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Your Questions About Vaccines: Answered!

Vaccinating your pet is a relatively inexpensive but very important way to protect his or her health. In addition to preventing many life-threatening illnesses, vaccinations can keep your pet and family safe from diseases prevalent in wildlife and those that can be passed to humans. 

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get about vaccinations: 

Q: Are vaccines safe? 

A: There is a risk associated with all medical procedures, but serious reactions from vaccines are rare. Given the fact that vaccinations have protected millions of animals from illness and death caused by disease, the benefit far outweighs any risk. At Shinnecock Animal Hospital, we have seen VERY FEW adverse reactions and it’s our policy to minimize any risk by spacing out the administration of “killed vaccines”, which are the ones more likely to cause a reaction. 

Q: Why is it important to vaccinate? 

A: Vaccinations are your pet’s first line of defense and can also keep them from transmitting some diseases to your family. Scientific evidence proves that the widespread use of vaccines in the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals. Even diseases that have become uncommon can still be present in the environment and if pets aren’t protected, they can initiate an outbreak. 

Q: Which vaccines does my pet need? 

A: “Core” vaccines are those recommended—and possibly mandated by law—for most pets. Core vaccines include: 

  • Rabies (dogs and cats) 
  • DA2PPV – Distemper, Hepatitis, Adenovirus 2, Parvo and Parainfluenza (dogs) 
  • FVRCP – Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (cats) 

Another non-core, but highly suggested vaccination for outdoor cats is FeLV to protect against feline leukemia. For dogs, bordetella and canine influenza (CIV) shots are a must if they frequent dog parks, boarding kennels, or any place where they’re socializing with other canines. Your SAH doctor may also recommend leptospirosis and Lyme disease vaccinations depending on your dog’s lifestyle. 

Q: Does my indoor cat really need vaccinations? 

Yes! It’s important to note that even pets who live primarily indoors should be vaccinated, as they can still be exposed to disease if they accidentally escape or are exposed to other animals in or outside the home. We can advise you about which vaccinations are right for your pet.  

Q: How often does my pet need to be vaccinated? 

A: Annual vaccinations had been the rule for veterinarians, but they are now learning that some vaccines provide less than a year’s worth of immunity while others last well after a year has passed. That’s why most hospitals, including SAH, customize vaccination plans based on the needs of their patients.  

Q: What kind of reaction should I watch for after my pet is vaccinated? 

A: It’s pretty common for pets to experience some mild side effects after getting their shots. These include localized swelling, itching, sneezing, lethargy, and decreased appetite. You should make a call to the vet immediately, however, if your pet exhibits any of the following symptoms: 

  • Chronic vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Itchy skin that develops into hives 
  • Swelling of the muzzle and around the face, neck, or eyes 
  • Severe coughing or difficulty breathing 
  • Collapse 

Q: What about titer testing? Can it prove immunity and eliminate the need for a vaccination? 

A: Tests that measure antibody response, aka serologic titer tests, can help vets determine the need for revaccination in limited cases. Unfortunately, the tests don’t tell us if the specific concentration of an antibody is exceptionally protective or that a lower concentration means an animal is unprotected. Also, titer tests are not accepted as establishing immunity anywhere in the U.S. and cannot be used as proof of immunity.  

Want to know more? To update your pet’s vaccinations, make an appointment online or call us at (631) 887-3501

1 in 3 Cats Will Develop Kidney Disease

Early Detection is Key 

There’s a strong possibility that your cat will eventually need treatment or management of kidney disease: it’s the #1 cause of death in cats over 10, and it’s estimated that more than half of cats over age 15 have reduced kidney function.  

What’s even scarier is that our feline friends rarely show any symptoms, and they’re easy to miss when they do. Symptoms you can be on the lookout for include: 

  • urinating outside the litterbox 
  • soaking the litterbox 
  • weight loss 
  • drinking more water 

Sadly, by the time most cats show symptoms the disease is very advanced. That’s why diagnosing reduced kidney function early is so important. Shinnecock Animal Hospital offers symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA) testing for both cats and dogs, which is the most accurate marker available for detecting the development of kidney disease. Regular SDMA testing allows us to take action sooner and slow the progression of the condition, allowing your cat the best chance at a long, healthy life.  

