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Wanda Diomedes
Chihuahuas Are Us
1616 McCurdy Loop E.
Fort Payne, Alabama 35967


VACCINES: are important parts of keeping your pet healthy. They are given to prevent the development of specific infectious disease. Four vaccines are available to prevent your dog from getting some life-threatening diseases.

DA2LPP: This is a 5-in-1 vaccine that we refer to as "Distemper." It protects your dog against the following diseases:

Distemper virus: this virus most commonly affects puppies. It affects the gastrointestinal, respiratory, and nervous systems. It causes nasal and ocular discharge, pneumonia, seizures, vomiting, and diarrhea and is often fatal. If not, it can cause permanent problems.

Adenovirus Type 2, infectious canine hepatitis: this virus causes severe liver disease, but also may affect the eyes, lymph nodes, and nervous system.

Leptospirosis: This bacterium causes a combination of severe liver and kidney disease. It is also contagious to people and is easily spread through contaminated groundwater.

Parainfluenza: This virus is part of the kennel-cough complex that spreads rapidly and causes a hacking cough.

Parvovirus: This gastrointestinal virus destroys the absorptive capability of the intestines, causing severe vomiting and diarrhea. It most commonly affects puppies, causing severe dehydration and death. Pit bull and Rottweiler puppies are extremely susceptible to this virus.

The distemper vaccine in given every 3 weeks to puppies until they are at least 16 weeks old. By doing so, we can prepare the puppy's immune system to react should natural infection occur. This vaccine is then boostered annually.

RABIES: This vaccine is REQUIRED BY LAW IN MANY STATES for your pet's protection as well as your own. Rabies virus is a fatal, nervous system disease that is contagious to any mammal including man. It is present in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The number of cases increase every year. Puppies must be vaccinated at 12-16 weeks of age and boostered annually. If the booster is given 9-12 months after the first injection, the dog qualifies for a 3-year rabies vaccine. If they do not fall under these guidelines, the dog may only receive a 1-year vaccine. Rabies tags and certificates are issued at the time of vaccination. The certificate must be presented to the town hall in order to license your dog.

BORDETELLA BRONCHISEPTICA: This is the bacterial component of the kennel-cough complex. It is recommended for any dog that will have exposure to any other dogs. The vaccine is given at the first 2 vaccine office visits and is boostered annually. Please be aware that some boarding kennels require this vaccine be boostered every 6 months.

LYME DISEASE: Ticks that carry the rickettsial organism spread this disease. It causes arthritis, fevers, and kidney damage. We recommend this vaccine in any area that has a large tick population. The vaccine is given at 12 and 16 weeks of age and boostered annually.

HEARTWORM PREVENTION: Because we live in a heartworm prone area, we strongly recommend prevention. Heartworm is a parasite that lives in the blood stream, preventing proper blood flow through the heart and vessels. Left untreated, it causes heart failure and death. Mosquitoes that have bitten an infected animal spread the parasite. Any dog, whether housed outdoors or indoors, is susceptible to getting bitten by mosquitoes, and is therefore susceptible to heartworm infection. We can successfully prevent this disease with a monthly tablet called Heartguard. We recommend this prevention be given monthly, all year long, and that your pet be tested annually to ensure that your pet did not get the disease, since no medication is 100% effective.

OTHER PARASITES: From fleas to roundworms, your pet may come in contact with many types of parasites. That is why we examine your pet for external parasites during our exam, but we also ask you to bring in fecal samples so we may make sure your dog is free from intestinal parasites as well. We routinely treat all puppies for roundworms and hookworms at their first visit and check stool samples for other types of parasites we may also have to treat. We check stool samples at every annual visit as part of preventive care.

SPAYING AND NEUTERING: We strongly believe that all house pets not intended for breeding be spayed or neutered at 6 months of age. These procedures prevent your pet from having puppies, but also decrease their chances of certain types of mammary, testicular, and prostate cancers, as well as uterine and prostate infections. The surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis: your pet will come into the hospital in the morning and go home with you that evening.

