The veterinarians, technicians and entire staff at Lakeside Animal Hospital will work with you to obtain optimal health for your pets regardless of their age.
Ideally puppies and kittens should have their first appointment with a veterinarian around 6-8 weeks of age. This is the time when most dog and cat breeders allow puppies or kittens to leave the litter and enter their new homes. This is also the age when core vaccinations can be started to ensure proper immunization. If you have a puppy or kitten younger than 6-8 weeks of age and is having a health problem, an appointment with a veterinarian should be made. Questions
What is the schedule for the core vaccinations for my puppy?
Are there additional vaccines that my dog should receive beyond the core vaccinations?
What is the schedule for the core vaccinations for my kitten?
Are there additional vaccines that my cat should receive beyond the core vaccinations?
What is the purpose of having a stool sample examined from my puppy or kitten?
Puppies and kittens can be host to a variety of intestinal parasites. When intestinal parasites are present, they can cause clinical disease (diarrhea, vomiting, poor appetite, weight loss, anemia, etc.) in some animals. Certain intestinal parasites can be transmitted to other susceptible animals and potentially to humans. Some of the most common intestinal parasites found in dogs are roundworms (Ascarids), hookworms, whipworms, and coccidia. Some of the most common parasites found in cats are roundworms (ascarids), hookworms, and tapeworms. Strategic parasite control measures are increasingly important in providing your dog and cat with a complete wellness program throughout its life. Questions
Why is it important to have my kitten tested for feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)?
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) in a retrovirus of domestic cats. This agent replicates in numerous tissues including bone marrow, salivary glands, and respiratory tract. FeLV is contagious and spreads through close contact between infected cats and susceptible cats. Vertical transmission of this virus from mother to kitten occurs commonly in FeLV-infected cats. Neonatal kittens can be infected via the placenta or when the queen licks or nurses them. Transmission of this virus can also occur via saliva. Fighting and biting behavior as well as social behavior, such as sharing food and water dishes, mutual grooming, and using common litter areas, are the most effective means of transmission. FeLV can cause various clinical signs. The most common signs of illness related to FeLV are related to secondary infections including FIP, FIV, upper respiratory infection, mycoplasmosis, and stomatitis. Other clinical signs include anemia, lymphoma, thrombocytopenia, and other immune-mediated types of disease. Treatment of FeLV is mostly directed at the concurrent disease process the infected cat may have as there is no direct cure for FeLV infection. Testing to identify infected cats is the mainstay of preventing transmission, and FeLV vaccination should not be considered a substitute for testing. (Greene, infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat, Fourth edition. Pg:108-136) Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a lentivirus that shares many properties characteristic of other lentiviruses such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This virus is transmitted primarily via blood and saliva from infected cats. Bite and fight wounds are common routes of transmission which is why this virus is more common in outdoor cats. This disease can also be transmitted from mother to kitten in utero and after birth via nursing although these routes of infection are considered rare. The clinical signs of FIV infection are variable and are generally broken into three stages. The acute phase of infection can involve fever, lethargy, and gastroenteritis. This phase may last several days to weeks, after which cats enter a period in which they appear clinically healthy. During the later stage of infection, cats exhibit signs related to other diseases such as cancer, bone marrow suppression, and neurologic disease. Treatment of FIV is mostly directed at the concurrent disease process the infected cat may have as there is no direct cure for FIV infection. (Greene, infectious Diseases of the Dog and Cat, Fourth edition. Pg:136-149)In the majority of cats, infections with FeLV or FIV dies not directly cause severe clinical disease. With proper veterinary care, most FeLV and FIV infected cats can live several years with a good quality of life. A decision for treatment or euthanasia should not be made solely on the presence of FeLV or FIV infection. Questions
Why should my dog be tested for heartworm disease?
