At Harlingen Veterinary Clinic, our approach to canine medicine revolves around a comprehensive, competent and compassionate
aimed at ensuring the highest quality of life for your dog.
Perhaps the greatest measure of our success is found in our many happy patients and kind words from our clients. We value the long term relationship we have with many of our clients. Through good communication and trust we have built so many great relationships with our clients which allow us to partner with our clients to provide the best care for their dog.
This dedication to service is why our practice has become so well known and respected across the dog vet industry. Our veterinary clinic is among the top 15% of practices in the US that are accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association.
A Comprehensive Approach To Canine Veterinary Medicine
We understand that a dog veterinarian is only as good as his or her ability to successfully prevent, diagnose and treat whatever ailment a dog may be facing. Equally as important is our ability to listen and communicate well with owners to make sure they understand their dog’s health concerns and how to make the best choices for their dog. This is why our dog clinic is capable of handling any procedure including preventive care and medical diagnosis.
We specialize in the following dog health services for dogs of all ages, breeds and circumstances, including:
Dog Allergy Testing
While not usually life threatening, allergies in dogs do cause discomfort and should be treated.
While not usually life threatening, allergies in dogs do cause discomfort. Most symptoms are associated with dermatologic problems but some can also lead to chronic respiratory issues in some dogs if untreated for long periods of time. Sometimes an owner will bring their dog to a veterinary appointment, suspecting a serious medical condition and end up finding out that their canine companion has an allergy.
Here are some allergy symptoms commonly found in dogs:
- Excessive licking
- Compulsive scratching
- Periodic chewing on the same or different body parts or areas
- Regularly rubbing body or body parts against the ground, walls, furniture, etc.
- Frequent sneezing and/or wheezing
- Skin irritation/fur loss
Most allergies develop in the second year of life for dogs. In the first year, the dog will be exposed to many types of allergens primarily through contact with the skin. A smaller number of allergies may be caused by food (usually the protein source) and inhalant (things they breathe in that are in the air). In the second year of life, the dog’s immune system will overreact to the antigen(s) causing release of immune cells which release inflammatory substances ( such as histamine) which lead to symptoms of itching. Rarely is a dog allergic to just one thing. Most allergic dogs are born with a less than optimal skin barrier which allows for antigens to enter the skin more easily. Dogs that suffer from allergies have abnormal skin and a less than optimal immune response which allows for secondary infections to occur. Typically, dogs do not suffer from a single allergy, but instead, dogs with sensitivities to allergens have a host of issues. You must understand that dog allergies are due to a complex set of issues that tends to change as the dog’s environment changes.
Because these symptoms can have several possible causes, we recommend making a veterinary appointment immediately if you notice your dog exhibiting any of the above symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment of dog allergies not only increases the likelihood of your dog’s treatment being successful, but can also be less expensive than delaying treatment. The longer you wait, the more your dog suffers and more severe the secondary infections can become.
The first step to determining the cause of your dog’s symptoms is a thorough exam by your veterinarian. In addition to looking for external skin parasites such as fleas and mites, your veterinarian will want to do some diagnostics to help him/her determine what types of infections may be present. After diagnosing and treating for external parasites and infections, your veterinarian may want to discuss allergy testing. Once your veterinarian believes that allergies are the root cause of skin irritation/infections and discomfort, then they may recommend testing for specific allergens. There are many things to test for in determining what your dog may be causing the allergies for your dog. Dog allergens fall into the following groups:
- Contact allergy – including many grasses and plants, dust mites and molds
- Flea allergies – many dogs are highly allergic to flea bites
- Food allergies – including different types of proteins
- Inhalant allergy (Atopy) – allergens that are inhaled
Contact allergies such as flea, food and dust/pollen allergies are by far the most common cause of allergies in dogs. These allergens can cause an allergic reaction in the body that focuses largely on and within the epidermis, causing severe irritation. The result is a dog scratching itself to the point that skin infections and injuries can occur.
