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Frequently Asked Questions

General Topics

When does a puppy or kitten start its shots?
Both puppies and kittens begin their vaccination series at six to eight weeks of age and receive vaccinations every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. It is also very important to have your puppy or kitten’s stool checked for worms or other intestinal parasites at a young age. If you are unsure of your new pet's age, you can always ask us for advice.

How do I control fleas and ticks on my pet?
With the advancement of flea control like Program, Sentinel and Frontline, fleas and ticks are no longer the nuisance they once were for you and your pet. Frontline is a liquid applied to the back of the neck which kills fleas and ticks within 24 hours and continues killing them for 1 full month. Sentinel is a tablet that is given by mouth every month with a meal. It prevents heartworm disease, the most serious parasite affecting dogs, and stops fleas from reproducing, and also lasts a month. Program is a tablet (now rarely used since it is the active flea control ingredient in Sentinel) and as an injectable for cats ONLY, that lasts 6 months per injection. All these products are SAFE for your pets and your children. Do NOT confuse these products with others you find in the pet supermarket or grocery store. Those products are traditional insecticides that have very poor efficacy.

How long is a dog/cat in season or heat?
A dog is in season about 21 days. The first 10 days include bleeding from the vagina, then your dog is ready to accept the male. A cat is completely different from a dog. They go in and out of season from January to June. It is always best to neuter your pet if you do not intend to breed her so that she does not develop breast or uterine cancer.

How do I remove a tick from my pet?
The best method is to cover the tick with vaseline and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then carefully remove it with a pair to tweezers. You should know that ticks carry a vast array of diseases. Lyme disease is one disease that dogs can be vaccinated against. Call our hospital for more information.

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Dog Topics


How do I determine the correct collar size for my dog?
A collar should rest high on your pet's neck without fitting too loosely. Use a tape measurer to measure around your pet's neck. Add on 2 more inches to determine the correct collar you should buy.

How do I know what size cage is best for my dog?
The right size cage is one in which your pet can lie down, turn around, and have three to four inches of extra head space when sitting or standing. While the right-sized cage may seem too confining or too small to you, it is not for your dog.

Especially if you are using the cage or crate to housetrain your puppy, do not make the common mistake of buying a cage that is too large for your puppy. If it is too spacious, your pup will eliminate in a 'remote' corner. Buy a puppy cage you will only use for training, or buy a cage that you can use throughout your dog's life and add divider panels when the dog is smaller to reduce the area to the appropriate size.

What kind of supplies do I need for a new puppy?
When getting a new puppy, you will need:

  • Food and water dishes
  • A cage or crate and/or dog bed
  • A collar and leash
  • Nametag
  • Toys, including chew toys
  • Shampoo and grooming supplies, the type will vary with the breed of puppy
  • Health care supplies including ear cleaner, dog toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Piddle pads' if you will be 'housetraining' your puppy indoors
  • Book(s) on puppy health care and behavior

Is rawhide safe for my dog?
After quality, the second most-asked question about rawhide is whether or not chewing rawhide is healthy for puppies. A few years ago, one of the major medical schools in this country conducted a laboratory test to answer this question. The results showed that in groups of test dogs, even in those fed rawhide three times a day, there were no ill effects.

Dogs will swallow pieces of rawhide, and these will pass easily through the digestive tract. Although choking or intestinal obstruction with rawhide is very rare, it could potentially occur and common-sense prevention measures should be taken. A dog and a rawhide product should never be left alone together unsupervised. Some dogs may quickly chew and swallow large pieces of rawhide. When your dog has chewed on a piece of rawhide to the point of it becoming soft, take that rawhide chew away and substitute another. Allow the softened rawhide to dry and harden, and it can then be given back to the dog.

Why is it unsafe for a dog to ride in the car with his head out of the window?
We definitely recommend you do NOT allow your pet to travel with his head out of the window for several reasons:

  • If the dog's head can get outside of the window, chances are his whole body can. We have seen dogs jump or fall out of open windows of vehicles and become seriously injured or worse.
  • Small particles could enter your dog's eyes or ears causing severe injury. Larger objects such as tree branches hanging onto a street, or road construction signs could also cause injury to a dog whose head is outside of the vehicle.
  • If you would be involved in an accident, a dog with his head outside of the window could, again, be seriously injured or even killed.
  • Animals riding in a vehicle should be in a cage, crate, traveling harness, or otherwise restrained. NEVER allow your pet to ride in the back of an open pickup truck, even if restrained. Cages or crates may be thrown out in the event of an accident. Animals who are tied may attempt to jump out, resulting in strangulation or dragging the animal behind the vehicle.

How do I give a pill to my dog?
If your dog is not on dietary restrictions, and your veterinarian said the medication can be given with food, the easiest way to give a pill is to hide it in a piece of food. A small amount of butter, peanut butter, liverwurst, cream cheese, or canned pet food, is often used. Canned cheese with nozzle dispensing often works too, and does not have to be refrigerated. If you are going to put the pill in the dog's food, it is best to give a small amount of the food without the pill first. This lowers your dog's suspicion index. It is best not to mix the medication in an entire meal, since if the dog does not eat the whole meal, he will not get the appropriate dose of medication.

