Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians in Vestavia Hills
How often should my pet have an exam?
Vestavia Animal Clinic recommends yearly visits for most pets and older pets coming in more frequently – at least every 6 months. Yearly exams include physical examinations by our veterinarians plus annual vaccinations or booster vaccinations, parasite screening & prevention and various lab tests performed.
For puppies and kittens, we need to see them on a more frequent schedule during their first year of life. For pets over age 7, we recommend exams and blood work every 6 months to help us detect diseases and issues before they become a problem.
How safe is my pet’s procedure?
Our veterinarians take every precaution to make sure your pet comes out of any procedure, whether major or minor, on the way to a swift recovery. To ensure your pet’s safety, we provide round-the-clock care and monitoring for all surgical patients during business hours. We perform all pet surgeries under anesthesia and advocate the use of pre-anesthetic blood work to detect any underlying disease that may affect the response to anesthesia.
With your pet’s comfort and safety at the forefront, we utilize pain management protocols before, during, and after surgery until they are completely recovered. This includes monitoring of vital signs, assessing your pet for pain indicators and keeping them well fed, warm and comfortable in their surroundings.
Why does my pet need a dental cleaning?
Besides just BAD BREATH, dental disease:
- Releases bacteria into the bloodstream
- Increases risk for heart, liver and kidney disease
- Can cause severe pain and problems for your pet
Pets need regular dental cleanings to increase quality and length of life and:
- Allows us to chart dental disease over time
- Means less time under anesthesia
- Reduces the need for more advanced and expensive treatment in the future such as teeth extractions and oral surgery
Dental disease is THE most common disease in dogs. Recent studies show that 85% of cats and 92% of dogs over age 3 have periodontal disease.
What happens during my pet’s dental cleaning?
A thorough dental cleaning can only be accomplished while the pet is under general anesthesia. The anesthesia we use is safe for all animals and your pet is constantly monitored during the dental procedure. Prior to anesthesia, blood tests are performed to help uncover any hidden illnesses.
A professional cleaning (sometimes called a prophylaxis) removes plaque and tartar from the teeth. Your pet's entire mouth health (teeth, tongue, gums, and lips) will be examined and assessed.
I noticed a change in my pet’s behavior. Should I see a veterinarian?
Pets cannot tell us how they feel and are able to hide their pain from us (especially cats). Changes in behavior such as appetite change, lethargy, energy level, aggressiveness, inappropriate elimination and vocalization (barking/meowing) can be symptoms of behavior or health issues. Contact our vet hospital for an exam appointment right away.
What should I do if I notice fleas or ticks on my pet?
Isolate your pet from other animals and small children to prevent the spread of the parasite to them. Bring your pet to our vet clinic for a thorough testing for parasites. Parasites can most often be easily treated, but parasite preventative measures are best for your pet and your wallet. We have safe and effective parasite prevention products available.
At what age should I have my pet spayed or neutered?
Vestavia Animal Clinic recommends waiting until your pet is at least 4-6 months of age before seeking a spay or neuter procedure. Contact us to discuss specific details based on species, breed, and size. Spaying/neutering has health and behavior benefits to your pet and of course helps prevent overpopulation.
What are heartworms? How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworms?
One infected mosquito is all it takes to infect your dog with the baby form (larval stage) of the heartworm parasite.
Heartworms are a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets. Twelve-inch-long worms (looks like spaghetti) live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of infected pets, causing lung disease, heart failure, organ damage and can be fatal if untreated.
How does my pet get heartworms? Heartworms living in an infected dog, cat or wildlife produce baby worms that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it picks up these worms and when it bites another animal, the worms enter through the bite wound. Heartworms can grow and live for 5 - 7 years in dogs and 3 years in cats.
What can I do to protect my pet? Heartworm disease is preventable! Dogs should be tested annually and before starting prevention. Provide heartworm prevention 12 months of the year. Prevention is the safest and most cost-effective option, but treatment is available for dogs (although costly and lengthy). Cats should be tested before starting prevention and re-tested as the veterinarian deems appropriate. There is NO treatment in cats, so prevention is critical and the only means of protection.
Vestavia Animal Clinic has safe, effective products available that cater to you and your pet's lifestyle and your budget. Heartworm prevention should be provided 12 months of the year.
We get a lot of questions when pets return home after staying with us, whether it be after boarding, daycare, or even surgery. We have decided to write a few of these changes down so you can know what to expect (or at least not be alarmed by). Here are a few of the comments/questions we get…
“Oscar is acting like he is starving! Did Oscar get fed while he was there?”
Of course!! Oscar was fed the food that his owner brought when he was dropped off, or if his pet owner didn’t drop of his food, Oscar was fed high quality prescription Royal Canin Low Fat Gastrointestinal dry food. Occasionally, pets do not eat as much while they board, so it is “normal” for them to play catch up once they return to their homes.
At daycare, (unless it is a puppy), pets are not fed lunch. Just like my 3-year old son when he gets home from school, they have usually built up a huge appetite playing all day!
Of course, it goes without saying that after a surgery/dental, pets are hungry because they were fasted the morning of the procedure!
"Bailey drank a whole bowl of water when she got home... was she allowed to drink water while she was there?"
All pets have access to water during their stay. That being said, when they are here just for the day, such as for daycare or grooming/bath, they are given water when they are walked. This is to prevent them from splashing and turning over water bowls in the cages (and getting dirty). It is also normal for pets to feel more comfortable drinking water when they return home.
"Fido was really tired and slept the entire evening after I brought him home. He seemed worn out!"
Chances are, Fido is worn out! If we did our job, Fido had lots of play time and exercise while boarding or in daycare. There is so much activity in our hospital that Fido is likely over stimulated and excited. Because of this, his sleeping pattern changes in the time he was here with us. He just needs to catch up on his zzzzz’s!! Typically after a good night’s sleep, Fido feels like playing within the next 24 hours. I usually feel like sleeping a lot when I come home from vacation as well!
“Maggie’s stool is loose. Has she been having diarrhea while she was there??”
First of all, if Maggie was having diarrhea, the staff and doctors would have contacted you and started Maggie on medicine. That is the good thing about boarding your pet at a veterinary hospital…if they develop problems, the issues are addressed immediately.
Secondly, pets often experience excitement when returning home. Plus, they are often rewarded with treats/chews upon arriving home. So this “excitement” leads to colitis, a common cause of loose or watery stool. Some pet owners expect it and we arrange to send home medication to prevent diarrhea.
We take every precaution at Vestavia Animal Clinic to prevent viruses and parasites from being passed along. Stalls/runs and cages are sterilized with Parvosol and dilute bleach solution. We require dogs to be checked every 6 months for parasites (unlike annually at most vet hospitals). This is the reason: some of the parasites we see are easily spread between dogs (Coccidia and Giardia) and are not prevented by monthly heartworm preventatives. We have staff that clean/scoop fecal material as soon as it hits the ground. See the previous blog about our resort team and the great job they do!
So, to recap, loose stool/diarrhea is common but please let us know if it continues for more than 24 hours.
Our goal and hope is that your pet returns home happy and healthy! Of course, there is always a chance your pet may get sick while at our hospital, but we do everything we can to prevent it. We aim to have smiles and wags all around!
“The vets here are great! Our family dog went here for 15 years, and my newer baby has been going there for 3 years now.”