Frequently Asked Questions
Here is a list of questions we often get asked at Horseshoe Lake Animal Hospital. If you do not find the answer to your question here, please feel free to give us a call at 618-344-7949 or email us at email@example.com.
Q: Why is an annual physical examination for my pet so important?
A: Because our pets age so much more rapidly than we do, we cannot over-emphasize the importance of an annual comprehensive physical examination. In fact, senior pets (those over 7 years old) need a semi-annual examination.
During a comprehensive physical examination, our doctors assess the following on your pet: cardiovascular system, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, urinary and reproductive systems, central nervous system, eyes, ears, skin, coat, mouth, teeth, gums, and weight.
By performing an annual or semi-annual physical examination, veterinarians can also diagnose potential problems early; thus making them easier and less expensive to treat as well as giving the pet a better quality of life.
Q: When does my puppy/kitten need to be vaccinated for the first time?
A: We recommend starting vaccines at 6-8 weeks of age and continuing booster vaccines until the age of 16-18 weeks old. This is because the puppy/kitten’s maternal antibodies which provide immunity decreases starting at six weeks of age and by 16 weeks, it is gone. Boostering vaccines every 3-4 weeks helps your pet build a stronger immunity against diseases.
Q: What role does blood work play in keeping my pet healthy?
A: A physical examination performed at a minimum of every six months will enable us to detect the presence of small problems or changes in your pet’s health before they can become major health problems. However, a thorough physical examination alone is not capable of detecting all possible health problems. It is impossible to obtain and understand a complete picture without also performing other tests.
Blood work gives us a means of checking your pet’s internal functions in a non-invasive manner.
Q: How often should blood work be performed in a seemingly healthy pet?
A: We recommend yearly blood tests, especially in senior pets (those age seven and older). Even though our pets may appear to be healthy based on physical appearance and activity, many clinical signs of disease do not develop until late in the disease process. Pets cannot tell us when they do not feel 100% and because of their instinct to protect themselves, many animals will hide their illness.
A good example of this situation is a cat with kidney disease. This patient may be afflicted with kidney disease for months to years before developing signs of disease because a pet can lose up to 75% of kidney function before clinical signs will develop. Performing blood work will detect early changes in kidney enzymes and allow us to manage this disease process properly—allowing the patient to live a longer and healthier life.
Pets of any age can have problems with their internal organs. Many young purebred cats and dogs will have congenital liver, kidney, and heart problems. As pets age, their immune system and health starts to decline and they can have multiple organ problems.
Q: How soon can I give flea control products to my new kitten/puppy?
A: The answers depend on the product you select. We sell the following flea control products: Trifexis®, Sentinel®, Parastar ® and Revolution®. Trifexis, Sentinel® and Revolution® are combination products that also act as heartworm preventatives in addition to killing intestinal parasites. Please call us for specifics on any of these products.
Be careful when choosing other products. Some are toxic to kittens and some are harmful for children.
Also, when using a shampoo, make sure it is labeled for use on your puppy or kitten. Not all products are safe.
Q: How soon should I begin giving heartworm preventatives to my new kitten/puppy? How often do I need to give heartworm preventatives to my pet?
A: Mosquitoes can start biting your pet from the first day he is born. We recommend that you start your pet on heartworm prevention at 6-8 weeks of age. Heartworm preventatives only work as long as they are given to your pet. If you stop, or miss a dose, or your pet secretly vomits up the preventative, your pet can easily get heartworms. Heartworm preventatives must be given to your pet on the same day each and every month.
Having trouble remembering to give your pet his/her heartworm preventative? We have medication reminders that will email you when it is time for your pet’s monthly heartworm prevention. You set it up yourself inside your very own FREE Pet Portal (see the online store and pet portals page) or at Remindmypet.com (see the helpful links page).
Q: Is it really necessary that my pet be on heartworm prevention even though he/she is strictly an indoor pet?
A: Absolutely! Mosquitoes in this area come indoors and are also evident year round. All dogs and cats need to be on heartworm preventatives! We also recommend that ferrets be on heartworm prevention.
Our current recommendation is Trifexis® for dogs and Revolution ® for cats.
