When does my puppy/kitten need to be vaccinated for the first time?
We recommend starting vaccines at 6 weeks of age for puppies and 8 weeks of age for kittens and continuing booster vaccines until the age of 16-20 weeks old. This is because their maternal antibodies which provide immunity decreases starting at six weeks of age and by 16 weeks, it is gone. Boostering vaccines every 3-4 weeks helps your pet build a stronger immunity against diseases.
Why do we have to booster vaccines?
Many pet owners have questions as to why their pet needs more than one vaccine and when. Your dog or cat is just like a baby with an immune system that is still growing and is not fully functional. Each vaccine helps to stimulate the immune system more, but the immune system can only respond so much. Your pet may be fully protected after one vaccine, or he may not even be fully protected after three vaccines. The timing of the vaccines is important. Peak immune response is at 3-4 weeks (this is why we space our vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart). Another vaccine at this time builds upon the previous immune system response resulting in stronger immunity. Wait longer to vaccinate and the response will not be as great. That is why the timing of vaccines is so important. Also, it is not the number of vaccines that your pet gets, but the timing of them. This has to do with interference by maternal antibodies. It is recommended to carry out vaccines through 16-20 weeks of age. After your pet has been through his booster series, he will then get booster vaccines every 12 months.
When is the best time to have my pet neutered/spayed?
We recommend that this procedure be performed at 6 months of age. The puppy/kitten is finished with his initial vaccination series, has a little more weight and a better ability to handle the physical stress of surgery. Also, any retained baby teeth can be extracted and the pet will not have to endure a separate anesthetic procedure. For spays, performing the surgery before the first heat cycle (age 6 months) dramatically decreases the risk of breast cancer to 0.5%.
Why should I feed my pet a premium food diet when I can buy much cheaper food elsewhere?
Unfortunately there are many different types and quality of dog food available. Much of it is equivalent to ‘junk food’. We recommend feeding your dog a high quality dog food. Premium brands are the Royal Canin Veterinary Diet line, the Hills Science Diet, Iams, Eukanuba, Vets Choice and Ultra Dog. With pet food, you get what you pay for. Labeling can be very deceptive. The best way to compare food is to compare price to amount (kilograms). If it is much cheaper than the quality brands, then the label and advertising are false. At our hospital we sell all of the above foods. These premium diets also have fatty acids (Omega 3 & 6) in the diet to help with skin condition, as well as natural preservatives. A misconception is that the premium diets are too expensive to feed. The cost of feeding a premium diet compared to a cheap diet is very similar. With cheap foods, the pet actually has to eat more to get the same nutrition that is available in the more expensive foods. The better quality diets help with muscle and skeletal formation, hair coat quality, and internal growth.
How often should I feed my dog?
We recommend that puppies be fed set meals 2-3 times daily. Puppies under 4 kilograms should be fed more often (4-5 times daily). When they are adults, we recommend feeding twice daily; it is better for their digestive system. There are two reasons why we recommend feeding set meals as opposed to leaving the food down all day. First, it will help with house-training. In addition, if the puppy is sick and not eating well, it will be noticed a lot sooner than if the food is left down all day. Nutrition is such an important part of a growing pet that its importance cannot be over-emphasized. Also, it is extremely important to discuss proper nutrition for your pet with the veterinarian as your pet ages. There are special diets available for pets with heart, kidney and liver problems, just to name a few.
Why do I have to see a different doctor each time I come in?
While we strive to have you see the doctor of your choice, scheduled days off, surgeries, previously scheduled appointments, emergencies, training time for new employees and management responsibilities all make time demands on our doctors. Usually calling and scheduling an appointment or surgery a few days in advance will ensure that you can see the doctor of your choice. Our doctors work varying schedules and we try to allow them adequate time to perform non-medical tasks. In addition, each of the doctors usually is scheduled off during a weekday so that their hours are not so unreasonable. Our doctors also spend time on surgeries, continuing education conferences, and employee training meetings. In addition, we try to schedule our practice manager and owner.
My dog has been scratching himself a lot. Can you prescribe something over the phone?
No. Your pet can be scratching for many different reasons such as fleas, mange, allergies, ringworm or a bacterial infection. A complete physical examination needs to be performed along with possible diagnostic tests to help determine the cause of the problem.