Pet Health

Here is a basic overview of how you can maintain and improve your pet’s health.

Heartworm Disease

Texas has one of the HIGHEST rates of heartworm disease in the United States. Heartworms are a parasite spread to dogs by infected mosquitos. Once the parasite enters the dog’s bloodstream, they travel to the heart, where they take up residence and cause extensive damage that, left untreated, can be deadly.  


While Heartworms are easy to prevent by giving your dog monthly medication, many loose dogs that enter DAS have not had consistent preventative medications. 


DAS strongly recommends ensuring your dogs and any cats exposed to the outdoors are on heartworm preventative. Talk to your veterinarian about the best option for your pet. Heartworm treatment is very expensive – save money and ensure your pet’s health by keeping them on heartworm prevention.

Basic Pet Wellness

What vaccines should I get my pet?

All pets in the City of Dallas must be vaccinated for rabies. Dallas Animal Services also recommends dogs receive their core vaccines, which include parvovirus, distemper, and canine hepatitis. Dog owners may also want to consider the vaccine for Bordetella, particularly if they frequent dog parks, boarding facilities, doggy day cares, or pet groomers. For cats, Dallas Animal Services recommends the vaccines for panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis). While we recommend keeping all cats indoors, any pet owners who allow their cats outside should also consider the vaccines for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.

What monthly preventatives should I give my pet?

DAS recommends all dogs and cats be on monthly flea and tick preventative. Fleas and ticks can carry a variety of diseases that can cause illness in both pets and humans.

DAS strongly recommends ensuring your dogs and any cats exposed to the outdoors are on heartworm preventative. Talk to your veterinarian about the best option for your pet. Heartworm treatment is very expensive – save money and ensure your pet’s health by keeping them on heartworm prevention.

What do I do if my pet eats something toxic?

What plants are safe for my pet?

ASPCA has a database of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to cats, dogs and horses

Upper Respiratory Infections in Dogs

What are Upper Respiratory Infections?

An upper respiratory infection (URI) is an ailment that can affect the lungs, air passages, throat, and nasal cavities. It’s often caused by bacteria or a virus, and it’s highly contagious. Fortunately, it’s typically not life-threatening unless it leads to complications like pneumonia. One of the upper respiratory illnesses currently spreading is canine influenza virus (CIV), commonly known as the canine flu.

How Do Upper Respiratory Infections Spread?

Almost all dogs are susceptible to URI. A vaccine for CIV exists but is currently unavailable at many clinics due to supply chain delays. The CIV vaccine does not provide 100% protection. URIs spread faster inside shelters and boarding facilities because of the number of dogs housed closely together. URIs, including CIV, are spread mainly by respiratory droplets produced during coughing and sneezing by infected dogs or through contact with contaminated surfaces. Dogs coughing or showing other signs of respiratory illness should be isolated from other dogs and cats and see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing signs of URI.

What are the Symptoms of Upper Respiratory Infections?

The signs of URI in dogs are cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and reduced appetite. Not all dogs will show signs of illness. If your dog begins showing symptoms, please consult your veterinarian immediately. Most dogs recover within 2 to 3 weeks. However, some dogs may develop secondary bacterial infections, which may lead to more severe illness and pneumonia. If your dog is under treatment and is either not getting better or seems to be getting worse, notify your veterinarian immediately.

How are Upper Respiratory Infections Treated?

It is important to keep your dog hydrated and comfortable while their body fights the infection. Your veterinarian may prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics if a secondary bacterial infection is suspected.


What is Canine Distemper?

Canine Distemper Virus commonly referred to as distemper is a contagious viral infection that can cause airway, lung, eye, urinary, intestinal, and central nervous system symptoms. Unvaccinated dogs and dogs with weakened immune systems are the most at risk of catching distemper from an infected dog or wildlife, such as raccoons. Distemper is spread through bodily fluids including saliva and mucus and can be passed through the air or surfaces.  Distemper can be fatal and could have lasting neurological impacts, but with supportive care, dogs can survive and go on to live long lives.

How Does Distemper Spread?

Distemper is spread to unvaccinated dogs and dogs with weakened immune systems just like the common cold - through contact with bodily secretions of infected dogs or wildlife, such as raccoons. Sneezing, coughing, nasal secretions, and saliva can all spread distemper. Unvaccinated dogs can also get distemper through sharing water bowls, touching noses, or being in the same place at the same time as dogs or wildlife with distemper. With distemper, prevention is key. Distemper is very difficult to control among unvaccinated dog populations because dogs infected with distemper can take up to 14 days to begin showing symptoms, however, they can begin spreading the illness to other dogs during that incubation period.

What Can I Do to Protect My Dog From Distemper?

The vaccine for distemper is highly effective at protecting dogs from contracting distemper. DAS recommends contacting your veterinarian about getting your dog vaccinated for distemper.

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