Frequently Asked Questions

Q 1. Vaccine Reactions

Although rare, vaccine reactions can be very alarming. Most commonly, your pet will show vomiting, swelling of the face, muzzle and ears, pale gums and lethargy. These signs usually develop within a few minutes to a few hours of a vaccine. A pet can be allergic to one vaccine or a combination of vaccines.

A vaccine is comprised of several ingredients. The antigen, or the disease against which the vaccine is given, adjuvants and preservatives. The additional ingredients protect the efficacy of the vaccine and help the pet to mount a strong immune response. Since vaccines of different types may share the same or similar added ingredients, a pet may react to more than one type of vaccine.

If your pet experiences a vaccine reaction, call the veterinary hospital. Many pets require immediate treatment. Most pets recover readily from an allergic vaccine reaction once treated. Many pet owners become nervous about giving future vaccines, yet the benefit of some vaccines which can cause serious or incurable disease outweighs the risk of a reaction. For future vaccines, your pet is protected by receiving a limited number of vaccines at a time and by being pretreated with medication to reduce the severity and incidence of an allergic vaccine reaction.

Q 2. My pet was just at the hospital a few days ago, and now my pet has a lump! What happened?

Sometimes, a small lump will develop at the place where the vaccine was given. These lumps are not painful to your pet. The lump is simply an inflammatory reaction, generally to the additives, preservatives or adjuvants included in a vaccine to enhance its effect and stability. In other words, the reaction is NOT to the antigen or organism of interest ( ex. parvo, leptospirosis, lyme). Vaccines are made to attract the body’s attention to them and make antibodies against the viruses or bacteria in the vaccine. This process frequently results in a local swelling or lump which resolves on its own in 2-3 weeks.

Q 3. He did what?

The nasty habit of stool eating or coprophagia is all too common in puppies and thoroughly disgusting. Among well-cared for pets, we can quickly rule out causes such as dietary deficiencies and poor housing conditions. Some puppies will practice coprophagia out of boredom, yet, more commonly, as a method to avoid punishment. Your puppy has figured out a way not to get caught when he has an accident. Unfortunately for us, we cannot reprimand his unless we actually catch him (which never happens).

Try to establish a likely time of day or circumstance when this behavior takes place, so you may be more vigilant. Or, if you are unable to watch him for a short time, place him in his crate briefly to deter this behavior.

Occasionally, puppies need an additive in their food to discourage this act. The additives often contain MSG or you could try feeding a portion of stinky blue cheese with each meal. Fortunately, most puppies outgrow this horrific habit as they mature.

Q 4. When should I spay my pet ?

Spaying your pet is the number one thing you can do to extend her life. A spay is a surgical sterilization of your female pet which removes the ovaries and uterus (ovariohysterectomy). This procedure is ideally performed at about 6 months of age, prior to any heat cycles (likened to a woman’s period). Each cycle of estrogen in dogs and cats contributes to the future development of mammary gland (breast) cancer. Mammary tumors in dogs are malignant in 50% of cases, and, in cats, 90% of cases. Thus, we do not wish our female pets to experience any heat cycles. In dogs, spaying will eliminate the possibility of a uterine infection called a pyometra. Such infections of the uterus are very dangerous, demand emergency surgery, and can be fatal. Preventing these severe consequences by spaying your pet at a young age is safer, less expensive
and helps ensure your pet’s long, healthy life.

Q 5. My dog is soooo cute! Shouldn’t he or she have puppies?

Of course your pet is absolutely beautiful, but the answer is no. First, breeding does not equal cloning. In other words, don’t count on puppies just like their parent in appearance, personality, behavior, affection, etc. Secondly, consider the health benefits or spaying or neutering. Not all pregnancies and deliveries are seamless. Often, pets have complications and may require a caesarian section. Additionally, a litter of puppies takes a great deal of work. By caring well for them, you are highly unlikely to become a millionaire. Finally, there are multiple ethical considerations. Millions of pets are euthanized annually in shelters waiting endlessly for homes. Even if you think you can place each new puppy in a home, you’ve usually eliminated potential homes for those pets waiting in shelters and rescues.

Q 6. Why should I neuter my male pet?

Neutering is the surgical removal of the testicles, the source of testosterone. Testosterone in dogs is directly associated with testicular cancer, prostatic enlargement, tumors that develop around the rectum and perineal hernias. Intact male dogs tend to urinate inside the house and display unwanted mounting behavior. They may also roam, following the scent of an intact female up to a mile away.

Unneutered male cats also mark their territory with urine, meaning “spraying” urine in your home. They are also more likely to attempt to escape in pursuit of a female. Outdoors, cats are at a terrible risk of injury, fight wounds and car accidents. A single bite incident may transmit feline leukemia or FIV (feline AIDS) to your cat. A more detailed description of these serious diseases may be found in the feline preventive care discussion.

Neutering will be most effective in reducing unwanted behaviors before they start. Once these habits are in place, neutering may reduce them, but your pet may always urinate indoors. Yuck!

Q 7. Is my cat really happy indoors?

Yes. Indoor cats enjoy a safe, secure life, without worry of danger such as traffic, illness, fighting with other cats for territory and relying on hunting for food. Indoor cats are spoiled with toys, stimulation, television, ample food and, of course, human servants.

Q 8. Why is general anesthesia necessary for companion animal dental procedures?

At least 60 percent of normal tooth structure for both cats and dogs is under the gum line. Partially removing plaque and tartar from the exposed crown is more cosmetic than therapeutic. Removing the plaque and tartar from both above and below the gingiva on the lingual and buccal surfaces requires general anesthesia and results in a cosmetic as well as therapeutic outcome. General anesthesia also facilitates proper pain-free probing of each tooth’s support and the required immobilization necessary to take intraoral dental films. Finally, intubation during general anesthesia protects the trachea and prevents aspiration of water and oral debris.

Taken from AAH’s New Dental Standard August 30, 2013

Q9. Does my pet need to continue heartworm, fle and tick preventatives during the winter?

Yes.  Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes are present in the environment all year round.   Unless the ambient temperature is below freezing for a substantial period of time, normally three weeks or more, these parasites survive.    Our milder Autumn and Winter temperatures and fluctuations in temperature have permitted these parasites to proliferate all year round.  protection for you, your pet and your family is to continue to give your beloved pets flea, tick and heartworm preventatives all year round.