Heartworm infection has been found worldwide, including all 50 of the United States of America. The prevalence of heartworm disease varies by region with over 90% of unprotected dogs along the Gulf Coast, lower Atlantic Coast, and Mississippi River Valley being infected. In Wisconsin, there were over 1300 cases of heartworm disease diagnosed in dogs in 2001. This disease is transmitted to dogs via infected mosquitoes. Many dogs infected with heartworms have no clinical signs because dogs can tolerate live heartworms very well. Because of the high prevalence of this disease and its subtle clinical signs, all dogs should be routinely tested for heartworm disease. Questions
How often should my dog have a heartworm test performed?
According to the American Heartworm Society, all dogs over 6-7 months of age should be tested for heartworm disease. A heartworm test must be done on an ANNUAL basis. It is important to determine heartworm status prior to starting a heartworm preventative regime in order to avoid unnecessary delay in detecting sub-clinical infections. Questions
Why should my dog receive a monthly heartworm preventative?
Puppies should be started on a heartworm preventative as early as possible, preferably no later the eight weeks of age. Even though continuous, year-round transmission of this disease may not occur throughout the country, year-round use of heartworm prevention assists in preventing the spread of this disease to healthy dogs. While treatment of heartworm disease is usually successful, prevention of the disease is much safer and far more economical. In addition to protecting against heartworm disease, use of a monthly heartworm preventative also provides protection against gastrointestinal parasitism (roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms). Again, while the risk of heartworm disease transmission may not be prominent year round, gastrointestinal parasites can infect your dog at any time throughout the year. This is another great reason to consider giving your pet heartworm preventative medication every month of the year. QuestionsI forgot to give my dog the last two months of heartworm prevention; should I be worried?
According to the American Heartworm Society, short lapses in heartworm preventative administration may not result in infection, particularly in areas where prevalence is low and seasons when transmission potential is lowest. However, lapses in medication during the transmission period that exceed 4 weeks will increase a dog’s risk of infection; therefore continued monthly heartworm preventative administration throughout the year even in cooler climates has merit. Questions
What are the signs of heartworm disease in dogs?
Symptoms of heartworm disease are a reflection of the number of adult heartworms present and the activity level of the dog. Dogs with higher numbers of heartworm and this that are more strenuously exercised tend to have more severe disease symptoms. The earliest recognizable sign of heartworm disease in dogs is a persistent cough. Other signs may include exercise intolerance, weight loss, poor appetite, and in severe cases symptoms of heart and liver failure. A majority of dogs with early heartworm disease show no signs at all. Questions
At what age should my puppy or kitten be spayed or neutered?
We recommend spaying or neutering your puppy or kitten around 6 months of age. Having your pet altered around this stage in life allows for ample growth and physical maturity while also ensuring that your pet is unlikely to procreate. Spaying and neutering your pet is the single most important step you can take to help reduce the number of animals who are not able to find good homes. Medical evidence shows that female pets that are spayed before their first heat cycle (which occurs anywhere from 8-12 months of age) are typically healthier. The incidence of mammary tumors (breast cancer) in both dogs and cats is dramatically reduced in those animals that are spayed before their first heat cycle. Spaying also removes the prospect of ovarian and uterine tumors and eliminates the possibility of a life-threatening uterine infection from occurring. These considerations make the recommendation of spaying your pet before their first heats cycle an easy one to agree to. Pets do not have any concept of sexual identity or ego. Your male pet will not suffer any negative emotional consequence or identity crisis when neutered. In fact, neutering a male cat or dog will result in a healthier and happier animal. Neutered male dogs and cats are less likely to shoe aggression toward other male members of their species. Neutered male cats are much less likely to show marking behavior (urine spraying) in the house. Neutered males are also less likely to roam away from their property in search of a female in heat, thus risking being hit by a car or getting lost or stolen. Questions
Are there any side effects that my dog or cat may experience after a vaccination?