Q: Why do I need to test my pet annually for heartworms? Is the heartworm test necessary even though I give my heartworm preventative every month?
A: We think of the heartworm test as cheap insurance for our patients and piece of mind for our owners. If a dog does become infected, the heartworm test will help us to diagnose and treat the disease early before serious damage can be done to the heart and lungs. Without testing, your pet could have heartworms for years before clinical signs and heartworm failure occur. No heartworm preventive is absolutely 100% effective. Also, there may be times when the pet may vomit up the medication or when you forget to give the medications in a timely manner.
All dogs need to be tested annually for heartworms.
Q: When is the best time to have my pet neutered/spayed?
A: For most pets, we recommend that this procedure be performed at 5-6 months of age. The puppy/kitten is finished with his initial vaccination series, has a little more weight and a better ability to handle the physical stress of surgery. Also, any retained baby teeth can be extracted and the pet will not have to endure a separate anesthetic procedure. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best age for your particular pet.
Q: Is it safe to spay my pet when she is in heat?
A: Yes, although we prefer not to do so. Performing the procedure while your pet is in heat takes longer and there is slightly more blood loss due to enlarged blood vessels. There is also an extra charge when your pet is in heat due to increased surgery time.
Q: How long does a pet stay in heat?
A: Dogs are potentially fertile 2-3 weeks. They have a heat cycle an average of every six months.
Cats should be considered fertile 100% of the time once they are five months old. Cats will continually come into heat until bred or spayed.
Q: If you spay or neuter my pet, will he/she calm down? Will neutering my cat help him to stop spraying everything in site? Will my pet get fat after spaying/neutering?
A: Spaying/neutering does not cause a pet to get fat or lazy, but hormonal changes after spay/neuter do make it easier for pets to gain weight. We often recommend reducing food amounts after spay/neuter to prevent weight gain. Personalities are not altered by spaying/neutering. Personalities do not fully develop until 1-2 years of age. Aggressiveness and viciousness are not the result of surgery. Usually, personalities only get better.
Neutering can decrease aggression—primarily towards other male dogs, but also can help in relation to people. Please be assured that if your pet does not have an aggression problem, the surgery will not serve to make him more passive. You will not see any affect on these pets at all.
Neutering decreases urine marking and spraying! A benefit much appreciated by everyone!
Q: Why do you require that basic blood work be performed on all pets age 5 years old and older before any surgical/dental procedure or anesthetic?
A: Pets of any age can have problems with their internal organs. Many young purebred cats and dogs will have congenital liver, kidney, and heart problems. As pets age, their immune system and health starts to decline and they can have multiple organ problems.
A normal physical examination cannot give us complete confidence that the internal organs are working properly. While the anesthetics that we use are extremely safe for your pet and therefore minimize risk, if a pet is not completely healthy then potential complications can occur both during and after the anesthetic procedure. Pre-anesthetic blood work can alert us to any hidden problems that your pet may have. With this knowledge, we may elect to forego the anesthetic/surgical procedure, modify the anesthetic regimen, or change your pet’s medication. While performing blood work cannot guarantee that your pet will not have any problems with the anesthesia or surgical procedure, it can significantly minimize the risk to your pet and give you peace of mind.
Q: Why do you have to keep my pet all day for a surgical or dental procedure?
A: When your pet is brought into the hospital in the morning, the doctors will perform a pre-anesthetic examination and any necessary blood work. Surgeries are usually performed between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. Your pet is then observed for 3-4 hours during his recovery period to make sure that there are no complications.
Q: Why do we have to booster vaccines?
A: Many pet owners have questions as to why their pet needs more than one vaccine and when. Your dog or cat is just like a baby with an immune system that is still growing and is not fully functional. Each vaccine helps to stimulate the immune system more, but the immune system can only respond so much. Your pet may be fully protected after one vaccine, or he may not even be fully protected after three vaccines. The timing of the vaccines is important. Peak immune response is at 3-4 weeks (this is why we space our vaccinations 3-4 weeks apart). Another vaccine at this time builds upon the previous immune system response resulting in stronger immunity. Wait longer to vaccinate and the response will not be as great. That is why the timing of vaccines is so important. Also, it is not the number of vaccines that your pet gets, but the timing of them. This has to do with interference by maternal antibodies. It is recommended to carry out vaccines through 16-20 weeks of age. After your pet has been through his booster series, he will then get booster vaccines every 6-12 months. We believe that a vaccine program should be tailored to each individual pet based on individual risk factors.
