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Important information for your entire family!

APPOINTMENT
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We accept all major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover), cash, and local checks only (Polk County). We do not currently accept CareCredit or pet insurance.

Pet Food Reccommendations

An important part of your pet’s healthcare is to ensure he/she is eating the best diet you can afford. Excellent health care starts with an excellent diet, and pet parents have a number of choices.

Our Top 10 Food Recommendations for Small Animals:

  1. Hill’s Science Diet
  2. Royal Canin
  3. Eukanuba
  4. Iams
  5. Maximum Nutrition
  6. Purina Pro Plan
  7. Purina One
  8. 4 Health
  9. Natural Balance
  10. Nutro

Our doctors also support high-quality homemade diets as long as proper supplementation is added. Please let us know if you are feeding a homemade cooked or raw diet so we can properly supplement your pet’s food.

Having said this, it is best if you can feed a diet most suitable to your pet’s health needs. In order to do this, we will need to run a blood test to rule out food hypersensitivities, which are commonly seen in pets and contribute to various medical disorders. By running this blood profile, we can advise you on which food ingredients you should avoid in order to maximize your pet’s health. Additionally, many pets will benefit from a full blood profile/urinalysis as our dietary recommendations may change if an internal disease is present.

Please feel free to ask us any questions you have about your pet’s diet. Feeding your pet is something you control, and it’s important to feed the correct food to ensure a long healthy life for your pet.

When Should I Spay or Neuter My Pet?

Correctly picking the perfect age to spay or neuter your dog has been discussed in the veterinary literature for decades. Our doctors recommend the earliest for the spay to be six months of age, and they really recommend for a neuter to be seven months of age. As an added incentive, the surgery is quicker and less complicated prior to sexual maturity in these immature puppies. The recommendations are now changing and recent studies suggest some benefits to waiting until your dog is a bit older to have the surgery performed, especially for larger dogs.

For male dogs: The signs of sexual maturity in male dogs include lifting their leg to urine mark (even in the house), humping, and overprotectiveness. Some of these behaviors can start at an early age and intensify as they continue to mature until 12 months or even older for large breeds. During this time, they build more muscle as their growth plates close. This maturation of their musculoskeletal system can help prevent certain orthopedic injuries later in life, especially in large breeds. There is also some evidence that certain cancers may be less likely if they are allowed to have some time to reach sexual maturity. Male dogs that are left intact through adulthood and into their senior years can encounter prostate disease, perineal hernias, perianal tumors, and testicular tumors.

When should I neuter my male dog?

Small dogs do not have as many orthopedic issues, therefore it is fine to neuter them on the younger side at six to 12 months of age. For large dogs that are very prone to orthopedic injury/diseases, we now recommend waiting to neuter until nine to 18 months of age.

For female dogs: The signs of sexual maturity in female dogs can have some similarities to the males, but they also will come into their first heat (estrous). This may mean up to two weeks of dripping blood, accompanied by moodiness and unwanted attention from male dogs from miles away. For most female dogs, this will happen around nine to 10 months of age or older. Once in a while, we will see a smaller-breed dog show signs of their first heat around six months of age. We also see large breed dogs that do not develop their first heat until closer to, or beyond, 12 months of age. There is a significantly higher risk of performing a spay surgery when a dog is in heat due to fragility of blood vessels and propensity for them to bleed internally. Given that, we avoid performing spay surgery while a dog is in heat unless it is an emergency situation. By about a month after the heat cycle, the blood vessels are more stable and the spay surgery can be performed safely. However, after the first heat, the uterus and blood vessels have changed irreversibly to a mature state, and spay surgery is more challenging than in an immature dog. Benefits that female dogs can see from having spay surgery when they are closer to maturity include a lower risk of orthopedic issues, reduced risk of cancers (especially breast cancer), and a reduced risk of urinary incontinence.

When should I spay my female dog?

We recommend waiting until your dog is at least over six months and likely even older for larger dogs. The benefits are much more pronounced in larger dogs, but there is not a lot of difference for lap dogs. Studies have shown that large dogs spayed before six months of age experience some higher risk of orthopedic problems and certain cancers and that risk is statistically reduced at 12 months. What happens statistically at each age in between still needs more study. We do know that with each heat cycle, there is an increased risk of mammary adenocarcinoma (breast cancer) and risk of pyometra (a life-threatening uterine infection requiring emergency surgery and intensive care). If we are able to allow female dogs to get as old as possible but manage to spay them just before their first heat, this would seem like the ideal situation, but it is tricky to predict when that first heat will be. Knowing the family history can be helpful, but is still not an exact way to know when the first heat will occur.

When Should I Start My Puppy/Kitten's Vaccines?

Why do puppies and kittens need vaccines?

The immune system is a complex and wonderful way to fight off invading viruses and bacteria. Antibodies are a part of the immune system that changes, adapts, and essentially learns. So when a puppy or kitten is born their immune system hasn’t LEARNED anything yet, and the vaccines help to stimulate the immune system to make antibodies to particular diseases. This way if they encounter that pathogen again, like Parvovirus, the immune system already knows that it’s bad and has the recipe to make and produce a bunch of the right antibodies to fight it off right away.