If you have questions about kidney disease or your pet is showing any of the symptoms above, don’t hesitate to give us a call at (631) 887-3501

Alternative Therapies for Older Pets

It’s the circle of life for animals to wizen and mature (a.k.a. get old), but that doesn’t mean they have to feel the pain that’s often tied to the aging process. One way we like to go about senior pet care is with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, which have long been used to successfully treat many conditions in both people and animals. Because we at Shinnecock Animal Hospital believe in an integrated approach to veterinary care, we often use both western and eastern methods in order to give our patients the best care possible. 

Dr. Molnar has completed over 200 hours of continuing education and training in Chinese Herbal Medicine and Veterinary Acupuncture and has been practicing in that area for over seven years. Both are minimally invasive, effective ways to manage pain and treat many conditions that your pet may become more susceptible to as they age, including: 

  • arthritis 
  • neurologic disease 
  • seizures 
  • respiratory problems 
  • gastrointestinal disorders 
  • skin/allergy issues 
  • anxiety  

Acupuncture and herbal medicine are most often used in conjunction with traditional therapies but can also reduce the need for medications and their side effects. If your pet suffers from any of the conditions above, or is simply getting up there in age, acupuncture and/or herbal medicine may significantly improve their quality of life. Who wouldn’t want that for their pet? Interested in learning more about these alternative therapies? Give us a call at (631) 887-3501 or make an appointment online

Thank You So Much!

We have always said that our clients and their pets are like family to us—and apparently the feeling is mutual!

Because of you, Shinnecock Animal Hospital has a solid 5-star rating on Google with 111 reviews! We invite you to refer anyone you know with pets to us and share the great care and service we are so proud to give to our patients and their families.

If you haven’t already, please feel free to review us on GoogleYelp, or at our page on Facebook. We look forward to hearing from you!

Paw-Some Summer Safety Tips

Summer means getting outdoors, getting on the road, and getting your barbeque on—but it can also be hazardous for your pet. Here are some tips to make sure you and your furry friend have the best summer ever:

  • Heat kills! Never leave your pet in a car, even for a quick trip! On a sunny 70-degree day, your car can heat up to over 100 degrees in minutes. Hot asphalt and sand will scorch your pet’s paws—so if it’s too hot for your bare feet, it’s too hot for your pooch.
     
  • Do not shave your pet. A pet’s coat is an important part of her natural cooling system, as it protects the skin from the sun. If your pet needs bathing and a trimmed-up coat for summer, we have professional grooming services to help!
     
  • Don’t let your dog drink seawater! Water from the ocean can bring on vomiting and dehydration.
     
  • Disease-carrying ticks are rampant in our area, so even if your pet is on a tick preventative, it’s a good idea to check for these little stowaways after being outdoors. They can easily jump from pets to people.
     
  • Make sure your pet has ID inside and out—not only a collar and tag, but a microchip with current contact information that can’t get lost.
     
  • Cookouts are tasty, but cooked meat bones often splinter and become hazardous if swallowed. Nix the corn cobs, too—they can cause intestinal blockage.
     
  • Fireworks are fun for us, but the racket is terrifying for many pets. Keep them inside, with calm music or white noise on. If you think your pet may need medication to deal with the noise on July 4th, make an appointment with your Shinnecock Animal Hospital veterinarian as soon as possible.
     
  • Keep our number handy for emergencies, because should your pet need a vet this summer, we offer urgent and emergency care and will be open on both July 4th and Labor Day from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m.

In the meantime, if your pet needs vaccinations, microchipping, or parasite preventives to prepare for summer fun, give us a call at (631) 887-3501!

May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month

Lyme disease is one of the most common tick-transmitted diseases in the world. While only 5–10 percent of affected dogs will have symptoms, when a canine does get Lyme disease, one of the most dominant clinical features is inflammation of the joints which causes lameness.

Depression and lack of appetite may also be apparent, and more critical scenarios including kidney damage and even heart or nervous system disease may occur.

Additional symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Sensitive to touch
  • Stiff walk with arched back
  • Difficulty breathing

Lyme disease has been seen in our area, and as such, we highly encourage our clients to keep their pet administered on monthly flea/tick preventatives. Other diseases that can be transmitted through fleas and ticks include Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia and Plague from Prairie Dogs. Remember, prevention is the best way to keep your pet free from these ailments.

At Shinnecock Animal Hospital, we offer a variety of different products for your pet which will combat fleas and ticks (which in turn combats the diseases they carry), and we also offer the Lyme vaccine, too.

For any questions about Lyme disease, or if you’d like to order products or request an appointment, contact us at (631) 887-3501 or request an appointment online.

