How long is a dog or cat pregnant?
The length of gestation in a dog or cat is usually around 63 days. However, this period may vary greatly from 58 to 70 days after breeding. Often, larger litters have shorter gestation periods while smaller litters may have a longer gestation.
When should my puppy or kitten get their shots?
Generally, puppies are first vaccinated around six to eight weeks of age and then every three weeks after until they are around 20 weeks old. They are usually vaccinated for rabies at 12 weeks of age and this vaccine is good for three years. Kittens are first vaccinated at eight weeks and 12 weeks of age. Kittens also receive the rabies vaccine, which is good for three years, when they are 12 weeks old. Yearly boosters are recommended for both dogs and cats.
What is in the vaccines?
Dogs are normally vaccinated against several different types of diseases. The vaccine the veterinarian administers to dogs, particularly puppies, may help protect against different combinations of the following diseases. However, if your dog or puppy is vaccinated according to your veterinarian's instructions, they should be immune to the following diseases, except in some very rare circumstances.
The first disease, distemper, is a virus that is related to the measles virus. It is a severe, highly contagious virus that affects various body systems in dogs and other carnivores throughout the world. Dogs are also vaccinated against two other types of viruses known as canine adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1) and canine adenovirus type 2 (CAV-2). Canine adenovirus type 1 causes canine hepatitis that can damage the liver, kidney, eyes, and blood vessels. Canine adenovirus type 2 is related to the hepatitis virus but it is one of the causes of infectious tracheobronchitis, also known as kennel cough. A fourth virus, which the vaccine helps protect against, is parvovirus. Parvovirus is another severe, highly contagious virus which first appeared in the 1970's. Parvovirus is an extremely serious disease causing severe diarrhea. The vaccine also protects against canine parainfluenza virus, another cause of kennel cough. Leptospirosis is the final disease protected against by the "shot." It is caused by the bacteria Leptospira interrogans, which can lead to severe kidney and liver damage.
Other vaccines are available to protect against different diseases. The veterinarian may give your dog a few drops of liquid into each nostril to help protect against a bacteria called Bordetella bronchispetica, which can also cause kennel cough. Another vaccine available is for Lyme disease, caused by the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi.
Cats are also vaccinated against a variety of diseases. Feline panleukopenia is a disease caused by a virus similar to the canine parvovirus. It is a severe, highly contagious disease, which is now relatively rare due to vaccinations. The vaccine also protects against an infectious respiratory disease, which can be caused by three different agents. The first cause is feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1), also known as feline viral rhinotracheitis, a highly contagious virus. The second cause is also a highly contagious virus known as feline calicivirus. It is extremely difficult to distinguish between these two viruses. The third potential cause of a respiratory disease is Chlamydia psittaci.
Cats also may be vaccinated against other diseases. Feline leukemia is caused by the feline leukemia virus. More information about feline leukemia is listed later. The veterinarian can also vaccinate your cat against feline infectious peritonitis, FIP, by placing several drops of the vaccine into each nostril. Feline infectious peritonitis is a fatal immune-mediated disease caused by a virus.
Do I really need to vaccinate my pet?
The answer is yes. Many of the diseases which vaccines help protect against are very serious and may be fatal. Some people may try to save money by not vaccinating their pets. However, treatment usually costs many times more what the vaccines would have cost.
Should I spay or neuter my animal? If so, when?
There are two different reasons why you should spay or neuter your animal. Firstly, millions of dogs and cats are euthanized every year because there are simply not enough homes for all of them. Secondly, spaying or neutering your pet can significantly affect its health. Spaying a dog dramatically reduces their chance of developing breast cancer, which is fairly common in female dogs, which have not been spayed, and eliminates any chance of her developing ovarian cancer. Neutering a male can positively affected his behavior because he will not be "frustrated" (barking incessantly, digging, trying to get out, etc.) if he senses a female in heat. It may also help prevent him from spraying and marking his territory. Neutering also eliminates any chance the animal will develop testicular cancer and decreases the chances of prosthetic cancer.
