A list of frequently asked Questions.
Browse I-20 Animal Medical Center's database of articles covering the most important topics in veterinarian medicine today.
If you have no intention of breeding your pet, having them spayed/neutered as soon as possible will prevent many complications in the future. For males, remaining intact increases risk of prostate and testicular cancer. They also develop the embarrassing habits so common to the gender that if become habitual, may not be resolved by neutering alone. Females are also at risk for uterine or mammary cancer that increases the longer they are left intact. Another common occurrence for females is the development of uterine infection that can become life threatening and require extensive surgery to correct.
YES!!! Rat poisons are formulated so the toxic effect is not seen for up to 1 week after ingestion. Oftentimes, dogs and cats may ingest rat poison and show no ill effects for 3-7 days, which may give the pet owner a false sense of security, but this is not the case. The rat poison causes an inability for the blood to clot normally and symptoms are often vague or minimal until the pet reaches a crisis. If you observe your pet ingesting rat poison, it is imperative that your pet has vomiting induced immediately (within 1 hour) and started on medication to decrease the adverse effects of the toxin.
My Cat seems itchy but I haven’t found any fleas on him/her. That means the itching couldn’t be due to fleas, right?
NO. Cats groom themselves much more than dogs. If a cat has a flea infestation, they usually remove many of the adult fleas while grooming. This makes it appear as though they are free of an infestation when in fact the fleas are still reproducing and biting your pet.
If my pet’s ears seem to be dirty and/or irritating him/her is it good to clean them with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide?
NO! Alcohol and hydrogen peroxide can cause further irritation (which is painful) to tissues. This can worsen an infection or predispose the animal to developing an infection. Therefore, if your animal is exhibiting these symptoms, consult with a veterinarian for treatment recommendations.
Ideal body condition should include being able to feel the ribs with minimal fat coverage as well as a nice tuck into the abdomen (i.e. an hour-glass appearance when viewed from above). If the ribs, spine, or hip bones are too prominent then your pet may be too skinny. Cutting out table scraps and daily treats are the easiest way to help your pet lose weight. Consider low-fat treats such as green beans, celery, or carrots instead. A high-quality diet is recommended. Decreasing daily ration of your pet’s current diet may be sufficient to help your pet lose weight, but if this is not working then a new, low-calorie diet may be recommended. Finally, daily regular exercise in combination with dietary adjustments can help keep your pet in ideal body condition. Dr. Yale Chapman
Being overweight may result in Daibetes Mellitus, which is 2 times more prevalent in overweight cats and 4 times more prevalent in obese cats. Being overweight can result in or exacerbate underlying orthopedic, spinal, or joint disease and make simple tasks much more difficult and painful. Being overweight causes the heart to work harder, which can lead to cardiac disease or make underlying heart disease progress faster. Being overweight may also predispose animals (especially cats) to develop liver disease. If an animal becomes sick from some other disease process and they stop eating, their liver may become infiltrated with fat, leading to liver failure.
If my pet seems painful and/or feels like he/she may be “running a fever”, should I give an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) such as aspirin, Advil/ibuprofen, Aleve/naproxen, or Tylenol?
NO. These medications can be very harmful to your pet. Never give any medication without discussing your pet’s problem with a veterinarian.
If your pet has light colored toenails, you should be able to see where the blood supply comes to by a pink tinge to the nails. Trim them just before the pink starts. If your pet has dark colored toenails it is very difficult to know exactly where the blood supply starts. It is better to trim only a small amount off at first until you become familiar with them. It also helps to have some quick stop powder to stop any bleeding if you do accidentally trim them a little too close.
Sometimes giving Benedryl helps because it usually causes drowsiness. You can give 1 mg/lb as often as every 8 hours. If that doesn’t work we can prescribe a sedative that may be more effective. Your dog will need to have a current physical exam first to make sure that there are no health issues that would make it unsafe.
If my dog is inside only, and doesn’t go outside, is it necessary to give monthly heartworm prevention?
YES!!! Mosquitoes spread heartworm disease and because mosquitoes readily enter your home, your dogs & cats are susceptible to contracting heartworm disease even if they never set foot outside. Also, Because of the temperate climate we live in, pets are susceptible to heartworm disease all year long and should be given a monthly heartworm prevention 12 months a year.
Usually it is better to use a harness, as this decreases pressure on the neck and airway. This may especially be important for smaller breeds of dog (that may be prone to a weak airway), or dogs that tend to pull excessively while on the leash.
Many dogs develop coprophagy- the technical term for eating feces- for a variety of reasons. It is a natural instinct in mothers that clean their nursing puppies or kittens and sometimes this can persist. A dog that is not getting enough to eat or going too long between meals may also resort to eating fecal material. For other dogs it is simply a behavioral issue involving fear of being punished for defecating (eating their own feces), separation anxiety or boredom. Many parasite eggs are shed in feces and this puts the dog at risk for infection with intestinal parasites. Keeping the yard free of feces and trying some popular food additives specifically made for this may help resolve the issue. Keeping your pet on a monthly parasite preventative is also advised.
