“My pet is having surgery tomorrow. What do I need to do to prepare?”
Feed and water your pet as usual today, but take away any leftovers after midnight. Your pet will need to have an empty stomach for anesthesia; this minimizes the risk of certain complications. We will give them a small amount of water as soon as they are recovered enough to safely do so. If your pet has fleas or ticks, you can take care of that problem today, it would be a good thing. If not, we will apply a topical while at the office, so that other people’s pets don’t take home your fleas! If you need a pet carrier or leash to bring your pet, we have them at the office and can find what you need. Cats seem less stressed if they feel secure in a carrier.
“What is Leptospirosis, and should I vaccinate my dog for it?”
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that effects humans and animals. Symptoms of Leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or a rash. If the disease is not treated, the patient could develop kidney damage meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, and respiratory distress. In rare cases death occurs.
Leptospirosis is confirmed by laboratory testing of a blood or urine sample. Outbreaks of Leptospirosis are usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals. Many different kinds of animals carry the bacterium; they become sick but sometimes have no symptoms.
Humans become in contact with water, food, or soil containing urine from these infected animals. This may happen by swallowing contaminated food or water or through skin contact, especially with mucosal surfaces, such as the eyes or nose, or with broken skin.
Leptospirosis is treated with antibiotics, such as doxycycline or penicillin, which should be given early in the course of the disease. Intravenous antibiotics may be required for persons with more severe health care problems.
“Is a heartworm test necessary every year?”
A heartworm test is indicated yearly if your pet is not on monthly heartworm prevention, such as Heartgard, Revolution or Sentinel. A heartworm blood test is required before administering the preventive the first time, about 6 months of age. Do NOT administer the preventive medication until a negative result is indicated! A heartworm test is required once a year for the safety of your pet.
While heartworm medications are very efficacious, we must take into account sneaky pets who spit pills out, or may vomit after administration. This is required for the safety and health of your pet.
“Can you tell me more about spaying or neutering my pet?”
The best age for both dogs and cats is between 6-12 months. There are many medical and behavioral reasons why it is healthiest for females to be spayed before her first heat, and males neutered before they reach puberty.
Puppies and kittens can be neutered even as young as 8 weeks of age, but we prefer to let them get their puppy and kitten immunizations, and that they be clear of parasites before a major surgery.
“My pet has fleas. How do I get rid of them?”
Fleas continue to be an important problem of animal husbandry despite the advances in flea-control products. Using conventional insecticides, one must address fleas on the pet, in the house, and in the environment, a three-pronged approach.
Dips are not safe when used often enough to be effective. Flea collars are not generally useful, and sprays must be applied regularly to have maximum kill. The yard products, such as organophosphates, should help eliminate environmental fleas. You may wish to treat the shady areas of the yard, under bushes and trees, where ultraviolet light does not penetrate, especially if the pets lie there. All areas that your pet visits must be treated, even your house, car, and garage. The entire environment and the pets must be treated concurrently; the clean, flea-free animals must be housed in a flea-free area while the premises are treated. After vacuuming the area rugs, be sure to throw the vacuum bag away.
Despite the apparent expense of the new topical products such as Frontline or NexGard, these products have proved themselves highly effective in such situations. They should be safe for all members of the household. Please discuss their utility with your veterinarian. He will assess your situation and customize a flea-control plan for you as economically as possible.