What should I do if I have an emergency with my pet?
Animal Care Hospital has a Doctor on call after hours and weekends for established clients. The on-call Doctor can be reached by calling 805-735-3602. Infrequently, there are times when all Doctors are unavailable and you will be referred to the nearest emergency clinic, AVS (Santa Barbara) 805-729-4469 or CCPEC (Arroyo Grande) 805-489-6573.
How often should my pet have a physical exam?
A new puppy or kitten should be examined as soon as adopted. The newly acquired pet will be examined for overall health and external birth defects. Follow up examinations and immunizations are advised every 4 weeks until the puppy/kitten reaches 4 months of age. These consultation appointments are the time to ask your veterinarian any questions you have about your new pet.
Following the initial puppy/kitten visits, a complete wellness examination is recommended on young pets once a year. Geriatric patients or those with illnesses may need screenings every 6 months or more as recommended by your doctor. Although this may seem frequent, dogs and cats age more quickly than people, and a year’s time in dogs is similar to 7 years in a human!
Why do I need an exam with my vaccines?
It is important to make sure that your pet is healthy prior to receiving any immunization. During the appointment, we will discuss various risk factors for your pet and determine which vaccines are appropriate. Animal Care Hospital believes in setting up a vaccine protocol specific for each pet.
Why should I have my pet altered (spayed or neutered)?
Animal Care Hospital recommends spaying and neutering all pets (including those that are retired from breeding) as we feel the benefits of this procedure greatly outweigh the risks. The procedure is recommended between 4-6 months of age with a few exceptions.
Benefits include preventing uterine infection, preventing mammary cancer and other reproductive cancers, preventing or improving undesirable behaviors (such as aggression, territorial behaviors, urine marking), preventing prostate enlargement and difficulty urinating or defecating in older male dogs.
Why is my pet scratching/licking/chewing?
Itchy skin will cause your pet to scratch excessively, chew at himself, or lick excessively. The most common cause of itchy skin in the dog and cat is due to flea allergy dermatitis. This is an allergy to the flea saliva which gets injected into the skin during a flea bite. The saliva initiates an itchy, allergic reaction that can last up to 2 weeks following the last flea bite. You may never actually see a flea or flea dirt on your pet and he/she may still have a very severe flea allergy causing the symptoms. For this reason, any itchy dog or cat MUST be on strict flea medication to help prevent bites and control itchiness (see below for flea control).
If your pet is on strict flea control and is still itchy, then he/she may have additional allergies or a skin condition. These include, but are not limited to, food allergies, seasonal allergies, a bacterial skin infection (pyoderma), skin mites (or mange), or a number of other metabolic and dermatologic conditions. Therefore, a complete physical examination and appropriate diagnostic tests (such as skin scraping, skin cytology, blood testing, skin culture, or biopsies) may be recommended based on your pet’s symptoms. It is important to understand that if your pet is diagnosed with an allergy, it cannot be cured. However, there are many treatment and dietary recommendations that we can discuss with you to help control and minimize the symptoms of your pet to make him/her more comfortable.
Can I get worms from my pet? My pet seems healthy and I don’t see any worms in his/her stool. So why should I be concerned?
There are several internal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, that your pet can have that can be transmitted to your family. Your pet can be infected and not show any signs. Most worms can only be detected through microscopic examination. Therefore, routine fecal exams, along with preventatives are highly advised to protect you and your family.
What is Heartworm Disease and do I need to be concerned about it?
Heartworm Disease is an internal parasite that infects the blood vessels. They are transmitted to your pet through mosquito bites. Heartworm infection is easy to prevent but very difficult to treat. Therefore, Animal Care Hospital recommends routine Heartworm screening and preventative medication. The medication we recommend also treats and prevents roundworms and hookworms (see “worms” above).
If my pet scoots, does it mean that he/she has tapeworms?