ROUTINE HEALTH CARE: What happens after your puppy has grown up? We at Wignall Animal Hospital hope to develop a lifelong relationship with you and your dog. We strongly believe that annual physical exams will help to discover any problems that may be developing before they compromise your dog's health. We thoroughly examine every body system and alert you to any potential problems. Fecal samples, heartworm tests, and possibly other blood tests are an important part of these examinations so we can be sure your pet is healthy. We are also here to guide you if your pet has any health problems.

GROOMING AND BATHING: We recommend routine nail trimming (at least monthly) to keep your dog's nails in good shape. We also recommend routine ear flushing, especially in floppy-eared breeds to keep their ears clean and dry. Ear infections can be a large problem for some dogs and you can help keep them to a minimum if you care for your dog's ears regularly. Everyone always asks about bathing his or her dog. Unless directed by your veterinarian for specific skin conditions, baths should be given no more often than once a month because shampoos remove natural oils that keep your dog's coat healthy. Always be cautious around your dog's face and eyes, and be sure to rinse the shampoo off thoroughly! Longhaired breeds should be brushed regularly to prevent matting.

DOGS HAVE TEETH, TOO! Don't forget that your dog has teeth that need to be cared for as do our own. We recommend brushing your dog's teeth on a daily basis and to have thorough cleaning done under anesthesia when necessary. All of your dog's puppy teeth should be replaced by permanent teeth by the time they reach 7 months old. If, at the time of spaying or neutering, your dog still has baby teeth that have not fallen out, we remove them to prevent future complications.

FEEDING: Choose a food that is right for your pet. Diets that have been scientifically developed to keep your pet in optimal health. Premium diets have a higher digestibility rate, are completely balanced. We recommend feeding puppies their daily allowance divided into 2 or 3 feedings, leaving their food down for them to eat for 20 minutes at a time. We find this helps with housebreaking since most puppies need to urinate or defecate shortly after eating. We also recommend fresh water be available to your dog at all times.

TRAINING: We find it very important that dog's be socialized and trained from an early age. We can recommend a number of excellent trainers who teach puppy classes as well as obedience and other special types of training. We recommend classes to everyone, even people who have raised puppies before…they're much more fun than they used to be!

PLAYTIME! Dogs are social animals and need to spend time with their "pack." Playing with your puppy is very important to his socialization and will determine how they will interact with their surroundings as they get older. Puppies should not spend more than a few hours alone to insure proper socialization and to aide in housebreaking. When left alone, they should always have toys that are safe for them to chew to keep them occupied. Please speak with one of our technicians who can guide you to safe toys.

6 - 8 Weeks: Primary Exam and Evaluation with First Stage Vaccinations

During this visit your puppy is checked for possible signs of congenital (hereditary) defects of infectious disease that can mean trouble for your puppy. The primary vaccinations will be given to begin protection of your puppy against distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus and other disease. We will test for intestinal parasites (worms) that are common in puppies and will treat if necessary to ensure your puppy's digestive system is free of problems. It is important that you do NOT take your puppy out and associate with other dogs more than absolutely necessary until we have finished the immunization series. Other dogs may be carriers of disease contagious to your dog, even though they don't appear sick themselves. Your next visit should be within next 3 - 4 weeks.

10 - 12 Weeks: Clinical Visit for Stage Two Vaccinations

To ensure maximum immunizations effectiveness and protection for your puppy, vaccinations MUST be administered in stages - primary and boosters. During this visit, the booster is administered. We will also administer heartworm preventative to protect your puppy against infection. This is a great time to start obedience training. Remember it takes time and patience. Do not begin with more than 3 - 5 minute sessions until the puppy is older. Let us know if you have questions or concerns about housetraining and socializing. Your next visit should be within the next 3 - 4 weeks.

14 - 16 Weeks: Clinical Visit for Final Stage of Vaccinations

At this time your puppy will receive a final booster and a rabies vaccine. The last booster in the series of vaccinations is absolutely essential for your puppy. Massachusetts Law requires all dogs be vaccinated for rabies. Make sure to follow up with boosters each year to maintain your dog's health. Use Heartworm preventative all year long and have a blood test done once every year. Spay or Neuter your dog at 6 - 8 months of age. Thousands of unwanted puppies (including purebreds) are euthanized at animal shelters every year. Spaying and Neutering (a routine surgical procedure) not only prevents unwanted pregnancy, it can reduce or eliminate the risk of some life threatening illnesses to you pet in future years. Start a dental routine to acquaint your puppy with the cleaning process. Starting it now will make it much easier down the road when he's most likely to need it. This is also a good time to introduce your puppy to a grooming routine. Regular bathing, brushing, ear cleaning and nail trimming are essential to maintain your puppy's good health.