Some veterinarians are beginning to spay and neuter animals at a very young age. However, we at Rocky Gorge have adopted a wait-and-see policy concerning early spays and neuters until we are absolutely convinced this practice does not adversely affect the animal. We recommend spaying and neutering dogs and cats at around six months of age. Ask your veterinarian for a more specific time for you.
What is the difference between spaying and neutering?
Spaying consists of removing both the ovaries and uterus from a female cat or dog. Technically, it is called an ovariohysterectomy. Neutering consists of removing both testicles from a male dog or cat.
Why does my cat spray and how can I stop it?
This first step in correcting a spraying problem is to determine if the cat is indeed spraying. Cats that spray deposit urine on vertical surfaces. Cats that squat and deposit urine on horizontal surfaces are actually urinating inappropriately. Inappropriate urination may indicate a medical problem and the cat should be looked at by a veterinarian. If the cat does not have a health problem, it is assumed to be simply urinating. Urinating outside the litter box is a behavioral problem which is treated by making the litter box area more attractive and decreasing the attractiveness of eliminating elsewhere. Some simple ideas are to get a larger litter box, change the type of litter, clean the box more frequently, move the box to the cat's "favorite" spot to urinate, or add a carpeted shelf around the box to encourage the cat to use it. Sometimes picking up carpet or covering the area with aluminum foil or plastic will help discourage cats from urinating in carpeted areas. You should never punish your cat for urinating outside the litter box and then directly put the cat into the litter box. This may cause the cat to associate the litter box with punishment, making the problem worse.
If a cat is truly spraying, it is merely marking its territory. Most cats which spray are males who have not been neutered. These cats will usually use the litter box but also deposit small amounts of urine near doors and windows. This problem is almost always corrected if the cat is neutered. Sometimes drugs may help correct spraying and inappropriate urination as a last ditch effort.
Are ticks really a problem and how can I control them?
Ticks are parasites which feed on your animal's blood. A severe tick infestation may result in blood loss and skin irritation. However, a single tick may transmit a variety of diseases to your animal such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. A tick may be removed with tweezers after the tick is soaked with alcohol. Often, a raised, reddened area will appear where the tick was removed. This will eventually go away. If your pet is exposed to an area with ticks, such as a wooded area, we recommend using a Preventic tick collar which can be purchased here at the hospital.
What do you mean my dog has worms?
"Worms" is sometimes used by the public to refer to intestinal parasites which may affect dogs. There are four common parasites which are actually worms. The first two are commonly referred to as roundworms and hookworms. These can be transmitted from mother to offspring. Transmission may occur even if the mother tests negative for parasites. Another type of worm is the whipworm. Pets acquire whipworms from soil containing whipworm eggs. The final type of worm is the tapeworm. Fleas carry the tapeworm larvae. When a pet with fleas grooms itself, it may accidentally swallow a flea containing a tapeworm larvae. Other common intestinal parasites of pets are coccidia and Giardia. These parasites are not worms but are single-celled microorganisms. All of these parasites, except for tapeworms, can be detected by microscopic examination of the pets feces by a veterinarian. Tapeworms are often detected by animal owners. Tapeworm segments, which look like white rice, can sometimes be seen in feces or "crawling" out of the pet's anus. Fortunately, the parasites are easily treated with medicine.
When should I start obedience training with my puppy?
This probably depends on the preference of your particular trainer. Different trainers will most likely have different opinions about when they like to start working with puppies. However, even puppies about eight weeks of age are capable of being trained. The puppies in 101 Dalmations are a good example of what even young puppies can be taught.
Should I give the preventative heartworm pills year round?
We recommend keeping your animal on heartworm preventative year round. The reason for this is two-fold. First, the climate in this area during the winter months is highly variable. Mosquitoes, which transmit heartworm larvae, can live year-round here. Secondly, the heartworm medication will kill other intestinal parasites as well.
Should I worry if my cat vomits hairballs?
When cats groom themselves they invariably swallow some hair. This hair may accumulate in the stomach and cause occasional vomiting. However, frequent vomiting is most likely due to something other than hairballs and you should have your cat checked.
Why does my cat and dog shed so much at Rocky Gorge?
Just like people, animals get nervous at the doctor's office. When animals are nervous, they tend to shed more. It is perfectly normal for your animal to shed more than usual while they are at Rocky Gorge.