If your dog will not take the pill in food or cannot have food with the medication, then it is down the hatch.

  1. Get the pill out of the bottle and place it where it will be handy.

  2. Call your dog to you in a happy voice. If you do not sound worried or concerned, your dog will be less likely to feel that way as well.

  3. Take your dog to a convenient spot, and place your dog's hind end against something so he cannot back away from you. Some people have found they have better control if they place the dog on a surface up above the floor. If you do so, make sure you have assistance, so the dog will not jump or fall off the table and hurt himself. The person assisting you should hold the dog around the shoulders and chest.

  4. Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger. (If you are right-handed, use your right hand.)

  5. Using your other hand, gently grasp your dog's muzzle from above with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other.

  6. Squeeze behind the upper canine teeth and tilt your pet's head back over his shoulders so he is looking at the ceiling. His lower jaw will automatically drop a bit.

  7. Use one of the other fingers of your right hand to lower the bottom jaw further by placing the finger between the lower canine teeth (the long front teeth) and pushing down.

  8. Quickly place the pill as far back in your dog's mouth as possible, getting it over the 'hump' of the tongue. Do not place your hand too far in, however, or your dog may gag.

  9. Close your dog’s mouth, hold it closed, and lower his head to a normal position, which will make swallowing easier. Gently rubbing or blowing on your dog's nose may help stimulate him to swallow.

Is bad breath in dogs just natural?
No. While it is true that bad breath can indicate a more serious illness, bad breath in pets is most often caused by bacteria. Plaque and tartar, if not removed from the teeth, increase the chance of gum infection.

Will my dog suffer if I do not take care of her teeth and gums?
Gum disease can cause dogs pain and serious dental problems later in life, as well as possibly lead to more serious illnesses, such as heart and kidney disease. But gum disease can be prevented. By beginning early in your dog’s life to care for her teeth, you can spare your dog the discomfort caused by gum disease.

Can dogs get cavities?
Pets, like their human owners, can get cavities. However, cavities are relatively rare in dogs because dogs’ diets generally are not high in decay-causing sugars. Veterinary dental experts have noticed a mild rise in the incidence of cavities among dogs fed sugary treats. To avoid cavities in your dog’s mouth, feed only dog food and treats designed for dogs.

Can I get ear mites from my pet?
Ear mites are not considered to be a zoonotic disease (disease which can be transmitted from animals to humans).

How are the mites transmitted?
Ear mites are extremely contagious. They can be passed from the mother animal to her offspring. Additionally, the mites are easily spread to other pets within the household including cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, mice, ferrets, etc. Humans are not affected.

What are the symptoms?
Puppies and kittens with ear mites will scratch around their ears and/or shake their heads. The amount of scratching and shaking depends on the severity of the mite infestation. With more advanced infestation, the ear canals will bleed and either fresh or dried blood will appear inside the canal. Dried blood resembles coffee grounds. If you peer into your pet's ears and notice a build-up of a material that looks like 'coffee grounds,' then your pet probably has ear mites, although a bacterial and/or yeast infection is also a possibility.

Ear mites are very common, but still serious. Left untreated, they severely damage the ear canals and eardrum and can cause permanent hearing loss.

If mites spread out of the ears to other areas of the body, the animal may or may not scratch the area.

How old should my dog be when I have her spayed?
In the United States, most dogs are spayed between 5 and 8 months of age. Dogs should be spayed BEFORE they have their first heat. To try to control pet overpopulation, many humane shelters have started to spay/neuter all animals before they are adopted. This means they are spaying/neutering animals at a younger age, even 6-14 weeks of age. Many veterinarians in private practice have started early spaying/neutering as well.

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Cat Topics

Is it normal for my cat to vomit hairballs?
Cats are excellent groomers; however, in so doing, they swallow large amounts of hair. Vomiting hairballs is a sign that the hair is not moving from the stomach into the small intestine. In order to correct this, all cats should receive a hairball preventative twice a week. It comes in a gel form and most cats take it readily.

My cat is going to his litter box a lot and seems uncomfortable. What does that mean?
Cats are very prone to a condition called " feline lower urinary tract syndrome." Basically, it is a urinary bladder infection or inflammation which can lead to urinary tract obstruction in male cats. This is a serious condition and you should contact a veterinarian immediately if your cat is showing this type of behavior.

What is the normal body temperature for cats?
In general, the normal body temperature for animals is higher than for humans. The normal rectal temperature of a cat is 100° to 102.5°F. The normal temperature of a kitten at birth is 97°F. The temperature gradually increases with age until it is 100°F at 4 weeks of age.

How do I control litter box odor? Clean litter box regularly
Clean the litter box at least once a day and change the litter at least once a week. Although it is never going to be on your list of 'My Favorite Things to Do,' removing the waste and changing the litter is often the best way to control odors.

Ventilate the area
Place the litter box in a well-ventilated area, in a room with a window you can leave partially open would be best.

