Frequent Questions from Pet Owners 

  • What are the best methods to control fleas on my pet and in my house?
  • My pet is vomiting. What should I do at home; when should he/she be seen by a veterinarian?
  • My pet is itchy and scratches or chews his skin. What could be causing this and how do I treat it?
  • My pet is having diarrhea. What should I do at home, or when should she be seen by a veterinarian?
  • My pet has an ear infection. What are the causes and how do I treat it? What about chronic or recurring ear infections?
  • It seems like there are so many options on vaccinations for my pet. What does he/she need, and when should the vaccinations be given?
  • I think my pet has gotten into something toxic. What should I do?
  • I just added a new puppy to my life. Now what?
  • I have just added a new kitten to my life. Now what?
  • I have been told that my pet is overweight. How do I get him to lose weight?
  • I am considering having my cat declawed; should I? What do you recommend? If I do decide to have my cat declawed, what do I need to know about the procedure and aftercare?
  • How should I care for my pet's teeth?
  • My Dog's Teeth Are Worn Down. Should I Be Concerned?
  • Why should I have my pet spayed or neutered?
  • My senior dog is drinking lots of water. Is it just old age?
  • How often should my dog be groomed?
  • At what age will my pet need grooming?


What are the best methods to control fleas on my pet and in my house?

We offer several good options for flea and tick control. Most are topical, though there are some oral options as well.

Advantage – topically kills fleas, larvae, and flea eggs on dogs and cats.

Frontline - topically kills fleas, larvae, flea eggs, and ticks on dogs and cats.

Revolution - topically kills fleas, ticks, as well as preventing heartworm disease.

Sentinel - is an oral heartworm preventative that also sterilizes fleas.

Capstar - is an oral tablet usually given to pets in-hospital with live fleas on them. It only lasts a few hours, but will kill every flea on the pet during that time.


My pet is vomiting. What should I do at home; when should he/she be seen by a veterinarian?
Vomiting is a common sign of illness in dogs and cats. Although we associate vomiting with disease of the gastro-intestinal (GI) tract, many non-GI diseases can result in vomiting. For an acute onset of vomiting in an otherwise healthy, young dog, simple at home therapy can be tried for 24 hours. This would include 

  • Withholding food 
  • Restricting water so the pet cannot swallow a large amount of fluids at once
  • Administering some protectant like Pepto-Bismol®.
Due to a cat's sensitive digestive system, food should not be withheld and over the counter medications should not be given without specific direction from the doctor.

If vomiting lasts longer than 24 hours, or if your pet loses interest in food, or acts sick in any other way, then he or she should be seen by a veterinarian. 

My pet is itchy and scratches or chews his skin. What could be causing this and how do I treat it?
One of the most common causes of itching in dogs and cats is FLEAS! To treat fleas, there are a variety of veterinary-prescribed medications that are both safe and effective. Beyond fleas, your pet may be itchy due to mites buried beneath his skin, a fungal or bacterial infection, or an allergic reaction to either his food or environment. Mites may be treated with a topical or oral medication prescribed by the doctor. If your pet has a bacterial infection, antibiotics will likely be prescribed and an antiseptic medicated shampoo may offer additional benefits. Similarly, if a fungal infection is determined to be the cause of itchy skin, the doctor may recommend a topical ointment for a small lesion, a medicated shampoo for a large infection, or oral medication if the topical medications are impractical.

Allergic dermatitis is an extremely common cause of itchy skin in both dogs and cats. Major allergies that we see in pets include:

  • Flea allergic dermatitis (FAD): An often severe allergic reaction to the saliva of fleas caused by flea bites.
  • Atopy: An environmental-allergy to airborne substances, including pollens, molds, housedust, housedust mites, or fabrics. Diagnosis may require allergy testing.
  • Food allergy: An adverse reaction (itchy skin, gastrointestinal symptoms, or both) to one or more proteins in food. Some preservatives may cause symptoms as well. 
  • Contact allergies are rare, but sometimes occur from skin contact with an irritating substance. 

My pet is having diarrhea. What should I do at home, or when should she be seen by a veterinarian?
If your dog has diarrhea without any other signs of illness:

Withhold food for 12 to 24 hours. Then feed small amounts of a bland diet (A commercial prescription bland diet or 2 to 3 parts boiled white rice to one part low fat cottage cheese, boiled lean hamburger, or boiled chicken breast.) In some cases, an over the counter protectant such as Pepto Bismol® or Pepcid® AC may be appropriate to help settle your dog's gastrointestinal tract.

*For dogs and puppies 10 pounds and under.

