VET’S CORNER

Got a question you’d love to ask your vet? Maybe FACE has the solution!
Information sources: AVMA.org and PetCareNaturally.com


QUESTION: Are annual wellness exams necessary?

Veterinarians recommend regular wellness exams for the same reason your physician and dentist recommend them – if you can detect a problem in its early stages, it’s more likely to be treated and resolved with less expense, less difficulty and better success.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Vaccinations, heartworm prevention and routine deworming are important components of wellness care and can prevent diseases that are not only life-threatening, but very expensive to treat. Your veterinarian can recommend a wellness program based on your pet’s breed (some breeds are predisposed to certain health problems), age, lifestyle and overall health.


QUESTION: Are vaccines important? Which vaccines should my pets receive?

Vaccines are very important! Pets should be vaccinated to protect them from many highly contagious and deadly diseases. Experts agree that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals.

“Core vaccines” (e.g., rabies, feline panleukopenia, feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus infection, canine distemper, canine parvovirus infection, and canine hepatitis) are recommended for most pets. Additional “non-core vaccines” (e.g., feline leukemia, canine kennel cough, and other vaccines) may be appropriate based on the pet’s particular needs.


QUESTION: Why should I spay/neuter my pets?

Every year millions of unwanted dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens are euthanized. By having your dog or cat sterilized, you will do your part to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens. Spaying and neutering prevent unwanted litters, help protect against some serious health problems, and may reduce many of the behavioral problems associated with the mating instinct.

Removing a female dog or cat’s ovaries eliminates heat cycles and generally reduces the unwanted behaviors that may lead to owner frustration. Removing the testes from male dogs and cats reduces the breeding instinct, making them less inclined to roam and more content to stay at home. Early spaying of female dogs and cats can help protect them from some serious health problems later in life such as uterine infections and breast cancer. Neutering your male pet can also lessen its risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland) and testicular cancer.

The procedure has no effect on a pet’s intelligence or ability to learn, play, work or hunt. Some pets tend to be better behaved following surgical removal of their ovaries or testes, making them more desirable companions. Consult with your veterinarian about the most appropriate time to spay or neuter your pet based upon his/her breed, age and physical condition.


QUESTION: What can I do to keep my pet safe in the summer?

  1. Never, ever leave your dog in the car
  2. Make sure your dog has unlimited access to fresh water
  3. Make sure your dog has access to shade when outside
  4. Take walks during the cooler hours of the day
  5. When walking, try to stay off of hot surfaces (like asphalt) because it can burn your dog’s paws
  6. If you think it’s hot outside, it’s even hotter for your pet – make sure your pet has a means of cooling off
  7. Keep your dog free of external parasites (fleas, ticks) and heartworms – consult your veterinarian about the best product for your pet
  8. Consider clipping or shaving dogs with long coats (talk to your veterinarian first to see if it’s appropriate for your pet), and apply sunscreen to your dog’s skin if she or he has a thin coat

QUESTION: Is there anything my pet should never eat?

  1. Xylitol-containing products (xylitol is an artificial sweetener often found in sugar-free candy and gum)
  2. Chocolate or candy
  3. Onions
  4. Grapes and raisins
  5. Fatty and fried foods
  6. Nuts
  7. Avocados
  8. Alcohol, tea, coffee
  9. Yeast dough
  10. Houseplants or flower bulbs
  11. Ibuprofen or human prescription meds
  12. Coins, magnets, or glow-sticks

Learn more about this topic here. And remember, when in doubt, take your pet to the vet!


QUESTION: What are the dangers of rattlesnake bites?

Rattlesnake bites can be life-threatening and should be treated as an emergency.  Animals will start showing signs 15-30 minutes after being bitten and the swelling can progress very rapidly.  If bitten on the face it can constrict breathing, and some animals may exhibit neurological signs and can only be treated with anti-venom.  If you think your pet has been bitten by a rattlesnake, take him/her to the vet immediately!


QUESTION: What are cataracts and what can I do to preserve my pet’s eyesight?

A cataract, which is technically an increased opacification and calcification of the lens in the eye, can occur at any age. While various herbs and homeopathies such as bilberry or cineraria might slow down the growth of cataracts and are always worth trying, in cases of severe cataracts (mature or hyper-mature cataracts) surgery is usually necessary in order to restore vision. A much more common problem in older pets is called nuclear sclerosis. In this very common condition in older pets, the lens starts to look a bit cloudy. However, vision is not interfered with and the condition does not progress. Usually, your veterinarian can tell the difference with a simple ophthalmic examination.


QUESTION: My cat’s litter box has developed a bad odor. What’s the problem?

For those cats that always seem to have a smelly box, here are some tips that may help: Use a clumping litter; these seem to produce less of an odor than other litters. Various natural additives can be mixed in the box with the litter. This will help freshen the box and attract the cat to use the box. Various oral supplements can also be helpful in reducing odor. Finally, be sure you are cleaning the box regularly, including switching out all of the litter, and not just scooping. If you have more than one cat, daily cleanings may be in order!

If the litter has recently started to have an odor, some type of disease may also be possible. We recommend contacting you veterinarian to discuss your pet’s health.


QUESTION: What is the best diet for my pet?

This depends upon a number of factors. As a rule, the more natural, chemical-free the diet, the better. Diets full of chemicals and preservatives often lead to increased health problems in our pets. Diets full of inexpensive fillers such as plant and animal by-products are also less desirable than healthier, more natural diets. Read pet food labels so you can tell if your pet’s diet is really as healthy as you think.


QUESTION: I found a tick on my pet! How do I safely remove it?

To remove a tick, here’s an easy idea that really works. Grasp the tick as close to the dog’s body as possible using tweezers. Gently but firmly apply a continuous pulling motion until the tick loosens from the pet. Place the tick in a jar of alcohol to kill it. Never handle the tick as it can transmit the same diseases to you (Ehrlichiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Lyme Disease) as to your dog. It is a good idea to get your pet’s blood tested 30 days after the exposure to the tick to make sure no diseases have been passed on.


QUESTION: How do I know when it is time to let my pet go?

Eventually, many owners are faced with making life-or-death decisions for their pets. Although it’s never an easy decision to make, perhaps the kindest thing you can do for a pet that is extremely ill or so severely injured that it will never be able to resume a life of good quality is to have your veterinarian induce its death quietly and humanely through euthanasia. During the decision-making process, it is important to consider not only what is in the best interest of your pet’s welfare but also what is best for you and your family; quality of life is important for both pets and people alike.

Your veterinarian understands your bond with your pet and can examine and evaluate your pet’s condition, explain treatment options along with any risks and estimated chances for recovery, and discuss possible outcomes including any potential disabilities, special needs or long-term problems. Because your veterinarian cannot make the euthanasia decision for you, it is very important that you fully understand your pet’s condition while you consider your options. If there is any part of the diagnosis or the possible effects on your pet’s future that are unclear or confusing to you, don’t hesitate to ask questions that will help you understand.

A decision concerning euthanasia may be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever make for your pet. Although it is a personal decision, it doesn’t need to be a solitary one. Your veterinarian and your family and close friends can help you make the right decision and can support you as you grieve the loss of your pet. Pet loss support groups and hotlines, as professional counselors, can also provide support.