INTRODUCING THE PUPPY TO IT'S NEW HOME The following are suggested as "essential" items for the new puppy:

Health records dates of vaccinations and dewormings.

High quality puppy food.

Food and water bowls that can be easily sanitized daily.

Crate for a bed.

Shampoo and proper grooming tools.

A collar, leash and indestructible chew toys such as a "Nyla-Bone".

The change of environment may be traumatic and cause stress-related problems:

Coccidiosis (a type of intestinal infection)

Tracheobronchitis (a relatively minor upper respiratory problem)

Hypoglycemia (a low blood-sugar from a poor appetite or poor diet)

Dehydration (usually from not drinking enough water)

These physical problems are often brought on by unavoidable stress, and are similar to problems you might have if you were moving to a new area. Just like you, the puppy may not eat or sleep as regularly as it would in more familiar surroundings.

Some puppies ease through the transition to their new home, while others may have harder time. If stress-related problems are ignored, secondary problems can become serious, even life threatening.

THE MOST IMPORTANT OBJECTIVE IS TO GET THE PUPPY TO EAT. Smaller breeds (i.e. Chihuahuas, Boston Terriers) are more susceptible to hypoglycemia and may need additional feedings in small quantities. Some puppies may need coaxing, privacy or companionship to eat. Every puppy is different.

Feed high quality puppy foods. Feed puppies 3 - 4 times daily until 6 months of age. Then feed twice daily until one-year age. Adult dogs can be fed either once or twice daily. Feed the puppy all it will eat in 15 minutes each feeding. Do NOT leave the food out continuously if you are trying to housetrain the pup. We prefer to feed NO table scraps. These often make the dog a "finicky eater" as well as cause vomiting or diarrhea. We prefer to feed all dogs DRY FOOD ONLY after 3 months of age. Vitamin supplements are recommended to increase the pet's resistance and improve general body health.

The puppy's diet should NEVER be changed rapidly. The puppy might not eat the strange new food, or if it does eat, the puppy may get diarrhea leading to dehydration and other complications. Diet changes should be made over a 2-4 week period to prevent digestive upset. WATER IS EVEN MORE IMPORTANT THAN FOOD IN THE PUPPY'S FIRST FEW HOURS IN ITS NEW HOME.

Rest is very important to the puppy. Puppies generally sleep throughout the day, waking only to play for short time, eat, and eliminate waste. Do not expect the puppy to run and play all day. The human baby does not play all day either. Treat your puppy just the same as if it was a newborn infant being brought home from the hospital, and you won't go wrong.

Protect the puppy from temperature variations. Remember that it is 8º - 10º cooler on the floor. Avoid drafty areas.

Crates make excellent beds for puppies, as well as aiding in housetraining. We suggest confinement of the puppy in a crate for the first 6 - 8 weeks at all times the puppies is not closely supervised to prevent housebreaking accidents. Puppies are "den" animals and they like the security of the cage. Puppies are clean animals by nature. They do not want to mess up the area they stay. Cage confinement encourages them to hold the eliminations as long as feasible which greater enhances bladder and rectal control.

Dogs LOVE crates!! It is their own private place. The crate helps to satisfy the den instinct inherited from their ancestors. A crate provides guaranteed confinement of your puppy for reasons of security, safety, travel, and housetraining.

The crate when used PROPERLY AND HUMANELY, has many advantages for both you and your pet:

Enjoy complete peace of mind when leaving your dog home alone, knowing that nothing can be soiled or destroyed and that he is comfortable, protected, and not developing any bad habits.

Housebreak your dog more quickly by using the close confinement to encourage control, establish a regular routine for outdoor elimination, and to prevent "accidents" at night or when left alone.

Effectively confine your dog at times when he may be underfoot (meals, family activities, unwelcome guests, workman, etc.) over-excited or bothered by too much confusion, too many children, or illness.

