Feline Wellness Protocol: Cat Vaccinations and Schedule

Feline Wellness Protocol: Cat Vaccinations and Schedule

Whether you’re a first-time kitten owner or a seasoned pet owner, staying on top of your vaccination and wellness routines can be challenging but is extremely important. We’re here to help make it as easy as possible for you and your pet.

Keeping your pet healthy is our priority at Grand Valley Animal Hospital. The feline vaccination and wellness protocol we recommend helps to prevent life-threatening illnesses and provide the care needed to monitor your pet’s health throughout their lifetime.

In this blog, we will review core and non-core vaccines – how they differ, which ones your pet needs and when.

Kitten standing on white counter looking up.

Feline Core & Non-core Vaccines

Animal vaccinations are divided into two categories, core and non-core. Let’s start by reviewing the difference between the two and which are included in our standard feline wellness protocol.

Core Vaccines

Core vaccines are vaccinations that all cats should receive to prevent life-threatening illness, regardless if they are indoor, outdoor or what their lifestyle is like.


What is it and why does my cat need it?

Feline FVRCP is a three-in-one vaccination that combines the following vaccines into one single shot to prevent these diseases, making administration by your vet more efficient and therefore less stressful for your pet:

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR): Can lead to serious upper respiratory disease and include symptoms such as oral ulcers and pneumonia.

Feline Calicivirus (C): Also causes upper respiratory disease as well as chronic stomatitis, pneumonia and lameness.

Feline Panleukopenia (P): Also known as feline parvovirus, this highly infectious virus can cause vomiting, severe diarrhea, fever and anorexia in your cat.

When will my cat need it?

First given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age, the Feline FVRCP vaccine will need to be boosted initially after 1 year and then will be effective for 3 years.


What is it and why does my cat need it?

One of the leading causes of death in cats is the feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Infected felines experience a suppressed immune system which predisposes them to infections and causes a plethora of symptoms such as yellow color in fever, diarrhea, mouth and eyes, bladder, skin or upper respiratory infections, weight loss, progressive weakness and lethargy and more.

When will my cat need it?

The FeLV vaccine is first given at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age and will then need to be boosted on an annual basis.


What is it and why does my cat need it?

Rabies in animals is a dangerous and mostly fatal disease that is transmitted by infected animals such as bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes through bites, scratches, abrasions or open wounds. Even if your cat stays indoors, they can still be at risk for contracting the disease and are required to be vaccinated for rabies by law.

When will my cat need it?

First given at 16 weeks of age, the Feline Rabies vaccine will need to be boosted initially after 1 year and then will be effective for 3 years.

Woman’s and and cat’s paw giving a high five.
Tabby cat sits outside on wooden fence with eyes closed.

Non-Core Vaccines

Non-core vaccines are what we call ‘lifestyle’ vaccines. Depending on the lifestyle of your pet, you and your vet can work together to determine if they are necessary for your cat to keep them healthy.

Chlamydophila felis

What is it and why does my cat need it?

Although cats of all ages can be infected, Chlamydophilia felis is a type of bacteria most commonly found in young kittens. The bacteria can cause cats to develop chronic conjunctivitis, an infection and inflammation of the mucus membranes that cover the front of the eye and lines the inside of eyelids, and can also cause symptoms of sneezing, discharge, fever, lethargy and lack of appetite.

When will my cat need it?

The initial vaccine must be boosted after 4 weeks, and then will be given annually thereafter.

Cat Vaccination Schedule
8 Weeks
12 Weeks
16 Weeks
1- & 3-Year*
Chlamydophila felis
Chlamydophila felis
Chlamydophila felis

* Vaccine will need to be initially boosted after 1 year, and then every 3 years.

In addition to vaccination protocols, we also highly recommend a routine of preventatives to ensure optimal health in your feline companion. Important for our region is flea and tick prevention medication as well as your regular annual screenings which include:

Wellness Exams: comprehensive physical exams each year

Fecal Screening: annual inspection of fecal matter to check for internal parasites

To learn more about your cat’s recommended vaccination protocol and overall wellness routine, visit our resources page for additional info or give us a call to discuss and set up your necessary appointments at 701.757.3500.

read more
Pet Safety for the Cold Weather Blues

Pet Safety for the Cold Weather Blues

When the snow is falling along with the temperature, that combination can bring problems that those of us in cold-weather climates know all too well. Your furry friends are no exception. When the cold winds blow, follow some of these top tips to keep your pet safe in the winter, even when it is snowing cats and dogs outside.

Frolic and Play the Safest Way

When the cold winds come knocking, it is best to be prepared. While some pets love playing in the snow, others are more content to stay curled up by the fireplace. Know your pet’s limits and always monitor them while they spend time outside.

Boy and dog walking outside in winter.

