Volume I, Issue II

August 2005


        Rabies – Protecting Pets, Livestock, and Yourself

        Senior Wellness Screening (A Special Offer in September)

        Bovine Vaccination Meeting and Dinner - Pfizer



Heartworm Clinic

at Healing Springs


Sept. 22 & 23

9 am to 4 pm



Heartworm disease is fatal but easily prevented.  A simple blood test can detect the presence of larvae in the blood.



Call 276-236-5103 to schedule and appointment to check your dog for heartworm disease.  During the clinic the test will be given for only $10.  Healing Springs will rebate the $10 back when you purchase a 12-month supply of heartworm preventative.

Rabies – Protecting Pets, Livestock and Yourself


As you may already know, multiple cases of confirmed rabies have been identified in our area.  Rabies is a fatal disease.  Unlike most animal diseases, the rabies virus can attack all mammals, including humans.  Having your pets properly vaccinated and addressing livestock quickly will protect your household and the community.

How Rabies Affects Humans: As with all mammals, rabies is fatal in humans.  Once a full-blown case of rabies develops, there is no cure.  People who believe they have been bit by a rabid animal or otherwise exposed to rabies should seek help immediately.  If humans receive immunization within two days of a bite, rabies will be prevented.  There are no documented cases of a human developing a full-blown case of rabies when the vaccine has been delivered promptly and appropriately.

Recognizing Rabies in Animals: Infected animals can take between one week and eight months to show clinical signs.  The virus kills its host by working toward the brain and causing destruction and swelling of the nerves.  Once neurological signs are visible, the disease progresses very quickly.  Animals demonstrating signs of rabies usually die within a week.  Signs of rabies vary but generally include depression, apprehension, nervousness, biting or snapping (sometimes at hallucinations), muscular incoordination, seizures, paralysis, salivation or frothing at the mouth, and dropped jaw or inability to swallow.  The one and only test for rabies requires that a vet sever the animal’s head and send the head to a sate laboratory.  There is no way to test for rabies without killing the animal.  However, state and local officials often use isolation to rule out rabies in pets. 



How Rabies Spreads: Rabies sets up in the salivary glands of mammals.  Primarily rabies spreads when infected animals bite other mammals or when uninfected animals eat the carcass of infected animals.  It can also spread when infected saliva contacts the mucous membranes of other animals (as may happen when two cats hiss at one another).  Wildlife such as skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes make up the most common rabies carriers. 

Vaccination:  There are no documented cases of vaccinated animals contracting rabies.  However, after a suspected exposure, there are some preventative measures to take.  If you believe your animal has been exposed to rabies, contact Healing Springs Animal Hospital right away.  They are on-call for your emergencies 24/7.

Cats and Dogs: Kittens and puppies should receive their first rabies vaccination after 12 weeks of age and before 6 months of age.  They should receive a rabies booster one year after the initial vaccination.  After that, cats and dogs should renew their rabies vaccinations every three years.  At Healing Springs, rabies vaccinations cost only $8.  Owners who bring in cats and dogs for scheduled puppy/kitten care and annual examinations will receive these vaccinations as a matter of course. 

Large Animal: Large animals such as horses and llamas should receive rabies vaccinations at six months and then yearly.  While farmers may find rabies vaccination for market animals to be cost prohibitive, people keeping goats, cows, and other livestock for pets should protect these pets against rabies.  At Healing Springs, large animal rabies vaccinations cost only $10.


Does Limiting Pets per Household Prevent Rabies?: No.  Licensed and tagged pets are rabies vaccinated and do not spread rabies.  Limiting the number of pet licenses per household will actually limit the local population’s ability to adopt and vaccinate pets that otherwise could spread rabies.  Furthermore, having vaccinated pets around your home may discourage rabid animals such as skunks and foxes from entering your property.



Senior Wellness Screening


The veterinary industry as a whole is focusing on improving quality of life for older dogs and cats and on extending those lives.  The most important new tool in this enhanced effort is the senior wellness screening.  To understand the value of the senior wellness screening, it may be helpful to first cover the definitions of clinical vs. subclinical.    

During September, HSAH will partner with Antec Laboratories to offer Complete Senior Wellness Screenings for $99.  This includes a geriatric physical, geriatric blood profile, and complete urinalysis.


A clinical condition is one that is plainly evident from history and physical signs.  For example, a dog that shows a high temperature, lack of appetite, and low energy suffers from a clinical condition.  The pet is sick.  A subclinical condition is one that can only be detected through testing.  Many conditions such as diabetes, kidney problems, and thyroid problems develop slowly over time.  The pet is not sick, but will develop a problem later in life.  Through routine geriatric screening, problems can be identified before they become full-blown clinical conditions.  Through diet, exercise, environmental changes, or medication, future problems may be avoided or lessened.


Just as with humans, the aging cat and dog becomes more prone to certain disease processes.  The leading geriatric conditions for dogs and cats include diabetes, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, constipation (cats only), prostate problems (dogs only), dental problems, thyroid dysfunction, cataracts, deafness, renal disease, urinary tract infections, hypertension, and tumors. 


We must bear in mind one big difference between pets and humans – pets age faster.  In humans, most people consider the senior years to begin at ages 56 to 60.  However, much of the increased screening that doctors recommend for humans begins in the late middle ages, 42 to 45.  Vets recommend that annual senior wellness screening begin at 7 to 8 years of age for cats and dogs.  This corresponds to late middle-ages in humans and to the ages when many problems start developing in pets.  Large breed dogs live shorter lives, so their annual screenings should begin at 5 to 7 years of age.  As a general guideline, cats and dogs will benefit most from senior wellness screening when they have reached the last 25% of their life expectancy.


Healing Springs’ new senior wellness screening involves more testing than the typical focused exam and lab testing.  The broader range of testing will help ensure that developing problems are identified before they become clinical conditions.  The physical will include orthopedic testing, central nervous system evaluation, vital signs, pain assessment, dental assessment, skin evaluation, organ palpation, cardiopulmonary evaluation, rectal palpation (in dogs) and more.  A urinalysis including sediment examination will help identify developing kidney problems or a pre-diabetic state.  Blood testing will evaluate 13 different measures in dogs and 14 measures in cats. 


At Healing Springs, the senior wellness screening costs only $125.  To help raise awareness of senior pet health issues, Antec Laboratories is discounting their senior geriatric profile blood work.  Healing Springs will pass on that discount to clients and offer the senior wellness screening for only $99 in September.



Bovine Vaccination Meeting and Dinner


Dairy and beef farmers, mark your calendars.  On September 19, Healing Springs Animal Hospital and Pfizer will hold a seminar on Bovine Vaccination Protocols.  Dinner begins at 6PM.  Lecture begins at 6:30.  The meeting will be held at Galax Elementary School.  It will run no later than 8:30.  For questions regarding the event, contact Angela Rector at Healing Springs Animal Hospital.



The Animal Health Bulletin is a FREE service of

Healing Springs Animal Hospital

(276) 236-5103

107 Nuckolls Curve Rd

Galax, VA  24333


Visit our website at www.HealingSpringsAnimalHospital.com






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