Frequently Asked Questions
We know you have questions, so we're here to help!
These are some of the most common questions we get almost everyday. Here are some of our favorites answered by our very own Dr. Shane Reno himself.
DISCLAIMER: While this information is provided by a veterinarian, there is no way to determine the definite care your animal needs unless it is properly examined. Every case is different, and because of this we ask you to proceed with caution and do not take the information here as concrete advice in the care of your pet.
1. When should I get my pet vaccinated?
The short answer is, as soon as you get it. We vaccinate puppies at 6 weeks of age, then again at 8 weeks, again at 10 weeks, again at 12 weeks, then one more time at 16 weeks, which is when the pup receives the rabies vaccination. We vaccinate Rottweilers and Huskies a couple of extra times because we have found that they lack the natural immunity that most breeds have or develop.
Kittens can be given the feline distemper vaccination at 6 weeks old, but the feline leukemia vaccination is given at 8 weeks. They are not as likely to pick up feline distemper as puppies are to get parvo, so the kitten could be vaccinated for both feline leukemia and distemper at 8 weeks old, and then again at 11 weeks.
2. When should I get my pet spayed?
A lot of hospitals spay at any age, but I prefer to spay dogs at 6 months of age, and that goes for neutering the males, also known as altering. This is to give the urinary tract time to develop. I have argued this point with vets all over the country, but to each his own.
I also wait to neuter male cats at 6 months of age for the same reason. Female cats, however, I spay at 4 months of age. This is because female cats can get pregnant at this age, so if we waited until they were 6 months old, we would be too late.
3. Why does my pet's breath smell so bad?
Most of the time, this is because the animal has infected or decayed teeth. Dogs usually have bad breath no matter what condition their teeth are in, and cleaning them will help immensely. This helps especially if loose and/or decaying teeth are extracted. The bad news is, after the cleaning, the bad breath usually comes back in a couple of months. So, it comes down to the fact is that dog breath sometimes is just dog breath.
Cats are similar, but they can get very inflamed gums and mouth tissues from infection, but they also can get immune-mediated stomatitis. This is when the cat’s1 immune system attacks its own oral mucous membranes. It is a very painful condition, usually causing the kitty to cry and drop its food when it tries to eat. If this is happening to your cat, see your veterinarian right away.
4. Does my pet need lab work?
It’s a good idea to have lab work performed on your pet any time it is going to be put under anesthesia for any procedure. We always recommend this for animals 10 years and over. We actually recommend it for animals of any age, but most clients cannot afford lab work for their pet for routine procedures like spaying, neutering or dental cleanings. I would recommend lab work annually for animals over 10 years of age, but sometimes we have to do lab work more often on animals who are taking medications that require monitoring the liver and kidney function.
5. My pet is vomiting, what should I do?
A dog or cat will occasionally vomit for apparently no reason. But, if it happens more than once in a short time, or over and over again, the pet needs to be examined. There are too many diseases that cause vomiting to let it go, not mention the fact that vomiting is no fun for anyone, human or animal.
6. My pet is having diarrhea, what should I do?
I wish there was a simple answer for this question, but there’s not. Diarrhea can, like vomiting, strike with no apparent reason or cause, but it can be due to diseases. Most of the time, animals get diarrhea from being fed something they shouldn’t eat, like table food. We see most of these cases after holidays. If you haven’t fed something unusual, however, you should call your vet. Taking a stool sample is a good idea, since parasites can cause diarrhea and are usually easy to treat.
7. Why is my dog scooting its rear end on the ground?
I know it makes sense to think this behavior is caused by worms, but it’s not. It’s usually because the anal glands are full. What are anal glands? They are little scent glands located just under the skin, on either side of the anal opening. They produce a smelly fluid, that is carried to the anus through a small duct. If these glands become full, they cause itching and can be very uncomfortable, causing the dog to scoot on the ground, trying to scratch the area. If your dog is scooting, you can have your vet clean them out. Many groomers try to clean them by squeezing the glands from the outside, but they can’t do a good job that way.
There is a worm that causes itching in the rear end, which is the pinworm, but dogs don’t get that one. Only horses and HUMANS!
Also, once in awhile, an anal gland can get infected. If that happens, he will need some minor surgery and aftercare to take care of it.
8. Can my pet have table food?
No. Okay, it doesn’t hurt to give your pet a little (emphasis on LITTLE) taste of something occasionally, because I would be a giant hypocrite if I said I never do this. But, please keep in mind that your pet has a smaller digestive system than you, and cannot usually tolerate spicy or fatty things like you can. You have been warned. If you over-indulge your pet, the vomiting and diarrhea that can result is no fun for your pet or you.