If you’re wondering how cold is too cold for your pet, use this handy chart as a reference. It is important to remember that if your pet is left outside in harsh conditions for too long, they are prone to become hypothermic or develop frostbite. If your dog has a thick undercoat and is a breed built for cold weather, such as the Siberian Husky or Malamute, they still need a well-insulated dog house and a high-fat, high-protein performance diet to be able to tolerate the cold. Even then, they should be inside during the bitter cold and at night.

Don’t forget about winter wardrobe; if you need a special winter coat, your furry friend may need one as well, especially if they are a small or shorthaired breed. Booties are also an option to protect your pet’s paws from becoming too cold and being injured by sharp ice and de-icing chemicals.

Whenever your pet comes in from a walk or backyard snow session, make sure to wipe down their feet, legs, and belly, and thoroughly check their paws to remove ice, and chemicals and check for pad injury. Always be vigilant in recognizing problems and making sure that your pet is safe in harsh temperatures.

Symptoms of hypothermia include:

  • Anxiety
  • Looking for warm places to burrow
  • Shivering
  • Slowed or stopped movement
  • Weakness
  • Whining
Cat in snow.

Protection from the Cold

The winter woes don’t affect just your pet; to an outdoor or stray animal, a warm vehicle engine can be a cozy bed for the night, but it can also be deadly. Make sure to check underneath the car, bang the hood, and honk your horn before starting your car each morning, to warn off would-be nesters from your engine.

Winter can also spell trouble in the form of poison, from antifreeze and ice melt salt to hot chocolate. Make sure you clean up messes quickly and never give pets seasonal treats that are potentially toxic.

Winter Wellness

Being from the Midwest, we know that winter weather is the harshest of the year, and extra precautions must be taken when it comes to health and safety.

All pets need a yearly vet visit for a check-up, and making sure yours is up-to-date before the snow falls is essential to address health concerns, especially those that can be aggravated by the change in temperature and staying inside (ahem…hibernation) for the season. For example, pets with arthritis may have flare-ups as the weather changes, and very young or old pets have different needs when it comes to cold tolerance.

Small puppy in snow.

Another thing to consider is food and exercise changes for your pet. It’s tempting to think that gaining some winter weight can provide added insulation from the cold, but the truth is extra weight can be detrimental to their health and is not worth the risk. While it is a good idea to change your pet’s food in the winter for added generation of body heat and energy if they spend a lot of time outdoors, consult with an expert before making the transition.

Also, the extra time indoors can be a problem when it comes to pets at risk for obesity. If your pet is at risk, talk to your veterinarian about a diet and exercise plan that will work for the lifestyle changes that winter brings.

The winter wonderland outside can be both magical and menacing, but we want to keep the winter blues away for both you and your furry friend; if you notice any signs of hypothermia or frostbite, it is essential to contact a veterinarian right away. We’re here to help – contact us at 701.757.3500.

read more
5 Fun Ways to Keep Your Cat Fit

5 Fun Ways to Keep Your Cat Fit

In addition to vaccinations, annual wellness exams, and regular dental care, an important part of keeping your feline friend healthy is daily exercise.

Did you know cats sleep for 70% of their lives? This tendency to lounge is very common among the cat community but is only a part of the reason that nearly 60% of cats are obese. Food and feeding habits are a big culprit, but so is a lack of dedicated playtime.

Cat laying on floor playing with mouse toy.

Cats need to jump, chase, climb and run to stay healthy and fit. Some of the key reasons these types of exercise are vital for your cat include:

  • Maintaining healthy body weight
  • Toning and strengthening muscles
  • Keeping their mind active
  • Creating a bond between cat and owner

Exercise and playtime around 10-15 minutes once or twice a day is recommended, but remember, cats are committed to their sleep time, so if they get 10 minutes of playtime in each day, that’s great!

Here are five great ways to get your cat fit, healthy, and more active.

1. Indoor hunting

Hiding bits of kibble around the house for a little indoor scavenger hunt is a great way to get your kitty on the prowl and prevent them from eating too quickly, while also turning mealtime into an exercise that activates their mind.

2. Toys

Toys are an excellent way to engage your cat, and they come in tons of options from laser pointers, bird-like feather floor and wand designs to furry fake mice, electronics, and the classic string. Every cat is a little different, so if your pet doesn’t love one toy, try something different to see what piques their interest.

Keep in mind that cats are hunters, so when you are playing with them and their toys, try to mimic the animal they may be hunting. A mouse toy should scamper across the floor, while a wand toy with feathers at the end should fly, land and take off much like a bird. Your cat will be more interested in chasing the potential prey – so make it fun!

Kitten playing with ribbon.