It is common for your pet to experience mild side effects from a vaccination. Any reaction to a vaccine typically starts within 1-2 hours after the vaccine was given. Mild symptoms may persist for no more than a few days. This is a normal response by your pet-s immune system during the process of developing protective immunity. Some of the more common, mild symptoms your pet may experience following vaccination include: mild fever, decrease in social behavior, decreased appetite, decreased activity, sneezing or other respiratory signs with intranasal vaccines, discomfort or mild swelling at the injection site. All of the symptoms listed above should only last for a few days. If symptoms worsen or last for several days, please seek advice from a veterinarian. Rare side effects such as a hypersensitivity (allergic) reaction may occur following vaccination. These more serious side effects usually occur within minutes to hours after vaccination. The rarer, but potentially serious side effects following vaccination include: swelling of the face and/or legs, repeated vomiting or diarrhea, whole body itching, difficulty breathing, or collapse. If you see any of these symptoms or are concerned at all, call your veterinarian immediately. Questions
How often should I feed my new puppy?
The most important thing to remember is that every puppy is different and may require special nutritional needs. In general, feeding your puppy two to three times daily is enough to satisfy their higher caloric needs. The feeding guide on your bag of puppy food is a helpful resource to decide how much food to feed your new puppy. Feed your puppy according to its current weight. Remember that puppies grow quickly and the quantity of food needed to satiate their hunger can change from week to week. Although it is difficult to over feed a growing puppy, it is possible. Please do not encourage your puppy to eat more than what he or she needs as overweight puppies and young adult dogs tend to be overweight adult dogs. Questions
Is it necessary to brush my pets teeth?
Dental care in pets is a very important topic to consider. Dental disease in dogs and cats is very common and affects many pets, sometimes at a young age. Brushing your dog’s and cat’s teeth on a regular basis (daily) is a habit that all pet owners should fall into. Brushing the teeth of your dog and cat could help prevent periodontal disease, tooth abcessation, infection, and bad breath. Routinely brushing the teeth of your pet also provides a time for a good oral exam which can aid in identifying loose or broken teeth, oral ulcers, or oral tumors before they become potentially painful. There are many tooth brush and tooth paste products available through your veterinarian. Please seek your veterinarian’s advice in choosing a dental product. Questions
How often should I bathe my pet?
Most cats do not need to be bathed due to their impeccable grooming habits. The exception to this may be if your cat has an underlying skin condition that would require care, but this form of treatment is to be directed by your veterinarian. How often you need to bathe your dog depends on the breed of dog, hair coat type and hair length. Certain breeds of dogs such as the Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, Poodle, West Highland White Terrier, Schnauzer, Bearded Collie, Old English Sheep Dog, Golden Retriever, Borzoi, Bernese Mountain Dog, etc may need to be groomed more often due to their longer, and often times thick hair coats. Sporting breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, German Shorthair Pointer, etc may require less frequent bathing due to their short, course hair coats. Whichever breed of dog you have, it is important to bathe as frequently as needed to keep the hair coat unmated, clean, and dander free. As with cats, if your dog has an underlying skin condition that may require more frequent bathing or potentially a specific shampoo, please follow the advice of your veterinarian. Questions
Is it important to routinely clean my pet’s ears?
Yes, regular ear cleaning is important to ensure your pet’s ear canals stay free of excess waxy debris. Regular ear cleaning can often times prevent or reduce the frequency of ear infections. Consider cleaning your dog’s ears once monthly. This should be done more frequently if your pet swims regularly. If your dog is bathed and clipped by a professional groomer, often times an ear cleaning will be included with that service. Questions
How frequently should I trim my pet’s nails?
Trimming your pets nails on a regular basis is important in order prevent nail over growth. Over grown toe nails are more at risk of tearing or ripping, infection, or growing into foot pad tissue. The activity level of your dog may determine the frequency of nail trims. Dogs that are more active, especially on rough surfaces (black top or cement or gravel) will likely wear their nails down and will need to be clipped less often. Dogs that mostly live indoors or only exercise on carpet or grass will require more frequent nail trims. Trimming your dog’s or cat’s nails once monthly will likely prevent overgrowth and related problems. Questions
How frequently should my adult cat or dog have a preventative health exam performed by a veterinarian?
Ideally, every adult dog or cat should be examined by their veterinarian at least once yearly. The preventative health exam is a great time to update vaccines, monitor weight, and discuss nutrition and any other issues that may have come about in the previous year. Geriatric pets and pets with underlying disease processes should be seen at least every 6 months for close monitoring and identifying progression of disease, etc. Questions