Blood Testing and Intradermal Skin Testing. Each type of canine allergy testing administered differently and has its benefits and drawbacks. However, the following points hold true for both types of dog allergy testing:
- It is best to perform these test during the season(s) when the allergy is the worst and therefore most likely to generate an accurate result
- Testing should come after examination for other potential causes and irritators, including:
- Fungal or yeast infections of the skin (common secondary invaders)
- Chronic bacterial infections (common secondary invaders)
A veterinarian might also order a 12 week hypoallergenic diet to rule out a food allergy. Food allergies are difficult to detect using either dog allergy testing method, and therefore should be determined through dietary manipulation. Once all of these possibilities are ruled out, the veterinarian will order either a blood or skin test to determine the presence of dog allergies.
Think of dogs skin like saran wrap. It covers and protects the dog. However, dogs with allergies are born with abnormal skin (like holes in the saran wrap). These abnormalities in the skin allow for the allergens, which are normal in all environments, to enter through the skin layer and set off an allergic response which causes itching and redness. So, it is important to understand that dogs who suffer from contact allergies do not have normal skin. Additionally, these dogs do not have a healthy immune response.
In addition, this inflammation in the skin will change the health of the skin and allow for secondary invaders such as bacteria and yeast to enter the dog’s system. In addition, many of these dogs have a less than optimal local immune response to these secondary invaders making them more susceptible to yeast and bacterial infections. Yeast and bacteria are always present in low numbers on every dog’s skin. Unfortunately for dogs with allergies, their skin and immune response are inadequate to fight off these secondary invaders.
Blood allergy testing is the most common form of allergy testing because it is convenient and easy to do. To perform a blood allergy test, a small sample of the patient’s blood is drawn and analyzed. It is then tested for a reaction to a vast array of geographically appropriate allergens, including:
Blood allergy tests can also determine food allergies, as well as allergic reactions to materials like cotton or nylon. Blood tests are much less invasive and time consuming than skin allergy tests. Blood tests are the most commonly used dog allergy test.
Skin allergy testing for dogs is another form of allergy testing used by veterinarians and veterinary dermatologists today. Skin allergy testing is more invasive than blood allergy testing, because it requires sedation due to the length of time the patient needs to be still. To perform skin allergy testing for dogs:
- The patient is sedated
- The patient is placed on its side
- A small area on the patient’s side is shaved
- Small needles inject tiny amounts of each test allergen just under the patient’s skin in a specific pattern and order so that if the dog shows a small raised reaction, the allergen causing it can be identified
After a period of time (usually a few hours), the shaved area is examined to determine which allergens elicited a reaction. Based on what the pattern indicates, a veterinarian and/or veterinary dermatologist can prescribe the most effective treatment protocol. Skin allergy testing for dogs has been estimated to be upwards of 75% accurate in determining the presence of dog allergies. However, skin allergy tests can be inaccurate if patients have received antihistamines or steroids in the months leading up to testing. Your veterinarian can help determine if skin allergy testing is appropriate and will yield accurate results for your canine friend.
It is helpful to understand that allergies cannot be cured but can be successfully treated. There are many types of treatment and include the combination of oral medication, bathing, topical therapy and even injectable antigen therapy.
Prescribing the correct allergy medicine for dogs depends largely on the symptoms that the dog is displaying, the severity of the symptoms, and preexisting medical conditions. Allergy medicine for dogs may involve one or more of the following types of therapies:
- Anti-inflammatory therapy: Treats dog allergies with anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids, or with antihistamines that quickly block the allergic reaction in most cases.