** Only withhold food for 6-8 hours, then try a bland diet.

Cats should not have food withheld, and due to their sensitive digestive systems, most over the counter protectants cannot be given to cats. If your cat maintains a normal appetite and shows no other signs of illness, you should wait 24 hours for diarrhea to resolve before scheduling an exam. Please bring a fresh stool sample to the appointment, if possible. If the diarrhea is frequent (every few hours), or persists for more than 24 hours we recommend having your pet examined. If your pet seems sick, we recommend seeing your pet that same day. As with any concerns about your pet’s health, err on the side of caution. Our trained staff would be happy to assist you with any further questions regarding your pet's individual issues.

My pet has an ear infection. What are the causes and how do I treat it? What about chronic or recurring ear infections?
Ear infections may be due to a variety of causes. The problem may be heavy floppy ears which decrease air flow, hair in the ear canal, wet ears, or allergies. Yeast or bacteria, which are naturally within the ear canal, begin to multiply when the ear becomes inflamed (for the above reasons). The yeast and/or bacteria cause more inflammation and the cycle continues until we intervene. At the physical exam, the doctor may take a sample of the material in the ears and look at it under the microscope to determine whether yeast, bacteria, or both are involved.

For yeast, a topical ointment if often sent home to apply daily anywhere from 7 to 14 days, depending on exam findings. For bacteria, a topical or oral medication may be prescribed. In addition, a sample may be sent to the lab for a bacterial culture to determine what kinds of bacteria are involved, and the proper antibiotic may be prescribed. If the infection is chronic or recurring, then either a food allergy or environmental allergy may be the cause. A food trial may be recommended to determine which type of allergy with which we are dealing. Food allergies are discussed above.

To help prevent ear infections, an ear cleaner may be recommended to use after every bath, every swim, or 1-2 times weekly based on your pet's history. There are veterinary ear wash solutions available or homemade solutions are also an option. Any ear treatment should be managed by the veterinarian.

It seems like there are so many options on vaccinations for my pet. What does he/she need, and when should the vaccinations be given?
The goal when vaccinating a pet is to stimulate the pet's own immune system with the vaccine, in order to protect against a specific disease. Traditionally, in the dog and cat, vaccinations have been given annually. Over the past 5 years, we have begun to re-evaluate how often vaccines need to be given in order to maintain adequate levels of protection against serious infectious disease.

Rabies is unique in that the revaccination interval is set by state government. In Indiana, the law states that the 1st rabies vaccine given is only good for 1 year; the subsequent boosters need only be given every 3 years. This holds true for dogs and cats.

The other vaccines given to dogs and cats are undergoing changes as far as who receives what and how often. A pet's overall health, age and lifestyle most likely will determine which vaccines are appropriate and when they should be administered. Currently, the best recommendation as to which vaccines are appropriate for your pet will come from a discussion with your veterinarian.

I think my pet has gotten into something toxic. What should I do?
Call immediately if you think your pet ate something toxic for further instruction. Time is very important! It only takes 30-60 minutes for ingested products to become absorbed into the blood stream. Many toxins can be fatal, but with immediate action the outcome can be favorable.

The most common toxins include:

  • Chocolate (particularly dark (semi sweet) or bakers' varieties)
  • Advil
  • Macadamia Nuts
  • Onions
  • Grapes/raisins (in large quantities)
  • D-Con® /other rodent poisons
  • Antifreeze (only takes a few licks to be fatal)
  • Lead

Cats are particularly sensitive to acetaminophen (Tylenol®), Daylilies, and Philodendrons as well as the items listed above.

In order to successfully treat the toxicity, time is crucial. Animals are examined, then vomiting is typically induced to empty the stomach contents, and activated charcoal is administered to absorb the toxins. Depending on the toxin, IV fluids, lab work, and specific antidotes may be necessary as well.

I just added a new puppy to my life. Now what?
Congratulations on adding a new puppy to your life! Nothing compares to the joys of watching a pup discovering the world around him or herself. This may also involve the less enjoyable issues of chewing, housetraining, and other possibly destructive behaviors. Fortunately, there is much known about normal development and behavior that can make adjustments easier. While we usually try to schedule your new pet for an examination and to cover these areas very soon after your little one comes home, a few tips presented here may help get you started. Puppies, ideally, should be brought into their new homes at about 7 to 9 weeks old. While pups brought home at other ages will likely be just fine, this recommended age range will provide time with its mother to be socialized as a dog before the human socialization period begins.  Housetraining is an additional challenge. Remember that puppies have basic requirements for chewing, play, exercise, exploration, feeding, social contact, and elimination. Appropriate outlets for all these needs exist.