What is a "hot spot"?
A hot spot is a common bacterial infection on the surface of a dog's skin. In veterinary language, this condition is called acute moist dermatitis. It is probably more common in thick-coated breeds or breeds that swim frequently. Hot spots are caused when the "environment" in a particular area of the skin is changed. This may be caused by scratching, parasites, or some other factor. This change in the skin allows bacteria to grow, which further irritates the skin, resulting in itching and inflammation. In response to the itching, the dog will scratch the area, allowing more bacteria to grow. It is a self-perpetuating cycle. However, the good news is that this condition is usually easily controlled with drugs and antibiotics available from a veterinarian.
Can I make money by breeding my cat or dog?
The answer is almost always no. Some people try to recover the money they spend on a purebred animal by breeding them. However, as any good breeder will tell you, due to the cost of food, vaccinations, wormings, and checks by the veterinarian, breeding animals actually costs more money than you make. Good breeders are not in it to make money. Their main concern is improving the breed through selective breeding.
What is feline leukemia and feline AIDS?
Feline leukemia and feline AIDS are both caused by viruses belonging to the retrovirus family. This is the same family of viruses that contains HIV. However, neither feline leukemia or feline AIDS can infect people.
The feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infects domestic and exotic cats. Cats become infected through contact with the saliva or nasal secretions from carrying cats FeLV. Casual contact between cats such as grooming and sharing water or food surfaces can easily result in infection. Bites are another common cause of infection. Free-roaming cats or cats that come in contact with free-roaming cats are at the greatest risk. Cats infected with this fatal virus exhibit a variety of symptoms because the virus attacks many different body systems. The good news is that there is a vaccine and a FeLV test available.
Feline AIDS is caused by the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). Again, cats allowed to roam free are at the highest risk for infection. The feline immunodeficiency virus, like HIV, attacks the immune system causing the cat to be more susceptible to a variety of infections eventually causing death. Like FeLV there is a test for FIV. However, there is no vaccine for FIV. The best way to prevent your cat from becoming infected with FeLV and FIV is to keep them indoors.
My dog scratches all the time. Is this a problem?
Itching, and the resulting scratching, is known to veterinarians as pruritus. Excessive scratching is usually due to an infection, allergies, or external parasites. There are other less common causes of itching, so you should let your veterinary determine the exact cause. Scratching itself can traumatize the skin which may subsequently become infected. Therefore, since scratching may be the sign of a problem or cause a problem, you should have your veterinarian examine your dog. Your dog will thank you for it.
When should I have my cat declawed?
Generally, the younger the cat is, the faster it recovers from the surgery. Declawing can be performed as early as three months of age. Many people elect to have their cat declawed at the same time they are spayed or neutered. It is not recommended that older cats be declawed.
Is there a difference in the new flea control products?
Yes there is a difference. The first of the "new" flea control products to come on the market was Program. Program is a pill you give your dog once a month after it eats. Program does not kill adult fleas. It is essentially birth control for fleas preventing their eggs from hatching. Program has recently been combined with a heartworm preventative to form the new pill Sentinel. Sentinel also kills three common intestinal worms. Program/Sentinel works well for dogs that are not allergic to fleas or who do not come in contact with other dogs and cats with fleas.
Advantage and Frontline Top Spot came on the market a little later. These are liquids which are applied to the skin on the back of your dog . They do kill adult fleas by blocking nerve endings in the flea without affecting the dog or you. Advantage is applied once a month to control fleas. Frontline Top Spot claims to control fleas for up to three months. Additionally, Frontline Top Spot does help control ticks but only for about a month. These products are recommended for dogs with flea allergies or for dogs who come in contact with adult fleas. Frontline Top Spot and Advantage are also available for cats.
What is the new six-month flea shot for cats?
Just recently, a new type of flea control product was introduced for cats. It is called Program Six Month Injectable for Cats. It works about the same way Program works for dogs. It does not kill fleas but it does prevent the fleas from reproducing. Because this shot is a slow-release product, it may take several weeks to reach working levels. At the present time, due to possible reactions, we do not recommend this product.