- Immune modulators: These modify and reduce the dog’s immune response to reduce the amount of itching which occurs from exposure to the antigens
- Food and Dietary supplements: These include the use of protein select diets and supplementation of fatty acids. Some dogs have allergies just to food and some may also have a food allergy and/or contact allergies. The use of Omega three fatty acids can help improve the patient’s response to steroids and antihistamines in some cases
- Antipruritic therapy (anti itch): These include antihistamines, corticosteroids and a new medication known as Apoquel which specifically targets the itch response by blocking the substances in the body which cause itch
- Shampoo therapy: Bathing can be very helpful to remove the antigens the dog has been exposed to and also to remove dead skin cells and help treat secondary infections such as yeast and bacteria. Some therapeutic shampoos contain anti-inflammatory ingredients that may further benefit your dog
- Hyposensitization therapy: If the specific offending allergens are identified by allergy testing, allergy shots can be given to the patient. This form of allergy medicine for dogs consists of weekly injections of very small amounts of an antigen. Repeated dosing helps reprogram or desensitize the patient’s immune system. Approximately 50% of treated dogs will see significant improvement in their clinical signs, while approximately 25% more will see a decrease in the amount or frequency of anti-inflammatory therapy
To learn which allergy medicine for dogs, and what dog allergy treatment methods will work best for your canine friend, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian today. Every allergy case is different and must all be approached on a case by case basis.
Some dogs suffer from food allergies. The only way to determine food allergies is to do an elimination diet in which we change your dog’s diet to a limited list of ingredients that contain no known allergens. These can be home cooked or commercial diets(prescription) specifically made for food allergic dogs.
We can help determine whether or not your dog has a food allergy by prescribing three possible diets:
- Limited ingredient diet: We limit the ingredients of your dog’s diet to pin down the specific allergen causing your dog’s reactions
- Novel ingredient diet: We introduce ingredients your dog has not been exposed to and is therefore less likely to be causing the reactions
- Prescription diet: We prescribe a kibble-based or ingredient specific diet that is designed to contain hypoallergenic ingredients
It is important to remember that only about 10% of all dog allergies are food-based. Also, it is important to designate between dog food allergies and schedule an allergy testing appointment and allow us to help your dog live a more comfortable life.
Your dog’s behavior is not completely genetically inherent, but can be learned and unlearned with your commitment and our help.
Illness doesn’t always have a physical cause, and the sad truth is that more dogs are put to sleep because of behavioral problems than because of disease or injury. Dog obedience training can ensure your canine is a safe and enjoyable member of your family. From training puppies to addressing unwanted behavior in an older dog, our veterinarians can help you achieve a better bond with your furry friend.
At Harlingen Veterinary Clinic, our veterinarians and support staff have many years of experience diagnosing and prescribing treatment methods for dog behavior issues. We can help determine the cause of disorders such as separation anxiety and obsessive behavior, and then develop an effective, humane training program.
Puppy training and adult dog training play a key role in helping you to raise a well-behaved and socially adjusted canine companion. There are many different methods of dog training, and recommendations naturally vary depending on the age of the dog and the severity of any unwanted behavior that has already developed. Not all methods prove to be reliable or humane, and we strongly recommend against pursuing radical, or inhumane forms of dog training.
Some of the common behaviors dog training programs can help treat include:
- Aggression: This is the number one reason dog owners seek dog training. Aggression is a natural defensive instinct in dog behavior. However, dogs must be deterred from taking hostile stances against people and other animals. These aggressive behaviors may include biting, snarling, growling, lunging and posturing. If your dog shows signs of aggression, it must be addressed. These behaviors will not go away on their own and will typically become more severe without intervention.
- Barking: As a dog’s main form of vocal communication, barking conveys a dog’s wants and needs. However, barking can also become an excessive and obsessive behavior that is a nuisance for you and your neighbors. If your dog barks incessantly or for no apparent reason you should consider obedience training.
- Chewing: Chewing is an essential behavior in puppies and some older dogs, as a method of maintaining a healthy mouth. However, excessive chewing can indicate anxiety, hyperactivity, stress, frustration or fear. If your dog chews inappropriate items such as furniture, bedding or carpet, you should pursue dog obedience training.
- Food guarding: This is a behavior that instinctually dates back to a wild animal protecting its precious sustenance from other animals. However, in the modern day home, food guarding can lead to dog attacks and other dangerous interactions between humans and canines. This is a behavior that should be addressed when your dog is a puppy to set up appropriate boundaries for your dog. If your dog guards his or her food, this is a behavior that should be addressed sooner than later. Please schedule an ASAP.
