General Health Questions

How do I know if my pet has an ear infection?

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if your pet has an ear infection or is just giving its ear a quick scratch, so here are some signs that should help you tell the difference. If your pet is shaking its head (multiple times per day), scratching its ears (multiple times per day), has foul smelling ears, has discharge from its ears, and red or swollen ear canals, then your pet likely has an ear infection. A pet with an ear infection needs to be seen by a veterinarian to determine the cause of the infection and receive appropriate treatment for the type of infection present.
Ear Infection Overview (Otitis Externa) »

Why is my dog or cat scooting/licking its rear end?

♦ The most common reason as to why dogs and cats scoot or lick their rear ends is full anal sacs. Anal sacs are two small glands located next to your pet’s anus. The material inside anal sacs can be thick, sticky, oily, and usually has a very strong odor. A dog or cat normally empties their anal sacs by normal defecation, walking, or being frightened.
♦ If a pet is unable to express their anal sacs normally they may lick their rear or scoot on the ground. Some pets may be unable to empty their sacs on their own at all. The sacs may then become impacted/plugged, uncomfortable and possibly infected. A pet that is unable to express its anal sacs needs to be seen by a veterinarian as chronic anal sac impaction can lead to a very painful anal sac abscess/infection.
More than you ever Wanted to Know about Anal Sacs, or Why is my Pet Scooting? »

Why should I have an annual fecal exam performed on my pet?

Annual fecal exams are the best way to detect if your pet has contracted an intestinal parasite. Early detection of an infection allows for prompt treatment which will decrease environmental contamination (which can lead to recurrent infection with the same parasite in the future) and helps protect other pets and people in the house from the possibility of contracting the same infection. Clinical signs of an intestinal parasite infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. Pets typically do not exhibit these clinical signs until the infection has become severe. It is much better and easier to screen your pet for an intestinal parasite than it is to wait until your pet is showing clinical signs of a severe infection.

Vaccine Questions

What are signs of a vaccine reaction and what is normal after vaccines?

Vaccines can cause side effects in some pets and these side effects can range from very mild to a severe reaction, thankfully severe reactions are quite uncommon. Signs that your pet may be experiencing a severe vaccine reaction are swelling of the face and legs, itching, repeated vomiting or diarrhea, difficulty breathing, or your pet collapses. If your pet is exhibiting clinical signs consistent with a severe vaccine reaction please seek immediate medical care for your pet.

Some common clinical signs that are routinely observed after a pet receives its vaccines include mild fever, a decreased appetite or activity, decrease in social behavior, discomfort at injection site, and mild swelling at the injection site. These clinical signs are typically short-lived and usually resolve after a couple of days.

Spay/Neuter Questions

Why should I spay or neuter my pet?

There are multiple reasons to spay and neuter a pet, but one of the most important is to prevent pet overpopulation, as each year millions of unwanted pets are euthanized in the United States. The following is a list of the common benefits of spaying and neutering.

♦ Eliminates unwanted pregnancies
♦ Spaying a pet prior to its first heat cycle dramatically reduces the risk of mammary (breast) cancer in the future. If a pet is not spayed the risk of developing mammary cancer increases dramatically with each subsequent heat cycle.
♦ Eliminates the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer
♦ Eliminates the risk of pyometra (uterine infection) and false pregnancy
♦ Eliminates common nuisance behavior that occurs during the normal heat cycle e.g.. vocalizing, bloody vaginal discharge, changes in temperament, urine marking, and roaming.

♦ Prevents unwanted litters
♦ Eliminates the risk of testicular cancer
♦ Reduces the risk of prostate disease
♦ Reduces roaming and aggressive behavior
♦ Reduces risk of perianal tumors
♦ Eliminates/reduces spraying (male cats) and urine marking (male dogs)

Reproduction Questions

How often will my female cat or dog go into heat?

♦ Puberty or sexual maturity for cats on average is reached at 6 months of age. Cats are “seasonally polyestrus”, which means they have multiple heat cycles in a breeding season (typical breeding season is late spring, summer, and early fall). Each heat generally lasts several days (It can also be as short as 1 day or as long as 7 days). If a female cat is not mated during estrus, she will “go out of heat” for a short period of time, usually 1-2 weeks. Thus, the average complete estrus cycle of a cat is 1-3 weeks.

♦ Most dogs come into heat every 6 months, although the interval can vary between breeds, and from dog to dog. Small and toy breed dogs may experience their first heat cycle as early as 5 months of age, while giant breed dogs may not have their first heat cycle until 12-18 months of age. When young dogs first begin to cycle, it is normal for their cycles to be somewhat irregular. It can take up to 2 years for a female dog to develop regular cycles. On average a heat cycle will last 2-3 weeks.

Surgery & Recovery Questions

Is it ok for my pet to lick the incision?

The short answer to this question is NO. Pets that are allowed to lick at their incision after surgery will delay the healing process, cause unnecessary inflammation, possibly remove the sutures or staples causing the incision to open, and can cause a severe infection at the incision site. Licking the incision can also become a bad habit and a pet may form a chronic inflammatory lesion at the incision site long after the original incision has healed. Many times pet owners are not aware that their pet is licking its incision as the pet will only lick when the owner is not watching or when the pet is left alone during the day or at night. If the incision is not healing, starts to drain fluid, or appears very red and inflamed the pet is most likely licking it. The best way to prevent a pet from licking its incision is to have a pet wear a cone until the incision is completely healed.

I have not seen my pet have a bowel movement since surgery. Is my pet constipated?

This is a common observation by pet owners and in our experience it is not uncommon for pets to not have a bowel movement for up to 4-5 days after having surgery. There are many reasons why a pet may not have a bowel movement in the days immediately following a major surgery and they include but are not limited to the following:

♦ Pets are fasted prior to surgery
♦ Most pets do not eat well during a hospital stay
♦ Pets frequently do not eat well after they go home following a surgery
♦ Pain medications and anesthetic drugs contain narcotics (such as morphine and tramadol) which can cause much slower than normal gastrointestinal transit time of ingested food.

If more than five days have passed since surgery and your pet has still not had a bowel movement then you should contact us to determine if your pet needs to be examined.