FAQ

posted: by: Sunset Whitney Veterinary Hospital Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

When should I bring my pet in to see the veterinarian?
Whenever you are worried about them. Since pets can not “talk” for themselves we depend on owners to speak for them. Some pets, especially cats or stoic dogs, have learned to “hide” their symptoms and so it may be difficult to pin point what is wrong. You know your pet best and are often the first one to know when they “just aren’t acting right.” Usually when owners have this feeling, they are correct. It is much better to find the problem earlier than later when it is serious or life-threatening.
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My pet looks and acts healthy, why should I have an examination?
Pets often hide their problems. Animals often mask their problems as part of “survival of the fittest”. Also they tend not to complain about little things. Often a thorough physical examination will point out problems that owners were unaware of such as broken teeth, tarter and gingivitis, skin rashes, ear infections, bladder infections, small tumors, etc. Even the most loving, caring owner is not trained to discover these problems as soon as the veterinary team can.
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How often should pet have a routine “check up”?
The Wellness Council on Animal Health and the American Veterinary Association recommend a physical examination by a veterinarian every six months. Since pets age faster, hide their problems and owners are not trained as veterinarians, routine physical examinations every six months will maximize the continued good health of your pet.
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Why should I bring my pet back for a “recheck” when everything seems fine?
Often many problems can be taken care of in one visit however some things such deep ear infections, chronic skin problems, allergies, bladder infections or lameness’s, may take several visits to determine the best therapy. Also life-long problems such as diabetes, hypothyroidism or chronic pain, require continuing monitoring. These serious problems can not be fully evaluated by owners.
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How old is my pet?
Different animals have different life expectancies even with the best care. The old rule for dogs and cats of a one human year equals seven pet years is not very accurate. In general, small dogs and cats have longer lives than larger dogs. For example, a one year old Labrador retriever is a teenager, a 10 year old Saint Bernard is geriatric but a 10 year old Poodle or cat is only a healthy senior citizen. See the following age chart to find the age of your dog or cat.
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How often should my pet get vaccinated?
Puppies and kittens, 6 weeks or older, should receive vaccinations every 3-4 weeks until they are four months of age and boosters one year after that.

Adult animals require different vaccines depending on their individual life styles, risks and age. The “annual shot” for every pet has changed. There are risks to over and under vaccinating so we will discuss the choices with each owner and make an individual plan.
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Why does a “shot” cost so much?
Vaccinations can be purchased at feed and pet stores and clinics. However, there are many manufactures, combinations of vaccines, and ways of giving vaccinations. Advice given to owners by the check- out clerk, although well intentioned, may not be the best medical procedure. If the vaccines were not properly shipped or kept cold, they may not be effective. Because of public health concerns, only veterinarians or their technicians can legally give Rabies vaccinations. Clinics making their sole income from vaccinations may recommend more vaccinations than necessary. We will determine with you, what vaccinations and other health needs you pet have, maintain accurate records and remind you when it is time to revaccinate.
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Why does my pet urinate or defecate “have accidents” in the house?
There are many different reasons for this. Of course young animals are not “house broken” and need patient, positive training (not rubbing their noses in it). We can help you with any problems in this area.

However sometimes previously well trained pets will suddenly appear to forget all their manners. They may have a medical problem such as a bladder infection, diarrhea, kidney failure, internal parasites, etc. and have no choice. Occasionally it is a behavior problem although they are not as calculating “trying to get back at us” as many people would like to believe. Whatever the cause medical or behavioral, it is one of the most serious breakdowns problems between pets and their owners and we can help.
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Why do I need to treat for fleas when I do not see any?
In the California climate, all dogs and cats even inside animals have the potential of getting fleas. Fleas can cause itching and scratching on people and pets, carry tapeworms and other diseases, cause anemia and skin infections. We often find fleas on pets and owners were sure there pet had none. If you wait until you see a flea, it is too late to prevent fleas, you already have hundreds. One adult flea represents a 100 flea eggs, larvae or pupae already in your house or yard.