- Howling: Like barking, howling is a normal form of vocal expression. Dogs howl to announce their presence, attract attention and make contact with other dogs, and is more common in some breeds than others. However, excessive howling can also indicate separation anxiety and even medical issues. If your dog howls excessively, we can discuss it at your next veterinary appointment.
- Mounting and masturbation: These are also normal behaviors in dogs of all ages for dominance, social and reproductive purposes. Even after spaying or neutering, many dogs continue to mount other dogs in shows of dominance. But in excess, these behaviors can indicate compulsion, stress and certain medical issues. Therefore, it is important to seek veterinary advice if your dog exhibits these behaviors abnormally.
- Mouthing: While this is perfectly normal dog behavior. Mouthing can also lead to more dangerous behavior. Nipping and biting other animals or humans is totally unacceptable dog behavior that can lead to dangerous interactions. If your dog nips or bites during play or other interactions, dog training is essential to stave off potential disaster.
- Separation anxiety: This is a very common dog behavior. After all, you are the main living being your dog associates with, and when you are not there, your dog wishes you were. Negative behaviors such as destroying property, barking and making in the house can typically be corrected with the right obedience training techniques. Some cases require medication to alleviate the severe stress that the dog is experiencing.
- Whining: This is also a normal vocal dog behavior. It can convey a need, but can also indicate anxiety, illness or injury. If your dog whines compulsively or incessantly, there could be a medical issue or condition causing this dog behavior to occur. For excessive and/or abnormal whining, give us a call and let’s get your dog the care they need.
Puppy training is essential to raising a well-behaved and socially adjusted adult canine. This is because behaviors learned or allowed during a dog’s formative years are the ones that become ingrained in his or her consciousness as acceptable in adulthood. Because dogs age faster than human beings do, puppy training becomes essential to embark upon early in life. In order to ensure negative behaviors are corrected before they can become ingrained as normal or natural.
Puppy training should be started between 7-8 weeks of age. Between the ages of 8 and 12 weeks, there are many important milestones of behavioral learning for your puppy. During this time you will greatly benefit from the help of an experienced trainer. As your puppy ages, behaviors become quickly ingrained and certain behaviors become more difficult to change. It is much easier to mold the behavior of a puppy and ensure that your puppy is on the right track from the start.
Puppy training courses deal with many common, but negative dog behavior patterns and will help your puppy become a disciplined and well adjusted adult dog. We strongly recommend puppy training courses for every dog and dog owner.
Imagine your canine companion as an obedient, loyal and reliable friend on a leash or off. Imagine never having to worry about interactions with other animals or people of any age, appearance or demeanor. Imagine always knowing your dog will be well behaved in any situation. By undertaking dog obedience training, your imagination will take a back seat to the pleasant and peaceful reality of your everyday life. Dog obedience training is the key to a well-behaved dog.
Dog Cancer Treatment
Our communicative, community approach to cancer treatment makes all the difference for you and your dog.
At Harlingen Veterinary Clinic, we understand that your canine companion is not just a pet, but that he or she is a beloved, cherished family member. The mutual bond of love and loyalty between you can make a diagnosis of any form of dog cancer very difficult to hear. Our veterinarians and support staff are empathetic, compassionate and trained to focus on both the emotional and medical aspects of dog cancer.
We are here to guide you both through the diagnosis and treatment process. This includes choosing the best options for effectively, humanely and successfully dealing with canine cancer.
Unlike many other species of animals, dogs are susceptible to the same types of cancer as humans. Cancer is caused by the uncontrolled growth of cells in the body. These cells can originate in any of the body’s tissues. If not found and arrested in time, cancer can expand and connect with the circulatory or lymph systems, and also can spread and infect other tissues in the body. Canine cancer is the leading cause of death for dogs 10 years of age and older. However, half of all cancer in dogs is treatable if it is arrested in its early stages.
