How do I treat my pet for fleas and ticks?
Fleas and ticks are parasites that live on your dog or cat's skin and feed on blood by biting. Ticks are of great concern because they can transmit diseases, such as Lyme's disease. Fleas are of concern because not only can they infest your home, but they can strain your pet's immune system. In addition, some pets are allergic to them, resulting in skin irritation and infection. Fleas and ticks are active outdoors in late spring through fall; however, fleas can live in your home year-round.
There are many flea and tick products on the market. Generally speaking, over-the-counter flea and tick preventative is NOT effective. Never apply flea and tick preventive intended for dogs to a cat.
What vaccines does my puppy/dog need?
Your new puppy should visit its veterinarian within a few days of arrival in its new home. For your first visit, we ask you to bring the following:
- Any paperwork you might have received from the pet store, breeder, or humane society
- A fecal sample
- All your questions.
You can expect:
- Your puppy to receive a thorough exam by Dr. Schwacha or Dr. Orris
- The results from your puppy's fecal exam, which tests for internal parasites
- Your questions to be addressed.
All dogs need to receive vaccines for rabies by 16 weeks of age, as well as canine distemper. The distemper vaccine is a combo vaccine covering distemper, adenovirus type II, parvovirus, and para influenza virus. This vaccine is given in a 3-shot series with 3 to 4 weeks in-between each booster. Your puppy already may have received the first shot from the breeder, humane society, or pet store. One year from your puppy's first round of vaccines, it will need a rabies and distemper vaccine. This is good for 3 years. However, we strongly recommend you bring your pet to our practice yearly for other vaccines and heartworm prevention.
Other possible vaccines to discuss with your veterinarian are Leptospirosis, Bordetella, and Lyme disease.
Why is it necessary to test and give my dog a preventive for heartworm?
During your puppy's initial visit, we strongly recommend you start your dog on heartworm preventative medication. Heartworm is a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes that is simple to prevent, but difficult and costly to treat. If not treated, it is fatal.
To test for heartworm disease, we draw a small sample of blood for your dog during its yearly exam. The heartworm preventive we have available onsite is Tri-Heart. It does require a prescription and comes as a monthly chewable tablet. There are other forms of heartworm medication available in our online store. More information about heartworm disease is available at the American Heartworm Society.
What is the Ideal litter box environment for my cat/kitten?
Creating a desirable litter box environment is one of the best ways to avoid any future problems with inappropriate urinary or fecal elimination.
Here are some tips to help make your cat's litter box irresistible:
- Provide your cat with a large and uncovered litter box
- Place the cat's preferred litter in the box. Unscented, clumping litter is best. Most cats don't like perfumes.
- Avoid the use of any litter box liners.
- Maintain a litter box in each cat's core area. Place each litter box in a location such that one cat cannot block another cat's access to every litter box.
- Place litter boxes in a well-lit and quiet area free of dogs. Avoid placing next to the washer/dryer.
- Maintain a number of litterboxes in your household that equals the number of cats in the house plus one.
- Scoop the litter box daily. Dump the litter box monthly and clean with non-ammonia based cleaner.
- Lower the entrance by cutting down the sides of the litter box so the cat can get into and out of the litter box easily. This is especially important for kittens and geriatric cats.
Does my puppy/dog need to be vaccinated for Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is a multi-system disorder caused by bacteria transmitted by the deer tick and the western black-legged tick. While we used to recommend the vaccine for only those dogs with active outside lives, it has become clear that ALL dogs are at risk for Lyme disease. Because of that, we know recommend treatment for all dogs.
How do I keep my dog's teeth clean?
Not only can tartar buildup cause bad breath, but it can also lead to tooth pain and cause tooth loss. Another critical reason to keep your dog's teeth clean is to protect its mouth from bacteria that can infiltrate the gums and enter the bloodstream. Just as you need dental cleanings, so does your pet, especially as it ages. Brush your dog's teeth regularly, and give it dental treats and toys to decrease tartar buildup.
Why should I spay/neuter my puppy/kitten?
Spaying or neutering your pet involves a surgical procedure under general anesthesia to remove the ovaries and uterus in females or the testicles in males. Veterinarians perform these procedures to control the growth of animal populations, reduce the numbers of unwanted litters, and control sexual behavior in pets (urine marking, spraying, roaming, fighting, etc.), and to reduce or eliminate the possibility of certain diseases such as testicular and prostate cancer, uterine infections, and breast cancer.
When will I need to spay/neuter my puppy/kitten?
We recommend spaying and neutering your pet when it's between 5 and 6 months old. This allows sufficient growth and maturity, prevents the onset of puberty, and provides the maximum health benefits. That being said, your pet can be spayed or neutered at any point during their lifetime, as long as they are a healthy candidate for anesthesia and surgery.
What vaccines does my kitten/cat need?
Your new kitten should visit the veterinarian within a few days of moving in with you. For its first visit, we ask that you bring the following:
- Any paperwork you might have received from the pet store, breeder, or humane society.
- A fecal sample
- All of your questions.
You can expect:
- Your kitten to receive a thorough exam by Dr. Schwacha or Dr. Orris
- The results from your kitten's fecal exam which involves testing for internal parasites
- Your questions to be addressed.
All cats need to receive vaccines for rabies by 16 weeks. This is the same for feline distemper, which is a combo vaccine covering feline herpes virus-1 (FHV-1, Rhinotracheitis), feline calicivirus, feline parvovirus (panleukopenia), and chlamydophila felis. This vaccine is given in a 3-shot series with 3 to 4 weeks in-between each booster. Your kitten already may have received the first shot from the breeder, humane society, or pet store. One year from your kitten receiving its first round of vaccines, it will need a rabies and distemper vaccine that will be good for 3 years. However, we strongly recommend your pet visit the veterinarian yearly.
Other possible vaccines to discuss with your veterinarian are feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency, and Bordetella.
What is feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and does my kitten/cat need to be vaccinated?
Feline leukemia virus causes immune system deficiency in cats, similar to AIDS in humans. Kittens and young adult cats (1 to 6 years of age) are most susceptible, particularly cats that spend any time outdoors or with other cats. Transmission of FeLV occurs through direct contact between cats including wounds from bites, grooming, and sharing of food bowls. Your kitten should be tested when it's between 3 to 6 months old.
What is feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and does my kitten need to be vaccinated?
Like FeLV, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) causes immune system deficiency in cats similar to the AIDS virus in humans. Transmission occurs primarily through bite wounds. Generally, cats/kittens that are spayed or neutered are indoors only or mostly and tend not to contact and fight other cats have a low risk of exposure to FIV. Your cat should be tested after it is 6 months old.