Treating Skin Allergies in Pets

If your pet is always itching, licking their paws or chewing on their coat, there’s a good chance they have skin allergies. Skin allergies are often caused by flea allergies, food allergies and environmental allergies—to treat skin allergies, you must first figure out what’s causing them.

Start by looking for fleas. If you suspect a flea problem, wash all fabrics in your home and vacuum thoroughly. We also highly encourage all of our clients to administer flea medication to pets, especially this time of year.

If the itching doesn’t appear to be caused by a flea allergy, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out issues like mange and ringworm. Then, we may recommend an elimination diet to see if your pet has a food allergy. You may have to try many types of food, so this can be a lengthy process. We can also diagnose environmental allergies with skin tests and blood tests at this stage.

If your pet is already on flea preventative, consider other options. At Shinnecock Animal Hospital, our grooming services feature medicated baths with hypoallergenic shampoos to provide relief for your best friend.

We also offer CYTOPOINT, which is an innovative new therapy that can help control itching at its source for 1-2 months with just one injection.

Treatments will vary depending on the cause of the allergies, but we will work with you and your pet to come up with a viable solution. For more information on these therapies, please contact us at (631) 887-3501 or request an appointment online.

Would You Know if Your Pet Had Heartworm?

April is Heartworm Awareness Month, and according to the American Heartworm Society (AHS), the incidence of heartworm across the country is up. New York is no exception.

As you may already know, heartworm is spread by mosquitoes, and it only takes one bite to infect a dog. Sadly, many animals don’t show symptoms until the disease is advanced, if at all. While there is treatment for canines, it is expensive and can be very hard on your pet.

As always, the best treatment is prevention! Our veterinarians advise keeping your pet on heartworm preventive year-round, and recommend Interceptor Plus monthly chewables to protect your dog against this potentially deadly disease. 

Be advised if your pet has not previously been on heartworm preventive, he or she will need a heartworm test before starting on one. Schedule an appointment online or call us at (631) 887-3501.

Parasites Aren’t Just a Pet Problem…

One of the benefits of using Interceptor Plus heartworm prevention for your dog is that it also protects your pet from hookworm, roundworm, whipworm and tapeworm.  The first three aren’t just dangers for your dog—they can be transmitted to humans as well. Here’s what you need to know about these pesky parasites:

Roundworm: the most common of intestinal parasites, these worms are passed through animal feces or nursing mother’s milk, making young puppies and kittens particularly susceptible. Adult pets can contract them if they ingest contaminated soil or water or by licking infested fur or paws. Once the worms make it to the digestive system they steal nutrients from the pet’s food which can lead to malnutrition. As larvae move through the body, they can cause respiratory problems as well.

Hookworm: these worms are particularly dangerous because they bite into the intestinal lining of an animal and suck blood. If not treated, this can result in serious blood loss, weakness, and malnutrition. In humans, hookworm infections cause health problems when the larvae penetrate the skin, producing severe itching and tunnel-shaped red areas. If accidentally eaten, they can cause significant intestinal problems.

Whipworm: though less likely to infect humans, whipworms are another intestinal bloodsucker that can cause diarrhea, weight loss and blood loss in pets if a severe infection develops. They have a whip-like shape and like roundworms can be picked up when a pet eats infested soil or licks contaminated fur or paws. 

Tapeworm: the most common type of tapeworm in dogs is transmitted by fleas, and pets become infected by ingesting fleas directly or off mice and other rodents they eat. While tapeworm infections don’t normally cause illness in adult pets, a heavy infestation can be a serious problem for younger animals.

If you have any questions about parasites or think your pet may be infected, don’t hesitate to call us at (631) 887-3501.

Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine for Pets

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine have long been used to successfully treat many conditions in people and animals. At SAH, we believe in an integrated approach to veterinary care, and so we often use both western and eastern methods to help our patients.

Dr. Molnar has completed over 200 hours of continuing education and training in Chinese Herbal Medicine and Veterinary Acupuncture and has been practicing in that area for over seven years. Both are minimally invasive, effective ways to manage pain and treat many conditions, including:

  • arthritis
  • neurologic disease
  • seizures
  • respiratory problems
  • gastrointestinal disorders
  • skin/allergy issues
  • anxiety 

Acupuncture and herbal medicine are most often used in conjunction with traditional therapies but can also reduce the need for medications and their side effects. If your pet suffers from any of the conditions above, acupuncture and/or herbal medicine might significantly improve their quality of life. Want to know more? Schedule and appointment today to discuss if this treatment could be beneficial for your pet.