The first visit entails vital information for the new pup owner. Because most puppies have intestinal parasites, and some can become debilitated from them, fecal examinations and deworming are part of the first visit. Additionally, some inborn problems (called "congenital defects") can be detected on the physical exam. 

We thoroughly enjoy the visits we get from new puppies and their excited, often sleepy, and occasionally worried new human families. We are delighted to be of help during your process of adding this special new pet to your family.

I have just added a new kitten to my life. Now what?
Congratulations on adding a new kitten to your life! Nothing compares to the joys of watching a kitten discovering the world around him or herself. This may also involve the less enjoyable issues of housetraining (which is instinctive for most kittens) and destructive behaviors such as scratching. Fortunately, there is much known about normal development and behavior that can make adjustments easier. While we usually try to schedule your new kitten for an examination and to cover these areas very soon after your little one comes home, a few tips presented here may help get you started. Kittens have periods of socialization with their mothers; many believe this occurs strongly between 6 and 8 weeks of age. Adopting kittens after this time of "learning to be cats" is recommended. Most kittens will use the litter box based on training from their mothers. Finding a good location for the box (for example away from the noisy furnace in the basement), a type of litter that manages odor and is a good texture for the kitten, and a style of box that is comfortable are all important factors.

Along with the physical examination, vaccinations, and discussions regarding diet and behavior, a stool sample should be tested for intestinal parasites. Due to the high percentage of kittens with intestinal parasites, all kittens receive an oral deworming on their first visit and control is then based on the result of the stool test.

We thoroughly enjoy the visits we get from new kittens and their excited, often sleepy, and occasionally worried new human families. We are delighted to be of help in any way during your process of adding this special new pet to your family.

I have been told that my pet is overweight. How do I get him to lose weight?
Ideal body weight is, in a very simple sense, a balance between calories consumed and calories burned. Exercise and activity influence calories burned while visits to the food bowl (combined with treats and any "table food") contribute to calories consumed. By some estimates, greater than 60 % of the pets in the USA are overweight. Although there are a variety of food items designed to help pets lose weight, the simple truth is that no matter what the pet is eating, if the pet is too heavy he or she is eating too much. Exercise helps the body lose weight because exercise prompts the cells to utilize stored fat. Medical conditions can influence an animal weight and ability to lose weight; so it is always advisable to check with the doctor prior to beginning a weight loss program for your pet.

The doctor or technical staff can advise you on good weight loss plans and diets. Because excessive weight on dogs and cats can contribute to or worsen several medical conditions, from diabetes to arthritis, it may be the most challenging “disease” we treat.

I am considering having my cat declawed; should I? What do you recommend? If I do decide to have my cat declawed, what do I need to know about the procedure and aftercare?
Declawing cats is a somewhat controversial subject. While cats are certainly happier with their claws intact, many can be destructive in the normal process of scratching and sharpening. It would be ideal if cats could all be trained to use a scratching post, and many can. Others may do well with frequent nail trimming, or with the application of "press-on" vinyl caps called Soft Paws which are applied every 4 to 8 weeks. But for some cats, having the claws surgically removed is the only option for their owners. Obviously, declawing should be reserved for cats that live exclusively indoors.

Please let us know if you have further questions about declawing or any of the above mentioned alternatives.

How should I care for my pet's teeth?
Approximately 85% of our patients 4 years and older have some form of dental disease. Good oral health has been associated with good overall health in humans as well as in our pets. The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends routine dental prophylaxis as frequently for pets as the American Dental Society recommends for people, every 6 months. Thorough at home oral care can significantly increase the length of time between dental prophylaxes for our pets. There are various products available for at home use. Any product you choose should have the acceptance seal of the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). Care should be performed on a daily basis for the maximum benefit from most products.

Unfortunately, not every pet will tolerate the use of a toothbrush with paste. Recently, a vaccine has been approved for use in dogs for a bacterial organism called Porphrymonas. This vaccine may also benefit patients by decreasing the number of these bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Other options include oral rinses or sprays, oral diets (such as Hill's Prescription Diet® T/D), or dental treats(or rawhides). Always use caution with rawhides as some dogs have gastrointestinal issues with rawhides. OraVet® Sealant is a product that has been quite effective for some pets. It is a waxy substance that prevents bacteria from attaching to the tooth’s enamel, thus preventing plaque and tartar from building up as quickly. It is applied on a weekly basis and can be started a month after a prophylaxis during which an initial sealant was applied. At home dental care is not an alternative to dental prophylaxis. Pets do require general anesthesia for prophylaxis during which their teeth are scaled and polished much like your dentist cares for your teeth. A detailed examination and assessment of gum health is made, and if your pet already has advanced periodontal disease, our hospital offers dental x-rays to assess damage below the gumline and aid in tooth salvage recommendations, if applicable. Our staff would be happy to assist you with any questions you might have regarding your pets' dental care.

