Frequently Asked Questions

What vaccinations does my dog need?

Kipling Veterinary Hospital and Wellness Center recommends that all dogs be current on the core vaccines, which are Rabies and the Distemper/Parvo combination (DHPP). The Rabies vaccine is required by the city for your pet’s safety and for the safety of all the people and animals that your pet comes into contact with. Rabies is still a fatal disease, once signs are present, and is easily prevented with a vaccination. Rabies is contracted through the saliva of an affected animal, usually through a bite wound. The Distemper/Parvo vaccine combination prevents Distemper, Adenovirus, Parainfluenza, and Parvo; of which, Parvo is the most common of these diseases still seen. It is only through the help of these vaccination programs that we have dramatically reduced the occurrence of these diseases and saved countless lives.

We also recommend a couple other vaccinations for “at risk” dogs. These are known as non-core vaccines. The Bordetella (kennel cough) vaccine is highly recommended for dogs that have contact with other dogs. Since kennel cough is highly contagious, pet stores, doggie day cares, dog parks and boarding or grooming facilities are a breeding ground for this disease. We also recommend the Leptosporosis vaccination for dogs that are exposed to water sources and urine of other animals. Your dog can come into contact with affected animals around ponds or lakes, in the mountains or even in your own backyard. The Leptosporosis bacteria is spread when the urine of affected animals (pets and wildlife) and even people enters water supplies. This can be as simple as a raccoon getting into your dog’s backyard.

What vaccinations does my cat need?

Kipling Veterinary Hospital and Wellness Center recommends that all cats be current on the core vaccines, which are Rabies and the Distemper/Upper Respiratory combination (FVRCP). The Rabies vaccine is needed for the safety of your cat, as well as all the people and animals that your cat encounters. This is because Rabies is still fatal once signs are noted and the virus is spread in the saliva of infected animals. The Distemper/Upper Respiratory combination vaccine protects your cat from feline Distemper virus (Panleukopenia), Herpes virus (Rhinotracheitis), and Calici virus infections. Many cats are exposed to the Herpes virus as kittens, resulting in sneezing and eye discharge. Just like people with Herpes virus infections, this virus stays within your cat’s body for life, waiting for stress or a weakening of the immune system to attack again. This vaccine keeps the antibody levels high, preventing many cases of re-infection and lessening the severity of those breakthrough infections.

For outdoor cats, we also highly recommend the Leukemia virus vaccine. This disease is spread in the saliva and nasal secretions of affected cats. It acts very similar to AIDS in the human world, by suppressing the immune system and allowing cancers and other illnesses to surface and take their toll on the body. This is where the virus got its name. Many cats die from the virus and the secondary infections/cancers, within months to years of contracting it. All cats should be tested for the disease and then either kept from meeting other cats by being kept indoors or kept vaccinated to reduce the risk of contracting this virus.

When do puppies and kittens lose their baby teeth?

The start time and duration of the transition from baby teeth to adult teeth varies with each individual pet. The loss of baby teeth usually starts about 3-4 months of age and ends about 6-8 months of age. You may find baby teeth in the carpet, stuck in toys, or in your pet’s fur. Most often, the lost teeth are swallowed and are never found.

My dog never lost his baby tooth when the adult tooth came in. Is this a problem?

Pets that do not lose their baby teeth have a condition called retained deciduous teeth. Retained teeth should be removed usually at the time of spaying or neutering, to prevent other problems from developing. Removal of these teeth allows the adult teeth to grow in properly and prevents breakage or infection of the more fragile baby teeth.

When should I start brushing my pet’s teeth?

You should start the process of getting your puppy or kitten used to having their mouth handled when you get them. Rubbing their teeth and gums with your finger gets them used to the process right away. The time to start brushing their teeth is when the adult teeth come in. Getting your pet used to routine dental care while they’re young is the best way to ensure good dental health later on. It is much easier to start with a “clean slate” of nice white teeth and healthy gums.

What are anal sacs and why do they need to be expressed?

Anal sacs are located just inside the anus of dogs and cats. They secrete a malodorous substance that is thought to be a means of territorial marking or communication between dogs and cats. Animals may drag their bottom or “scoot” on the floor, lick or sometimes leak if these sacs become too full. Anal sacs may become impacted or infected if not emptied properly. It depends on each individual pet how often the sacs need to be emptied. Overweight animals or animals with softer stool seem to experience more anal sac issues. Keeping your pet at an optimal weight will help. Some pets are helped by adding fiber to the diet to help bulk up the stools.

Why is my dog leaking urine?

This could be an age related issue or something requiring medical attention. Urinary tract infections can irritate the bladder and cause leaking, as can crystals in the urine or stones in the bladder. Diseases such as diabetes or kidney problems can lead to increased thirst and urination causing leaking urine. As some dogs age, urinary muscles and sphincters aren’t as toned as they once were and urine can leak out causing age-related incontinence. Some incontinence is related to hormonal influences. It is necessary to make an appointment with us for a physical examination, urinalysis, bloodwork, and abdominal x-ray to make sure there aren’t other disease issues going on. Medications are available to help strengthen the muscles for better urinary control if the dog has urinary incontinence.

Why is my cat urinating frequently?