Q: Is there such a thing as pet health insurance and if so, how does it work?
A: Yes, there is such a thing as pet health insurance. There are several different companies that provide this service. At this time, most plans are reimbursement plans. You still pay the veterinarian in full on the day that services are rendered. The insurance company then reimburses you directly based on their predefined reimbursement rates for various services. We, as a provider of services, stay completely out of the loop and you deal directly with the insurance company. As in any service field, there are new companies joining this particular industry all of the time. We recommend Trupanion insurance because we have found them the easiest to work with as well as the company who offers the highest reimbursement schedule for our clients. They reimburse 90% of the covered expenses above the deductible. Similar to auto insurance, you can choose a higher deductible with lower monthly payments or a lower deductible with higher monthly payments. We’d be happy to discuss pet insurance with you and even offer your pet a free 30 day trial policy.
Q: Do I have to make an appointment or can I just come in?
A: Although we care for pets primarily by appointment only, walk-ins are accommodated and will be seen as time allows. Like people, animals do not synchronize their illnesses with an appointment book and surgical procedures can sometimes take longer than planned; so, an occasional appointment delay can occur. Please realize that we make a sincere attempt to see each client on time, and a phone call is appreciated if an appointment needs to be rescheduled. We do offer a convenient early morning drop-off service for those people who cannot free up enough time for an appointment. Also, this service sometimes is a preferable alternative to the wait (and additional walk-in fee if we are fully booked) often accompanied by walking in without an appointment. We also do our best to try to schedule your pet with the veterinarian of your choice. We realize this isn’t always possible for urgent care visits, but continuity and consistency of care is better if your pet is scheduled with the same veterinarian for routine care visits. Please don’t hesitate to request the veterinarian of your choice when calling to schedule appointments.
Q: Why do I have to go to the emergency clinic after you are closed? Why can’t you meet me at the hospital to see my pet?
A: Our hospital is open on Monday through Friday from 8am to 8pm, Saturday from 8:30am to 5pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 5pm. We also offer after hours emergency phone consultations. While our doctors and employees have dedicated their lives to saving and caring for pets, we cannot be at the hospital at all hours of the day. We feel it is important for our doctors and staff to have down time so that they can enjoy quality of life with their families and not experience burnout. This philosophy ensures that our doctors and employees enjoy life and that this enjoyment is evident in their work at Horseshoe Lake Animal Hospital.
Q: Why do I have to see a different doctor sometimes?
A: While we strive to have you see the doctor of your choice, sometimes we may need to schedule you with other available doctors. Scheduled days off, surgeries, previously scheduled appointments, emergencies, training time for new employees and management responsibilities all make time demands on our doctors. Usually calling and scheduling an appointment or surgery a few days in advance will ensure that you can see the doctor of your choice. Our doctors work varying schedules and we try to allow them adequate time to perform non-medical tasks. In addition, each of the doctors usually is scheduled off during a weekday so that their hours are not so unreasonable. In addition, we try to schedule the hospital’s Chief of Staff and founder, Dr. David Hall, to have less appointment time available so that he can have the time necessary to effectively manage the hospital and our staff.
Q: Why doesn’t my veterinarian okay Internet prescriptions in most circumstances?
A: Unfortunately, there is some risk associated with purchasing products through some internet pharmacies. Representatives from Zoetis, Novartis, Elanco, Merial and Bayer have informed us that product guarantees are NULL and VOID for any products not purchased directly from a veterinarian. This means that if your pet gets heartworms or if fleas are inadequately controlled, the companies will not reimburse you for medication nor pay for any needed heartworm treatments. If you would like the convenience of purchasing online, please visit our online store.
Q: Sometimes I have to wait longer than I would prefer when I visit. What causes these delays?
