How do I know if my pet is in pain?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell. If you are not sure but suspect your dog or cat may be hurting, or is just not acting right, call us for an exam appointment for your pet. Some signs of pain are more obvious, such as limping, but other signs are more subtle and can include: not eating, a change in behavior or normal habits, being more tired and having less energy.

When is the best time to spay or neuter my pet?

There is no one correct answer for all pets. The doctors will discuss this with you, considering factors about your pet’s breed, personality and genetic risks.

Vaccinations for your dog . . . from puppy to adult!

Vaccines are an important part of your dog or cat’s health care. They protect your pet from serious infectious diseases.

Our staff and veterinarians will make vaccine recommendations for your pet based on his or her lifestyle and risks.

All pets receiving a vaccination must have an exam by one of our veterinarians prior to the vaccine being given. We also provide veterinary technician booster appointments within one month of a comprehensive physical exam appointment by one of our veterinarians.

What do we recommend?

All dogs need to be vaccinated against rabies and distemper/Parvo. We recommend vaccination for Lyme disease, leptospirosis, and Bordetella for most dogs.

Rabies vaccine

Rabies is a viral infection that is deadly for both pets and people. It is transmitted by bites or saliva from infected animals. We have rabies in our area and it can be carried by mammals including raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes.

Puppies get their first rabies vaccine after they are three months old.

The next booster is given one year later. After this second booster, adult dogs need to be boostered every three years.

Cats also may be given a booster if they come into contact with a potentially rabid animal, or have skin wounds caused by an unknown animal.

DA2PP vaccine

Distemper/Parvo protection is given in a combination vaccine that also protects against adenovirus and parainfluenza. Distemper is a highly contagious virus passed in body secretions from an infected dog. It can be fatal, infecting the brain, respiratory and intestinal tracts. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. Parvo is also a highly contagious and potentially fatal virus. It is spread via feces from an infected dog. Parvo attacks the intestines and bone marrow. Adenovirus causes dog hepatitis and parainfluenza is a debilitating respiratory virus.

Puppies need a series of boosters every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old.

The next booster is given one year later.

After this “adolescent” booster, adult dogs need to be boostered every three years.

Lyme disease

We strongly recommend vaccination against this tick-borne infection for dogs that are going to be enjoying any time outdoors. Ticks are very common in our area and the incidence of dogs testing positive for Lyme infection is very high.

Lyme infection can cause fever, joint and back pain and more serious problems including fatal kidney disease.

Protection requires two initial boosters given 3-4 weeks apart, starting once a puppy is 9 weeks or older.

Yearly boosters are needed to maintain protection.

Leptospirosis vaccine

Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that your dog could be exposed to from contact with contaminated water or wet/soggy ground. Infected wildlife (deer, raccoons, foxes, skunks and rodents) can carry the bacteria and pass it in their urine. When these animals contaminate a water source (lakes, ponds, streams, creeks, puddles, wet soils, yards or fields) dogs can catch the infection from drinking the water or from licking their paws after walking through the wet area.

Risk factors include any outdoor, active dog, especially those that swim, hike or live in yards that stay wet after it rains.

Lepto can cause kidney and liver failure and death, and it is one of the few infections that can be passed from dogs to people.

Protection requires two initial boosters 3-4 weeks apart.

Yearly boosters are needed to maintain protection.

Bordetella (kennel cough)

This upper respiratory infection is caused by a combination of bacteria and viruses.

It is highly contagious, though not fatal, and it commonly causes a very harsh, croup-like cough and can lead to more serious respiratory problems in some dogs.

The infection is passed either via direct contact (think nose-to-nose greetings) or can be airborne, typically in an indoor environment.

Dogs that get boarded, go to daycare, dog parks, groomers, dog shows, field trials or training classes and dogs that have contact with other dogs that have any of these risk factors should be vaccinated.

Protection requires a single initial vaccination. Yearly boosters are needed to maintain protection.

Vaccinations for your cat . . . from kitten to adult!

What do we recommend? All cats need to be vaccinated against rabies and distemper. We recommend vaccination against feline leukemia for any kitten or cat that does or may have the possibility of going outside at all.

Rabies vaccine

Rabies is a viral infection that is deadly for both pets and people. It is transmitted by bites or saliva from infected animals. We have rabies in our area and it can be carried by mammals including raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes.

Kittens get their first rabies vaccine after they are 3 months old.

The next booster is given one year later. After this second booster, adult cats need to be boostered every three years.

Cats also may be given a booster if they come into contact with a potentially rabid animal, or have skin wounds caused by an unknown animal.

RCP vaccine

This vaccine protects cats against feline distemper, rhinotrachetitis (a cat herpes virus), calici virus and panleukopenia (distemper). The first two viruses cause upper respiratory infections and eye and mouth infections and the last causes severe and deadly diarrhea and bone marrow suppression.

Kittens can be vaccinated as early as six weeks and are get boosters every 3-4 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Cats are boostered one year later and then re-vaccinated every 3 years.

Feline Leukemia Vaccine: In cats, Leukemia is caused by a virus that is transmitted from cat to cat by direct contact, typically via bite wounds and saliva. Two initial boosters are given 3-4 weeks apart, followed by yearly boosters.

