Client Education

Heartworm Prevention for Client Education

More than a million pets in the United States have a heartworm infestation. But heartworm disease is PREVENTABLE. Let that sink in, because it is one of the most horrible statistics regarding our furry friends.

In companion animals, heartworm disease is diagnosed mainly in dogs and, less frequently, in cats and ferrets. However, heartworms also live in other wild animal hosts such as wolves, coyotes, foxes, and raccoons. Heartworms are only conveyed through the bite of an infected mosquito; therefore, an infected dog cannot transmit the disease to other pets. It will take these deposited larvae approximately 6 months to mature into adult heartworms. If untreated, these adults will mate and produce progeny, constantly increasing their numbers. Adult heartworms can live for 5 – 7 years in dogs. Thus, each mosquito season can potentially increase the number of worms in an already infected pet. Because infected mosquitoes can come inside, be aware that indoor pets are also at risk for heartworm disease. Also note,

Heartworm disease effects an animal’s health and quality of life long after the heartworms are gone. These creatures are merciless in what they do to your pet. As the heartworms move through the body, they cause extensive damage to many vital organs such as the liver, lungs, kidneys, and heart. They can cause inflammation of the blood vessels and too many of them can cause heart failure, resulting in the pet’s death. 


By giving a relatively inexpensive monthly oral medication, or a shot that last 6 or 12 months, heartworm disease in dogs is preventable. An owner might be tempted to give the dog the chewable pill only during the typical mosquito season, but seriously reconsider that thought… Here in Southeast Texas mosquitoes have no off season!

Micro-climates such as irrigated fields, ponds, and golf courses, can affect the severity and duration of the mosquito season. In addition, because many of these preventatives also include a control for roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms, it really is best to give the medication throughout the year. When initially choosing a method of prevention, discuss it with your veterinarian. They can make recommendations based on your pet’s requirements and your financial situation.

What are vaccines, and why do they matter?

Vaccines are products designed to trigger protective immune responses and prepare the immune system to fight future infections from disease-causing agents. Vaccines stimulate the immune system's production of antibodies that identify and destroy disease-causing organisms that enter the body.

Vaccines provide immunity against one or several diseases that can lessen the severity or prevent certain diseases altogether.

Studies show that widespread use of vaccinations within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals. Vaccinations protect your pet from highly contagious and deadly diseases and improve your pet's overall quality of life.

4 reasons to vaccinate your pet

Do vaccinations ensure protection?

For most pets, vaccination is effective in preventing future disease or decreasing the severity clinical signs. It is important to follow the vaccination schedule provided by a veterinarian to reduce the possibility of a gap in protection.

Vaccination is a medical procedure. Vaccines are available through sources other than a veterinarian, but they may not protect your pet against disease unless properly stored, handled, and administered. For this reason, we recommend getting these vaccinations from a veterinary clinic. Most boarding facilities and veterinary clinics will not recognize vaccines given outside of a veterinary establishment.

Are there risks to vaccinating my pet?

Any type of medical treatment has associated risks, but the risk should be weighed against the benefits of protecting your pet, your family and your community from potentially fatal diseases. The majority of pets respond well to vaccines. The most common adverse responses to vaccination are mild and short-term. Serious reactions are rare.

Why do puppies and kittens require a series of vaccinations?

Very young animals are highly susceptible to infectious disease because their immune system is not yet fully mature. They receive protection through antibodies in their mother's milk, but the protection is not long-lasting and there may be gaps in protection as the milk antibodies decrease and their immune system is still maturing. Maternal antibodies can also interfere with a puppy’s or kitten’s vaccine response, so a series of vaccines is typically recommended to ensure that the puppy or kitten receives a vaccine as early as possible after maternal antibodies subside. 

In many instances, the first dose of a vaccine serves to prime the animal's immune system against the virus or bacteria while subsequent doses help further stimulate the immune system to produce the important antibodies needed for long-term protection.

We recommend your pet get established with one of our veterinarians, at that time your pet will receive the proper vaccinations according to age and health.