The most common types of cancer in dogs are:
- Hemangiosarcoma: This form of dog cancer is an incurable tumor of cells that line blood vessels, called endothelial cells. Although dogs of any age and breed are susceptible to Hemangiosarcoma, it occurs more commonly in middle aged or elderly dogs. Also certain breeds have a much higher incidence including Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds. For this reason, we may recommend additional screening these breeds after age 5. This form of dog cancer develops slowly and is essentially painless, so clinical signs are usually not evident until the advanced stages when the tumors are resistant to most treatments. Less than 50% of treated dogs survive more than six months, and many die from severe internal bleeding before there is an opportunity to institute treatment.
- Mast Cell Tumors: These are immune cells that are responsible for allergies. Mast cells can be found in all tissues of the body but typically form tumors on the skin in close to 20 percent in the canine population. They range from relatively benign to extremely aggressive. Certain breeds of dog are at an increased risk for the development of this tumor, indicating that genetics might be a cause. Boxers are especially prone to this type of cancer.
- Lymphoma: This form of dog cancer can affect any dog of any breed at any age. Most of the time, it appears as swollen glands (lymph nodes) that can be seen or felt under the neck, in front of the shoulders, or behind the knee. Occasionally, lymphoma can affect lymph nodes that are not visible from outside the body, such as those inside the chest or in the abdomen. This can cause trouble breathing and digestive trouble. Generally this form of dog cancer is considered treatable if arrested in its early stages. Standard Poodles, Golden Retrievers and Australian Shepherds are a few of the breeds with higher incidence of lymphoma.
- Osteosarcoma: This form of dog cancer is the most common type of primary bone cancer in dogs, accounting for up to 85% of tumors that originate in the skeletal system. Although it mostly affects older large or giant breed dogs, it can affect dogs of any size or age. Osteosarcoma occurs in many areas, but it most commonly affects the bones bordering the shoulder, wrist and knee. A major symptom is lameness in the affected leg, or a swelling over the area that seems painful at the site.
- Brain Tumors: Epileptic-like seizures or other extreme behavioral changes are usually the only clinical signs. CAT scanning and MRI is used to determine location, size and severity. Although some oral chemotherapy and radiation therapy can control some inoperable tumors, surgical intervention may be recommended if the tumor is operable.
- Bladder Cancer: Some breeds are more at risk for this form of dog cancer than others. This is a slow developing dog cancer, and symptoms may not show for 3 to 6 months. Urinary obstruction and bleeding are common symptoms.
- Mammary Carcinoma: Non-spayed female dogs are at high risk for developing malignant mammary tumors, but all female dogs regardless of reproductive state remain at risk. Approximately 50% of these tumors are malignant, and complete surgical removal is recommended if the cancer has not metastasized.
- Malignant Histiocytosis: This dog cancer affects larger sport breeds most often. It occurs as localized lesions in the spleen, lymph nodes, lung, bone marrow, skin and subcutis, brain, and periarticular tissue of large appendicular (limb) joints. Histiocytic sarcomas can also occur as multiple lesions in single organs (especially spleen), and rapidly disseminate to involve multiple organs. Unfortunately there is no reported effective therapy for this form of dog cancer.
- Squamous Cell Carcinomas: It is most often found in the mouth and the nail beds of the toes. Early detection and complete surgical removal is the most common treatment. Fewer than 20% of dogs develop metastatic disease. SCC of the tonsil and tongue are quite aggressive and fewer than 10% of dogs survive 1 year or longer despite treatment measures.
- Mouth and Nose Cancer: This is a very common form of dog cancer, more so in the mouth than the nose. Symptoms include a mass on the gums, bleeding, odor, or difficulty eating. Since many swellings are malignant, early, aggressive treatment is essential. Cancer may also develop inside the nose of dogs. Bleeding from the nose, breathing difficulty, or facial swelling are symptoms that may indicate nose cancer.
- Melanoma: This form of dog cancer most commonly occurs in canines with dark skin. Melanomas arise from pigment producing cells called melanocytes, which are responsible for coloring the skin. Melanomas can occur in areas of haired skin, where they usually form small, dark (brown to black) lumps, but can also appear as large, flat, wrinkled masses. Malignant melanoma, which develops in the mouth or in the distal limbs (usually the toenail beds), is an incurable disease. These tumors have very often spread to distant parts of the body by the time they are first noticed, making complete surgical removal impossible.