3. Agility training

Most people think agility training is just for dogs, but some cats enjoy agility training too! Check out this video for some ideas on how to use agility training to get your cat moving:

4. Try out the leash

Another great option to try for exercise and stimulation is training your cat to walk on a leash. When it comes to the leash, cats are very different than dogs. Some cats do great on a leash and others take a little more time to adapt. Don’t expect your cat to “take a walk” the way a dog might; they prefer to do more exploration. But leash training provides mental stimulation and a safe time outdoors, as well as getting a little exercise.


5. Schedule bonding playtime

Some of these activities require your assistance while others can be a solitary exercise for your cat, but there is nothing that can replace the bonding time you and your cat can get from dedicated playtime between the two of you. Scheduling once or twice a day to get down on the floor and genuinely play with your cat can create a strong connection that benefits both of you.

Cat reaching for brush as owner holds it overhead.

Bringing it all together

Incorporating these fun activities into your cat’s daily routine can greatly improve their health and help them live a longer, happier life. It’s important to remember that while exercising is vital, it is only one part of a well-rounded pet wellness plan. If your cat is not eating right, you’ll be fighting an uphill battle, so make sure they have the proper feeding schedule and nutrition they need to maintain a healthy weight.

Our team of pet professionals at Grand Valley Animal Hospital are here to discuss all of your cat’s physical activity and diet needs. To schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians, give us a call at 701.757.3500.

read more
Certified Vet Technician/Veterinary Assistant Position Available

Certified Vet Technician/Veterinary Assistant Position Available

Dr. Darin Meulebroeck uses a stethoscope on pregnant French Bulldog

Available Position:

Certified Vet Technician/Vet Assistant

Grand Valley Animal Hospital is looking to expand our team! A hospital with rapid growth, we are located in Grand Forks, ND, and open Monday—Friday from 8AM to 5PM. We are looking to add a Full-Time Certified Vet Technician or Vet Assistant to our animal hospital.

Job duties include, but are not limited to, assisting the doctor in appointments and surgeries, cleaning, and patient care. The position will be crossed trained and will be answering phones, making appointments, and checking patients in and out of surgery. Candidate should be able to multitask, be a team player, and have a strong work ethic. All experience levels are welcome. Previous experience working with small animals in a professional setting is required.

Pay depends on experience and benefits include; occasional weekend hours, vacation pay, uniform allowance, health insurance allowance, retirement plan, and clinic discounts.

Please email your resume to  betseyp@grandvalleyvet.com or drop off your resume to apply.

read more
What Are Pocket Pets?

What Are Pocket Pets?

Are you one of the four million homes in the U.S. that own a pocket pet, or are thinking about adding one to your family? We’re here to help you learn how to care for these little critters. 

Pocket Pet refers to small animals such as guinea pigs, hamsters, hedgehogs, mice, rats, gerbils, chinchillas, and sugar gliders. All of these wonderful pint-size creatures require specialized care, so reading up on them before bringing one into your home is very important for their health and well-being.

Preparing to Care for Your Pocket Pet

Some pocket pets need to climb, so they will require a larger or more complex cage. Certain critters are comfortable being handled and will love to go along with their owners, while others prefer to be left alone in their cage and admired from afar.

Pocket pets’ nutritional requirements can range from a simple diet of pellets to a specialized diet, and knowing their specific needs is very important. For example, guinea pigs need Vitamin C supplements and sugar gliders eat a variety of foods from produce to insects.


Related: The Secret Life of Pocket Pets

Pet white rat sits on female owner’s shoulder.

Do some basic research to be mindful of your pocket pet’s specific preferences to create a care routine and home environment they will thrive in.

Some important questions to ask yourself are:

  • What habitat and exercise needs does this animal have?
  • Does the habitat need room for the animal to run or climb?
  • Do I have room for a cage that will meet these habitat needs?
  • What does the animal eat, and how specialized is their food? Can I easily purchase this food in my area?
  • When does the animal sleep – night or day? How will this affect my household?
  • How much interaction does this animal require? Do I have the time to fulfill these needs?
  • How messy is the animal and how often will I need to clean the habitat?
  • What are this pet’s veterinary care requirements; will they need more than a standard annual checkup?
Tan hamster in bedding.

Consider Your Pocket Pet’s Veterinary Needs

An important aspect to consider is the animal’s veterinary needs. How often your pet needs to visit the vet will depend on the type of animal.

Due to their shorter life expectancies and small size, pocket pets are often affected more quickly by illness compared to larger in-home pets and should be taken to a vet right away if you suspect they may be ill.

All pocket pets should be taken for an annual exam to ensure they are in good overall health. Hamsters often need to go two to three times per year, while rats and guinea pigs are prone to dental issues, leading to more frequent visits. Spaying and neutering is also an option for some pocket pets, chinchillas and guinea pigs to name a couple.

If you have done your research before purchasing your pet, you are sure to easily welcome the new member of your family into your home and enjoy your time with them!

