Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians in Louisville

How often should my pet have an exam?

Doerr 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.

Why does my pet need yearly bloodwork?

Yearly blood workups should be performed to check for any infections or diseases. It is an easy test to perform and can be done at the same time we do the routine heartworm check. This will help ensure that your pet is healthy, or catch any problems at an early stage so they can be treated effectively.

How often does my pet need a rabies vaccine?

Cats should receive a rabies shot on a yearly basis. The first rabies shot your dog receives is good for one year, and each booster shot will last 3 years.

How do I know if my pet is in pain?

Our pets can’t tell us where they hurt, but there are some signs to look for. If you notice a change in your pet’s behavior (fatigue, depression, change in appetite, increased aggression, etc.) your pet might be in pain or have another physical problem. Your pet may also favor a certain part of their body or limp if they are injured. You should consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs so that they can determine the source of your pet’s pain.

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?

Many people think that it is normal for a dog to have bad breath, but that is not the case. Bad breath is caused by bacteria in the mouth that create byproducts that contain sulfur. Regular home cleanings accompanied by scheduled professional cleanings will help to prevent bad breath and the bacteria that cause it.

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 are some common dental problems in pets?

A high percentage of cats and dogs will experience periodontal disease during their lives, and the risk increases as they get older. Periodontal disease affects the gum and supporting structures of the teeth. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and bone loss in the jaw. Periodontal disease is also related to other health issues, such as heart disease. It is important to have regularly scheduled teeth and gum cleanings for your pet.

How should I care for my pets’ teeth?

The best way to properly care for your pet’s oral hygiene is to brush their teeth daily. Just like us, our pets develop plaque on their teeth which, if not removed, can lead to oral health problems. There are bones and special treats that can help promote oral health, but the best way to clean your pet’s teeth is by brushing them. It may take some time for your dog or cat to get used to the idea of having their teeth brushed, but they can be eased into it. You can start by letting them taste the toothpaste from your finger. There are special veterinary toothpaste products made in flavors like chicken that appeal to animals. Once they get used to the toothpaste you can begin by brushing 1-2 teeth to introduce them to the sensation. After a few cleanings, your pet will probably start to enjoy the brushing and will be happy to let you do it. Along with the special toothpaste, a special toothbrush should be used with soft bristles and a long handle so you can reach the teeth in the back of your pet’s mouth.

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.

How can I prevent my pet from getting fleas?

There are many medications available that help prevent your pet from being infested with fleas. They can begin taking this medication at about 8-10 weeks of age and should take the medicine year-round. Fleas are more prevalent in warm areas, but they can continue to live in your house during the winter months, so year-round prevention is recommended. On top of the medication, you should be cautious of where your pet walks when outside. High grassy areas tend to be inhabited by fleas and ticks, so beware.

At what age should I have my pet spayed or neutered?

Doerr 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.

Doerr 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.

How can I help my pet lose weight?

If you have noticed that your pet has gained weight recently you should schedule an appointment with your vet. Changes in your pet’s weight can be a sign of disease. Once sickness is ruled out, your vet can help you come up with a diet and exercise plan for your pet to help manage their weight. There are specially made pet foods for pets that are overweight. You also need to make sure you are regularly walking your dog or taking time to play with your cat so they are getting the exercise and activity that they need on a daily basis.

My new kitten hasn’t used the litter box yet, should I be worried?

Your kitten is probably just adjusting to their new surroundings. They can hold their urine and bowel movements for about 3-4 days when they are nervous or unfamiliar with their surroundings. If they exceed 3-4 days without relieving themselves or display other abnormal behavior, you should consult your vet to see if there is a deeper health problem.

Can my cat drink milk?

We have all seen cats lapping up milk in cartoons or old TV shows, but this is not healthy for them. Milk cannot be properly digested by most cats and it can lead to diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems. If your cat accidentally drinks some milk there is no need to worry, but you should not regularly give your cat milk to drink.

Boarding FAQ

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…

We are going away on vacation and the kennel requires that our dog has a kennel cough vaccine. What is that?

Kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection caused by either bacteria or a virus. It can cause a harsh dry cough in your dog that can last for a few weeks. It is very contagious and is commonly transmitted in environments where there are many dogs in one place, like a kennel. Most kennels require that your dog is vaccinated for their safety and the safety of the other dogs.

“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 our high-quality 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.

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, 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 staying with us. 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 Doerr Animal Clinic to prevent viruses and parasites from being passed along. Stalls/runs and cages are sterilized. 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.

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!

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