- Testicular: This form of dog cancer is common in unneutered dogs with retained testes. This form of dog cancer is largely preventable with neutering, and curable with surgery if arrested early in the disease process.
Some signs of cancer in dogs are easy to spot and others are not. Signs of cancer in dogs may vary greatly depending upon a number of factors. However, the following list identifies some of the most common signs of cancer in dogs:
- Lumps and bumps underneath a dog’s skin
- Abnormal odors emanating from the mouth, ears or any other part of the body
- Abnormal discharge from the eyes, mouth, ears or rectum
- Abdominal swelling
- Non-healing wounds or sores
- Sudden and irreversible weight loss
- Change in appetite
- Coughing or difficulty breathing
- Lethargy or depression
- Changes in bathroom habits
- Evidence of pain
Should you witness any signs of cancer in your dog, we strongly recommend making a veterinary appointment immediately.
Tumors in dogs usually appear as fleshy but solid lumps of tissue underneath a dog’s skin and fur. Not all tumors will be outwardly evident. Sometimes you can see evidence of tumors and sometimes they are deep within the body of the dog. However, early detection and treatment are key to preserving your dog’s health and quality of life. Therefore, it is important to periodically inspect your canine companion for any abnormal lumps and keep a semi-annual veterinary appointment schedule.
Owners most commonly find a tumor on their dog while petting or bathing. If you are running your hand over any part of your dog’s body and feel a lump, call to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Most likely, the veterinarian will want to do a needle aspirate to get cells from the tumor to get a diagnosis on the type of tumor. The diagnosis is helpful in determining what if any type of surgery and or follow up cancer care may be necessary. Some tumors in dogs cannot be visualized but can be palpated (felt with touch) by your veterinarian during the exam. For instance, an enlarged spleen may be palpable to your veterinarian but not visible to the owner. You can reference the list of canine cancer symptoms above to get a better understanding of what symptoms to be on the lookout for.
Only a veterinarian can accurately diagnose canine cancer. This is why it is extremely important to schedule periodic wellness exams for your canine companion. During these preventive exams, your veterinarian can check your dog for signs of canine cancer. Treating canine cancer before it advances is key to successful recovery.
Several factors influence cancer treatment decisions for dogs with cancer, including:
- Age of the dog
- General health of the dog
- Tumor type
- Biological behavior of the tumor
- The stage of the cancer
The patient’s overall health status plays a major role in therapy choices for dogs with cancer. This includes evaluating the patient for his or her ability to tolerate cancer treatment. Life expectancy should be taken into consideration as well; for a slow-growing tumor in an older dog, for example, treatment drawbacks may outweigh potential benefits.
Treatments for dogs with cancer are similar to human therapies, which can include:
- Radiation therapy
- Holistic or herbal therapy
There is a lack of consensus as to whether you must choose only one course of treatment, or if multiple treatment options can be combined effectively. Sometimes combining methods works well for dogs with cancer, but that may not always be the case as some treatments may interfere with each other and potentially cause unintended harm. These are important issues to address with the veterinarian at your next appointment.
Preventive Health Care For Dogs
Our comprehensive preventive care program helps you make sure your dog remains healthy and well year round.
At Harlingen Veterinary Clinic, we believe that a sound preventive health care regimen is the easiest and most effective way to keep your dog healthy and happy. Many canine diseases are easily preventable and most can be effectively treated and cured if detected early enough. However, if allowed to develop and progress unchecked, many diseases can quickly become difficult and expensive to treat, and in some cases incurable. Therefore, we strongly encourage every dog owner to take a proactive approach to preventive care.
Our comprehensive dog wellness programs typically consist of:
- Education by our staff and various resources we can make available to you (ie doctors, techs, and information available here on our website)
- Things you can do at home to support weight loss, diet, dental care, etc
Our goal is to partner with you to ensure optimal health for your dog. A healthy and happy canine companion will remain a loyal and loving member of your family for many years to come.