When does my pet need blood work?

We recommend that yearly blood work should be performed to detect infections and diseases, helping us to detect disease early. In many situations, early detection is essential for more effective treatment. The type of blood work will be determined specifically for each pet depending on his or her individual needs. This annual blood test is convenient to do at the time of your pet’s annual heartworm test, but it can be done at any time of year. Pets on ongoing medications or with chronic health conditions also need regular blood tests, and pets need to have blood tests prior to anesthesia.

How many months should my pet be on heartworm prevention medication?

Heartworm disease is a serious disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and can be fatal if left untreated. We recommend all dogs be given heartworm prevention at least May through December, but encourage year round administration for intestinal worm prevention.

A simple blood test is needed to check your dog for heartworm disease on a yearly basis. Heartworm prevention is administered once a month either by pill or by topical application. Depending on the specific product you and your veterinarian choose for your pet, heartworm prevention medication can prevent other parasite infestations including internal parasites (intestinal parasites) and external parasites (fleas and ticks).

Doesn’t the fecal sample test for heartworms?

No. Heartworm disease is a blood-borne disease that is transmitted through mosquitoes. A simple blood test will confirm whether or not your dog has heartworm disease.

Are there any special at-home care instructions for my dog or cat before undergoing surgery?

Please do not feed your pet after 12 AM midnight the evening before a scheduled procedure. There is no restriction on drinking water. Please bring your pet in to Ark between 8:00 AM and 8:30 AM.

Why does my pet need to be admitted several hours before a surgical procedure?

In preparation for the procedure, your pet will receive:

  • A pre-anesthetic exam.
  • Pre-anesthetic blood work (if required).
  • Medication to ease anxiety and to smooth induction of anesthesia.
  • Placement of an intravenous catheter to deliver medications and fluids that support blood pressure and organ function during anesthesia.
  • In addition to the above, it gives your pet a chance to adjust to the hospital’s environment which makes the situation less stressful.
  • Each of these steps must be completed BEFORE your pet’s scheduled procedure time.

Is anesthesia safe for my pet?

At Ark Veterinary Hospital, we take all anesthetic cases very seriously. We utilize the safest, multi-modal approach that is individually created for each dog or cat. It includes injectable medications for sedation and pain management as well as inhaled anesthetic agents. The combination of pre-anesthetic assessment of your pet (including blood work), use of modern anesthetic agents and the latest anesthetic monitoring equipment means that anesthesia is generally considered to be a very low risk for your pet.

Our highly trained staff will closely monitor your pet during the entire procedure (including recovery) using advanced monitoring equipment. Parameters often monitored include oxygen concentration in the blood stream (pulse oximetry), electrocardiogram (EKG), core body temperature, respiratory function and blood pressure.

What is a multi-modal approach to anesthesia?

A multi-modal approach refers to the layered administration of small amounts of different medications to achieve the desired levels of anesthesia and pain management. We administer lower doses of each individual anesthetic which generally equates to fewer side effects, complete pain relief and faster post-operative recovery.

How will you manage my pet’s pain during surgery?

We believe in performing surgery with advanced pain management techniques because we want to maximize the comfort of your pet during and after his/her procedure. Comfort control improves your dog or cat’s recovery and speeds the healing process. We administer pain medication before beginning the procedure, during and post-op as needed by your pet.

My pet is older—is anesthesia safe?

Anesthesia in otherwise healthy, older pets is considered safe. It is important to have recommended pre-operative testing performed prior to anesthesia to check the status of major organ function and allow us to tailor the anesthesia to any pre-existing medical conditions.

My pet has kidney and heart disease—is anesthesia safe?

Prior to anesthesia, patients with kidney disease should be fully evaluated with blood tests, urinalysis and possibly an ultrasound. Cardiology patients should also be evaluated including blood tests, chest X-rays and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).

When my pet is having surgery, when should I expect an update on my pet?

At your request, you will receive a phone call once your pet has entered recovery. If there are any abnormalities during the pre-anesthetic exam or blood work, you will receive a call prior to the procedure in the event that we need to change plans.

After surgery, when will my pet be able to go home?

Please set aside approximately 15 minutes to meet with one of our veterinary technicians when picking up your pet post-surgery. This will allow us to go over discharge instructions tailored specifically to your pet and the procedure. Our doctors are more than happy to answer any questions you may have to ensure proper recovery for your pet. Your doctor will provide you with a written set of discharge instructions for you to follow at home.

Bandage, cast or splint is wet, soiled or removed

If the bandage becomes soiled, damp, chewed or chewed off, please do not re-bandage at home. Duct tape and other items can trap moisture within the cast/bandage causing inflammation of the skin and tissues. In some cases, bandages that are applied incorrectly at home can even cut off the circulation to the foot.

Call us immediately if you have concerns about your pet’s bandage. Confine your pet to a single room or similar small area until you can call us and we can advise you as to whether the bandage needs to be replaced. After a cast or splint is first removed, it may take 1-2 weeks for your pet to become accustomed to using the leg without the splint.