Frequenlty Asked Questions
The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends a full dental cleaning every six months for your pet, just the same as your dentist recommends for you. Still, imagine what that cleaning procedure would be like for you if you did not brush your teeth at all between dental visits.
Dental home care is the single most important aspect of regular dental care. With proper home care, your pet may not need that six month dentistry, thus saving you the expense and your pet the extra anesthetic.
Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) is a fairly large worm (up to 14 inches long) that, in adulthood, lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected dog. Dogs acquire this infection through mosquito bites as mosquitoes readily pick up larval heartworms from infected dogs and carry them to new dogs.
Several excellent products are available for preventing heartworm infection, most of them monthly chew tabs that are so tasty you can just drop them in your dog’s food bowl and he’ll gobble them up. A heartworm preventive can be given to a puppy with his first set of vaccinations.
We recommend spaying your animal at 6 months of age or before her first heat, which will result in her having a near zero chance of developing mammary cancer. After the first heat, this incidence climbs to 7% and after the second heat the risk is 25% (one in four). It is easy to see that an early spay can completely prevent what is frequently a very difficult and potentially fatal form of cancer. But is it too late if a dog is already past her second heat? No, in fact spaying is important even in female dogs that already have obvious tumors. This is because many mammary tumors are stimulated by estrogens; removing the ovaries, the source of estrogens, will help retard tumor spread. Spaying removes both the uterus and both ovaries and is crucial in the prevention as well as the treatment of mammary cancer.
Unfortunately there are far more animals than there are homes for them, and every pet owner has the potential to help decrease this problem by simply having your pet neutered. We recommend doing this at 4-6 months of age. That is the age that most dogs are starting to mature or go into puberty. A good way to remember this timeframe of that is, in most cases a puppy is getting there last set of booster vaccinations at this age. While having your dog neutered at any point in his life will help reduce the incidence of certain cancers, such as prostate cancer, doing so at an early age provides the maximum benefit. The treatments for prostate cancer are expensive and can be painful for your pet. Even with the best treatment, this disease often proves fatal. In addition to reduce risk of cancer, having your puppy neutered also lowers his risk of other prostate issues such as infections and swollen glands.
Overall, most vets agree that dogs that have been neutered tend to live longer and are healthier. There is another benefit to having your dog neutered when he is a puppy. Just as young children bounce back more quickly after surgery than adults, so do young dogs have an easier time with recovery than do older dogs. In addition to the health benefits, there are other reasons that you should have your dog neutered. Dogs that are neutered also tend to be less aggressive. There is a lower chance that your neutered dog will fight with other dogs or try to bite people. Having a less aggressive dog is exceptionally important if your pet spends time with other dogs or small children.
Neutered dogs are also less likely to roam the neighborhood looking for a mate. Keeping your animal close to home is safer for them, and there is far less chance than he will be lost or stolen.
SPAYING MAKES A DOG OR CAT FAT AND LAZY:
Many pets do become less active after being spayed and may gain weight if allowed. However, this is easily overcome by controlling the pet’s diet and providing adequate interaction and exercise for the dog or cat.
DOGS AND CATS SHOULD HAVE ONE LITTER BEFORE BEING SPAYED:
There is no health benefit to allowing a dog or cat to give birth before being spayed. To the contrary, dogs and cats which are spayed at a young age and before the first heat cycle have significantly lower risks of developing mammary cancers as they get older. Another consideration in allowing a female dog or cat to give birth before spaying is the disposition of all the puppies or kittens. Even if the pet owner is successful in finding homes for all of the puppies or kittens produced in the litter, numerous dogs and cats, as well as puppies and kittens, are euthanized yearly at animal shelters due to a lack of available homes. Adding to the pet overpopulation problem by purposely breeding a dog or cat is irresponsible and insensitive.
DOGS AND CATS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO COME INTO HEAT BEFORE BEING SPAYED:
Spaying a dog or cat after the first heat cycle actually increases the risk of mammary cancers developing later in life. Spaying prior to the first heat cycle is the most current recommendation.
WATCHING A PET GIVE BIRTH IS A HEALTHY EXPERIENCE FOR A CHILD:
Many people feel that their children will benefit from watching the miracle of an animal giving birth. What these people fail to take into account is that whelping or queening carries some degree of risk for the female dog or cat. While a young child might benefit from watching a successful birthing which takes place without complication, that same child might be incredibly traumatized by watching a puppy or kitten be born deformed or dead. Worse yet, should complications arise that take the life of the female pet, the child would then lose a cherished companion.
A FEMALE PET WILL BECOME AGGRESSIVE AFTER BEING SPAYED:
Female dogs and cats do not become aggressive because they have been spayed. Changes in temperament and disposition are rarely due to being spayed and when there are changes in temperament as a result of being spayed, these changes are much more likely to be positive changes.
