Annual Health Checks help keep our pets healthy

We all know the old saying prevention is better than a cure … and we all know its true! We have regular check-ups and high five ourselves when we come out with a clean bill of health, and if not we take our medicine to get back on track and in-shape. The older we get the more often we slip in for a check-up. Think about your furry friends just for one minute. Our animals age far more quickly than we do – an annual vet visit for your dog is the equivalent of you seeing your doctor every seven years! Kind of puts it in perspective when you think about it.

The most common reason given by owners for not taking their pets for an annual health check is time and for vaccinations … simply forgetting when they are due!

Here at Fur Life Vet we want to remind you about how important that annual health check is for your furry family member. Follow along with us to learn a little about the common diseases that affect our pets, the new technology available that can detect some diseases far earlier than previously possible and the reasons why preventative health management provides better outcomes for you and your pet … hands down.

Do you know that many of the common diseases that impact our furry family are preventable?

Ensuring your pet’s vaccinations are up to date is one way you can keep them safe from some pretty nasty and often life threatening bugs. After vaccination your pet will develop immunity to the disease they are vaccinated against.


Parvo Parvovirus causes severe, life threatening gastroenteritis which is often fatal, especially in young puppies. Clinical signs are vomiting, diarrhoea and severe lethargy. It is highly contagious and the virus survives in the environment for long periods. Distemper Distemper causes fever, skin rashes, eye and nasal discharge, nervous signs, blindness and convulsions. It is spread from one dog to another through sneezing, coughing or sharing of water/ food bowl. It can also be passed to a pup via the placenta before birth. It is usually fatal. Hepatitis Hepatitis affects the liver & kidneys. Can cause sudden death in young puppies while older dogs can develop fever, abdominal pain and lethargy. Recovery may occur with intensive treatment. Canine Cough Canine Cough, (sometimes called Kennel Cough) causes a severe persistent cough. It is highly infectious and vaccination is a requirement for boarding kennels. Vaccinated dogs can sometimes be infected, however their symptoms may be less severe and they will recover more quickly.


It is recommended that all cats are vaccinated with an F4 vaccine to prevent against Feline enteritis and the causative agents of Feline Flu. For all cats that go outside we also recommend vaccinating against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). Feline Enteritis Feline Enteritis a viral disease that causes severe, often fatal haemorrhagic gastroenteritis. The widespread use of vaccinations has seen this disease reduce in incidence. Cat Flu Cat Flu is a very common upper respiratory disease that is caused by multiple viruses. Secondary bacterial infection are common. Cats suffer from mucky discharge from the eyes and nose, with sneezing and coughing as well as ulcers in the mouth and eyes. Cats can be severely debilitated with cat flu and are unable to eat or drink, this can be more severe in kittens. Affected cats can be treated supportively but may become chronic carriers of cat flu and have ongoing problems. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV/feline AIDS) is now widely prevalent in outdoor cats and is preventable by an annual vaccination. It is spread via the saliva and usually by fighting between cats. There is no cure for the disease which is carried by the cat for life and results in chronic infections, immunodeficiency and often tumours. It can lead to severe debilitating illness as it develops into clinical Feline AIDS. Once a cat is positive for FIV they cannot be vaccinated. Feline Leukaemia Virus Feline leukaemia virus is common in young outdoor cats or cats living in multi-cat households.  It is transferred via saliva, blood or during foetal development in the uterus (womb). The virus causes weight loss, vomiting/ diarrhoea, tumours and eventual death within 3 years.

Vaccinating Puppies
Puppies gain some protection from their mother’s milk (as long as the mother has immunity) but this protection gradually declines around 6-8 weeks of age and we need to commence a vaccination program.

  • 1st Vaccination: 6–8 weeks
  • 2nd Vaccination: 10+ weeks. If a puppy commences the program after 10 weeks of age, only one vaccination is required. This is NOT a reason to delay vaccination until then as the puppy will be unprotected between 6–10 weeks.
  • 3rd Vaccination is a kennel cough booster vaccination (if an intranasal vaccination was not given as part of the 2nd Vaccination) and final health check.
Vaccinating adult dogs
Adult dogs require their 1st booster vaccination 12 months following their puppy course, which is usually around 15 months of age.

  • Triannual C3 Vaccinations – C3 vaccination lasts for 3 years in adult dogs.
  • Annual Canine Cough Vaccination – needs to be given annually.
Vaccinating Kittens
F5 Vaccination

  • 1st Vaccination: 8 weeks.
  • 2nd Vaccination: Minimum 12 weeks (or 4 weeks after 1st).

FIV Vaccination

  • 1st Vaccination: 8 weeks
  • 2nd Vaccination: 12 weeks
  • 3rd Vaccination: 14-16 weeks
Vaccinating Cats 6 months plus
Vaccinating Cats – 6 months of age

  • F5 Vaccination – two vaccinations 4 weeks apart.

FIV Vaccination

  • Will need a blood test to make sure the cat is negative for FIV, then three vaccinations given at 2-4 week intervals.

