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Massachusetts State Law requires that all dogs and cats be kept up-to-date on the rabies vaccine! This includes indoor cats.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a fatal viral infection contracted from the bite of an infected animal (most commonly wild skunks, bats, raccoons, foxes and coyotes). It can take up to a year from the time of the initial bite before symptoms of rabies start to show. Symptoms include personality change, aggression, weakness, drooling, and eventually paralysis and death. Once symptoms appear, the infected animal will die within 10 days!

For more information, refer to the Rabies Brochure produced by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association).

What is Canine Influenza?

Canine Influenza, or “dog flu”, is a highly contagious respiratory tract infection caused by the influenza virus. There are multiple strains of influenza virus, but the two which cause disease in dogs include the H3N8 strain and the H3N2 strain. Canine influenza is spread by airborne secretions and contact with contaminated environments. Outbreaks are most commonly seen in situations where large groups of dogs are kept together such as occurs in shelters, kennels, boarding, grooming, and doggie day care facilities.

Symptoms of canine influenza include fever, lethargy, poor appetite, coughing, sneezing, and discharge from the eyes and nose. Most infected dogs will recover with supportive treatment.

What Does the FVRCP Vaccine Protect Against?

The FVRCP vaccine (often called “the distemper vaccine”) actually protects against THREE contagious viral infections in cats.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis: The rhinotracheitis virus (herpesvirus type 1) is a common cause of upper respiratory tract disease in cats. Infection often results in chronic (life-long) infection with intermittent “flares” of illness. Herpesvirus is spread through airborne secretions or from contaminated environments. Symptoms during a flare-up can include sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, and discharge from the eyes and nose. Mild cases may recover with symptomatic treatment, but cats who experience frequent flares of disease may have to be on anti-viral medications long-term. Antibiotics are often given to prevent SECONDARY bacterial infections.

Dogs in Middlesex County are at high risk of contracting Lyme Disease, with 1 out of 6 dogs (16%) testing positive.

What is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria (Borellia burgdorferi) which is injected into the blood stream through the bite of a tick which has been attached and feeding for >24 hours. Early removal of attached ticks (either manually by pulling them off, or chemically by keeping your dog up-to-date on monthly tick prevention) reduces the risk of bacterial transmission. There are several species of tick which carry this particular bacteria, but the most common is the black-legged or deer tick.

Lyme disease is not contagious! Infected dogs cannot directly transmit disease to other dogs or to humans; transmission requires a direct tick bite. HOWEVER, dogs who are not kept up-to-date on tick prevention can carry ticks into the house, making it more likely that a human family member could be bitten.

What is Leptospirosis (Lepto)?

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by Leptospira bacteria, which can be found worldwide in slow-moving or stagnant water, in wet/shaded grass, and along the banks of rivers or lakes. Both animals AND humans can contract Leptospirosis.

Dogs can become infected and develop Leptospirosis if their mucous membranes (or skin with any wound, such as a cut or scrape) come into contact with infected urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food or bedding; through a bite from an infected animal; by eating infected animals; and rarely, through breeding. It can also be passed through the placenta from the mother dog to the puppies. Leptospirosis is most frequently transmitted by infected rodents!

Some infected dogs do not show any signs of illness; some have a mild and transient illness and recover spontaneously; and others develop severe, life-threatening illness. Furthermore, the symptoms of Leptospirosis can be very non-specific including fever, stiffness/soreness, increased thirst and urination, vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, lethargy,jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and painful inflammation of the eyes.

What is Kennel Cough?

“Kennel Cough” is the catch-all term used to describe a disease syndrome caused by a number of organisms – both viruses and bacteria – resulting in inflamation of the dog’s voicebox (larynx) and windpipe (trachea). This condition is most commonly caused by Bordetella bronchiseptica (a bacteria) or Parainfluenza (a virus), but can also be caused by a number of other organisms including Canine Advenovirus Type-2, Coronavirus, or Mycoplasma. The organisms which cause kennel cough syndrome are spread through airborne secretions or contact with contaminated environments. Symptoms of kennel cough syndrome include a persistent dry cough with a “honking” sound and oftentimes a “retch” at the end with production of white foamy phlegm.

Kennel cough is generally manageable with supportive treatment.

What Does the “Kennel Cough Vaccine” Protect Against?

The “kennel cough vaccine” protects against Bordetella bronchiseptica, the leading bacterial cause of kennel cough syndrome. The “Canine Distemper Vaccine” (aka DAPP or DA2PP) protects against the two most common viral causes of kennel cough syndrome, Parainfluenza and Canine Adenovirus Type 2.