My Dog's Teeth Are Worn Down. Should I Be Concerned?
Worn teeth are usually darker in color, oddly shaped, or worn down to the gum line. The teeth most commonly affected are the incisors and canine teeth. The incisors are the small teeth in the front of the mouth, and the incisors are the "fang" teeth. Teeth wear down by rubbing on each other (a malocclusion or "bad bite") or by the pet chewing on their fur and skin (as in the case of itchy allergies) or by the pet chewing on items (pet toys, bones, sticks, rocks, etc.). This change usually occurs gradually, and the tooth responds by laying down additional dentin to harden the injured area. In these cases, the teeth are normally left alone unless they are painful or the gum is infected. In the case of sudden wear or a fracture of the tooth caused by chewing, this necessitates an examination by your veterinarian. If the teeth are very worn, your veterinarian may want to do dental radiographs even if your pet is not showing signs of infection or discomfort. Radiographs will rule out a "dead" tooth that appears fine on the outside, but not vital on the inside. This could cause problems later on.


Why should I have my pet spayed or neutered?

Whether your pet is a male or female, he or she should be neutered/spayed simply because a responsible owner should make every effort for their pet to not contribute to the pet overpopulation problem.

Female dogs benefit from a significantly decreased risk of developing breast cancer or serious uterine infections. Females spayed before the first heat cycle (generally around 6 months) show a drastically reduced tendency to develop any kinds of mammary tumors. Heat cycles cause messy spotting which sends many dogs away to costly kennels or to inconvenient, strict confinement. Complications from breeding can be costly, and ill pups require extra care. 

Male dogs benefit from a significant decrease in testicular and prostate cancers. Behavioral urine marking also decreases and improves housetraining. Studies have shown a reduction in aggression, anxiety, and roaming which also decreases the risks of fighting, becoming lost, or being hit by a car.

Female cats also benefit from a decreased risk of developing breast cancer and uterine infections. Although, female cats do not typically have the messy spotting that is common with female dogs; they do have behavioral changes which include an annoying yowling and crying which resembles severe pain. This can reoccur every two to three weeks during certain times of the year. Spaying will not only stop these behaviors, but it will also decrease urine marking.

Male cats (last but not least) display behaviors that might be normal to the feline world but are not acceptable to humans. These include roaming, fighting, and urine marking. Neutering reduces these unacceptable behaviors by about 90%.

Although your beloved pets can be taught many things, they cannot be taught to control their mating instincts. The final result of a happier, healthier pet is your decision, one that your pet cannot make for themselves. You must choose to make the important "life-time" investment of having your pet spayed/neutered. Our staff would be happy to answer any additional questions you might have regarding care, cost, pain medication, anesthesia, etc.

My senior dog is drinking lots of water. Is it just old age?
Increased water intake can be a sign of many different illnesses, including, but not limited to; kidney failure, Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism), Diabetes Mellitus or Diabetes Insipidus, Hyperthyroidism, kidney or urinary tract infection, and Pyometra (infection of the uterus) to name a few. It can also be seen when taking some medications, such as Prednisone. If you notice a change in your pet's water intake (and subsequent increased urine output or increased urinary accidents) please contact us for an examination.

How often should my dog be groomed?
Dogs that need haircuts (i.e. poodles, schnauzers) should be groomed every 6-8 weeks. With an especially long haircut, your dog may need grooming every 3-5 weeks. Dogs that need a good grooming bath (i.e. Pugs, Labradors, Beagles) also benefit from 6-8 week groomings, but frequency of grooming is really up to the owner. If you have any questions about grooming, please contact our groomer, Pam.

At what age will my pet need grooming?
The sooner the better! Our groomer likes to see your pet as a young puppy or kitten, so that he or she can get used to the sights and sounds of grooming. Three months old is a good time to come in, even if it's just for a facial trim, nail trim or bath. We want your pet to enjoy grooming! Dogs and cats who receive their first grooming at 6 months or older can be very nervous and afraid of the clippers and dryers, and it may be more challenging to get them accustomed them to relax and enjoy themselves. If you have any questions about grooming, please contact our groomer, Pam.


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