Taking an active role in a dog wellness program begins with visits to the veterinarian for periodic physical exams. The physical exam is a comprehensive assessment of your dog’s health. Because your dog cannot talk, we rely on the owners to provide us with key information to help us to assess your dog’s health. Our veterinarians will ask you specific questions and your answers will help guide the examination to assess overall health and reveal developing health issues that can easily go unnoticed. Based on age, health status and pre-existing conditions, some dogs require a physical exam annually, and others semi-annually (every six months). During the physical exam, your veterinarian will review various aspects of your dog’s health, including:
- Vaccination Status
- Parasite Control
- Dental Health
- A complete physical exam from nose to toes
- X-rays – primarily for older dogs
After the physical exam, our veterinarian will discuss with you their findings and what if anything should be done to keep your dog in optimal health.
Overall dog health and quality of life depend heavily on the amount and type of food consumed on a daily basis. Low quality dog food, and treats high in fat or sugar can negatively affect your canine companion physically, emotionally and mentally. This is why dogs of all ages and life stages can benefit from a sound nutrition program, including:
- Puppies: Generally speaking, puppies may need increased frequency of feeding and more proteins and fats
- Adult Dogs: Concern for weight management, breed specific and lifestyle specific nutrition choices
- Senior Dogs: Many senior dogs have health concerns that may require specific nutritional choices
It is important to understand that the above bullet points are meant to demonstrate that the nutritional needs of dogs do change through different stages of life. However, it is also important to understand that the above bullet points are not meant to serve as the basis for the nutritional program for your dog. There are many factors that must be considered when creating a nutritional plan for a dog, including breed, age, health conditions and more This is why you should discuss the nutritional needs of your dog with a veterinarian at your next appointment.
Other considerations when choosing a diet include:
- The best canned or kibble diet for the breed, age and activity level
- Items ok to add to your dog’s food – ie some cooked veggies
- Supplements – what you may be using and what our vets want you to consider using
- Healthy dog snacks
- What to avoid feeding your dog
Many clients are afraid or embarrassed to discuss what they feed their dog with a veterinarian. You should always be open and honest with your veterinarian about what you are actually feeding your dog. We are happy to discuss any supplements or treats you may be using and it will help us have a complete picture of your dog’s health. This is a great topic for discussion that can allow us to partner with you and take a team approach to optimizing your dog’s health. Some of your “people” food may even be a great addition to your dog’s diet. However, let us help you to determine the type and amount that is best.
For more information on dog nutrition, visit the dog nutrition section.
Your dog’s oral health is key for maintaining overall health. Dental disease is generally gradual and dogs adjust to living with oral pain and will not show signs they are uncomfortable. It is difficult for owners to know when their dog has dental disease or oral pain. For this reason, an important part of the physical exam is an oral exam. During this part of the exam, we will look at the teeth, tongue and oral cavity. The unfortunate reality is that periodontal disease affects most dogs by age 4-5 years.
Some of the possible dental conditions which can affect your dog include:
- Tooth Loss/broken teeth
- Mouth sores and ulcers
- Periodontal disease
This is why periodic and thorough dental care is essential to your dog’s overall health. A thorough oral cleaning is something you should trust to your veterinarian every 6-12 months, but brushing can be performed on your canine companion in the comfort of your home. You can also help facilitate good dog health by providing toys and treats formulated to help strengthen and/or clean your dog’s teeth and gums.
For more information on dental care for dogs, visit the dog dental care section.
Fleas and ticks are a great nuisance to your dog and family. These pesky insects cause discomfort and can carry disease to your dog and possibly to your family. While these parasites are common, it is our goal that your pet never has to experiences the irritation fleas and ticks cause. We can work with you to set up a preventive plan to avoid infestation of your pet and your home. We will help to customize a plan for your dog based upon the dog’s lifestyle, number and type of pets in the household. There are so many flea and tick products on the market. They are not all created equal and some are not effective and even dangerous. Our doctors and staff are very knowledgeable about these parasites and the best way to prevent them. Part of the annual physical exam is developing and managing the best flea and tick treatment plan for your dog.