Finish the series

An incomplete series of vaccinations may lead to incomplete protection, making puppies and kittens vulnerable to infection. To provide optimal protection against disease in the first few months of life, a series of vaccinations are scheduled, usually 3-4 weeks apart. For most puppies and kittens, the final vaccination in the series is administered at about 4 months of age; however, we may alter the schedule based on an individual animal's risk factors.

How often will my pet need to be vaccinated?

Many vaccinations provide adequate immunity when administered every few years, while others require more frequent schedules to maintain an acceptable level of immunity that will continually protect your pet. We will determine a vaccination schedule that's appropriate for your pet.

Which vaccinations should my pet receive?

"Core" vaccines are recommended for most pets in a particular area or geographical location because they protect from diseases most common in that area. "Non-core" vaccinations are for individual pets with unique needs. Talk with us at DRVC about your pet's lifestyle, including any expected travel to other geographical locations and/or contact with other pets or wild animals, since these factors impact your pet's risk of exposure to certain diseases.

Recommended Canine Vaccine Schedule

Recommended Feline Vaccine Schedule

What to expect after your pet's vaccination

It is common for pets to experience some or all of the following mild side effects after receiving a vaccine, usually starting within hours of the vaccination. If these side effects last for more than a day or two, or cause your pet significant discomfort, it is important for you to contact us:

A small, firm swelling under the skin may develop at the site of a recent vaccination. It should start to disappear within a couple weeks. If it persists more than three weeks, or seems to be getting larger, you should contact your veterinarian.

Always inform us at DRVC if your pet has had prior reactions to any vaccine or medication. If in doubt, wait for 30-60 minutes following vaccination before taking your pet home.

Pet Safety and
Natural Disasters

Living in Southeast Texas, we are all familiar with how quickly a natural disaster can come upon us.
When it’s time to shelter in place or evacuate, you don’t want is to be scrambling to manage your pets needs
or having to choose between your family and your pets. The following are some tried and true tips
that will help you stay sane and keep your pet safe.

Create an emergency kit for your pets.

Some items we recommend including are:

*Pro tip: join our PetConnect app and have all your
pet’s records at your fingertips any time of day

Know a safe place to take your pets.

Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are current.

Pet Dental Care

Does my pet really need a dentist?

Absolutely! Just like humans, dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall wellbeing. Dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by our veterinarians to identify any potential problems and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. This is generally done when your pet is already visiting us for their annual vaccinations and exam. However, some pets may become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to one of our veterinarians.

What exactly can you do for my pet’s teeth?

Veterinary dentistry includes cleaning, polishing, and/or extraction of your pets' teeth and all other aspects of oral health care. At DRVC, we will perform radiographs (x-rays) to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gum line. Because most dental disease occurs below the gum line, where you can’t see it, a thorough dental cleaning and evaluation are performed under anesthesia. Dental cleaning includes scaling (to remove dental plaque and tartar) and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth during your regular dental cleanings.

Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:

Periodontal disease… What is it?

Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats – by the time your pet is 3 years old, he or she will very likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if effective preventive measures aren’t taken. Early detection and treatment are critical, because advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for your pet. Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth. Other health problems found in association with periodontal disease include kidney, liver, and heart muscle changes.

It starts with plaque that hardens into tartar. Tartar above the gum line can often easily be seen and removed, but plaque and tartar below the gum line is damaging and sets the stage for infection and damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the tooth to the jaw bone. Periodontal disease is graded on a scale of 0 (normal) to 4 (severe).

What can I do?

Home dental care should be a daily part of each animal’s life. The commitment to time, energy, and resources from the owner will directly impact the quality of their animal’s life. Home dental care should begin between 8 and 12 weeks of age. Brushing is not critical until the adult teeth erupt, but starting early allows the animal to become accustomed to the procedure during an impressionable period of development. Brushing daily is ideal, but a minimum of three times a week would be sufficient. There are also a variety of dental treats our veterinarians can recommend to help with your pet’s dental care between cleanings.

Download the Pet Health Network App

Download our free mobile app for iOS or Android, and enjoy the ease of connecting with us through this new mobile platform. Make sure that you sign up with the same email that you provided to the clinic."