Animal Hospital of Donald F. Steen D.V.M.

Adult Canine

        The wellness of your adult dog can be broken down into four areas: Nutrition, Disease Prevention, Parasite Control, and Behavioral Health. For the purpose of this discussion we will consider from 15 months to 8 years as the adult dog.


        By the time your dog is 15 months old, you should be feeding an adult feed. The only exceptions to this might be some of the giant breeds and a very few special cases.   Nutrition has been defined as getting the essential nutrients into the animal, in the proper balance and proper amounts, at the lowest cost. Table foods never meet this goal. Homemade diets can only meet this goal when formulated by expert nutritionist.  Choosing a  premium brand or at least a nationally recognized name brand will likely be your best choice to achieve this goal. However recognize that some dogs might require special diets that have been formulated for specific medical conditions. Canned foods do not necessarily contain better nutrients than quality dry foods. Remember with canned foods that you are paying for a lot of water. When comparing the nutrients in 2 feeds, be sure to make calculations based of dry matter content to insure comparing apples to apples. The fact that the bag advertises with words like "holistic", "natural", "organic", or "raw " does not make it a superior food. See link on feeding myths. and click on Nutrition Myths.

        The amount of feed that is required to maintain a individual dog will vary greatly as a function of many factors, such as size, age, level of exercise, sexual status(neutered or intact), digestibility of feed, and environmental conditions. In my experience the recommendations listed on the bag are rarely appropriate. The amount has to be individualized for each dog. Some dogs, if you have followed the 10 minutes rule described in puppy wellness during puppyhood, will self regulate if the 10 minute rule is continued. Some dogs, particularly neutered/spayed animals may not and they will have to be regulated by the owner. If your dog refuses to self regulate, call the office and we will make specific recommendations as to amounts.

                                               Disease Prevention

    A well-planned disease prevention program is essential for the health of your adult dog. The American Animal Hospital Association, in Guidelines for Vaccination states:

           Vaccines provide proven life-saving benefits, are associated with
                minimal risk, and should be part of routine preventative health care.
                Life stage and lifestyle, risk of exposure and underlying medical
                conditions should all be considered when developing a vaccination

Despite the negativity coming from the holistic community, immunological science supports the above statement, and we have adopted a vaccination protocol that is safe, effective and practical. It consists of what is referred to as core and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are those that every dog needs. Non-core vaccines are used in special situations that are more high risk, but are not essential for every dog. Below you will find a discussion of the vaccines currently available for an array of diseases in the dog.

DA2PP- This vaccination contains antigens that stimulate immunity against the Canine Distemper Virus, Adeno Virus type 2, Canine Parvo Virus and Parainfluenza. We consider this to be a core vaccine that every dog needs. After the initial puppy series, adults dogs need to be boosted 1 year from the date of their puppy Rabies vaccination and every 3 years thereafter.

Rabies- This vaccination contains an antigen that stimulates immunity against the Rabies Virus. It is a core vaccine and is needed by every dog. A Rabies booster should be given 1 year after the intitial Rabies vaccination was given, and then every three years thereafter. An exception to this  is a dog that has a wound of unknown origin that appears to be an animal bite or scratch. The Department of Public Health says these animals should be boosted immediately. State law requires all dogs to be in compliance with the above recommendations regarding Rabies.

Leptospirosis- This vaccination contains an antigen that stimulates immunity against one of the many strains of the leptospirosis bacteria. It is not currently one of our core vaccines. This vaccine may, however, be appropriate for some situations, i.e. dogs that live in farm settings, hunting dogs, and dogs from households that have had confirmed cases of leptospirosis in the past. The duration of immunity is relatively short, and  re-vaccination must be done  yearly.

Bordetella- This vaccination contains an antigen that stimulates immunity against Bordetella bronchiseptica, the causative agent of the disease known as "kennel cough". This is not a core vaccine, but it is highly recommended in cases where dogs are going to be in frequent contact with other dogs from outside their own home. This vaccine is often required by boarding kennels before allowing admittance. This vaccine must be boosted annually.

Parainfluenza-This a viral agent that causes a cough syndrome virtually indistinguishable from Bordetella. The same dogs are at risk for Parainfluenza as are at risk for Bordetella. The vaccine that we use for Bordetella also contains the Parainfluenza antigen. Again boosters are required annually.

Lyme- This vaccination contains an antigen that stimulates immunity against Borrelia burgdorferi, the causative agent of Lyme disease. This is a tick-borne disease that is rapidly emerging in our area. Currently, this is not one of our core vaccines, but we are using it more and more in at-risk dogs. As the epidemiology of this disease changes, it may become a core vaccine in the future. This vaccine initially requires 2 doses given 2 to 3 weeks apart, followed by annual booster.

Canine Influenza- This vaccination contains an antigen that stimulates immunity against Canine Influenza virus. We have never confirmed a case of canine flu in this practice and are currently using this vaccine only upon owner request.

We are not currently using Corona Virus, Giardia, or Periodontitis vaccines in any dogs.

    In addition to these vaccination protocols, an important part of adult dog wellness is screening for mosquito and tick-borne diseases: heartworm(mosquito), lyme(deer tick), anaplasmosis(tick) and ehrlichia(tick). Dogs should be screened yearly. Screening consist of a simple in-house blood test that can be done at the time of their yearly examinations. Heartworm disease can be prevented by giving a monthly preventative medication. Lyme disease can be prevented through implementing tick control and vaccination. Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichia are both emerging diseases in the northeast and can be prevented only through tick control.

                                    Parasite Control

    Even though adult dogs are not as susceptible to internal parasites as are puppies, surveillance for these organisms is still necessary for overall wellness. All adult dogs should be checked for the presence of parasite ova in the stool at least once a year. In moderate and temperate climates more frequent checks might be appropriate. Internal parasites in adult dogs can be responsible for clinical signs including vomiting, diarrhea, poor hair coat, weight loss, respiratory conditions, neurological symptoms and in rare case kidney disease.

    External parasites such as fleas, ticks, lice and mites also affect adult dogs with fleas and tick being the most common.
Using effective preventatives for fleas and ticks is essential to any adult wellness program. Lice and mites are usually treated on a case by case basis. External parasites can be responsible for clinical signs including itchy skin, open wounds on the skin, hair loss, anemia, Lyme disease, and tick borne diseases.

                                    Behavioral Conditions

    Hopefully you raised a perfect puppy and your adult dog has no behavioral issues. However if that is not the case, or if you inherited an adult dog that has behavioral issues, help is available. We will be glad to consult with you on a case to case basis and help you work through any issues. The types of behavioral conditions that effect adult dog are house soiling, several types of aggression, separation anxiety, phobias, such as storm fright and other loud noises. Usually through mental reconditioning exercises and in some cases the use of medications, these conditions can be helped. 








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