9. My pet has a weird bump, should I bring it in to be seen?
The answer to this question has to be yes. It’s very possible that a strange lump is just a skin tag, or a fatty tumor that is harmless, but it is so much safer to have it checked out. You would not believe how many times I have seen an unfortunate dog or cat that has a huge cancerous growth, that could have easily been dealt with if the owner had just brought it in earlier. Many times, in this situation, it’s too late, because the mass has become too large to remove, or it has spread internally. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
10. My pet is peeing everywhere, what does it mean?
There are several possibilities, from he’s marking his territory (females are not excluded from this behavior), to a urinary tract infection. For marking, getting the pet neutered can help, but do it soon. Once the behavior pattern is established, good luck breaking the pattern. Take the pet to the vet to rule in or out a medical cause. Urinary tract infections are fairly common and can usually be treated pretty easily. Urinary stones can cause frequent urination and attempts to urinate, so these must be ruled out. I have to bring up male cats here. Cats produce crystals in their urine. The urethra of a female cat is short and has a wide diameter, so any crystals will usually get flushed out so there’s normally not a problem. In males, however, they CAN and DO get plugged up by the little crystals, and if they do that, they can get into a serious crisis in less than 24 hours.If he gets plugged, urine will build up pressure in the bladder, and it becomes very uncomfortable for the kitty. He will go to the litter box and cry, trying to urinate. He might pass a couple of drops. If this is happening, get him to the vet ASAP. Some cases we get unplugged, put a catheter in the urethra to let the bladder rest, and a few days later we remove it and see how urination goes. If the kitty plugs back up again, surgery should be performed to provide him a larger opening to urinate through. Be SURE to find a good surgeon to do this surgery. I have had to redo, or correct more than one of these cases from incompetent surgeons.
11. How can I tell if my pet has worms?
You can tell this by taking a stool sample to the vet. We do this test many times everyday, and it only takes about an amount the size of your fingertip. We perform this test in about 15 minutes.i For some reason, some vets send this test out to a lab out of town. They don’t want to mess with it I guess. I have actually had a vet tell my technician that they “never see parasites in [their] practice. Just because you’re not looking doesn’t mean they’re not there.
12. My pet has surgery tomorrow, can they have food or water?
An animal having surgery the next day can have food until midnight. There is no restriction on water.
13. When can I pick up my pet after surgery?
It depends on the surgery. Animals having routine surgery like a spay or neuter can go home the next day. Some hospitals allow them to go home the same day, but I find this to be a dangerous practice. I like to observe the animal’s recovery and watch for possible complications. After more complicated surgery, such as orthopedic procedures or removal of tumors or foreign bodies from the gastrointestinal tract, more time to recover in the hospital is usually needed. The doctor can tell you what is going on with your pet, and how much time is needed and why.
14. Should I give my dog heartworm medication? What should I do if I miss a dose?
Whether your dog needs heartworm medication depends on where you live. In Bakersfield, or anywhere in the south-central valley, we are very fortunate to not have heartworm. I am not sure if it’s the climate or the good mosquito control we have here.
I do recommend heartworm preventive if your pet is traveling out of the area. If she is going up north, or over to the coast for any length of time, she should be tested for heartworm to make sure there are no heartworms in the system to start out with. If the test is negative, which it almost always is, then your pet can be put on heartworm preventive. It’s a simple medicated treat that your dog will eat once a month. If you miss a dose, call your vet for direction.
15. How often should my pet get a checkup?
I recommend a physical examination once a year. Don’t just assume your dog is going to get and exam when going in for yearly vaccinations. In our practice, it would be great to be able to examine every animal in every vaccination visit, but there just aren’t enough hours in a day. If you want an exam, say so, and it really helps if you line this up ahead of time. Also note: most prescribed medications can be prescribed for a year after the last physical exam.
One thing about medications: if we decline giving a prescription because too much time has elapsed since the last exam, or if you lost medication, particularly a controlled substance, we cannot, repeat, we CANNOT refill the medication until the next refill date arrives. It doesn’t matter the circumstances. The state and the DEA will not allow us to do that.I love our clients, but not enough to go to jail for them.
16. I can't clip my pet's nails, what should I do?
Bring your dog or cat in to the clinic. Some animals have a personality that does not allow clipping nails. We have many patients who need to be sedated in order to clip their nails. It’s mostly because they get panicky. Let me state something very important here: we do NOT use ‘BRUTACAINE’ in our clinic. We talk to the pet, to get their confidence, and when they are relaxed, we do the trimming.
While this information is provided by a veterinarian, there is no way to determine the definite care your animal needs unless it is properly examined. Every case is different, and because of this we ask you to proceed with caution and do not take the information here as concrete advice in the care of your pet.