Why do puppies and kittens need so many shots?
Puppies and kittens need to visit the veterinarian every 3 weeks from the age of 6 weeks to 16 weeks for a series of vaccinations. They need this series of vaccinations, like babies, because there is not a definitive time when the mother’s immunity, which is given to the puppies and kittens through mom’s milk, runs out. For this reason, we vaccinate them several times to make sure that they have a strong immunity to fight disease that they may come across as they grow up. We also recommend that all kittens be blood tested for Feline Leukemia and Feline Immunodeficiency Viruses.
Do you sell pet food?
Yes, we carry Hills Science Diet pet food. We carry both the prescription formula and a veterinary exclusive formula for cats and dogs called Healthy Advantage. In dogs, this helps in the following 5 ways: weight management, joint support, skin and coat enrichment, gastrointestinal support, and dental care. In cats, the formula supports the following 5 areas: weight management, skin and coat enrichment, gastrointestinal support, dental care, and urinary tract support.
My pet is overweight how can I help him/her?
Nutrition is a major area of interest at our clinic and our experienced staff have several methods to help your pet lose those extra pounds that she/he has packed on over the years. The added weight that your pet is carrying around will affect the following areas:
- Joints: predisposes pets to osteoarthritis.
- Cardiovascular system: leads to increased work on the heart to circulate blood through extra tissue.
- Liver and kidneys: all of the additional weight leads to increased natural toxin production. These toxins have to be filtered and discarded by the liver and kidneys.
Weight loss for your pet is similar to weight loss for anyone else, including decreasing calories, limiting treats, and increasing exercise. A nutritional consultation can be scheduled with our doctor to make your pet’s weight loss a successful, healthy, and happy event your pet and your family.
My pet has bad breath what can we do to help?
Bad breath or halitosis in pets is often caused by periodontal disease. Because dogs and cats aren’t able to brush their teeth, plaque (bacterial biofilm) builds up on their teeth; it later calcifies and turns into tartar. Every time your pet takes a bite of dry pet food or treats, small pieces of tartar containing bacteria break off and then are able to enter the bloodstream leading to potential kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.
The way we treat dental disease is very similar to you going to the dentist. In pets, we anesthetize them and clean their teeth with an ultrasonic water cleaner. If any teeth need to be removed due to disease, we remove them at the same time. Usually our patients are started on an antibiotic a few days prior to the dental, and if any teeth are extracted, then our patients are always sent home on pain medication.
Prevention is the key- whether you brush your pet’s teeth or you use dental products. There are products available to help with the treatment of plaque and tartar. The Veterinary Oral Health Committee is a group of veterinarians that research and assess the various dental products to ensure they are effective in treating plaque or tartar.
Can my animal get heartworm disease?
YES, both cats and dogs can become infected with heartworms. Heartworms are spread when a mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected animal. When the mosquito bites your pet, it injects baby heartworms (microfilaria) into your pet. It takes 6 months from the time your pet is infected until he/she will test positive for heartworms.
Heartworm disease is preventable in dogs and cats, and there are many types of preventatives on the market from oral tablets and chews to topical medications. There are a few heartworm products that conveniently combine both heartworm and flea medications in one.
In dogs, heartworm disease is treatable, but it is very long and expensive treatment. The medication used for heartworm treatment can lead to some significant side effects. Dogs undergoing treatment for heartworm disease have to remain in strict confinement through the duration of the treatment.
Cats are slightly less susceptible to heartworm infection, however when they are infected with heartworms, there is no treatment for the disease. Cats with heartworm disease usually exhibit signs similar to feline asthma including wheezing, difficulty breathing, occasionally coughing, and even death.
What should we do to help prepare our pets for hurricane season?
There are many websites dedicated to preparing for hurricanes and many of them have a special section for pet preparedness. We recommend that you get a copy of your pet’s medical records prior to hurricane season, and have your pet brought up to date on vaccinations at the same time. It is also very important to have accurate identification on your pet, such as identification tags. Even better, consider having your pet microchipped so that you have a better chance at being reunited should you and your pet become separated. Make sure you have all of the medications that your pet will need for at least a 2 week duration in the event that you are not able to get them filled during the disaster. We also strongly recommend that you have enough food and water for all of your pets. If you feel that you will need to evacuate with your pet to a shelter, make sure that you know which shelters will accept pets. The following websites have information about hurricane preparedness for pets: https://www.ready.gov/pets or https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness.
My pet is always scratching and itching… what can cause this?
In the south, fleas are present all year round. Many people do not realize that their pet has fleas, but they are often the culprit. We recommend that pets be on a year-round flea preventative. Flea preventatives come in a plethora of options ranging from oral tablets to topical applications. Seeing only 1 flea is like seeing the tip of an iceberg. Usually, where there is 1 flea, there are hundreds of flea larva and thousands of flea eggs waiting to hatch. Fleas do not have to bite a human to be biting and irritating a pet. It is equally important to treat fleas because often the flea is infected with tapeworms. Tapeworms are very small rice like worms that are usually seen in the fecal material or on the hindquarters of our pets. If these worms are found on your pet, we can treat them appropriately with oral medication.
Why is my veterinarian recommending yearly blood work for my pet?
Annual blood work is a necessity for aging pets. We usually recommend annual blood work in all patients older than 7 years, however in large breed dogs we recommend blood work at 5 years and older. Certain medical conditions also require annual blood work, such as: long-term steroid use, patients on seizure medications, and patients on long term NSAIDS. Yearly blood work allows the veterinarian to evaluate various organs and cell population in order to diagnose and treat certain diseases early like kidney disease, thyroid disease, and liver disease.