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Wellness Visits and Vaccines

Wellness Visits:

Considering the shorter lifespan of our patients, we stress the importance of an annual physical exam.  Through examinations and preventitive health care, we can alleviate serious health problems and thus prolong the health and happiness of your pet.  


Vaccinations are scheduled according to your pet's specific requirements.  This will ensure that we will maximize the benefits while limiting the risks for your pet. Some vaccines require initial boosters so your pet has adequate time to develop immunity, so make sure to plan ahead so that your pet is protected.  Keep in mind that your pet might not be fully protected until all boosters are finished, so during this time, it's important to keep your distance from other, unvaccinated animals. Some vaccines start at 6-8 weeks of age and others at 4 months, so feel free to call us early to make a plan specific to you and your pet's needs.

Canine Vaccines:

Canine Rabies:

Rabies is a disease caused by infection of the Rhabdovirus via direct contact of the mucous membranes of an infected animal (a bite from a rabid raccoon for instance). Because Rabies is fatal if left untreated and because all mammals, including humans, are potential hosts for the disease, most areas, including Grand Traverse County, legally require that all dogs are vaccinated with the Rabies vaccine. We therefore strongly recommend that you have your dog up to date on his rabies vaccine.  For more on Rabies, see here.

Canine Distemper:

Canine Distemper is a virus that causes severe respiratory, intestinal, and neurologic symptoms. Because it is relatively unstable, it cannot survive in the environment very long and requires dog to dog contact, or contact with very fresh infected secretions, to be spread. Treatment of Distemper requires extensive veterinary support and is often lengthy and expensive.  If left untreated, Distemper is usually fatal.  Though humans can become infected with the disease, it's unclear whether any illness results.  Luckily, the Distemper vaccine is quite safe and effective and therefore, along with Rabies, it is recommended as part of your dog's core vaccine plan.  The Distemper vaccine is often given with Parvo and/or Lepto, and is thus referred to as DHLPP.  For more information on canine distemper, see here.


Canine Parvovirus is a viral disease that typically affects younger dogs with severe hemorrhagic diarrhea and vomiting. Like Distemper, it requires extensive veterinary treatment.  But unlike Distemper, the Parvovirus is especially stable and difficult to kill. Thus, it can live outside of a host for some time and spread through an environment quite easily.  It is not contractable by humans, but can be deadly in a dog when left unsupported. The Parvo vaccine is often given with Distemper and Lepto, and is usually recommended to be part of your dog's core vaccine plan.  For more on Parvo, see here.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection of the Leptospira interrogans that is caused when a dog comes in contact with the urine, or water contaminated by the urine, of an infected animal.  Because all kinds of wildlife, from deer to mice, can harbor the disease, any cross contact with the habitats in which these creatures live can put your dog at risk.  Leptospirosis leads to kidney and liver failure and is only treatable by extensive antibiotics and fluid therapy, but more often than not, it is fatal.  Because it is also contractable by humans, we strongly recommend the vaccine.  However, because the leptospirosis vaccine is known to have more vaccine reactions than the other 5 canine vaccines, we will evaluate your dog's specific needs and risks when making the decision to vaccinate. For more on Lepto, see here.

Lyme disease:

Lyme disease is a widely misunderstood bacterial infection of the Borrelia burgdorferi that causes lethargy, lameness, and fever. The bacteria relies on a host to survive and can only be transfered to your dog by a deer tick. Because the life cycle of the bacteria is dependent upon the white tailed deer, the white footed mouse, and the deer tick to become active, Lyme disease is most present in areas where all of these organisms live (the woods of Northern Michigan for instance).  Generally, if you have seen deer ticks on your pet, or if he spends a great amount of time in areas where deer ticks are present, such as in or around the edge of woods, he may be a good candidate for the Lyme disease vaccine. With that said, even if your dog is vaccinated for Lyme disease, it is most important to use tick prevention as well. Like flea prevention, we can provide tick prevention to you via topical or oral medications here at our clinic. For more on Lyme disease, click here.