To visit with our vets about whether a pocket pet is right for you, or to bring your current pet in for a checkup, call 701.757.3500 to request an appointment today.

read more
6 Essentials for Responsible Dog Ownership

6 Essentials for Responsible Dog Ownership

While there are endless charms to owning a dog, there are also some very important responsibilities to know before taking on such a big commitment. Whether you are searching for that forever friend or adding a dog to your existing pet pack, this information pays homage to Responsible Dog Ownership Month with some need-to-know’s before taking the leap into owning a new dog.

1. The Basics 

The decision to own a dog is not one to be taken lightly, so make sure to do your research and not only find a reputable breeder, but also hold out for a puppy or dog that suits the personality of your household – better yet, adopt from a shelter if you find the perfect pup! Avoid purchasing on impulse from a pet store, as many of these dogs come from backyard breeders with unacceptable practices.

Introduce your new housemate slowly, letting them acclimate to their new surroundings without stressful distractions. Though it may be hard, you may want to start kennel training your dog from the first night at home; soon they will be safe and happy having their own private space to rest and relax. It is also important to make sure your new pup has healthy food and plenty of fresh, clean water, and an opportunity to cool down while they are outside.

Before bringing your furry friend home, be prepared with these items:



Dog Bed



Healthy Food

Bones & Treats

Food & Water Dishes

Enzyme Killing Pet Stain Cleaner

2. Safety First 

Now that you know the basics, let’s discuss keeping your dog where they belong – by your side! First things first, make sure your dog has a properly fitting collar with an identification tag that contains your contact information, rabies vaccine certification, and city license tag. This is a necessity to wear any time your pet will be outside the home.

Also, make sure your dog is leashed with a regular, non-retractable leash while in public to prevent injury to your dog and others. If you plan on letting your dog go leash-free in your backyard, make sure it is properly secured and there are no holes in or under the fence that your dog can fit through.

We also suggest that you consider  your dog; it’s a simple procedure that will ensure they can be identified and returned to you, even if their collar is removed.

3. Health 

Proper veterinary care is essential to keep your dog happy and healthy for years to come. Most dogs require a yearly appointment to administer necessary vaccines and check up on their general well-being.

Puppies, seniors and special needs dogs should visit the vet more often to monitor the changes that happen very rapidly in the young and geriatric, as well as dogs with diagnosed conditions. Once your dog is old enough, it is also important to spay or neuter them to prevent both unwanted litters and adolescent behavior problems.

You will also want a pet first-aid kit on hand for small accidents, which should include:

  • Absorbent gauze pads
  • Adhesive tape
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Foil blanket
  • Cotton balls
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Clotting powder
  • Ice pack
  • Non-latex disposable gloves
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Rectal thermometer
  • Scissors
  • Saline solution
  • Tweezers
  • Self-stick bandages (which stick to themselves, not fur)

4. Grooming & Dental Care 

Proper grooming and dental care will not only assure a cleaner house, it also means a happy, healthier dog. Bathe and brush your furry friend regularly to cut back on shedding and keep their coat from becoming dirty, tangled and matted, or worse yet, developing skin conditions caused by infrequent bathing and brushing.

Though it may seem small, regular at-home dental care is necessary to keep your dog’s vital organs running efficiently and to prevent bad breath, painful chewing, and tooth loss. You will want to brush your dog’s teeth with a toothpaste specially made for dogs or give them dental chews at least three times a week, on top of periodic professional dental cleaning when suggested by your veterinarian.

Additionally, keep your dog’s nails trimmed to keep them from getting too long, to prevent injury to his feet and breaking, which may cause infection. You can have a groomer take care of this or you can do it yourself; just make sure to keep clotting powder on hand in case of over-trimming.

5. Training 

 While obedience training may seem like a luxury, it is very much a necessity for all dog breeds. Proper leash-training is just one of many things your dog will learn from a great reward-based trainer, and it can be hard to master on your own because of positive cues that dogs learn when they pull, especially when using a retractable leash.

Learn the top three tips for choosing the best trainer here and reap the benefits, which include strengthening your bond with your dog, preventing and correcting unwanted behaviors, and overall creating a well-balanced, happier dog.

6. Exercise

Last but not least, get up and get active! Taking your pooch for a walk at least once a day is important not only physically, but mentally as well. Many behavior problems arise out of boredom, and a quick walk is just what your vet (and the trainer) will suggest to cure the behavior blues. Keep in mind that exercising your pet daily is a necessity regardless of size, from Chihuahuas to Great Danes.

While there are many responsibilities that go with owning any pet, their unconditional love and uplifting company more than make up for it! Whether you are on the brink of bringing home a new furry friend or a seasoned dog-owning expert, we are here to help and answer any questions you might have. Contact us today at 701.757.3500.

read more