Travel with your dog without risk of the driver being dangerously distracted or the dog getting loose and hopelessly lost, and with the assurance that he can easily adapt to any strange surroundings as long as he has the familiar place along.

Enjoy the privacy and security of a den of his own to which he can retreat when tired, stressed or ill.

Avoid much of the fear/confusion/punishment caused by your reaction to problem behavior.

More easily learn to control his bowels and to associate elimination only with the outdoors or other designated location.

Be spared the loneliness and frustration of having to be isolated (basement, garage, outside) from comfortable indoor surroundings when being restricted or left alone.

Be conveniently included in family outings, visits, and trips instead of being left behind at home.

You want to enjoy your pet and be pleased with his behavior. Your puppy wants a little more from life than to please you. A dog crate can help to make your relationship what each of you wants and needs it to be.

CRATE COST: Even the most expensive crate is a "BARGAIN" when compared to the cost of replacing or repairing a sofa, chair, woodwork, wallpaper, or carpeting.

CRATE SIZE: A crate should always be large enough for the (adult) dog to stretch out flat on his side without being cramped and to sit up without hitting his head on the top. It is always better to use a crate a little too large rather than one a little too small. Measure the dog from the tip of the nose to the base (not the tip) of the tail. Allow for growth by adding about 12 inches. A crate too large can be smaller by adding a partition of wire, wood, or Masonite.

LOCATION: Since one of the main reasons for using a crate is to confine a dog without making him feel banished, it should be placed in, or as close to, a "people" area (i.e. kitchen, family room, etc). To provide a greater sense of security and privacy, it should be placed in a corner. Admittedly, a dog crate is not a thing of beauty, but it can be forgiven for not being a welcome addition to the household décor as it proves how much it can help the dog remain a welcome addition to the family.

CRATING A PUPPY: A young puppy (8-16 weeks) should normally have no problem accepting the crate as his own place. Any complaining he might do at first is not caused by the crate, but by his learning to accept the controls of his new environment. Actually the crate will help him adapt more easily and quickly to his new world.

Place the crate in a "people" area, if possible, a spot free from drafts and not too near a direct heat source. For bedding, use an old towel or piece of blanket that can be easily washed. Also you might include some freshly worn unlaundered article of your clothing such as a tee shirt, old shirt, etc. Avoid putting newspaper in or under the crate, since its odor may encourage elimination. A puppy should not be fed in the crate and will only upset a bowl of water.

Make it clear to all family members that the crate is NOT a playhouse. It is meant to be a "special room" for the puppy, whose rights should be recognized and respected. You should, however, accustom the puppy from the start to letting you reach into the crate at any time, lest he become overprotective of it.

Establish a "crate routine" immediately, closing the puppy in it at regular intervals during the day (his own chosen nap times can guide you) and whenever he must be left alone for up to 3-4 hours. Give him a chew toy for distraction and be sure to remove collar and tags that could get caught in an opening.

The puppy should be shown NO attention while in the crate. Dogs tend to be much better psychologists than their owners-often training the owner, rather than the owner training the puppy. Any attention to the puppy will simply cause the puppy to believe that whining and crying is all that is needed for him to get more attention.

The puppy should be taken outside last thing every night before being put into the crate. Once he goes into the crate he should stay there until first thing in the morning. IMMEDIATELY when the puppy is removed from the crate, he should be taken to the chosen area for his bowel eliminations.

Always feed the puppy early enough to allow ample time for bowel elimination after eating before placing the puppy in the crate. This can be up to hour one hour, depending on the dog. Simply clock the time after eating until the bowel movement occurs to determine the time interval for your puppy.

After the puppy is fully housetrained (usually 8 -12 weeks of cage use) you simply can leave the door open (or take it off) and allow the puppy to come and go as he chooses. If the puppy becomes destructive during his growing phases, it is a simple matter again of confining him in the crate when he is not under your supervision.

Even if things do not go smoothly at first-DON'T WEAKEN and DON'T WORRY! Be consistent, firm, and be very aware that you are doing your pet a real favor by preventing him from getting into trouble.

INFO REGARDING COCCIDIA: Coccidia (Coccidiosis): A Cause of Diarrhea
Race Foster, DVM
Marty Smith, DVM
Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.

What are coccidia?