There are many ways to prevent fleas that are safe, non toxic and easy. Prevention is less expensive than treating the problem after it occurs and we can help save you money in the long run.
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Why do I need to have fecal sample checked when I do not see any “worms”?
There are many parasites that live in pets’ intestinal track that can not be seen with your eye such as small protozoa, parasite eggs, and pathogenic bacteria which may or may not cause diarrhea. Many of these can cause serious diseases in humans also. A recent study by the National Parasite Council found that 30% normal pets were actually carrying worms. Depending on the circumstances and age of your pet, we recommendation a routine microscopic exam of the feces (stool) 1-4 times per year. Of course if your pet is having problems, we may check it more often.
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Why do I need to give a “de-wormer” even if the stool sample is negative?
Parasites do not always shed their eggs every day so a clear sample one day out of 365 will not guarantee that your pet does not have parasites. If your pet is sick we may check several stool samples. If your pet is healthy, depending on the circumstances, we will advise you as to the safest way to be sure your pet does not have worms.
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Why don’t we just give a “worm pill” and not give do the fecal exam?
There are many types of internal worms and parasites and there are many types of “wormers” and none of them get everything. So we need to be as specific as possible for the best health of your pet and safety to humans.
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How do I get a fecal sample to be checked?
We can obtain a fresh sample during our examination or you can bring in a fresh (as fresh as possible but no older than 24 hours) to us. We have sample cups or you can place it in a clean jar or small plastic baggie.
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What are heartworms?
Heartworms are 6-8 inch worms that live in the hearts of dogs and cats. The larva is spread by mosquitoes. One mosquito bite can inject several larva which migrate to the heart and cause heart failure and death within 6 months.
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What animals become infected with heartworms?
Dogs, coyotes, and foxes are the most commonly affected. However cats, when infected can be more seriously affected because of their small heart size. People can but rarely are affected.
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How can I prevent heartworm disease?
There are several types of prescription, chewable tablets that are given monthly all year around. There is also a topical drop that prevents heartworm and fleas. Call us help you decide which is best for your pet.
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Why do I have to have a blood test before I can start the heartworm prevention?
Since the heartworm prevention kills larva, if your dog already was already infected, the massive kill of the larva could make him very sick. Cats do not need to be tested first.
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My pet is an inside animal, why does he need heartworm prevention?
A recent survey showed that one of the heartworm carrying types of mosquitoes prefers to come into dwellings including houses. One mosquito bite can infect your pet fatally.
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Why can’t I use a topical mosquito repellent instead?
Topical drops do not prevent 100% of mosquito bites and can not be relied upon for such a serious disease.
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How do I know if my pet has heartworms?
Symptoms vary from coughing, weight loss, and lack of energy, wheezing, vomiting and other signs of heart failure or death. The only way to know for sure is to have a blood test done.
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What happens if my dog gets heartworm disease?
Heartworm disease can be treated successfully in most cases. Your dog would have preliminary x-rays and blood work done to determine the extent of the damage. Then he would have to spend a couple of days in the hospital and return for several follow-up treatments. You would have to keep them very quiet at home during the convalescent period.
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What if my cat gets heartworm disease, can she be treated?
No because of the small heart and vessel size in a cat, they can not be treated to get rid of the worms. However their symptoms such as coughing or wheezing can be treated. This is why it is so important to prevent heartworm disease in cats.
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What should I feed my pet?
There are thousands of different diets made for pets. Even if the ingredients look the same from one to another, the digestibility may be different. Some pets have special needs because of age, weight, allergies or illnesses. Consulting a veterinarian and choosing a company that does reliable “as fed” trials are the best ways to choose. Choosing based on price, pet store advice, picture on the bag or which one the pet eats more of, can lead to the wrong choice.
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How do I tell if my pet overweight?
Unfortunately, our pets are becoming increasing overweight. We limit their exercise to keep them safe and feed them too much tasty food. Pets with long hair may hide their “love handles”. Pets with a good weight should have ribs that can be felt and a narrow waist (that is the part between the ribs and hip should be narrower than the chest or hips). They should have abdomens (bellies) that tuck up, not sag.
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My pet is very active and doesn’t eat much, how can she be fat?
Animals were meant to be even more active than the average pet is. They used to have work and hunt for their food. Now we provide high quality food and snacks for walking across the room. Once a pet is overweight, you can not get enough weight off just by taking an extra walk around the block, a combination of proper diet and exercise is needed. We have a free weight management program, call us.