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6-8 weeks of age
We recommend spaying and neutering at 6 months of age. By spaying before the first heat cycle the risk of mammary cancer is significantly lower.
Neutering will not change your dog’s personality, but it will curb some “bad boy” behaviors like marking, roaming, and aggression. As well as helping with pet overpopulation, neutering decreases the risk of prostatic hyperplasia, perineal hernias, and testicular problems.
Not necessarily. Removing the sex hormones does cause a decrease in the animal’s metabolism, but weight gain can be easily controlled by feeding less food.
Yes, unless you know the mother cat was negative. Both felv and fiv are incurable diseases which will influence future medical problems for your cat. Therefore it is important to know the status of your cat, even if it is indoor only.
We recommend vaccinating cats who go outside. Stray cat populations are the reservoir for felv/fiv infections. Felv is transmitted by close contact, like sharing water dishes. Fiv is contracted from bite wounds but an effective vaccine is not available.
No, a series of booster shots is required. Maternal antibodies interfere with development of an immune response in puppies so we vaccinate several times in order to catch the point that those antibodies wane. Until you have completed the entire vaccine series, do not take your puppy to public parks or stores where it may be exposed to disease. Socialization with older vaccinated dogs is recommended.
Parvo is a viral infection which is very contagious and sometimes deadly. The virus is shed in feces of infected dogs and will stay in the environment for a very long time. Therefore, we do not recommend taking puppies to public parks, stores, or dog parks until they are fully vaccinated. Parvo causes vomiting and bloody diarrhea leading to dehydration. The virus also lowers the white blood cell count opening up the risk of sepsis and death. With aggressive supportive treatment, most dogs will survive.
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquito and are endemic in this area. Both indoor and outdoor dogs are susceptible. The worms develop in the heart leading to heart failure and death. A dog can be infected with heartworms and not show any clinical signs like coughing. Treatment is possible but it is expensive and risky. Prevention is the answer. You must give a heartworm preventative once a month for the dog’s entire life.
Heartworms can infect cats. The microfilaria can damage lung tissue leading to chronic respiratory disease. A cat will only get 1-2 adult heartworms because of the small size of their hearts. This makes testing for heartworms complicated in cats. Cats do not typically cough but can die suddenly from heartworm infection. There is no treatment for heartworms in cats. Outdoor cats should definitely be on a heartworm preventative.
The vaccines required can differ from facility to facility. In general a bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine is required. We also recommend a canine influenza vaccine. The influenza vaccine requires a booster 3 weeks after the initial shot. For best protection, plan to get the vaccines at least 1 week before boarding/grooming.
Airlines require a health certificate within 10 days of travel. The certificate states the pet is healthy and current on vaccines. If you are traveling outside the country, you should check with that country’s consulate for requirements. Health certificates for leaving the country often need to be endorsed by the USDA which can take a few days.
Tapeworms. Tapeworms are contracted by eating a flea so it is important to treat the fleas along with deworming.
Dogs should eat a quality dry dog food fed once or twice a day. Canned food can be used as a treat if desired. Cats should also eat a dry food. We recommend meal feeding your cat to monitor its intake rather than leaving food out all the time. This also helps control weight and makes it easier when a medical condition may require a special diet. Cats should be familiar with canned food as well as dry. Choose a premium diet and remember with pet foods you often get the quality that you pay for. Check on the bag for feeding amount recommendations and then tailor it to your pet.
All heartworm preventatives are equally effective so it comes down to a personal preference. Your doctor can help you decide which product to choose.
The fleas have to jump on your pet in order to die. As the eggs in the environment hatch, you will see new fleas on your pet. These new fleas will soon die because the product is working. It can take several months to eradicate a severe flea infestation. Over-the-counter flea collars and spot-ons are not near as effective as the prescription products. Your doctor can help you determine a plan for your particular situation.
Crate training is the most effective method. The crate should be big enough for the puppy to stand up and turn around but not much larger. Dogs do not want to urinate in the same place as their bed. When you are unable to observe the puppy it should be crated. Consistency is also key. Take the puppy out to the same place in the yard each time and say the same phrase. If the puppy has an accident in the house and you catch them in the act, that is the time to scold and take outside. If you just find the puddle, the puppy does not remember it so just clean it up.
Since the animal is too small/young for the topical flea products, you should bathe them in Dawn dish detergent. Do not use a flea shampoo because it will be too strong.
Regular ear washing once or twice a week is important. To clean the ears, squirt a generous amount of ear cleaner in the ear. Then, massage the base of the ear to work it in. Finally, wipe out the ear with some cotton balls. Do not stick Q-tips in the ear canal as this may damage the ear drum.
Plaque and tartar on the dog’s teeth causes the odor. Brushing your dog’s teeth and using dental treats can cut down on the amount of tartar build-up. A full dental cleaning and scaling is often needed to remove all the tartar.
If it was in the last four hours, induce vomiting by giving oral hydrogen peroxide or by coming into the clinic. Most animals act excited after ingesting chocolate and may vomit, but if toxic levels are reached it can progress to tremors, seizures, arrhythmias, and cyanosis. Dark and bakers chocolates are worse than milk chocolate.
There is not a pregnancy test for animals like the one for humans. Once the animal has been pregnant for 6 weeks, we can take an x-ray to count the fetal skeletons. The gestation length for dogs and cats is 2 months.
Dogs come into heat about twice a year. Cats, on the other hand, can cycle much quicker so it’s more individual as to the total number of heat cycles.
There are very few diseases which you can catch directly from your pet. The most common is ringworm. Ringworm is a fungal infection causing circular hairless lesions with a red border. Another contagious skin condition is scabies which is a very itchy mite. Scabies is the least common mange mite; most cases are due to demodex mites. Also intestinal parasite eggs passed in your pets stool can larvate and migrate to aberrant places in the human body. Hookworm larvae burrow under the skin causing cutaneous larval migrans. Roundworm larvae are more serious and will migrate to the liver and eye (visceral larval migrans). In fact, roundworms are the most common cause of blindness in children. Cleaning up feces promptly will prevent transmission. Of course, Rabies is zoonotic which is why annual vaccination is required by law.