Coccidia are small protozoans (one-celled organisms) that multiply in the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats, most commonly in puppies and kittens less than six months of age, in adult animals whose immune system is suppressed, or in animals who are stressed in other ways (e.g.; change in ownership, other disease present). In dogs and cats, most coccidia are of the genus called Isospora. Isospora canis and I. ohioensis are the species most often encountered in dogs. Regardless of which species is present, we generally refer to the disease as coccidiosis. As a puppy ages, he tends to develop a natural immunity to the effects of coccidia. As an adult, he may carry coccidia in his intestines, shed the cyst in the feces, but experience no ill effects.

How are coccidia transmitted?
A puppy is not born with the coccidia organisms in his intestine. However, once born, the puppy is frequently exposed to his mother's feces, and if the mother is shedding the infective cysts in her feces, then the young animals will likely ingest them and coccidia will develop within their intestines. Since young puppies, usually those less than six months of age, have no immunity to coccidia, the organisms reproduce in great numbers and parasitize the young animal's intestines. Oftentimes, this has severe effects.
From exposure to the coccidia in feces to the onset of the illness is about 13 days. Most puppies who are ill from coccidia are, therefore, two weeks of age and older. Although most infections are the result of spread from the mother, this is not always the case. Any infected puppy or kitten is contagious to other puppies or kittens. In breeding facilities, shelters, animal hospitals, etc., it is wise to isolate those infected from those that are not.

What are the symptoms of coccidiosis?
The primary sign of an animal suffering with coccidiosis is diarrhea. The diarrhea may be mild to severe depending on the level of infection. Blood and mucous may be present, especially in advanced cases. Severely affected animals may also vomit, lose their appetite, become dehydrated, and in some instances, die from the disease.
Most infected puppies encountered by the authors are in the four to twelve week age group. The possibility of coccidiosis should always be considered when a loose stool or diarrhea is encountered in this age group. A microscopic fecal exam by a veterinarian will detect the cysts confirming a diagnosis.

What are the risks?
Although many cases are mild, it is not uncommon to see severe, bloody diarrhea result in dehydration and even death. This is most common in animals who are ill or infected with other parasites, bacteria, or viruses. Coccidiosis is very contagious, especially among young puppies. Entire kennels may become contaminated, with puppies of many age groups simultaneously affected.

What is the treatment of coccidiosis?
It should be mentioned that stress plays a role in the development of coccidiosis. It is not uncommon for a seemingly healthy puppy to arrive at his new home and develop diarrhea several days later leading to a diagnosis of coccidia. If the puppy has been at the new home for less than thirteen days, then he had coccidia before he arrived. Remember, the incubation period (from exposure to illness) is about thirteen days. If the puppy has been with his new owner several weeks, then the exposure to coccidia most likely occurred after the animal arrived at the new home. The authors merely point this out as they have been involved in legal cases as to who was responsible for the cost of treatment, the breeder or new owner. Usually coccidia was present only to surface during the stressful period of the puppy adjusting to a new home.
Fortunately, coccidiosis is treatable. Drugs such as sulfadimethoxine (Albon) and trimethoprim-sulfadiazine (Tribrissen) have been effective in the treatment and prevention of coccidia. Because these drugs do not kill the organisms, but rather inhibit their reproduction capabilities, elimination of coccidia from the intestine is not rapid. By stopping the ability of the protozoa to reproduce, time is allowed for the puppy's own immunity to develop and remove the organisms. Drug treatments of five or more days are usually required.
How is coccidiosis prevented or controlled?

Because coccidia is spread by the feces of carrier animals, it is very important to practice strict sanitation. All fecal material should be removed. Housing needs to be such that food and water cannot become contaminated with feces. Clean water should be provided at all times. Most disinfectants do not work well against coccidia; incineration of the feces, and steam cleaning, immersion in boiling water, or a 10% ammonia solution are the best methods to kill coccidia. Coccidia can withstand freezing.
Cockroaches and flies can mechanically carry coccidia from one place to another. Mice and other animals can ingest the coccidia and when killed and eaten by a dog, for instance, can infect the dog. Therefore, insect and rodent control are very important in preventing coccidiosis.
The coccidia species of dogs and cats do not infect humans.