Frequently Asked Questions

We love educating our clients. That’s why we have collected the answers to our clients’ most frequently asked questions. We hope that you find the answer you are looking for and learn something new in the process!

Our Top FAQs

Please look through our frequently asked questions below. If you do not find the answer you are looking for, you can always contact us and ask us directly. We are always here to help!

How do I housetrain my puppy?

We completely understand that puppy training can be trying, but we believe you will have an effective starting point with a good training reference. Please click here for more information.

Why does my pet need vaccines?

The virtual eradication of polio in people is just one example of the vital power provided by vaccinations. Vaccinations are just as important in pets. Throughout their lives, your pets will likely be exposed to several infectious diseases that can cause severe illness or even death. But if you’ve taken steps to prevent infection through vaccination, you will greatly extend the life of your pets.

Why does my pet need a physical exam?

Your pet may not show outward signs of illness, but hidden ailments have serious consequences if left untreated. The physical exam is the routine assessment of a patient by using our five senses and minimally invasive techniques. Together with the patient’s history, the physical exam helps us determine whether additional diagnostic tests are needed and, if so, which tests will be most useful.

Why does my pet need blood work before surgery?

1. Detect hidden illness. Healthy-looking pets may be hiding symptoms of a disease or ailment. Testing helps detect this kind of illness so we can avoid problems with anesthesia.

2. Reduce risks and consequences. If the pre-anesthetic testing results are normal, we can proceed with confidence. If not, we can alter the anesthetic procedure or take other precautions to safeguard your pet’s health.

3. Protect your pet’s future health. These tests become part of your pet’s medical record, providing a baseline for future reference.

4. Enjoy peace of mind. Testing can significantly reduce medical risk.

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs, cats, and other species of mammals, including wolves, foxes, ferrets, sea lions, and (in rare instances) humans. Heartworms are classified as nematodes (roundworms) and are filarids, one of many species of roundworms. Dogs and cats of any age or breed are susceptible to infection.

Why does my dog need a heartworm test?

Annual testing is recommended for several important reasons:

  1. Many of us do not take our own medications as directed, let alone medicate our pets. We’re busy; we forget; we miss a dose here and there.
  2. Even if you never miss a dose, there is nothing to prevent your dog from eating some grass and vomiting up the medication you just gave them. Your pet would be without protection for an entire month.
  3. If your pet accidentally became infected with heartworms, your veterinarian needs to detect it as soon as possible before irreversible heart and lung damage occurs.

Early detection and treatment are always best. The tests are quick and accurate and make sure your pet is free from infection. Annual testing provides peace of mind in knowing that your pet is free of heartworms, and should your pet be infected, it assures you of early diagnosis.

Why can't I just give heartworm preventive medication?

Giving preventives to dogs that have adult heartworm infections can be harmful or even fatal to the pet. Adult heartworms produce millions of microscopic “baby” heartworms (called microfilaria) into the bloodstream. When you give a monthly heartworm preventive to a dog with circulating microfilaria, this can cause the sudden death of microfilaria, triggering a shock-type reaction. Even if your dog does not have this type of reaction, heartworm preventives do not kill the adult heartworms (although they may shorten the worms’ life expectancy). This means an infected dog will remain infected with adult heartworms.

What is a microchip, and why should I get one for my pet?

We are happy to report that we have reunited multiple lost pets with their families thanks to microchipping. 1 in 3 pets will go missing during their lifetime, and without proper ID, 90% never return home. A microchip for dogs and cats gives the best protection with a permanent ID that can never be removed or become impossible to read. Visit the Home Again website for more details.

When will my puppy or kitten get their adult teeth?

Most puppies and kittens will get their adult teeth around 16 – 20 weeks of age. Puppies have 28 baby (deciduous) teeth and 30 adult teeth, and kittens have 26 baby (deciduous) teeth and 30 adult teeth. Visit our dental page for details.

How old is my dog or cat in human years?

Dogs and cats age faster than people do. Also, large breed dogs will age faster than small breed dogs. The accepted truth that every one year of a dog’s life is equivalent to seven years of a human isn’t really true. Click here for “How Old is your Dog or cat Really?”

What should I do before bringing home a new pet?

You want the relationship between your children and your pets to start off on the right foot and develop in a healthy direction. Here are some tips to help make sure the whole household gets along: Introducing Your Pet to Your New Arrival

Why do dogs eat grass?

Click here for theories on this behavior.

Is there pet insurance?

Yes, there are many companies that offer pet insurance for your dog or cat. As with people, there are different policies offering a variety of coverages. VPI insurance is one of the largest, but there are many more for you to look into and see if any policy would be beneficial for your pet.

Can I do something to prevent my pet from getting fleas and ticks?

