Why do we only declaw cats that are less than 6 pounds? A declaw is basically an amputation of the nail and bone to the first knuckle. We feel it is too painful for a heavier cat to try to walk on amputated toes. For this reason, we recommend declawing as early as 16 weeks of age. We also do not declaw all four feet. We perform front declaws only.
When do we spay or neuter a dog/cat? In cats & in dogs <50 lbs we recommended they be spayed or neutered between 5 & 6 months. In dogs >50 lbs we recommend they be spayed or neutered between 12 & 14 months. Please see our routine surgery page under the services tab for more information on this subject.
What vaccines does my pet need? We tailor your pet’s vaccine schedule to your lifestyle. If your pet does not need a certain vaccine, we do not give it. Dogs and cats both require rabies vaccine at 16 weeks of age. In Michigan, the first rabies vaccination expires in 1 year. Each subsequent rabies vaccine expires in 3 years. For puppies and kittens vaccine protocols start at 6 weeks.
What other vaccines does my cat/kitten need? All cats need Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis Calicivirus Panleukopenia (FVRCP) vaccine. This vaccine is boostered every 3-4 weeks starting at 8 weeks old until the kitten is 16 weeks of age (with at least 2 vaccines given after 12 weeks of age). If it is an adult cat that has not been vaccinated before it would need 2 vaccines 3-4 weeks apart to be protected for the year. After a cat has had its first 1-year FVRCP vaccine, we do offer a 3-year FVRCP vaccine.
Kittens also need the Feline Leukemia vaccine; this vaccine is a series of 2 vaccines 3-4 weeks apart after the kitten is 9 weeks old. This vaccine is then given once every 2 years to cats that have any exposure to going outside or other cats that do. Again, if there is an adult cat without any vaccine history, feline leukemia is given as a series of 2 vaccines 3-4 weeks apart and is then good for 2 years.
We have carefully chosen which brands of feline vaccines that we carry here at Caring Animal Hospital in hopes of reducing the risk of vaccine related fibrosarcomas.
What other vaccines does my dog/puppy need? All dogs need the distemper combination vaccine. This vaccine covers, Distemper, Hepititis, Parvo, and Parainfluenza. This vaccine can be started as early as 6 weeks of age and is given every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Once a puppy is 12 weeks of age we are then able to give them the distemper vaccine that is combined with Leptospirosis vaccine. Puppies need a series of 2 lepto vaccines after 12 weeks of age. If you have an adult dog with no vaccine history, they should have a series of 2 distempers with lepto 3-4 weeks apart. After the first 1-year distemper vaccine we do have a 3-year distemper that does not have the lepto portion of the vaccine. Leptospirosis only comes in a 1-year option.
Bordetella vaccine is for kennel cough and is given if a dog’s lifestyle calls for it. Dogs at the highest risk for exposure to kennel cough are dogs that go to dog parks, grooming, daycare, boarding, etc. This vaccine is given intranasally as early as 4 weeks of age and then boostered with an injection at 16 weeks of age. If an adult dog has never had the bordetella vaccine they are given the intranasal vaccine and then boostered in 3-4 weeks with the injection.
Canine Influenza vaccine is another “lifestyle” vaccine. Again, the dogs at the highest risk are the ones that go to dog parks, grooming, daycare, boarding, etc. Canine influenza can be started as early as 7 weeks of age and is a series of 2 vaccines 3-4 weeks apart.
Lyme vaccine is a lifestyle vaccine that is mostly for dogs that are at very high risk of tick exposure. Lifestyles that will have high tick exposure are dogs that are used for hunting, or that live in areas that they are running thru high grasses often. Lyme vaccine can be started as early as 9 weeks of age and is a series of 2 vaccines 3-4 weeks apart.
Why does my pet need an exam to get vaccines? Our doctor performs a thorough nose to tail exam each time your pet comes in for vaccinations. They will check the skin, eyes, ears, mouth, heart, lungs, teeth, abdomen, tail and feet for any abnormalities. We perform exams as preventative care to catch problems before they become extreme. Our doctor makes sure your animal is healthy enough to receive the vaccines prior to giving them. If your pet is sick and receives vaccines, your pet’s immune system may become overloaded and unable to develop the immunity needed to fight off the diseases vaccinated for, or may keep your animal from being able to heal from the sickness they already have. Our appointment slots are scheduled every ½ hour to give the technician and the doctor enough time to discuss your pet’s needs.
Do I need to schedule an appointment? We prefer appointments, but will see walk-ins at the veterinarians discretion. Walk-ins may have to wait for already scheduled appointments to clear prior to being seen. Walk-ins will also be subject to an additional fee. Scheduling an appointment will allow you to see the doctor in a timely manner, instead of waiting for indiscriminate amounts of time. There are also times in the day the doctor is unavailable, so we make sure to schedule around these times.
Why does my dog need a heartworm test if he’s on year round heartworm prevention? We require an annual heartworm test for the health of your animal. If you missed a dose, your dog vomited a dose or spit out the dose when you didn’t realize, he/she may get heartworm disease. Should your dog be positive for heartworm disease and you give the preventative, he/she could have a fatal anaphylactic reaction to the dying worms and larvae. A simple blood test can alleviate these concerns. Our heartworm tests also incorporate tick titers for Ehrlichia, Lyme disease, and Anaplasmosis.
Why does my pet need a parasite screen (fecal floatation) when their stool is normal? Animals carry intestinal parasites some of which are microscopic. Many intestinal parasites, including hookworms and roundworms, are also zoonotic, which means transmissible to humans. Young children are especially susceptible because they forget to wash their hands after touching and playing with pets. Hookworms cause cutaneous larva migrans where the larva tunnel through the skin. Roundworms cause visceral larva migrans where the larva travels into the eye or other organs. Other intestinal parasites and protozoan, including giardia and coccidia, are not covered by over-the-counter dewormers or heartworm preventatives and can irritate and damage the GI tract of pets.
Why does my pet need heartworm preventative if he doesn’t go outside? Heartworm disease is transferred by mosquitoes and is a fatal disease in cats and dogs. The mosquito bites the animal and inserts the microfilaria (baby heartworm) into the blood stream. There it travels through the circulatory system until it reaches the heart, where it will mature and reproduce. Any heartworms can fill the heart causing damage and failure. Mosquitoes can travel into the house or car, and it only takes one infected mosquito for your pet to develop heartworm disease. Monthly preventative breaks the life cycle of the microfilaria, causing it to die before becoming a mature heartworm.
Does my cat need heartworm prevention? We highly recommend year-round prevention for cats, even if they are kept indoors. Heartworm disease in cats is very different from heartworm disease in dogs. The cat is an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats with adult heartworms typically have just one to three worms, and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms. While this means heartworm disease often goes undiagnosed in cats, it’s important to understand that even immature worms cause real damage in the form of a condition known as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease.
I don’t want to over-vaccinate my dog, what options do you have? Experts agree that vaccines are a critical portion of your pet’s overall health and wellness. Many also agree that giving a vaccine when it is not needed exposes animals to potential risks, including, vaccine associated reactions. Titer tests are among the tools that can be used to help minimize the risks of both infectious diseases and unnecessary vaccinations. A titer test is an antibody blood test that can tell you if a previous vaccine is still protecting your dog's immune system. We offer titer testing on Distemper virus, Parvovirus, and Adenovirus.