A: Even though we set appointment schedules, sometimes we have very ill patients and emergencies that must be seen immediately. Other times, we have clients who catch a train, get caught in traffic or are otherwise late. We apologize for any delays, no matter the reason, and we always strive to do our best to minimize your waiting time.
Q: Do you have a payment plan? What forms of payment do you accept?
A: We do offer payment plans on our Wellness packages, dental procedures, Revolution®, and Trifexis®. Call us for details. On all other procedures/products we do not offer payment plans; however we do take Care Credit which is a wonderful option for those looking for payment plans. Care Credit is a credit card designed specifically for medical, dental and veterinary care. Care Credit also offers no interest payment plans. If you are interested in applying for Care Credit, please visit carecredit.com. We also accept most major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express and debit cards), checks, cash, money orders and traveler’s checks.
Q: Why is it bad to give my pet table scraps? He/she really likes them.
A: Your pet’s diet should be less than 5% people food. Dogs are used to a very bland diet. Definite no-no’s are:
a) Real bones – not even the beef ones. There is the possibility that any bone could splinter and perforate intestines, or even cause impaction; leading to surgery, hospitalization, or even death. Some people may get away with feeding their dogs bones for years. We call this “Russian Roulette.”
b) Foods high in fat – like chicken skins or steak trimmings. Fat will upset the pancreas, potentially causing hospitalization or even death. Once the pancreas has had a problem, it will usually have future episodes also.
c) Spicy foods – same potential for pancreatitis.
d) Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs and must be avoided
e) Pork products have been known to cause projectile vomiting, although pig ears are usually okay.
f) Chocolate – can cause gastrointestinal upset and potentially cardiac problems.
In summary, “if it tastes good, don’t give it to him.” Fresh vegetables, air popped popcorn (although pets can potentially choke on this), and crackers are okay in moderation.
Q: I think I may be sick due to something my pet gave me. How can you help me?
A: We certainly can perform a complete physical examination on your pet to identify any problems/diseases he may have. However, for human treatment options, you need to see your personal physician.
Q: Why should I visit this hospital when I can get really cheap shots at a mobile clinic?
A: There are major differences in the level of care you can receive from a mobile clinic and a full service veterinary hospital. We have a full in-house pharmacy, as well as advanced on-site diagnostic equipment (x-ray, ultrasound and a lab) available to help diagnose hidden problems. In addition, we have multiple doctors on staff who can discuss treatment options with each other in unusual cases. Also, we are not interested in simply providing your pets only with shots. We hope to build a relationship with you and your pets for the duration of their lives. We are very interested in helping you craft a high level of quality of life for you pet from their first days on this earth until their last. We have well trained staff who really care about you and your pets; and, we are available to you on a regular basis as opposed to a mobile veterinarian. You, as the owner, are free to choose whichever level of service you prefer. We hope that you do find value in our services and compassion; otherwise, we are failing in our personal goal to be as well known for our service as we are for our compassion and high quality medicine.
Q: My dog has been scratching himself a lot. Can you prescribe something over the phone?
A: No. Your pet can be scratching for many different reasons such as fleas, mange, allergies, ringworm or a bacterial infection. A complete physical examination needs to be performed along with possible diagnostic tests to help determine the cause of the problem.
Q: My pet has been vomiting and having diarrhea for a couple of days. Should I be worried? Do you need to see him/her today or can it wait a few more days?
A: This question has been asked many times in the past. Please do not wait for your pet to exhibit these symptoms for multiple days; an appointment should be scheduled as soon as possible after observing vomiting and diarrhea. An isolated occurrence (as in one time) of one of these symptoms may not be as serious, but if your pet has both of these symptoms, please bring him/her in as soon as possible as it may be the sign of a very serious and potentially deadly disease.
Q: My cat has had difficulty breathing. How serious of a problem is this and how soon do I need to come to the hospital?
A: Any breathing difficulties are considered an immediate emergency!
Q: What symptoms suggest an emergency in my pet?
A: Difficulty breathing, vomiting and diarrhea, pale mucus membranes, and a scratch on the eye (cornea) are some of the most common emergencies.