Bordetella bronchiseptica is a bacterial bronchitis that is one of the more common causes of the Kennel Cough disease, or the "kindergarden" disease of dogs. Because it is contagious from dog to dog contact, most boarding kennels, puppy classes, and dog parks require that your dog have the Bordetella oral vaccine prior to attending. Check with your individual facility to see their requirements.  To read more about kennel cough, see here.


Feline Vaccines:

Feline Rabies:

Feline Rabies is virtually the same as canine Rabies.  The virus is spread via the bite of an infected animal and can take a year to manifest before symptoms develop. Once symptoms develop the disease is untreatable and leads to death within 10 days. Because of the clear threat to people, most areas require that if an unvaccinated animal bites a human, that animal is to be confined for 10 days at the owners expense for observation, and then vaccinated immediately after.  If the pet has been exposed to wildlife, the requirements change and could even mean euthanasia for Rabies testing and confirmation.  For this reason, we strongly recommend the Rabies vaccine for most pets, even indoor cats.  For more on Rabies, see here.

Feline Distemper:

Feline Distemper, or Panleukemia, is an incredibly widespread viral infection that almost every cat will be exposed to.  It is quite stable in the environment and so is highly contageous to an unprotected cat.  Because 90% of infected cats do not survive, we highly recommend the Feline Distemper vaccine, commonly known as FDRC. Luckily the vaccine is highly effective and Feline Distemper is not contractable by humans. To read more on Feline Distemper, see here.

Feline Leukemia:

Feline Leukemia, otherwise known as FeLV, is a retrovirus that is transmitted by the saliva or blood of infected cats.  Some infected cats eliminate the virus and become immune, but for those that don't, the virus spreads to the bone marrow leading to degenerative diseases and immunosuppression. A large percentage of cats that are exposed will show no symptoms, but will carry the disease and transmit it to other cats.  For this reason, it's important to test any new cats coming into your household for Feline Leukemia before introducing them to your other cats. We can perform a quick snap test here at the clinic for FeLV and another virus similar to AIDS in humans, FIV. Because 85% of infected cats die within 3 yrs of diagnosis, vaccination is key.  For more on Feline Leukemia, click here

Dog Licensing:

State law dictates that all dogs over 4 months of age are required to be vaccinated for rabies and be licensed by the county in which they reside. Dog licenses can be purchased either from Grand Traverse Veterinary Hospital or directly from the County Treasurer's Office.  For more questions on dog licensing in Grand Traverse County, click here.   

Fecal Parasite Testing:

Your pet can pick up instestinal parasites virtually anywhere; the soil, the grass, the lake, or even the stool of other animals are all breeding grounds for different kinds of worms. And even if your pet may appear healthy, he could be carrying a host of internal parasites that can disrupt his digestive system and even affect his immune system. We therefore recommend a yearly fecal test to make sure that your pet isn't carrying around any unwanted friends. We can then make recommendations on treating these issues before it becomes a systematic problem.

Heartworm Testing and Prevention:

Heartworm, or Dirofilaria Immitis, is a parasite that during adulthood, inhabits the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected dog. Because it is very difficult and expensive to treat, we push for prevention and early detection. 

Because Heartworm is spread by mosquitos, most dogs are susceptible hosts, but luckily, we have a variety of effective Heartworm prevention medications that your dog can take monthly to prevent the infection of the parasite itself. However, even if your dog is on prevention, there is still a very slight chance that they can still contract the disease.  So with that said, and because Heartworm is easier to treat in early stages, we do recommend yearly Heartworm testing that can be done with a simple blood test here at the clinic.  


We utilize the Home Again system for implanting microchips that can identify your precious pet. If your pet becomes lost and is brought in to a veterinary clinic or to animal control, they will be able to scan your pet and identify him immediately. We are also equipped with scanner that can help reconnect lost pets with their owners. 

Avian, Exotic, and Pocket Pets:

We also see a variety of avian, exotic, and pocket pets on a weekly basis, and thus are experienced in handling for beak, wing, toenail and teeth trims, as well as examining and diagnosing diseases in rabbits, guinea pigs, ferrets, rats, mice, etcetera.