Annual Vaccination

  • Both F4 and FIV vaccinations require annual boosters.

Don’t forget to talk to your Fur lIfe Vet about the best vaccination program for your dog or cat.

What is osteoarthritis?

The pet form of osteoarthritis is the same as the human-form – the human form – inflammation of the bones and cartilage within joints that then causes pain and discomfort.  It is a tell- tale sign that joints are suffering from wear and tear as the pet gradually deteriorates.
Osteoarthritis may: 
• Stop your pet from being active
• Change the way they walk, run or bear weight
• Interfere with the quality time you spend together
Pets are living longer than ever before. While this allows us to spend more quality time with our furry friends, it also leaves us with an extra responsibility to ensure they live comfortably as they age. Watch out for these symptoms:


Dogs show pain in many different ways, plus osteoarthritis signs can develop over a period of time. It can be hard to work out if these behaviours are a normal part of aging, or something more.
Is your dog:
  • Limping?
  • Having trouble rising?
  • Less active?
  • Seem uncomfortable when exercising?
  • Detached, irritable, or more dependent than previously?
  • Chewing or licking their joints?
Some dogs may display one or more of these symptoms, however many cases of canine arthritis go undetected. If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, a visit to the vet will be the best gift you can give your pooch this year.


Osteoarthritis in cats is very subtle as symptoms may be more behavioural than physical.
Is your cat:
  • Reluctant to play or jump?
  • Irritable?
  • Seem uncomfortable when grooming?
  • Inactive?
  • Suffering from swollen joints?
  • Limping?
These are common symptoms in arthritic cats. However, as many cats have a sedentary lifestyle (especially in their senior years), it may be difficult to spot they’re in pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule a vet visit. Your furry feline will thank you for it!


All the ways your vet can help

They can:
  • Diagnose your pet’s symptoms
  • Provide tailored pain relief so your animal is comfortable
  • Help protect against progression of the disease
  • Suggest ways to manage your pet’s weight – which is often the single most important thing you can do to help your pet long term
  • Offer a range of advice – about rest, exercise, physiotherapy and how to make your pet more comfy around the house (soft bedding, easily accessible litter trays or indoor ramps to help them get to their favourite spots)

Why it’s vital to schedule a vet revisit

If your pet is on NSAID medication, it’s really important you stick to your revisit vet schedule so they can regularly monitor your furry friend with check-ups and lab tests. As lifestyle and medication needs can change over time, your friendly vet might suggest modifications along the way to make sure your best mate continues to live a long and healthy life.


While weight, diet modification and nutritional supplements can all play a role in managing osteoarthritis, so can medication – especially to alleviate your pet’s pain.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are one of many options used to manage the condition. They do a few important things such as provide pain relief, reduce inflammation and protect against joint deterioration.
Side effects
As with all medications, side effects can occur.
Common ones are:
  • A mild softening of your pet’s stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Other gastrointestinal signs
If your pet becomes unwell or you suspect your pet is having problems with a medication, STOP it and CONTACT your vet.

What is dental disease?

Dental disease is caused by the accumulation of plaque. Plaque is the thin, sticky film that covers teeth and is composed of bacteria and their by-products, saliva, food particles and sloughed epithelial cells. If plaque remains it begins to become mineralized from elements such as calcium and magnesium from within the saliva. Mineralised plaque is called calculus. Calculus provides a nice breeding ground for destructive bacteria. Plaque irritates the gums at the tooth-gum interface, and the bacteria it contains proliferate in the groove around each tooth. The bacteria and their by-products cause further inflammation and eventual destruction of the periodontal ligament which anchors the tooth in the socket. Eventually the tooth falls out but not before the surrounding bone is destroyed. When dental disease is just at the gum inflammation stage it is termed gingivitis. As the periodontal ligament is destroyed the disease is termed periodontitis.


You can reverse the effects of gingivitis with a professional prophylaxis and/or homecare techniques however periodontitis is irreversible. Dental disease not only causes bad breath, infections can extend into roots and surrounding bone causing significant pain and discomfort. It can also extend further into the blood stream causing diseases in other parts of the body in your pet.


Percentage of Dogs with Dental Disease Age 3 plus


Percentage of Cats with Dental Disease Aged 3 plus

Signs of dental disease

There are various signs you can look out for in your pet, these are:

  • Bad Breath (halitosis)
  • Discoloured or loose teeth
  • Excessive drooling, sometimes blood stained
  • Dropping of food from the mouth when eating, or reluctant to chew or eat at all, especially hard food.
  • Pain when handled around the head or behavioural changes (e.g. lethargy, increased aggression, disrupted sleeping patterns)
  • Facial swelling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Inflamed (gingivitis) or receding gums

Preventing dental disease

Appropriate Food Premium prescription pet-foods with larger, harder kibble that are completely balanced are available for both dogs and cats at your furlife vet. These foods contain enzymes and ingredients similar to those found in our toothpaste that help to slow the dental disease process and help prevent plaque from forming on the teeth. Pet Dental chews Dental chew products, such as Oravet have been shown to work in two different ways: by decreasing overall bacterial loads in your pets mouth and softening plaque on the tooth surface. Brushing your Peet’s teeth Brushing is the ‘gold standard’ method of keeping your pets teeth clean. We brush our teeth multiple times a day – your pets teeth need to be brushed daily too.

