This is a list of questions often posed to the veterinarians. If you have any other questions, or need clarification, please don't hesitate to ask your Plano Veterinary Group Veterinarian.
1. Why do my pets need an annual exam?
Each year for your pet is equivalent to at least 4 or more human years. A lot can happen in that time. During the annual exam the veterinarian carefully goes over your pet from head to tail. Subtle changes such as: weight loss/gain, skin tumors, eye/ear changes, dental disease, heart disease, arthritis, abdominal masses, endocrine disease, and much, much more can be evaluated and discussed. Hopefully, conditions can be diagnosed early and treated, helping your pet live a long, happy life. As the pet ages the doctor may suggest blood or urine tests to further evaluate organ function (or dysfunction) and start appropiriate treatment or dietary changes.
2. Why should I give heartworm protection year round?
Mosquitoes are the carrier species for heartworm infection (they inject heartworm larvae into your pet when they bite for a blood meal). Texas winters are too mild to adequately dampen the mosquito population, so year round prevention is recommended.
3. Why do I have to test my dog for heartworms if I give preventative every month?
Heartworm preventatives are not 100% effective. Occasionally a dose gets missed, spit out, vomited, or just not adequately absorbed, resulting in inadequate protection. Heartworm testing is a safeguard against your pet suffering from heartworm disease without your knowledge. Furthermore, giving heartworm preventative to a dog who has heartworm infection may actually result in a shock-like reaction due to a rapid kill of immature heartworms.
4. Are tapeworms contagious to my kids?
Tapeworms are only transmitted by oral consumption of the carrier, a flea. As long as your kids don't eat fleas, they can't get tapeworms. By the way, tapeworms are not contagious from pet to pet either, only through eating a flea.
5. My pet is "scooting" his rear on the floor, does that mean he has parasites?
Not necessarily, a fecal exam will rule out intestinal parasites. Often the "scooting" behavior is due to your pet's anal glands being full (another symptom is excessive licking of the rectal area). If the behavior occurs frequently, bring your pet in to the vet for an exam.
6. When should I get my pet spayed/neutered?
We generally recommend spay (female) or neuter (male) surgery at about 5-6 months of age, depending on the size and health status of the pet.
7. My pet has vomited once today, what should I do?
If your pet seems healthy other wise (not lethargic, appetite is good, drinking normally, no history of eating foreign objects or unusual foods, trash etc.) you may observe the dog and see if it happens again. You may try feeding your pet a bland diet of cooked white rice and boiled skinless, boneless chicken or lean hamburger meat for a day or two. If vomiting continues for either more than one day, or more than twice in one day, withhold food and call and make an appointment for an exam.
8. My pet has loose stools today, what should I do?
As long as the stools aren't extremely watery, black like tar, containing fresh blood, or associated with vomiting or excessive straining, you can try giving 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds of Kaopectate. You may also try feeding a bland diet of cooked white rice and boiled skinless, boneless chicken or lean hamburger meat. If diarrhea worsens or doesn't improve in 24-48 hours, call to make an appointment for an exam.
9. My dog is eating his own stool (or the cat's stool), does that mean he has a vitamin deficiency?
Coprophagia (or stool eating) is a common behavioral problem. Some behaviorists suspect that the dogs develop a taste for the undigested protein material that is in the stools. Your vet can make some suggestions to try to curb this annoying behavior.
10. My pet had surgery, what should I watch for with the incision?
The incision should be clean and dry with no discharge. There will be a slight amount of swelling, but not so much that the skin has swollen around the sutures. The area around the sutures should be pink and possibly a bit bruised, but not beet red. Please call or make an appointment to come in if you still have concerns or questions about the incision.
11. Does my pet need pain control when he has surgery?
The advent of providing pain control for pets is a recent development in veterinary medicine. Studies have shown that pets given pain medication post operatively heal faster, eat sooner, have fewer infections, and are much less stressed than pets who don't receive pain medication. Ask us about pain control options for your pet.
12. I'm thinking about having my cat declawed, is there anything that can be done to make this less painful for my pet?
At Animal Hospitals of Plano, we highly recommend using a "pain patch" for all declaw surgeries. This is a transdermal patch (similar to a nicotine patch) which contains a drug called Fentanyl (a morphine-like drug). When placed on your cat before the surgery, it delivers pain-relieving medication through the skin for about 7 days.
13. My dog is itching, I think it has fleas, how can I tell?
Fleas are small dark brown-black insects. You can usually see the insects themselves, often near the tail or on the belly, they flee from light. You can also see "flea dirt" black granular, dirt-like material that is essentially digested blood that has been excreted by the flea ( flea "stools").
14. What are the normal body temperatures for dogs and cats?
Normal rectal temperature for a dog is 99.5F - 103.1F (higher in smaller breeds) Normal rectal temperature for a cat is 100F - 102.5F.
15. What are the requirements regarding Rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats in Texas?
New requirements by the Texas Department of Health (adoped in March 2003) now state that every dog and cat should recieve their first Rabies vaccination by the age of 16 weeks. At one year of age they should have a booster Rabies vaccination. Thereafter they can be vaccinated annually or every three years after discussion with their veterinarian regarding exposure risk and vaccine safety.
At Plano Veterinary Group we use Merial Purevax non adjuvanted vaccine for cats that requires annual revaccination for Rabies (this is currently the safest vaccine available for cats). The canine vaccine is labeled for 3 years, but the decision when to revaccinate will be at the discretion of the client and the Vet.
16. Should I vaccinate my cat for Feline Leukemia?
According to the guidelines set forth by the American Association of Feline Practitioners, the FeLV vaccine is recommended annually for all cats who go outside where they have exposure to other cats, and/or live with an FeLV infected cat. All kittens should receive the initial series of 2 FeLV vaccinations, to establish immunity as kittens less than 16 weeks of age are the most susceptible to the disease.
17. What about other vaccines?
These are best discussed with your veterinarian. Vaccination schedules are tailored for each pet, taking into consideration factors such as exposure risk, age of pet, previous reactions etc. Generally we recommend annual revacination for dogs for the following "core" vaccines/diseases: Parvo, Distemper, Parinfluenza,and Canine Adenovirus. "Non core" vaccines that are available but not required (again depending on exposure risk) are Bordatella ("Kennel Cough"), Lymes Disease, Leptospirosis. Bordatella is required for boarding.
For Cats we currently require annual revaccination for Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and feline Panleukopenia (FVRCP) vaccine (these are "core" vaccines). Feline Leukemia vaccine is considered a "core" vaccine for outdoor cats only.
18. What is Leptosporosis?
Lepto is one of the most widespread zoonotic diseases in the world. In dogs it can cause liver and kidney failure. In humans it causes jaundice, renal insufficiency and other syndromes. It is carried in the urine of rats, opossums, skunks. We are seeing more cases in the Collin County area, likely due to the unusually high rat population we've been experiencing this year. There is a vaccine for this disease, ask your vet for details.
Links to other veterinary information:
American Veterinary Medical Association: www.avma.org
American Animal Hospital Association: www.healthypet.com
Veterinary Information Network: www.veterinarypartner.com
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine: www.cvm.tamu.edu
Texas Department of Health Zoonosis Control Group: www.dshs.state.tx.us/idcu/health/zoonosis/default.asp
Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center: www.dfwvetsurgeons.com
Animal Opthalmology Clinic: www.eyedvm.com
Animal Diagnostic Clinic: www.adcdallas.com
Pet Adoptions: www.petfinder.com