For more information on flea and tick prevention for dogs, visit the dog flea and tick section.
Vaccinations are a foundational and critically important part of the preventive care plan. The vaccinations we recommend will prevent diseases that, while not common, are still a serious threat to the health, longevity and quality of life of your dog. The only reason they are not common is because of the excellent vaccines we have to protect your dog and hopefully the rest of the dogs that your dog will come into contact with. When owners stop vaccinating, we see a resurgence of these very deadly diseases.
Generally, a vaccine protocol consists of a series of immunizations given to your dog as a puppy, boosters at one year and then periodically throughout its lifetime.
Although the rabies vaccine is the only vaccination currently required by law in most states, we strongly recommend making sure your canine companion is up to date on all of its core and non-core vaccinations. Your veterinarian can help determine a vaccination schedule as part of your dog health program based specifically on the lifestyle, geographic location and pre-existing medical conditions of your dog.
For more information on vaccinations, visit the Dog Vaccines section.
Heartworm is another very important core of the preventative healthcare for all dogs. Heartworm is a deadly but completely and easily preventable disease. Heartworms spread through dogs via bites from infected mosquitos. Living in NJ, mosquitoes are present throughout the spring, summer and early fall months and can even live inside during the winter. For this reason, we recommend prevention 12 months of the year.
There are a number of medications that are highly effective and commonly used across the veterinary industry. We will help you determine which product is the safest, most cost effective for you, and most effective for your dog.
For more information on heartworm prevention for dogs, visit the dog heartworm section.
Canine intestinal parasites, commonly referred to as “worms”, are one of the most common conditions seen in both young puppies and adult dogs. Dogs can contract worms by:
- Ingesting eggs (most commonly stepping in feces and licking paws later)
- Passed from the mother during gestation
- Consuming an intermediate host like a flea or a small animal
Furthermore, some worms can infect human beings, making intestinal parasites a health issue for dogs and humans alike. Our veterinary team can prescribe a preventive program to help your dog remain parasite free, and implement a treatment program to fight off any existing infestation.
One of the greatest joys in life is having a cuddly, cute puppy to have and hold, but it can also be stressful for people who are unsure of how to properly care for a puppy. It is important for you come to see us as soon as you get your puppy so we can set you on the right path as soon as possible both with preventive care and puppy training. Plan to spend at least one hour in your first visit. During this first visit we will give your puppy a complete physical exam, update all necessary vaccines, provide deworming medication and spend time educating you on your puppy’s needs.
Our puppy health care services include:
- Periodic Wellness Exams
- Puppy Nutrition
- Behavior/Potty Training
- Planning for Spaying and Neutering
For more information on puppy care, visit the puppy care section.
Having a senior dog can be relaxing and rewarding. Most senior dogs have settled into a gentle routine and require less exercise. We love senior dogs for their calm demeanor and the elderly wisdom they can bring to our lives. It is our goal to help your senior dog age gracefully and comfortably.
At Harlingen Veterinary Clinic, we understand that the experience of caring for older dogs can be a tremendously rewarding one that enhances and enriches the lives of dogs themselves, as well as their human caretakers. Therefore, we offer a full array of senior dog health care services, including:
- Senior Dog Wellness Exams
- Nutritional Consultation
- Body Condition Evaluations
- Dental Care
- Pain assessments and pain management
- Exercise/Activity Recommendations
No dog should be allowed to suffer when their pain can be easily managed. Our pain management services can significantly improve the quality of life for many dogs who are experiencing pain associated with a wide variety of conditions. Our veterinarians will work with you and your dog to develop a unique pain management plan that best serves his or her individual needs. Our dog health pain management plans may include one or more of the following modalities:
- Complementary Treatments
- Laser Therapy
- Lifestyle Recommendations
- Raised Food Bowls
- Softer Bedding
- More Exercise