The two most common causes of scooting in a pet are an itchy behind or impacted anal glands. Although tapeworms can cause itchiness, allergies are more often the reason your pet may be itchy (see “scratching” below). Scooting may also be caused by impacted anal glands. These are two sacs on either side of your pet’s anus that fill with fluid and are normally expressed on their own periodically. If these glands become full or blocked, the pet will often scoot either because of the discomfort or in an attempt to try to express them. Since there are various causes of scooting, an examination by your veterinarian and a fecal examination are recommended to determine the cause and appropriate treatment for each individual pet.
Should I use flea control only if I see fleas? Why is my flea control not working -I am still seeing fleas on my pet?
For every one adult flea seen on your pet, there are up to 100 juvenile fleas in the pet’s environment (eggs fall off your dog as he/she walks and flea cocoons and maggots hatch in the floor or the yard). Dogs and cats are also very meticulous groomers and often will ingest the adult flea before you see it. Therefore, we recommend flea control products as a preventative measure, before fleas are seen. Flea treatment products have advanced greatly over the last few years. There are both topical and oral products available that kill adult fleas on your pet for up to a month. These products work much better than the old flea collars or flea powders as they last longer on the pet. However, they must be used correctly and fleas must be controlled in the environment as well to address a flea problem. The staff of Animal Care Hospital will be more than happy to recommend the best products for your pet and answer any questions you may have.
There are many reasons why fleas may still be found while using flea control products. First of all, when beginning a flea regimen following an infestation, it may take several months to get the problem under control. Improper application, inconsistent application, failure to treat ALL pets in the household, bathing while using the topical products, and failure to treat the environment are a few common reasons you may be unsuccessful.
To successfully control a flea infestation, the following practices must be employed:
- Treat ALL pets in the household every 3- 4 weeks year round with a recommended product that kills adult fleas (this includes treating all “indoor only” pets and those in the household that “don’t have fleas or a problem with fleas”). This step must be followed diligently and products must be applied correctly for a successful outcome. Many over the counter products are not as strong, effective, or as safe as prescription products. Please ask any staff member for products that we recommend and which is most appropriate for your pet. Remember, California does not have a “flea free season,” so products should be applied every month year round.
- Clean the house, especially those areas that your pets frequent and walk through. This includes vacuuming thoroughly and discarding the bag, then vacuuming daily; washing your pet’s bedding with hot water and detergent followed by complete drying in the dryer.
- Treat the house, using flea killing products such as sprays, flea powders or flea bombs.
- Treat the yard (fleas live in cool, dark areas such as in crawl spaces or in shaded areas) with appropriate sprays or have the yard professionally treated.
Why does my pet have bad breath?
Pets need dental care similar to you and your family. About 85% of pets have some degree of periodontal disease. They are susceptible to pain and infection that can accompany bad breath and tooth loss. Chronic infections can affect the liver, heart and kidneys, where they can do even more damage. Routine dental cleaning and home dental care will help prevent periodontal disease. Animal Care Hospital has a trained staff to advise you on home dental care techniques to prevent plaque build-up and promote oral health.
Why should I have my pet’s teeth checked/cleaned?
Pets need dental care similar to you and your family. About 85% of pets have some degree of periodontal disease. They are susceptible to pain and infection that can accompany bad breath and tooth loss. Chronic infections can affect the liver, heart and kidneys, where they can do even more damage. Routine dental cleaning and home dental care will help prevent periodontal disease. Animal Care Hospital has a trained staff to help advise you on home dental care techniques to prevent plaque build-up and promote oral health.
Can dogs and cats get colds? Can I catch a cold from my pet?
Dogs and cats are both prone to upper respiratory infections which may manifest themselves as nasal congestion, sneezing, runny eyes, coughing, or fever. There are a number of viruses and bacteria that can contribute to symptoms, most of which are very contagious from dog to dog or from cat to cat. For the most part, it is very rare for these to be transmitted between species (from pet to human or vise versa). The common cold and flu viruses are NOT transmissible to your pets. If you think your pet may be at an increased risk for acquiring an upper respiratory infection from another pet (goes to the groomers/doggy daycare/dog park/dog shows/etc.), please ask us about vaccination options.