There are many disease processes that can lead to frequent urination. First and foremost, your cat should be examined by one of our veterinarians as soon as possible. The second thing that should be determined is if your cat is urinating large amounts frequently (more total urine than normal) or small amounts frequently (same total amount of urine as normal). Also, has the amount of water consumed changed? The most common diseases that cause increased water consumption and frequent, larger urinations, include: diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney failure, and sometimes hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid). These vary greatly from the causes of urinating small amounts frequently, such as, a urinary tract infection, bladder stones or crystals, cancer of the lower urinary tract, or idiopathic (unexplained) inflammation of the bladder. An examination, urine sample, bloodwork and an abdominal x-ray can provide an answer in nearly all of these cases. Great strides have been made in the last 20 years in the treatment of all of these conditions, but a diagnosis must be made first.

What is a reverse sneeze?

Reverse sneezing is a fairly common respiratory event seen in dogs. It is caused by a spasm of the soft palate and laryngeal area. The dog inhales air rapidly and forcefully instead of expelling air, as with a sneeze. During a reverse sneeze, which lasts a few seconds to a minute or two, the dog stands with its head and neck extended. When the episode is over the dog resumes normal behavior. Reverse sneezing is caused by irritation to the throat, pharynx, or laryngeal area. This can be from excitement, pulling on the leash, inhalant irritants (pollen, strong odors), respiratory infections, post nasal drip, nasal mites, foreign body, or sudden changes in temperature. Reverse sneezes are usually self-limiting and are not treated with medication. Prolonged bouts, bloody or yellow nasal discharge or other respiratory problems require a visit to us as soon as possible.

Why does my dog lick his paws?

Dogs lick their paws for a variety of issues. It could be a medical or behavioral problem. Some causes include local irritants, inflammation/infection from bacteria, fungus, or parasites, or foreign bodies. Licking can also be caused from inhalant allergies causing general itchiness, arthritis or other painful “interior” conditions. Any growths, cysts, or abscesses can cause discomfort and licking. Foot licking can be a habit behavior as well, seen when the dog is relaxed, stressed, or bored. It is necessary to bring them in for an examination to determine what is going on and treatment to stop this behavior is aimed at the underlying cause.

Why do cats and dogs eat grass?

Grass eating can be a common behavior in normal dogs and cats unrelated to illness. Some animals seem to like the taste of grass. Grass is an important part of a carnivore’s diet, usually consumed when they feed on smaller prey and consume the entire animal including grassy stomach contents. Some animals may not feel well and eat grass to vomit. Any time your pet experiences lack of appetite and vomiting, it is always best to check with us. Gastrointestinal blockages are emergencies. Changes in appetite or vomiting can also indicate internal disease (kidney failure, liver disease, hyperthyroidism, etc), toxin ingestion or infectious disease.

How often should I bathe my dog?

How often a dog needs a bath depends on the breed, environment, coat, and existing skin issues. Outdoor dogs need baths more often than indoor dogs. A shorthair dog may require fewer baths than a dog with longer hair that traps dirt and debris. If your dog has dry or flaky skin after a bath, decrease the frequency or try cooler water. If you notice any skin issues, bring your dog in to see us as soon as possible.

As a rule of thumb:
  • Double or undercoat -bathe once every 4-8 weeks
  • Silky long coats-bathe once every 3-6 weeks
  • Non-shedding curly coats-bathe once every 6-8 weeks
  • Smooth coat-bathe every 8 weeks or when it gets dirty
  • Wiry/coarse coats-bathe every 4-6 weeks

My dog just ate chocolate. What should I do?

Chocolate can be toxic and sometimes fatal to animals. Theobromine is the toxic component in chocolate. Caffeine is also present in chocolate. Signs most commonly seen within 12 hours of chocolate ingestion include excitement, nervousness, trembling, vomit, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, muscle spasms, seizures, coma, and death. If you suspect your pet has consumed chocolate, call us immediately. We usually induce vomiting and give activated charcoal, but this needs to be done within a few hours of ingestion. The sooner the better before any toxins can be absorbed into the system. If your pet is already showing symptoms, we can only treat them symptomatically.

My dog has a big swelling on his ear. What is this?

This is most likely something called an aural hematoma or a broken blood vessel located between the cartilages of the ear. This is seen in both dogs and cats, but is most common in dogs that have ear flaps that hang down. A history of an ear infection or itchy ears is the most common, although trauma can be the cause as well. The ear flap will be warm and swollen. The pet usually tilts its head toward the affected ear and shakes its head. There are several ways to treat this condition, and the underlying cause must be addressed or it will be a recurring problem. Without treatment, it takes weeks for the body to resorb a hematoma, which is uncomfortable for your pet and will result in a crumpled disfigured ear. Surgery is often necessary to drain the hematoma and suture the ear to allow healing.

My pet is limping. What should I do?

The first thing that should be done is to have your pet examined by a veterinarian. Lameness can come from a variety of underlying problems, including: arthritis, sprains and strains, infection, broken bones, and cancer. X-rays, and possibly bloodwork, are often times needed to tell which problem is affecting your pet. Even if arthritis is found, there are many treatment options available now to eliminate or lessen the pain and lameness seen.