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Canine preventative medicine and vaccination

There are four components to a good preventative medicine program in cats:

  • Vaccination – There are two components to a canine vaccination program. The first type of vaccine is triennial (required every three years) and protects against canine parvovirus (enteritis), canine adenovirus-2 (infectious hepatitis) and canine distemper (a neurological disease). All of these diseases can potentially be fatal. The second type of vaccine is annual and protects against a bacterium called Bordetella bronchiseptica as well as parainfluenza virus (two components of kennel cough). Vaccination reduces the likelihood of kennel cough and reduces the duration and severity of kennel cough in dogs that do become infected. It does not prevent the disease altogether.
  • Worming – Four types of intestinal worm affect dogs: roundworm, hookworm, whipworm and tapeworm. Worms can cause diarrhoea, malnutrition, lethargy, poor appetite, weight loss and occasionally vomiting. Worming is required every 2 weeks until the age of 12 weeks, monthly until the age of 6 months, then 3-monthly for life.
  • Flea treatment – To completely prevent fleas, dogs should receive flea treatment monthly. This is essential for dogs with flea allergy dermatitis (see Flea Allergy Dermatitis Information Sheet). However, dogs that have no evidence of fleas and have minimal contact with other animals may need flea treatment less regularly.
  • Heartworm treatment – Heartworm is literally an infestation of worms in the heart, which can cause lethargy, weight loss, difficulty breathing, coughing, poor appetite or a range of other signs. Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes, so even if your dog is not in contact with other animals, this does not guarantee that he or she will not become infected. Heartworm is rare in dogs in Melbourne, but the disease is very difficult to treat and can be fatal, so we strongly recommend protection. Continuous protection is essential when it comes to heartworm – your dog can become infected even if protection lapses only for a couple of months. Remember to check your parasite protection product to see if it covers heartworm, as intestinal dewormers do not generally protect against heartworm.

Many clients choose a monthly treatment (Panoramis, Sentinel or Advocate) that provides all-in-one protection. However, if you feel that it may be difficult to maintain monthly treatment throughout your dog's life, you may opt for a yearly injection called Proheart to ensure continuous protection against heartworm, then give additional treatments for worms (every 3 months) and fleas (monthly or as required).