General Pet Care & Wellness

At Whitefish Animal Hospital, we stress the importance of preventative care to maintain your pets’ health and increase their life span. Depending upon your pet’s life stage, preventative measures include,but are not limited to: annual or semi-annual examination(s) by your veterinarian, vaccinations, and blood testing.  In addition to feeding your pet a well balanced and nutritional food, upkeep of your pet’s health may also include strategic intestinal deworming, heartworm prevention, tick & flea prevention, dental cleanings, and nutritional supplements.  Please browse the following paragraphs to explore each of these subjects in more detail.

 Annual & Semi-annual Exams

If your pet is under 7 years of age, we recommend a wellness exam once a year.  If your pet is 7 years or older, they are considered geriatric, and we recommend a wellness exam once every 6 months.  

During a wellness exam, the veterinarian will examine 12 systems of the body, including the following: overall body condition, eyes, ears, oral cavity & teeth, upper & lower respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, dermatologic, musculoskeletal, lymphatic, & neurologic systems. Any abnormal findings during the exam will be noted in your pet’s chart, and the doctor will determine whether they can give a diagnosis or whether further testing is needed.  Additional tests that may be required depending on the doctor’s recommendation may include stool sample analysis, urinalysis, cytology, needle aspirate, x-rays, or blood work.


It is very important to keep your pet’s vaccines up to date.  Rabies vaccinations are required by law for dogs in the state of MontanaIt is our Hospital Policy to update rabies vaccinations in all animals that we are handling. We highly recommend Rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats*, along with DHLPP (Distemper, Hepititis,Lepto, Parainfluenza, & Parvo) for dogs, and FVRCP and FELV for cats. 

Rabies vaccination cannot be given before 12 weeks of age, and will be good for 1 year initially. For subsequent rabies vaccinations, cats will need them once per year, while dogs will need them every 3 years.

Dogs can get their first distemper (DHPP) vaccine at 6-8 weeks of age.  They will need a booster dose of the vaccine every 4 weeks until they are at least 14 weeks old with the last booster being good for 1 year. From then on, the DHPP vaccine is good for 3 years.  Likewise, cats can receive their first distemper (FVRCP) vaccine at 6-8 weeks, and will need a booster every 4 weeks until they are 14 weeks old. The last vaccine of the series is good for 1 year, and subsequent vaccines are good for 3 years.

If you ever board your dog while you are out of town, your kennel may require one additional vaccine, Bordatella, to prevent kennel cough, a highly contagious airborne disease. This vaccine is good for 6 months to 1 year (depending on your boarding facility and the lifestyle of your dog).

For cats who venture outdoors, or who have exposure to other cats who roam outdoors, we recommend an additional vaccine (FELV) once per year, to prevent Feline Leukemia. Before the initial vaccination, we recommend the FELV/FIV screen for your kitten/cat to determine its Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus status. 

* We use*PureVax: Feline Vaccines made by Merial that are highly purified, non-adjuvanted annual vaccines developed just for cats and kittens. By isolating just the specific components that produce immunity, the unique science behind PUREVAX vaccines eliminates the need for the chemical additives called adjuvants. That’s what makes PUREVAX vaccines so pure.  Instead of using the whole virus like other vaccines, PUREVAX vaccines introduces only those proteins your cat needs for protection, without any of the potentially harmful chemical adjuvants.