Spaying a female dog or cat at an early age is not only beneficial for the pet; it is also the responsible thing to do as a pet owner.
MY DOG IS A PUREBRED:
Even pet owners with no intention to breed think that they should not neuter their dog if it is a purebred. First, many of the unwanted dogs euthanized each year are purebreds. Also, the health benefits that go along with having your dog fixed are just as important to a purebred dog as they are to a mixed breed.
IT WILL CHANGE HIS PERSONALITY:
If there are any changes to the way your dog behaves, it will ne that he is less aggressive than he was prior to surgery. Most pet owners notice no difference whatsoever in the personality of their pet after surgery.
HE WILL GAIN WEIGHT:
Having a dog neutered does not cause weight gain, but the overall activity level of the dog may decline after surgery. This can be dealt with by taking your pet on an extra walk, or giving him extra play time in the yard.
MY DOG WILL NO LONGER BE PROTECTIVE:
The protective instinct of a dog is not related to whether or not the dog is altered. He will still be just as loyal to you and to his duties as protector as he was prior to surgery.
THE SURGERY IS DANGEROUS:
While no surgery is entirely without risks, having your dog neutered is one of the most common procedures that vets perform. During surgery, the vet will closely monitor your dog, much the way a surgeon would if you were having an operation. Just keep in mind that the benefits of having your dog neutered far outweigh any potential risks.
Disasters can often strike without warning, so proper preparation is always a must. In addition to making the necessary preparations for you and your family, you must also consider what you will do with your pet(s). Making arrangements for your beloved furry friends ahead of time will save you the hassle of determining how and where to care for them if you must evacuate in an emergency.
BEFORE DISASTER STRIKES
Contact hotels outside of your immediate area to learn about their policies concerning animals on the premises. Generate a list of pet-friendly places and keep this information with your emergency supply kit.
Ask friends and relatives living outside of your immediate area to look after your pet if you must evacuate your home.
Compile a list of veterinary care facilities located outside of your immediate area in case your pet needs medical attention.
WHEN DISASTER STRIKES
Bring your pets indoors and get them under control. Place them on a leash or in a carrier immediately so that you can evacuate or seek shelter without them acting up.
Make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar with a current rabies vaccination tag and ID tag. The ID tag should include your name, address and telephone number.
Gather your disaster supply kit, which should include the following items:
- Leashes or harnesses
- Food and water bowls
- Extra food and water in plastic containers labeled with feeding instructions
- Litter box and scooper (for cats)
- Pet medication and instructions for administration
- Name, address and telephone number of your veterinarian
- Photos of your animals with you for identification purposes
- Contact information for a relative living out of the area
If you can stay at home in an emergency, go to a safe area of your house and stay together. Keep your animals with you in their carriers.
If you are a typical pet owner, your pet is a part of your family. However, just as you would with a baby, you must be vigilant in protecting your pet from poisonous items that can be found around the house.
Those sweet-smelling flowers or green plants may brighten up your home, but unfortunately dogs and cats are attracted to them too. Popular flora that is dangerous to your pet includes:
- Tulips / Narcissus bulbs
- Azaleas / Rhododendrons
- Baby’s breath
- Pothos – Of the Araceae family; is an extremely popular houseplant
All of the above can cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination and in some cases even coma or death. This list is not exhaustive; for a more comprehensive record, visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
As much as your pet begs for a taste of what’s on your plate, it is generally not wise to feed it food or drinks meant for humans.
Foods especially harmful to pets include:
- Onions, garlic and chives
- Alcoholic beverages
- Undercooked meat
- Raw bones (they can splinter)
- Products sweetened with xylitol (like sugar-free gum)
Everyone has dropped a pill on the floor from time to time. However, if you have pets, you need to pick it up immediately; if you cannot find it, get out the vacuum. Never leave opened medication out on the counter. Also, if you are dispensing medication to your animal, make sure to read the instructions carefully. The ASPCA has received calls regarding poisonings by well-meaning pet owners.
Call the Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. Be ready with a description of your animal, symptoms, information about the poisoning and, if applicable, have the product’s label or container handy.
The ASPCA recommends having a pet first aid kit, containing:
- Hydrogen peroxide (3%, to induce vomiting)
- A bulb syringe or turkey baster (to administer the hydrogen peroxide
- Saline eye solution
- Artificial tear gel
- A muzzle (to prevent getting bitten if your animal is in shock)
- Mild dishwashing liquid (to bathe your pet after skin contamination)
- A can of your pet’s favorite food.
You can purchase such kits in pet stores or online.