Frequently Asked Questions
Pet Health Answers from Healing Paws Veterinary Clinic located in Ankeny
Why are vaccines important to my cat?
Vaccination is the best way to help fortify your cat’s immune system in the fight against disease. Vaccines prepare the body for the organisms it will encounter, and help the immune system develop its own defense against them – many of which can be deadly. Infectious diseases are caused when these organisms enter your pet’s body, multiply and cause severe damage to the organs and/or tissues. Even in animals with normal immune function, infection can progress faster than the immune system can fight it. In a young cat, a series of vaccinations is given early in life to help develop the immune system against disease. Mature cats require re-vaccination to booster their immune system.
How will my cat feel after vaccination?
How a cat reacts to vaccination depends on a lot of factors, such as the cat’s age, the type of vaccine used, and the cat’s overall health before being vaccinated. In all likelihood your cat will feel fine. It may show mild signs, such as tiredness, slight fever or lack of appetite, for a short time before returning to normal.
Why do kittens require multiple vaccinations?
A nursing kitten receives antibodies from its mother to protect it from disease early in life, and these same antibodies can also keep a vaccine from being effective. However, maternal antibodies gradually decrease as the kitten gets older. When a series of vaccinations is given over a period of time, later doses will stimulate the kitten to produce its own antibodies, even if earlier doses are not effective.
Do I need to worry about fleas on my cat?
Although cats are fastidious groomers and you may not see fleas on your cat, they can still feed on its blood, and may transmit dangerous diseases.
What kind of research should I do when trying to decide which breed is best for my family?
A: You should consult your veterinarian and then look on the AKC web site. Look at each breed you’re interested in and determine the exercise requirements, the grooming requirements, the temperament, and the trainability of each breed. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few breeds, then talk to some experts on those breeds. After you’re sure of the breeds you’re interested in, spend time with each breed, either by going to a dog show or contacting a local breeder. A good breeder will let you interact with their dogs because any dog they place with your family will be with you for life. They want to be sure not only that the dog is right for you but also that your family is right for the dog.
Why should I have my dog spayed or neutered?
Shelter euthanasia is the number one killer of companion animals. Spaying and neutering is the only way to reduce or eliminate that. It’s also better for your pet’s health. And it’s better for you because it will make your life easier if your pet is spayed or neutered. Animals can be miserable -- and make you miserable -- when they are in heat. And then there’s always the problem of what to do with the puppies.
Should I let my dog have a heat before I spay her?
Medically, it’s better to spay your dog before her first heat. It greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors. People who wait to spay their dogs until after their second heat greatly increase the risk of mammary tumors in their pets. Once they’ve had several heats, intact female dogs have a one out of four chance of developing mammary tumors.
How common is cancer in dogs, and what are some of the common cancers found in dogs?
It has gotten to be pretty common, especially in older dogs. Fifty percent of dogs over the age of 10 develop cancer at some point. We see malignant lymphoma, which is a tumor of the lymph nodes. We see mast cell tumors, which is a form of skin cancer. There are mammary gland tumors, or breast cancer, and soft tissue sarcomas. We also see a fair amount of bone cancer in dogs.
What are some of the symptoms of cancer in dogs?
The warning signs of cancer in dogs are very similar to that in people. A lump or a bump, a wound that doesn’t heal, any kind of swelling, enlarged lymph nodes, a lameness or swelling in the bone, abnormal bleeding. Those are all classic signs. But sometimes there are little or no signs, at least early on. So any time an animal isn’t feeling well, or there’s something abnormal or not quite right, the owner needs to bring it to the attention of their veterinarian.
Are some breeds are more prone to cancers? Are mixed-breed dogs less likely to get cancer?
Any time you have an inbred population, you don’t know what else is being inherited along with the traits you want. People like golden retrievers because they look like golden retrievers. But what else is being passed through that line? Golden retrievers have a strong incidence of cancer. So do boxers, flat-coated retrievers, Bernese Mountain dogs. All of those breeds, and others, have specific cancers that we see. That’s showing that there are probably specific genetic components to some cancers. But it’s still a question of how much is genetics versus environmental factors.
Why are so many of our cats fat?
Because they’re over fed and under exercised. There’s no magic here. The pet food companies make their foods the tastiest they can make it. And then there’s the misconception that when a cat isn’t eating it’s somehow sick. That’s not always the case.