What Does the DAPP or DA2PP Vaccine Protect Against?

The DAPP or DA2PP vaccine (often called “the distemper vaccine”) actually protects against FOUR contagious viral infections in dogs.

Distemper virus: The distemper virus attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system of infected puppies, dogs, and wildlife. Distemper virus is spread through airborne secretions or from contaminated environments. Symptoms initially include fever, eye discharge, nasal discharge, coughing, lethargy, hardening of the paw pads, reduced appetite and vomiting. As the virus attacks the nervous system infected dogs develop circling behavior, head tilt, muscle twitching, convulsions, seizures and paralysis. Distemper is often fatal, and dogs that survive usually have permanent, irreparable, neurologic damage.

What is Feline Leukemia Virus?

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a transmittable virus that can severely depress a cat’s immune system; predisposing them to a variety of infections and diseases, including anemia, kidney disease and lymphoma. FeLV is most commonly transmitted through direct contact with an infected cat (mutual grooming, bites/scratches, sharing litterboxes and sharing food/water bowls) but can also be passed directly from an infected mother to her kittens in utero or through mother’s milk. Some infected cats are asymptomatic.

Others will show symptoms, but these can vary widely, depending on what particular infections/diseases the infected cat may be experiencing. Symptoms can include poor appetite, weight loss, poor coat condition, pale gums, lethargy, fever, upper respiratory infections, abscesses, vomiting/diarrhea, enlarged lymph nodes, changes in behavior, respiratory distress etc.

All kittens should be tested for FeLV infection at 6 months of age to ensure negative status (checking to make sure they did not contract the condition from their mother). Unvaccinated at-risk adult cats who are showing signs of illness should be tested for FeLV infection.

You brush your teeth and get them cleaned, so why not your pet as well?

Dog Dental HealthOral health and routine dental checkups are extremely important for our pets, especially since their lifespan is shorter than ours. Pets that receive proper dental care live an average of two to four years longer than those with untreated dental disease, and 85% of dogs at least 4 years of age have some form of dental disease

Like people, animals can suffer from gingivitis and periodontal disease – the most common disease in dogs and cats. If left untreated, these problems can cause pain and lead to systemic infections affecting other organs like the liver, kidneys, and heart.

Bad breath is usually the first sign of dental disease, but it can often be the tip of the iceberg with hidden underlying periodontal disease. There can also be a large quantity of tartar (yellowish substance made up of different salts) and calculus (hardened tartar) already present on the teeth. For this reason, it is very important to ask your veterinarian about your pet’s teeth at each visit to see if a cleaning might be necessary.

Feline Veterinary ExamThe annual exam is a preventive physical check-up for your pet. It's an important part of any wellness program because it gives us a chance to examine your pet and catch health issues before they become more serious.

When frequently diagnosed problems such as dental disease, obesity, kidney disease and hypothyroidism are caught early, treatment will be more effective. The annual check-up ensures you're giving your pet the best opportunity for a healthy, happy life.

Ain't misbehavin'... or are they?

Dog Pulling on LeashAs "people-like" as pets can be, they're not human. And as intelligent as they are, they don't speak the same language, nor do they problem solve the way you do. It's extremely important – for your pet's well-being as well as your own – that you communicate to them what the family "rules" are.

Kittens can be easily conditioned not to jump on tables and counters. Early and consistent obedience training for dogs, or a firm "no" with a cat, can establish an understanding between you and your pet to avoid future problems.

Deer TickOver the past year there has been a dramatic rise in the incidence of Lyme disease in dogs in the Massachusetts area. This serious disease is not known to infect cats and is transmitted by the small deer tick. We are now offering an improved Lyme vaccine for your dog.

At Ashland Animal Hospital, we have observed at least a 4 to 5 fold increase in Lyme disease this past year. We have found that approximately 50% of dogs in our area are positive on an antibody test for Lyme disease. Although most symptomatic dogs respond well to a course of antibiotic therapy, a small number of dogs can develop a more serious form of the disease.

Flea Life CycleTicks , Fleas and Worms – Oh My!

Parasites are organisms that live in or on your pet and feed off of your pet's own nutritional supply.

  • External Parasites (such as fleas, ticks and mites) live on or in the skin.
  • Internal Parasites (often referred to as "worms") live in the intestinal tract or other body organ. A fecal test can identify a large number of the internal parasites we commonly see.

There are many safe and effective products to prevent and treat parasites, which our staff can discuss with you during your visit.