Common Pet Questions
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When should my pet be vaccinated and for what?
Puppies should be vaccinated with the basic vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks, beginning at 6-8 weeks of age, until they are at least 16 weeks of age. Rabies vaccine should first be administered between 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Dogs over 4 months of age either unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated or those of questionable vaccine status should receive basic vaccines which are then boostered in 3 to 4 weeks as well as a rabies vaccine which should be first boostered in 12 months.
Basic vaccines include distemper (respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts), adenovirus (liver), leptospirosis (kidneys), parainfluenza (respiratory tract) and parvovirus (intestinal tract).
Once either of the above series is complete, the basic vaccines should be boostered in 12 months and then every 2-3 years. Rabies vaccine should be boostered 12 months after the initial vaccine and at least every 3 years thereafter with a properly licensed vaccine.
Kittens should be vaccinated with the basic vaccines beginning at 6-8 weeks of age and boostered every 3 to 4 weeks until 15-16 weeks of age. Rabies vaccine should first be administered between 12 and 16 weeks of age.
Cats over 3 months of age either unvaccinated, incompletely vaccinated or those of questionable vaccine status should receive basic vaccines which are then boostered in 3 to 4 weeks as well as a rabies vaccine which should be first boostered in 12 months.
Basic vaccines include feline viral rhinotracheitis (conjunctiva, oral cavity and respiratory tract), distemper/panleukopenia (gastrointestinal tract), calicivirus (conjunctiva, oral cavity and respiratory tract) and chlamydia (conjunctiva and respiratory tract).
In addition, all kittens/cats should be tested for feline leukemia virus (9 weeks or older) and feline immunodeficiency virus (6 months or older). Cats that venture outside or live in multiple cat households should be vaccinated against feline leukemia. This vaccine is boostered 3 weeks after the initial vaccine and then yearly. The first vaccine can be administered as early as 9 weeks of age. Currently there is no vaccine for feline immunodeficiency virus.
Once the initial series is complete, the basic vaccines should be boostered in 12 months and then every 2-3 years. Feline leukemia vaccines should be boostered every 12 months. Rabies vaccine should be boostered 12 months after the initial vaccine and then yearly.
Vaccines should always be administered by a qualified, licensed veterinarian! (Or by a qualified, licensed veterinary technician, under the direct supervision of a licensed veterinarian!)
NOTE: Vaccine longevity is currently being investigated in hopes of safely lengthening the time between vaccine boosters after their initial series.
At what age should my pet be "fixed"?
“Fixed” refers to the surgical sterilization of the pet. This procedure is ovariohysterectomy (spay) of the female (ie. removal of the ovaries and uterus); castration of the male (ie. removal of the testicles); or neutering which technically can refer to sterilization of either males or females has traditionally been used to refer to male castration.
The age most dogs and cats should be “fixed” is between 5 and 6 months of age in order to balance the benefits with the preservation of favorable, distinctive male or female characteristics.
All non-commercially bred pets, regardless of age (healthy enough for surgery) should be spayed or neutered. Benefits exist for all “fixed” pets. (See Why spay? or Why neuter? in our information section).
Is declawing of cat's front claws cruel?
Surgical declawing of cat’s front claws when done properly, under general anesthesia with sufficient analgesia (pain killers) is not cruel! The procedure is a logical alternative to cats which continue to destroy furniture, etc. despite scratch posts and other humane deterrents. The procedure should be carried out with minimal dissection, under general anesthesia, with proper analgesia (first day is usually sufficient), utilizing 24 hour pressure bandages (plus skin glue) rather than sutures and a minimum of overnight hospitalization post surgery. These cats are released the day after surgery with instructions to avoid clay litter and paw trauma for one week. Once recuperated, the cat can still defend itself, climb trees (with back claws intact) and will not have any psychological problems. In fact, once recovered, the cat acts no differently than before the surgery.
How does one become a veterinarian?
To become a veterinarian, one must complete a competitive prerequisite program prior to admission to veterinary college. This program may be as much as a bachelors, masters degree or more as well as practical experience and admission exams. Admission is very competitive and even high grades and high test scores do not guarantee admission. If admitted, the candidate must then complete four years of veterinary medical training, followed by the passing of both national and state licensing exams. Beyond this, some veterinarians complete post graduate training to become board certified experts in a veterinary specialty. These individuals are referred to as Diplomates.
Are table scraps alright for my pet?
Table scraps should not be fed to your pets! Such practice can lead to various health problems, including pancreatitis, obesity, arthritis, diabetes, gastritis and diarrhea. Pets currently receiving table scraps can be weaned off by substituting green and orange vegetables (eg. peas, beans, carrots) for current scraps and reducing their amounts gradually.
Why do the same surgical procedures vary in cost from one practice to another?
Surgical costs vary due to multiple factors. These may include: general demographics (eg. metro vs. rural); surgeon’s skills; pre-surgical preparation (eg. blood screens, ECG); surgical monitoring (eg. pulse oximetry, doppler blood pressure, animal health technicians, etc.); anesthetic protocol (eg. cheaper injectables vs. safer, isoflurane); “discounting” common procedures to stimulate business; and finally differences in the “same” procedure (eg. cruciate surgery where one surgeon merely tightens the surrounding tissues (imbrication) where another cleans out the injured joint, removes torn cartilage, flushes the joint and places a prosthetic ligament in place of the torn ligament).