Yes! We have much safer and more effective flea and tick control products than ever before. Frontline PLUS is guaranteed to prevent fleas and ticks for 30 days. Beware of over-the-counter flea control products because many are ineffective and can actually be harmful to your pets, especially cats. Ask us what products would be best for your pet.

How can I get the skunk odor off my pet?

Skunks are often coming around your home in search of food. Paul Krebaum, a chemist, invented a new, more effective formula for de-skunking a dog.

Mix in an open bucket or bowl:

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of strong liquid soap such as dishwashing detergent

Mix the ingredients in an open bucket or bowl. The mixture will fizz. Keep your pet dry and apply and thoroughly massage the solution into the coat, really saturating the areas that “got it”. Be sure to keep the mixture out of the dog’s eyes, nose, and mouth. If it is necessary to apply it to the dog’s face, very carefully use a washcloth or a sponge. After applying the mixture to all parts of your dog, rinse your dog thoroughly with fresh water and bathe with regular dog shampoo.

WARNING: This mixture can be explosive, as it will fizz and creates pressure if it is enclosed in a seal-tight container. Never store unused portion. Always discard. Be sure to only mix in an open container and do not try to store or cover it in any way. Do not get the mixture into your dog’s eyes, nose, or mouth. Also, be aware that peroxide can bleach your pet’s coat, making it a lighter shade.

My dog struggles with stress from thunderstorms and/or fireworks. What can I do?

Dogs who are afraid of thunderstorms and fireworks may pant, drool, pace, whine, try to escape, cower and shake, have housetraining accidents or even destroy furniture. It is very important to help your dog as soon as you see these fears start to stop them from getting worse. Always check with us before giving any medication to your pets!

Can my dog or cat get heat exhaustion?

Summer always brings to mind things like vacations, picnics, boating on lakes and rivers, and children playing in the sun and swimming in the pool or at beaches. Many times the family dog is right there with them, totally engaged in the activities. There is fun to be had for sure, but there is also a lurking danger – heat exhaustion! Heat exhaustion is a life-threatening problem, and pets have died from this. ALWAYS bring your pet in if you suspect heat exhaustion. For more information, click here.

Is there a concern about humans getting disease from our pets?

Yes! Intestinal parasites (roundworms and hookworms) are one of the few things that are considered zoonotic – diseases that can be transmitted from animals to people. You can find more information on our wellness and preventative care page here.

Is chemotherapy right for my pet?

In the past, a diagnosis of cancer in a pet typically resulted in two treatment options: euthanasia now or euthanasia later (hopefully with the pet receiving comfort care in the meantime). Nowadays, owners have many more options. Surgery is the first line of treatment for cancerous masses that have not obviously metastasized. Complete surgical removal can sometimes be curative, but even when that is not possible, removing the bulk of the cancer will often greatly improve patient comfort and the length of his or her remission. Radiation therapy can be used to shrink a cancerous tumor before surgery, to treat “dirty margins” (areas around the surgical site where cancerous cells remain), to improve patient comfort, or as the primary form of treatment for some types of cancers. Chemotherapy is a part of most cancer treatment protocols, particularly when the cancer is known or suspected to have metastasized or is of a type that affects multiple parts of the body at the same time (e.g., lymphoma or leukemia). Some owners elect not to pursue surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy for their pet’s cancer. Oftentimes, they have very good reasons for not doing so. Concurrent disease, the stress of treatment, extremely advanced age, and (unfortunately) finances all have to be taken into consideration when deciding what treatment options are appropriate for pets and their owners. What should never play a role, however, is a misunderstanding regarding the likelihood of side effects from treatment. Chemotherapy has a particularly bad reputation in this regard. Even though veterinarians and medical doctors use many of the same drugs when designing chemotherapy protocols for their patients, the incidence of side effects in dogs and cats is MUCH lower. This doesn’t have anything to do with the inherent toughness of dogs and cats; it simply results from the fact that veterinarians take a different approach in comparison to medical doctors. People understand the concepts of delayed gratification and sacrifices in the short term bringing about gains in the long term. I have great regard for the mental capacities of (some) dogs and cats, but frankly, I think these concepts are beyond them. For this reason, veterinarians are not willing to significantly compromise a pet’s current well-being for a “cure” that may or may not happen. We tailor our chemotherapies in such a way that nausea, anemia, hair loss, and exhaustion that are part and parcel of human chemotherapy protocols are the exception rather than the rule for dogs and cats. The majority of my patients who have been treated with chemotherapy for cancer don’t react poorly to the medications at all or only experience minor side effects. But chemotherapy is still not for everyone. The flip side of taking a less aggressive approach is that cure rates and remission lengths are generally lower than they are on the human side of things, and owners do have to accept the possibility that adverse reactions are still possible, even if they don’t occur as frequently as is generally expected.

Dr. Jennifer Coates Copyright © PetMD All right reserved.