Aspirin, acetaminophen and other over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and naproxen are not formulated for dogs and cats. Even what seems like a small dose could be fatal to a Chihuahua that only weighs 7 pounds. These medications inhibit blood flow to the stomach and kidneys and the most common problems we see with pets that have received these medications include stomach ulceration causing vomiting and/or diarrhea and kidney failure. If a pet has accidentally ingested a bottle of one of the above medications, they should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. There are many FDA approved medications to control pain in dogs and cats now that are often more effective. Do not risk your pet’s health by giving over-the-counter human medications.
Catnip (Nepeta Cataria) is well known for its pseudo-narcotic effects on cats, as it contains a hallucinogenic compound. Not all cats will respond to catnip, as it is a genetic trait. It is generally non-toxic to cats, but should not be given to cats with seizures. It can be toxic to mice. If a cat eats too much of it, it may cause mild vomiting and diarrhea. If given too often, the cat may become desensitized to the compound.
Dogs and cats, unlike humans and horses, do not have sweat glands in their skin. Excess heat is dissipated through mucous membranes (nose, mouth, sinuses), and to some extent the feet. Panting is the primary way that dogs regulate and cool their body temperature. A dog’s nose may alternate between wet and cool, and dry and warm, depending on their need to thermoregulate.
The most common diseases experienced by ferrets include gastrointestinal disease, foreign body, Adrenal disease, Insulinoma, and cancer. Should your ferret be exhibiting any symptoms such as decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss, seizures, hair loss, or itchy skin, please see your veterinarian immediately.
All male rabbits should be neutered. In addition to preventing unwanted pregnancy, it reduces the risk of testicular and prostate cancer as well as aggression.
All female rabbits should be spayed. If spayed within the first year of life, this reduces your risk of uterine cancer by 80%. It also prevents uterine infection called pyometra, unwanted pregnancy, and aggressive dominance tendencies.
There are numerous reasons why a rabbit may stop eating. Regardless of the cause, this is a very serious concern and can become fatal if left untreated. Dental disease, infection, urinary tract disease, and E. cuniculi are just a few common diseases that may induce an episode of GI stasis. When this occurs, the intestines stop working, and your rabbit may develop a generalized infection called sepsis. Please see your veterinarian immediately if your rabbit stops eating.
An adult rabbit should eat approximately 80% hay, which should be available at all times. Offering a variety such as Timothy, Botanical, Orchard Grass, and Oat hay is important. This will maintain adequate fiber content and assist in proper wearing of the teeth. 20% of the diet should consist of fresh dark leafy greens such as green leaf, red leaf, romaine, bok choy, carrot tops, herbs and root vegetables. A high quality pellet such as Oxbow Timothy pellets should be fed in limited quantity. An adult rabbit should be offered approximately 2 tablespoons daily.
Educate yourself! This is the first step in ensuring your pet’s health. Become knowledgeable about your new pet’s nutritional requirements, husbandry, and common diseases. It may be difficult to find an exotic veterinarian in your area as well. It is important to develop a relationship with a veterinarian with a healthy pet exam prior to your pet getting ill in order to prevent any problems when your pet needs a veterinarian unexpectedly.
The most common internal parasites in pets that can be transmitted to people are roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms. Children in particular are more at risk because they are not always careful of hygiene. Soil or sandboxes can become contaminated with fecal matter. Children become infected by playing in contaminated sand or dirt and then putting their hands or contaminated objects in their mouths. Hookworm larvae can also penetrate the skin.
Internal parasite eggs and larvae are virtually everywhere in the environment and can survive in the soil for years waiting to infect pets or people. Some species thrive in warm climates while others proliferate in colder regions. This is why routine deworming and preventive steps are so important.
To be fully protected, puppies require a series of vaccinations. Vaccinating puppies once, or even twice may not protect against disease. That is because nursing puppies get antibodies via the milk from their mom. Antibodies, although great for protecting puppies against disease, cancel out the protection that vaccination provides.
Because we don’t know if maternal antibodies are present when we vaccinate, we give vaccinations to puppies and kittens, every 3 to 4 weeks, until puppies reach the age that maternal antibodies are no longer in their system. That age is usually about 16 to 18 weeks of age for their last vaccination.
It is important to follow the schedule outlined by your veterinarian. Vaccination series are modified depending upon the age that a puppy was started on its first vaccination. Making sure your puppy or kitten gets all of its series of vaccinations is the best way to protect them from disease.
Anytime! We are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and have pick-up/drop-off services available around the clock.