Your yearly exam is about more than vaccinations.

FAQ – Questions for Your Veterinarian

Q: Should I vaccinate my pet?

A: Definitely!  Follow your veterinarian’s directions about your pet’s vaccination schedule, as well.  There is a specific protocol we follow when setting a vaccination schedule for puppies and kittens, and it is very important to follow that schedule.  Because a puppy or kitten’s conferred immunity from their mother can last anywhere from 6-14 weeks, a puppy or kitten may remain vulnerable to infectious disease if they receive only one round of shots.

Additionally, your pet cannot utilize boarding and grooming facilities without proof they are current on all of their vaccines.  And, generally, a veterinarian will require proof of vaccinations prior to any exam for illness or injury.  The City of Fort Worth also requires your pet to be current on his or her rabies vaccinations to be licensed with the city.  The good news, however, is that if your pet has received an examination in the last year, is microchipped, spayed or neutered, and current on his or her vaccines, the city license is free.

Q: Can I give my pets human medicine?

A: It can be very dangerous to give human medicines to your pet.  Human over-the-counter pain medications are particularly dangerous.  The best policy is not to give any human medication to your pet unless specifically told to do so by your veterinarian.

Q: What should I feed my dog or cat?

A: In our hospital, we feed Hill’s Science Diet or Prescription Diets unless a patient has food that was brought from home, and most of our staff feed their pets Science Diet, as well.  It is a quality food, and Hill’s promotes a lot of great research in areas like canine cancer.

The fact is, however, that most pet foods on the market provide adequate and appropriate nutrition to your pet.  In most cases, what brand of food you feed your pet is less important than adhering closely to the manufacturer’s feeding instructions, as many of the most common health problems we encounter in our practice are related to obesity.  That is not to say that we will not prescribe certain diets, as we often prescribe a specific food to treat chronic or acute infections.

If you have questions about your pet’s diet, we would love to discuss them with you to make sure that your pet is getting optimal nutrition.

Q: Why do I need heartworm preventative for my dog or cat?

A: Heartworms are a potentially deadly canine parasite.  Though many people know about the risk posed by heartworms to their dogs most do not know that, while less common, heartworms are even more dangerous to cats.

Here is a general description of heartworms and their life-cycle.  Heartworms are a serious risk to your pet’s health, which is why we recommend year-round usage of heartworm preventative.  We have a number of options available to you depending upon your needs and budget.

Q: How can I determine my dog or cat’s age?

A: For estimating the age of a puppy or kitten, we examine their teeth.  Dogs and cats lose certain baby teeth at fairly predictable points in their development, just like humans.  For adult dogs and cats, we look at things like body condition, dental condition, and eye condition.  It is always harder to estimate an adult dog’s age and it may be impossible to identify with a large degree of precision.

Q: What do you do during an examination?

A: An examination includes a detailed examination of your pet’s eyes, ears, mouth, coat, skin, joint function and palpation of the abdominal cavity.  We also make observations about your pet’s affect and demeanor, behavior and cognitive function.  Some exams may involve additional steps related to specific concerns you may have about your pet.  If a dog is having gastrointestinal distress, for instance, we may pull a stool sample to examine the consistency or character of his or her feces.  We also spend time answering your questions.  Nothing is off limits, so if you’ve had a burning question we would love to hear it.

Q: At what temperature is it unsafe to keep my dog outside for extended periods?

A: That depends on a lot of factors including your dog’s coat, breed, activity level, general health and available shelter.  Texas summers can very dangerous for dogs, and very cold temperatures are dangerous for dogs that do not have long hair or dense coats.  Because the answer to this question depends on so many different factors, it is best for a veterinarian to examine your pet before making a determination.

Q: Why is my dog vomiting?

A: There are a lot of possible reasons for vomiting, many quite serious.  This is never an issue for which you should “wait and see.”  A dog’s digestive tract is quite sensitive to disruptions and if they go without eating for a period of time it can disrupt their bowel motility, which is the motion of the smooth muscle which moves food through the intestines.

Some potential causes of vomiting include: infectious disease, a foreign body (rope bones, a piece of towel or blanket, even rocks or stones), pancreatitis, and acute toxicity (ingesting something like chocolate or macadamia nuts).  It can also be caused by factors that are relatively benign.  The safest course of action is to have your dog examined by a veterinarian, who will be able to narrow down the possible causes through examination and tests.