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Vaccinations & Tests Explained

Rabies Vaccine - Canine & Feline

Rabies is a fatal neurological disease that can be passed from animals to humans through bite wounds.  This vaccination is required by law for both dogs and cats in the city of Duluth and for interstate transport.  Unless you have provided proof of an up-to-date rabies vaccination, your pet will receive a rabies vaccination. **All dogs and cats over 12 weeks should receive an initial vaccination.  A repeat dose should be administered 1 year later. Repeat vaccinations every 1 to 3 years as determined by your veterinarian.

Feline Distemper Combo Vaccine (FVRCP)

These common viruses can cause a severe upper respiratory infection which is highly contagious and can be deadly to young kittens and older cats. This vaccination will prevent or lessen the signs of these upper respiratory  diseases. This vaccination also protects kittens against contracting Panleukopenia, a gastrointestinal disease which is similar to the Parvo virus in dogs. **All kittens should receive a minimum of 3 doses between the ages of 6 to 16 weeks given 3 to 4 weeks apart. Adult cats starting the series should receive two doses 3 to 4 weeks apart.  Following completion of the initial series all cats should receive a 1 year booster and continue with a booster every 3 years.         

Feline Leukemia Vaccine

This vaccination should be administered to cats that spend time outdoors and may come into contact with cats of unknown vaccine or Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) status. **Cats should receive an initial dose as young as 8-12 weeks of age with a second dose given 3 to 4 weeks after. Continue to booster annually.

Feline FeLV/FIV Test 

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) are both contagious viral diseases of cats. These diseases cause immune suppression that can lead to increased susceptibility to other infectious diseases and, in the case of FeLV, can be potentially fatal. **This test should be done on all cats and kittens prior to entering a home with other cats and is useful information on all cats.

Canine Distemper Combo Vaccine (DHPP) 

This vaccination provides immunity against a variety of upper respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurologic diseases, including Distemper and Parvo. Parvo is a highly contagious, often fatal, virus of dogs causing vomiting and diarrhea. **All puppies should receive a minimum of 3 doses between the ages of 6 to 16 weeks given 3- 4 weeks apart.  Adult dogs starting the series should receive two doses 3 to 4 weeks apart. Following completion of the initial series all dogs should receive a 1-year booster and continue with a booster every 3 years.         

Canine Lyme Vaccine

This vaccine protects against disease caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, the Lyme disease organism. An initial vaccination is followed by a booster vaccine 2 to 4 weeks later.Following completion of the initial series, all dogs should receive a 1 year booster as long as the risk for disease exposure remains


Canine Bordetella Vaccine (Kennel Cough)

This vaccine protects against several strains of infectious cough in dogs and is recommended for animals with a high risk of exposure (boarding, showing, dog parks, training, etc)  It can cause some temporary (3 to 10 days) coughing, sneezing, or nasal discharge in a small percentage of animals getting vaccinated.  **If an animal has not been vaccinated within the previous 6 months, a booster is recommended 1 week prior to potential exposure.  

Canine Heartworm Test

A heartworm test is a blood test that checks for the evidence of the parasite Dirofilaria Immitis, more commonly known as heartworm, in your dog’s bloodstream. Antigen for the heartworm cannot be detected until 6 months after initial infection.  For this reason, testing animals less than 6 months of age is not recommended.  Dogs should be tested annually and placed on preventative medication.

Canine 4Dx Test

A 4Dx test is a blood test that checks for the evidence of  six vector-borne diseases: Dirofilaria Immitis (heartworm), Lyme, Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia ewingi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Anaplasma platys. Testing is  recommended for dogs in areas with high tick prevalence or dogs that have increased risk of tick exposure. Aside from heartworm, which is transmitted through mosquitoes, all of the above disease are transmitted through ticks into a dog’s bloodstream. Dogs should be tested annually and placed on preventative medication.

