such as cows. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease (it can be spread to people from animals). It is recommended that all dogs at risk be vaccinated.
The old concept of “heartworm season” is a thing of the past. “Heartworm” medication now prevents many other parasites from developing in your pet. Monthly parasite prevention includes not only heartworms, but also roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, flea and tick protection.
A blood test is required to check for possible heartworm infection prior to beginning the parasite preventative (except for puppies less than 6 months of age). Heartworm disease is a very serious problem. Heartworms will live in your dog’s (or cat’s) heart and lung arteries. These worms can cause heart failure and death. Most pets with heartworms do not show evidence of the disease in the early stages of infection. Early detection with blood tests and monthly heartworm medication are vital to stopping this disease. ALL dogs are at risk of heartworm disease because it is transmitted by infected mosquitoes that bite your dog.
Fleas can make your dog very uncomfortable and also allow a flea infestation into your home. Parasite prevention includes stopping a flea infestation before it starts. Flea control is also important since some fleas transmit intestinal tapeworms to your pet.
Tick control is important for your pet’s health too. Ticks can attach to the skin under the hair coat where you may not notice them for many days. Some ticks are also responsible for transmitting Lyme’s disease, Ehrlichiosis and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Intestinal worms (roundworms, hookworms and whipworms) are abundant in the environment. Pets can acquire these worms from infected soil or feces. Intestinal worms can cause vomiting, bloody diarrhea, anemia and stunted growth. Hookworms and roundworms also pose a threat to human health if your family members are exposed to the worm eggs. Prevention is much easier and safer than treatment after the problem has developed.
Countrycare (& the Center for Disease Control) recommends a fecal examination EVERY 6 MONTHS to check for intestinal parasites.
In addition to the worms listed previously, there are also other types of parasites that may be detected on a fecal flotation and should be addressed accordingly.
As animals move through life, they go through many of the same aging processes that humans do. Their hair may turn gray, their body seems to wear out and their senses dim. Diseases that are commonly known to afflict humans also affect our pets: kidney, heart, and liver disease, tumors, cancer, diabetes, depression, “Alzheimer’s”, etc.
We need to consider what is a typical lifespan for a pet and realize that they age much quicker than humans do. As a rule of thumb, smaller breeds of dogs live longer than larger breeds of dogs, & cats live longer than dogs. Different breeds and lifestyles can also affect the aging process.
The old saying was seven dog years for every ‘human’ year. The chart below is a more accurate quantification of comparing your pet’s age to “human years”. For example, if your dog is 75 lbs. and is 8 years old…it would be equivalent to a 55 year old human.
Aging is not a disease, but rather a manifestation of the body’s diminished repair response. In animals, ‘old age’ is generally referred to as the last 25% of their lifespan. In addition to the number of years lived, aging is affected by such important factors as genetics, nutrition and environment. While dogs and cats begin to undergo aging changes starting at about age 5-7 years, different pets will show the various signs of growing ‘old’ at different rates. The best time to recognize your pet’s “senior” status and need for extra TLC is long before advanced problems are apparent.
To increase the length and quality of your pet’s life, it is important to 1) realize the speed of the aging process and 2) take preventative steps to manage risk factors related to your pet’s health.
View the Human-Animal Age Conversion Chart (PDF) to see how old your pet really is!
"At Countrycare we received very excellent care from the entire staff. Dr. Barr is incredible, honest and full of wisdom. We have had two of our Prized Great Danes to see him. His approach to alternative treatments was very welcomed as well as his belief in traditional care and tools. Both dogs are doing great, and we will continue to seek his wisdom and expertise."
- Harold & Laura G., Luxemburg