Types of Vaccines: “Live” vs “Killed”

A vaccine essentially tries to mimic a viral infection in a way that the body responds with a stimulated immune response that is as strong as it would be against a natural infection but to skip the actual illness part. In a “killed” vaccine, a dead virus is used so that it can’t replicate or cause disease, but all the bits are there to stimulate the immune system so it can recognize it later. Sometimes the immune system doesn’t react very strongly to these since the virus is dead and may not be much of a threat or stimulus. “Live” vaccines are living virus that has been modified so that the virus is replicating and moving through the body as a real infection would, but is modified in a way so it won’t cause an actual infection. This provides a more accurate and better immune response than just using a dead virus, but occasionally these vaccines can result in a real infection (such as dogs who get kennel cough signs after getting a Bordetella vaccine). Some vaccines, like Rabies, are not worth the risk so they are always “killed” virus.

Which vaccine and what has been studied in lab trials determines how often a vaccine needs to be boostered or how often it needs to be repeated in an adult animal to be effective.

So why do puppies and kittens need so MANY vaccines? (Hint: This is the important part!)

Nature has devised a way to help protect infant puppies and kittens while they’re in their most vulnerable and youngest stages. Mom produces special milk, called colostrum, that contains HER antibodies that her body has already trained to recognize certain diseases and fight them. This doesn’t teach the puppy or kitten’s immune system anything, but it DOES mean those antibodies are circulating and will be the first to react if they are exposed to a pathogen (such as Parvovirus).

This is good and bad for us. On the one hand, it helps protect very young puppies and kittens. On the other, it means that as long as those antibodies are circulating, our vaccines WON’T WORK. The puppy needs to produce its OWN antibodies, and if Mom’s antibodies are doing all the work blocking the vaccine, then the puppy’s immune system won’t be stimulated until Mom’s antibodies wear off.

We can never know how much colostrum Mom produced, or how much an individual puppy or kitten ingested when they were firstborn. We DO know that no matter how much they got, it should wear off around 16 weeks. This is why 16 weeks is so important. We need to give the vaccines regularly to protect the puppy if the maternal antibodies wear off early, and continue giving them until we know that maternal immunity has worn off to know our vaccines are actually being effective.

This is why there’s no set rule saying “puppies need 3 DHPP boosters” or “kittens need 2 FVRCP boosters.” If you give the vaccine 10 times before a puppy is 8 weeks old, Mom’s immunity is still blocking all responses, and the puppy isn’t actually protected at all. (Plus the immune system needs about 3-4 weeks to regroup after each vaccine).This way we still give several vaccines even if the puppy or kitten has had one or two from the breeder when they were young.

On the other side of things, we can’t just wait until everyone is 16 weeks old to start vaccinating because this would leave those whose maternal antibodies wore off early completely unprotected. With deadly diseases like Distemper, Parvovirus, or Feline Leukemia – this isn’t a risk worth taking!

Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is 16 weeks is what matters the most, NOT how many boosters a puppy or kitten has had up until then!

What Do All Those Letters Stand For?

Dogs and Puppies:

DHPP or DAPP: Distemper, Hepatitis (caused by an Adenovirus), Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza.

Bordetella: One of the common causes of Kennel Cough (although there are a bunch more)

Leptospirosis: A bacteria that lives in water and comes from urine (raccoons, squirrels, rats, etc). It causes liver and kidney failure.

Rabies: Everyone should know this one!

Cats and Kittens:

FVRCP: Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia

FeLV: Feline Leukemia Virus – This is recommended for all kittens but can be discontinued in adult cats who don’t go outdoors.

Rabies: Everyone should know this one!

Sidenote – FIV: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (the feline version of HIV). This vaccine has been shown to not be very effective, AND it causes cats who are vaccinated to come up POSITIVE on an FIV test (even if they don’t have it!) This can lead to a cat being picked up by a shelter and euthanized, which is why most of the veterinary community has gone away from this vaccine.

We hope this has helped demystify the vaccine process for your new furry family member! If you have any questions or need to schedule your puppy or kitten’s vaccines, call us at 936-327-8330.

What is a Microchip?

A microchip is a small, electronic chip enclosed in a glass cylinder that is about the same size as a grain of rice. The microchip itself does not have a battery. It is activated by a scanner that is passed over the area on a pet, and radio waves put out by the scanner activate the chip. The chip then transmits the identification number to the scanner, which displays a number on the screen.

How is a microchip implanted into a pet? Is it painful?

It is injected under the skin using a hypodermic needle. It is no more painful than a typical injection, although the needle is slightly larger than those used for vaccinations. No surgery or anesthesia is required, and the microchip can even be implanted during a routine veterinary office visit.

What kind of information is contained in the microchip?

The microchips used in pets only contain identification numbers. The microchip is not a GPS device and unfortunately cannot track your animal if it gets lost. The microchip itself is only associated with an identification number that will eventually lead you to the owner’s information.

How does a microchip help reunite a lost pet with its owner?

When an animal is found and taken to a shelter or veterinary clinic, one of the first things they do is scan the animal for a microchip. Once they scan and find the identification number, it can be looked up in an online database. If the microchip has been registered, the owner’s information will appear. If the microchip registry has accurate owner information, they can quickly find the animal’s family.

Why should I have my pets microchipped?

The best reason to have your pets microchipped is the improved chance that you’ll get your animal back if it becomes lost or stolen.

I want to get my pet(s) microchipped. Where do I go?

To your veterinarian! Most veterinary clinics keep microchips on hand, so it is likely that your pet can be implanted with a microchip the same day as your appointment.