Add more litter boxes
If you have more than one cat, consider getting more litter boxes. The general rule is to have one more litter box than the number of cats in the household.

Use a deodorizer
Add baking soda, or better yet, add an enzyme product such as Nature's Miracle Litter Treatment to the litter. The Nature's Miracle uses natural enzymes that actually 'eat' the odor-causing bacteria.

Use a product like Pet-Clear Crystals to eliminate odor from the air. You may also want to consider installing an automatic air deodorizer.

Get a self-cleaning box
Consider investing in a self-cleaning litter box. These completely automatic boxes rake away waste into a self-contained bag 10 minutes after your cat leaves the litter box. They are a little pricey, but if you hate or are unable to clean the litter box regularly and want to keep your home odor-free, this is the best solution on the market.

Why is it dangerous for pregnant women to change the litter box?
Pregnant women should not clean litter boxes because cats and kittens can carry an intestinal parasite called Toxoplasma. This parasite does not generally cause significant disease in felines, but it can cause birth defects in unborn human children. The organism is found in the stool of cats. Although the disease in cats is rare, it is best for pregnant women to avoid cleaning litter boxes (and gardening in areas where cats may defecate).

What kind of supplies do I need when I get a kitten?
When getting a new kitten, you will need:

  • Cat carrier
  • Cat bed (purchased or homemade)
  • Food and water dishes
  • Food
  • Litter box, litter, and scoop
  • A collar and tag
    (your kitten should wear them whenever he leaves the house, even if he is inside a cat carrier)
  • Toys and a scratching post
  • Grooming supplies, the type will vary with the breed of cat
  • Health care supplies including ear cleaner, cat toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Book(s) on cat health care and behavior

I have two cats. One cat seems to really enjoy catnip and the other doesn't seem to be affected by it. Why is this?
Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a plant in the mint family that grows wild as a weed and is found throughout the United States, particularly in the Midwest.

Cats under three months of age usually do not respond to catnip. Most older cats typically become excited or aroused as they smell, chew and eat catnip. They will frequently salivate, roll and rub, and sometimes run and leap in the air when responding to the catnip. It may be applied to scratching posts or used in stuffed toys.

Not all cats are stimulated by catnip to the same degree, and over a third of cats will not respond at all. Strange as it may seem, the different responses are probably due to environmental factors, genetics, and the gender of the cat (males are more likely to respond than females). If a cat who normally reacts to catnip is in a strange environment or is anxious, she may not react to the catnip. Cats in certain genetic 'lines' do not react to catnip. No one really understands the genetic trait, but it can be bred into a line through genetic selection.

Is it true that cats always land on their feet?
If cats fall a short distance, they can almost always right themselves and land on their feet. If they fall more than one or two floors, however, they may sustain severe or even fatal injuries. The number of cats who become injured from falling is increasing, partially because of the large number of multi-story apartment buildings. Cats who are injured during falls are often said to have 'high rise syndrome.

The uniqueness of the cat's skeleton is one of the reasons they can right themselves so quickly. Cats do not have a collarbone, and the bones in their backbone have more mobility than in many other animals. For these reasons, cats have free movement of their front legs and they can easily bend and rotate their bodies. This allows them to land feet first. Their feet and legs can cushion the impact. This righting reflex begins to appear at 3-4 weeks of age, and is perfected at 7 weeks.

If cats fall a larger distance such as two or more floors, even though they can right themselves, their legs and feet can no longer absorb all of the shock. Their heads may hit the ground and they often bruise their chin and may fracture some teeth. Falls of four or more floors cause the cat to hit the ground at maximum velocity and thus acquire a multitude of injuries including a ruptured diaphragm, torn liver, and fractured bones.

There are certainly instances of cats falling only a short distance and acquiring severe injuries. For the safety of your cat, always be sure upstairs windows are screened. Balconies and upstairs porches should be off-limits unless screened or cats are restricted from the edges and railings with the use of a harness and leash. (Be sure the leash is short enough to prevent the cat from jumping on the railing, or reaching the edge of the porch.)

Does spaying or neutering make pets fat and lazy?
Spaying and neutering does change the metabolism of companion animals, so in most cases, they do not need as much food to maintain their weight as unsprayed / unneutered animals. The problem is not with the animal – it is us. We just tend to overfeed our pets and neutered/spayed dogs and cats are more apt to put on weight because of that.

As for laziness, again, the amount of exercise and activity of our pets is often dependent on us. If we do not give them opportunities for play and exercise, they can become couch potatoes just like some people. Many spayed/neutered dogs are field dogs, are entered in agility shows, become service dogs or are trained in search and rescue. These dogs are anything but lazy. Cats can get lots of exercise with toys and 'chase' games. Some cats love to walk on a leash with their owners. Try it!

How old should my cat be when I have her spayed?
In the United States, most cats are spayed between 5 and 8 months of age. Cats should be spayed BEFORE they have their first heat. To try to control pet overpopulation, many humane shelters have started to spay/neuter all animals before they are adopted. This means they are spaying/neutering animals at a younger age, even 6-14 weeks of age. Many veterinarians in private practice have started early spaying/neutering as well.

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