Does my pet need vaccinations and what are they for?

Bringing your pet in for an annual health examination allows your vet to pick up on any problems be they major or minor.   Early diagnosis is important especially in conditions such as diabetes mellitus, heart diseases and cancers.
At your pet’s yearly check-up, he or she may also receive a booster vaccination.   This vaccination stimulates the immunity provided by their first set of  puppy/kitten vaccinations.

Puppies can be vaccinated from 6 weeks of age. Kittens should receive their first vaccine at 9 weeks and their second vaccine three to four week later. Dogs and cats should then be vaccinated annually from then on, to ensure protection against a number of serious infectious diseases they may become exposed to. If your older pet has never received vaccinations before, it is never too late to start. An animal may contract an infectious disease at any age, particularly if their immune system is suppressed due to illness or stress.

Canine vaccines protect against disease such as: Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza. Vaccines against Kennel Cough and Rabies are also available when appropriate. These diseases are very rare in vaccinated animals.

Feline infectious diseases we vaccinate against include: Calicivirus ‘cat-flu’, Herpesvirus, Panleucopenia, and Chlamydia. A Leukaemia vaccine is also available separately.

In rabbits, we vaccinate against Myxomatosis.

Vaccines are safe and effective.  They protect your own pet and contribute to the health of the pet population at large.

What should I feed my pet?

Good quality pet food helps maintain optimal health. Always give the correct amount as stated on the food you use for your dogs size. A dry food is usually better for them as well as being more economic. Always check the content of the brand you use.
At The Animal Hospital Tallaght, we stock foods from Burns and Hills. These well respected brands cater for young, adult, and geriatric animals. We also stock prescription diets for animals with special requirements e.g. those with diabetes or other metabolic disturbances. These foods are high quality, well researched, and are only available from veterinary surgeries and good pet stores. By giving your pet the best nutrition available, you know you are laying a solid foundation for their good health and wellbeing.

Should I get my pet neutered?

If you do not intend to breed from your pet, neutering at 6 months of age is highly recommended.  It is an important part of responsible pet ownership.  Neutering benefits your pet and society in general.

Neutering your pet early in life greatly reduces the risk of certain types of cancer, such as mammary tumors in the female and testicular tumors in the male. Neutering also prevents the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens, which are put to sleep in their thousands every year.

In the male, it helps to reduce undesirable behaviours such as roaming, marking, and aggression. The idea that it is best to allow a bitch to have one heat or even one litter before spaying is not well founded.  It is recommended that bitches should be spayed at six months of age, before their first heat. Spaying (neutering) after the first heat, while still beneficial, offers less protection against mammary tumors than spaying prior to the first heat.

In the male, the operation consists of removing the testicles; in the female, the womb and ovaries are removed. The procedure is carried out under full general anesthesia and all precautions are carried out to ensure your pet is pain free at all times.   Pets recover shortly after surgery and are monitored closely for another few hours.  Your pet can be collected on the same day.

Pain relief medication will be prescribed to your pet for a few days following the surgery.  Stitches will need to be removed approximately 14 days later except in the case of male cats where there are no stitches involved. Your pet may seem a little quieter than usual just after the procedure due to the effects of the general anesthetic but after 24 hours your pet should be back to normal.  However, vigorous exercise is not recommended for pets with stitches as this may cause problems with the surgical wound and delay healing.

After neutering, your pet’s metabolic rate will slow due to the reduction in circulating hormones. In order to minimize weight gain, their previous level of food should be reduced and monitored. Weight checks are available free of charge at our clinic. Weight reducing foods are available –please ask at our hospital for advice.

What is a microchip and how does it work?

Microchipping involves inserting a rice-grain sized identification chip under your pet’s skin at the area of the shoulder. A form needs to be completed to register your pet’s details on a database. Insertion of the microchip is a quick procedure and can be done during your pet’s annual check-up or a specific appointment can be made.  Microchipping allows your pet to be identified if they ever go missing.  Any stray or lost animal dropped into a pound or veterinary practice is scanned for a microchip. If your pet was already microchipped when they came to you, you will need to alter the ownership details on the database to which they are registered.

Is it worth getting my pet insured?

Pet Insurance is advised to cover the cost of any accidents or health problems your pet may encounter during its lifetime. Unfortunately accidents happen and, depending on the injuries, the cost of treatment can range from hundreds to thousands of euro. Many pedigree breeds are prone to certain genetic conditions and can require long-term treatment at some stage.  Treatment could involve surgery, but will almost certainly involve medication; pet insurance covers these costs. A large unexpected veterinary bill can cause considerable financial strain and owners often regret not insuring their pet from the very beginning.

Insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions therefore it is important to insure before any major problems are diagnosed. If claiming for veterinary treatment, an excess will apply. This means that you pay for costs of treatment up to the excess amount, usually approx one hundred euro. Expenses beyond this will be covered by the insurance company.

This is a brief overview of pet insurance. Every year there are more companies entering the pet insurance market and it is up to you to find the one that fits you and your pet’s needs. Our vets and nurses will be happy to discuss the benefits of insurance with you.

Pet insurance does not cover routine veterinary costs such as vaccinations, defleaing /worming, spaying/neutering, grooming, dentals, health checks etc.

Do I need to brush my pets teeth?

It goes without saying that we brush our own teeth everyday and visit the dentist regularly, but we often forget about our pets oral health. Dental disease can cause serious pain and discomfort to an animal, which they are unable to communicate. You may notice your pet having difficulty eating or going off its food because it finds chewing too difficult, or they may seem generally “off form” because of chronic pain in their mouth. Dental and gum disease is a hidden epidemic as owners are usually unaware of the state of their pet’s teeth.

Signs to watch for

  • Discomfort while chewing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Inflamed or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Excess salivating

If severe, dental disease can cause systemic problems due to transmission of bacteria from the mouth to vital organs via the bloodstream. Preventative care in the form of hard food is recommended, as is tooth brushing if you can manage it!

Our vets will inspect your animal’s teeth as part of their standard health check and advise if a dental procedure is recommended. A dental procedure involves anaesthetizing your pet, fully inspecting the mouth, cleaning, polishing, and extracting teeth if required. Owners sometimes notice their animal has a renewed lease of life after the treatment as the source of pain has been removed.

What about flea and worming treatments?

All puppies and kittens are born with worms transmitted from their mothers while still in the womb. An untreated worm burden will result in general ill health.  The young animal won’t gain weight properly but may look pot-bellied and in severe cases the worms in the intestines can cause a blockage.  Puppies and kittens can be wormed every two weeks from two weeks of age for doses. Once they are 3 months old, worming should be carried out every three months for the rest of the animal’s life. It is especially important for households with children, as in rare cases, contact with worms can cause blindness in humans.

At The Animal Hospital Tallaght we can supply wormers in the form of tablets, liquids, or as a spot on skin application, whichever is most convenient for you and best suited to your pet. You may choose to give the wormer yourself or have one of our staff do it for you.

For flea prevention and treatment, we generally recommend Practic and Advocate for dogs, and Effipro for cats, but we also offer other products. These ‘spot on’ treatments are small tubes of liquid which are applied to the back of your pet’s neck. These products protect your pet against the various parasites in the environment for a period of 1-2 months depending on the particular product used.

Both the wormers and flea treatment are prescription only medications (POMs).

How do I train my pet?

There are many theories and conflicting advice regarding the various ways to train dogs and this can be very confusing. We at The Animal Hospital believe that a good foundation in training is vital in achieving:

  • a strong owner-pet relationship, based on trust and mutual respect.
  • confidence in controlling of your pet in any situation.
  • a happy and outgoing pet that is properly socialized.
  • the ability to work with your pets natural drives and instincts.

Just as you come to us for your pet’s health care, we recommend specialists for your pet’s training. To help you decide we have provided links to some local trainers. Check out the websites to find which one suits you!

How much exercise does my pet need?

If a small dog has adequate toys, or a dog or cat companion, the dog can generally meet all its exercise needs. However walking your dog on a daily basis proves healthy exercise for both dog and owner.

Mid-sized breeds also vary in their need for exercise. Expect dogs that are natural hunters or herders to require more exercise. Beagles, hounds, border collies, Alaskan sled dogs, and Australian shepherds are naturally going to be restless if cooped up. They need time to run around, catch things, chase things, and to walk or jog.
Some dogs also require mental stimulation. Dogs, like people, can get bored.   Bored dogs may behave undesirably e.g. destruction of potted plants or eating your shoes and furniture. New toys that require some work to get reward are fantastic for dogs that need a mental challenge. Also, daily interaction with your dog will help satisfy some mental exercise needs.

Since many dogs are mixed breeds, it may be hard to know what type of exercise requirements a dog has. Once you get a mixed breed dog observe its behaviour. If the dog enjoys basking in the sun most of the day, it probably does not need as much exercise. Conversely, if the dog appears restless and wanders around the house or yard relentlessly, its needs may be better met by more exercise. Older dogs tend to need less daily exercise than younger dogs.

As with people, be wary of providing too much exercise in hot temperatures. During hot months, allow your dog to take breaks and bring along water. Exercise during cooler periods such as right before sunrise or just after sunset.