Good pet health begins with proactive healthcare.

A consistent wellness and prevention routine will keep your pet healthy from their first weeks of life and on through their adult and senior years. Annual wellness exams help by preventing, diagnosing and treating disease in its early stages, often before any noticeable symptoms begin. The earlier treatment starts, the more effective it is, the better chance you have of saving your pet from unnecessary pain and suffering. Keeping your pet in the best of health requires a comprehensive approach, but it doesn’t have to be difficult.

In fact, a yearly appointment is all it takes to keep an otherwise healthy pet happy and yourself worry free and each one starts with a thorough wellness exam which includes:

  • Medical history review
  • Assessing weight and body condition
  • Collecting and examination of fecal sample for parasites
  • Examining ears for infection, mites and other issues
  • Listening to the heart and lungs
  • Inspecting skin and coat for issues such as lumps or parasites
  • Checking eyes for redness, cloudiness or discharge
  • Looking at teeth for periodontal disease, damage or tooth decay
  • Feeling body (palpating) for signs of swelling, lameness or pain


In addition to a nose-to-tail health screening from one of our veterinarians, your pet’s annual exam will include updates to any vaccinations that require boosters to stay effective. Vaccinations for puppies and kittens, as well as booster shots for adult dogs and cats, are a highly effective way to prevent many common diseases and infections and are an important part of giving your animal their very best chance at a long and happy life. Every pet has a different set of needs that must be met to keep them in optimum health, so vaccines will always be discussed with you to determine which ones would be best for your pet. Vaccinations will help your pet avoid:

Bordetella (Kennel Cough)

Bordetella Bronchiseptica is a highly infectious virus that is the primary cause of kennel cough in dogs and cats. It causes fits of coughing, whooping, vomiting, and can even lead to seizures and death in rare instances. If you plan on boarding your pet, using out-of-home dog daycare, or participating in group training classes, proof of Bordetella vaccination will be a requirement.

Canine Parvovirus (Parvo)

Parvo is a highly contagious virus that affects all dogs but is especially dangerous for unvaccinated puppies less than four months old who have an immune system that is note mature enough yet to fight off infection. Because the virus attacks the gastrointestinal system, signs of parvovirus include loss of appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain, vomiting and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, call us at the Black Creek Veterinary Hospital immediately at (904) 282-0499. Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can lead to rapid and deadly dehydration in a puppy or young dog, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock if left untreated. Vaccination and good hygiene are critical components of prevention as there is no cure for Parvo.


Distemper is a severe and contagious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and nervous system. Distemper is spread through contact with bodily fluids from an infected animal, whether it be airborne like from a cough or sneeze, shared food or water bowls or contact with feces or urine. Distemper causes discharge from the eyes and nose, fever, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and often leads to death. Infected animals that survive the symptoms can shed the virus and be contagious for months. There is no cure for distemper making vaccination critical for your young pet.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV)

FeLV is the second leading cause of death in cats. The virus commonly causes anemia or lymphoma, but because it suppresses the cat’s immune system, it can also make your cat more susceptible to secondary infection. FeLV is transmitted between cats primarily through saliva and blood, with grooming and fighting likely to be the most common ways for FeLV to spread. Consequently, single indoor-only cats have a lower risk of contracting FeLV than outdoor cats and cats in multi-cat households that share water and food bowls and litter boxes. Symptoms of FeLV include fever, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, weakness and lethargy, weight loss, loss of appetite and poor coat conditions. There is no cure for FeLV, so we highly recommend vaccinating cats at high risk of exposure, such as cats who go outside.


Hepatitis is a highly contagious viral infection of the liver, occurring more frequently in dogs than cats. Symptoms range from a slight fever and congestion of the mucous membranes to vomiting, jaundice, stomach enlargement, and pain around the liver. There is no cure for Hepatitis and, while many dogs are able to overcome a mild case, a severe case can be fatal as the liver plays an enormous role in converting food into nutrients as well as synthesizing enzymes and proteins, filtering impurities such as drugs or poison from blood and produces bile.


Canine influenza (CI), also known as “dog flu”, is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs and also cats and is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids from coughing, barking and sneezing, as well as can be spread indirectly through shared objects (food and water bowls, toys, collars and leashes). Symptoms of infection include a cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge, and loss of appetite. Severe cases can lead to pneumonia and sometimes death.

Kennel Cough

Infectious tracheobronchitis (commonly referred to as “kennel cough”) can be caused by bacterial, viral, or other infections, such as Bordetella and canine parainfluenza, and results from inflammation of the upper airways. The disease is typically mild, causing coughing, vomiting and loss of appetite. Kennel cough is easily transmitted between dogs who live or are kept close together, such as in kennels.


Leptospirosis, often shortened to “Lepto”, is caused by bacteria found in soil and standing water. Unlike most diseases your pet can get, Lepto is a zoonotic disease, meaning that it can be spread from animals to people. Symptoms can include fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, severe weakness and lethargy, stiffness, jaundice, muscle pain, and even kidney failure. If you and your pet will spend a lot of time outdoors in wet areas where water tends to be stagnant, your veterinarian may recommend vaccination against Lepto for your pet based on exposure to established risk environments.


Rabies is a viral disease, most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal, that infects the central nervous system of mammals ultimately causing disease in the brain and death. Symptoms of rabies include fearfulness, aggression, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, staggering, paralysis and seizures. Once the clinical signs of the disease appear, rabies is nearly always fatal. Florida, like most states, requires that all dogs, cats, and ferrets 4 months of age or older must be vaccinated by a licensed veterinarian against rabies.

Call for more information or to make your pet an appointment for their yearly check-up.