Microchip - Feline & Canine

When your pet is anesthetized we simply implant by injection a microchip, about the size of a grain of rice, beneath the surface of your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades.  The chip will last the life of your pet.  By passing a microchip scanner over the shoulder blades there is a unique ID code emitted that can be used to positively identify your pet.


Fecal Flotation- Feline & Canine

Fecal flotation is a routine veterinary test used to diagnose internal parasites or "worms." The test detects the eggs of mature parasites that live inside a host's body and pass their eggs to the outside by shedding them into the host's stool. All that is needed for the test is about a one inch piece of fresh stool. Ideally, the stool sample should be no more than 24 hours old and should be as free as possible of grass, gravel, kitty litter, etc. You can collect the sample in any clean, dry container with a tightly fitting lid such as a jar or plastic tub. Kittens and puppies are frequently infected with intestinal parasites and are susceptible to re-infection. Therefore, multiple fecal flotations are recommended for young animals. Pet owners should bring a fresh stool sample to each appointment for the initial series of veterinary visits. If a pet is found to have parasites, follow-up fecal flotations may be recommended to monitor the response to treatment. Fecal flotation may also be recommended if a pet develops diarrhea or fails to gain weight as expected. Mature pets are less likely to be infected with parasites. A yearly fecal flotation done as part of the annual check-up is usually sufficient to monitor the healthy adult pet. However, more frequent fecal testing will likely be recommended if an adult pet develops diarrhea, exhibits unexplained weight loss, or has a history of recurrent parasitic infections.

Urinalysis- Feline & Canine

An urinalysis is a routine test that reports the physical and chemical properties of urine. It is used mainly to assess the health of the kidneys and urinary system, but it can also reveal problems in other organ systems, and is important for diagnosing metabolic disease such as diabetes mellitus. It is a valuable test in both healthy and sick animals and should be included in any comprehensive evaluation of a pet's health. Ideally, the urine sample should be examined within 30 minutes. If this is not possible the sample can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. You can collect the sample in any clean, dry container with a tightly fitting lid such as a jar or plastic tub. If a sterile sample is needed, the veterinarian may recommend that you bring your animal to the  clinic for a procedure called "cystocentesis," in which a small needle is placed directly into the bladder through the body wall. This procedure does not take very long, and should provide a sample that has not been contaminated by debris or bacteria from outside the bladder.

Ear Cytology - Feline & Canine

An ear cytology is a  veterinary test that checks for the evidence of an ear infection which can cause pain, discomfort, and sensitivity of the ear canals. Many animals will shake their head and scratch their ears attempting to remove the debris and fluid from the ear canal. The ears often become red and inflamed and may develop an offensive odor. A black or yellow discharge is commonly observed. 

The veterinarian will examine the ear canal with an otoscope, an instrument that provides magnification and light. This gives a good view of the ear canal and allows the veterinarian to determine whether the eardrum is intact and if there is a potential tumor or foreign material in the ear canal. If there is a great deal of debris, discharge or inflammation within the ear canal, it may not be possible to perform a detailed examination. The veterinarian will examine a sample of the debris material from the ear canal under the microscope. This is called ear cytology and it is very important in helping determine the orgin of infection and will assist the veterinarian in choosing the proper medication for your animal.

Ear Mite Check - Feline & Canine

An ear mite check is a veterinary test that checks for the evidence of an Otodectes cynoti, a surface mite that lives on cats and dogs (rare in dogs). Ear mites are highly contagious and animals become infested by direct contact with another infested animal. Animals will exhibit different syptoms such as shaking/scratching of the ears, hair loss near the ears resulting from self-trauma, and potentailly an aural hematoma - a large blood blister on the ear caused by rupture of small blood vessels between the skin and cartilage due to scratching and shaking of the ears. A dark crusty discharge from the ear is commonly observed. The veterinarian will diagnose ear mites by examing a sample of the debris material from the ear canal under the microscope. This is essentail in determining the presence of mites.

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