There are many different methods to keep your pet’s “pearly whites” white! For adult cats and dogs with existing dental disease, a dental treatment with a scale and polish under general anaesthetic is often necessary to get their mouth back into top condition. It may also be necessary to remove teeth that are fractured or loose and in certain cases may be followed by treatment with antibiotics to prevent infection, or irritated gums.


In the majority of pet’s lives, there comes a time when their teeth may require veterinary treatment over and above their regular examinations. A dental treatment involves:

  • Full veterinary pre-operative health assessment.
  • Admission and discharge appointments.
  • General anaesthetic including intravenous fluids.
  • Professional scaling to remove tartar.
  • Charting of the mouth to look for tooth decay, pain and mouth cancers.
  • Polishing of the teeth so they shine.
  • Advice on home-care to keep that smile sparkling.


In their lifetime, over 1 in 3 cats and 1 in 10 dogs will get kidney disease. And they typically do not show any signs of illness until their kidneys have lost most of their function permanently. As pets age, the likelihood pets will develop kidney disease worsens. In fact, more than half of cats over age 15 have this debilitating disease!

Kidney disease in cats …

  • Kidney disease will likely impact 1 in 3 cats or more!
  • Certain diseases and hereditary conditions may make your cat more likely to develop kidney disease.
  • Early diagnosis, before symptoms become obvious, can be key in identifying the cause of kidney disease.

Kidney disease in dogs …

Kidney disease is very common in dogs with studies showing that 1 in 10 dogs may suffer from kidney disease. Dogs can get kidney disease for a number of reasons and it’s often difficult to spot. Some of the earliest signs of kidney disease in dogs may include weight loss, urinating more often and drinking more water than usual. If you notice your dog is urinating more frequently, having accidents inside or asking to go out more, or if your dog is always thirsty, it’s time to Get Vet Checked!

SDMA – Breakthrough new test for kidney function

Fur Life Vets can now offer an IDEXX blood test called an SDMA. This is a breakthrough new test that screens for kidney disease and can detect this devastating disease months to years earlier. This gives you and your Fur Life Vet the chance to take action and give your pet the best shot for a healthy, happy, long life — even with kidney disease.

For peace of mind book your pet in for the new SDMA test with your Fur Life Vet today

Heart disease and your cat

Heart disease is one of the leading cause of sudden death in cats from young to middle-aged. Cats are most commonly affected by a type of heart disease known as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, in which the walls of the heart thicken and do not pump blood effectively. This can lead to heart failure. This type of heart disease can be found in cats of any age and because it is more common among some cat breeds than others, there may be a genetic predisposition.

Making sure you take your pet to the vet for an annual health check is an important step in keeping your pet’s heart healthy. And as your pet ages a check-up every 6 months is highly recommended. Your pet’s heart is responsible for pumping blood to different parts of the body, (same as with our hearts) helping organs and muscles function properly and stay healthy. To do its job effectively your pet’s heart needs to be in tip-top-shape!

Heart disease and your dog

Heart disease is almost as common in dogs as in people. Most forms of heart disease cannot be prevented however heart disease caused by heartworm can easily be avoided with year-round preventatives. The most common form of heart disease in dogs is valvular disease, which primarily affects small breed dogs over 5 years. Diseases, such as dilated cardiomyopathy, primarily affects large breed dogs. Dogs are often at risk for certain types of heart disease depending on genetics, breed, age, and size.

Cat breeds most commonly affected by heart disease
  • American Shorthair
  • Maine Coon
  • Persian
  • Siamese
  • Ragdoll
  • Sphynx
Dog breeds most commonly affected by heart disease
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Great Danes
  • Irish Wolfhounds
  • Boxers
  • Poodles
  • Pekingese
  • Boston Terriers
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

Signs of Heart Disease

The signs of heart disease can easily be confused with aging. Thats one of the key reasons why an annual health check is so important for your pet and with our older pets, a visit to the vet every 6 months is recommended. Its important to keep an eye on your pet and call your veterinarian if you notice any of the following behaviours:

  • Laying down frequently
  • Is tired or lethargic
  • Doesn’t want to play or exercise
  • Is coughing up fluid
  • Has difficulty breathing or breathes with its mouth open
  • Collapses or faints
To learn more about heart disease in dogs and cats, how it can be treated and what you can do to reduce the potential for heart disease visit your Fur Life Vet.

Make sure your pet has an annual health check and older pets every 6 months!

Fur Life Vet Bendigo (Epsom)
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03 6352 2996

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03 6452 6333

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