FAQS about Dog Cat Health from Acoaxet Veterinary Clinic
Pet Vaccinations, Heartworm Prevention
Frequently Asked Questions
To make an appointment please call us at (508) 636-8382 to set up a time that is convenient with your schedule. If you need to change or cancel your appointment, we request that you contact our office as soon as possible. Acoaxet Veterinary Clinic also offers same day appointments for sick patients and emergencies during office hours.
If your pet has an emergency during business hours, bring them to our hospital and they will be assessed and treated quickly and efficiently. If your pet's emergency is after hours, please contact one of the emergency clinics in our area:
Ma/RI Veterinary ER
477 Milford Road
Swansea, MA 02777
Bay State Emergency Services
76 Baptist Street
Swansea, MA 02777
Our pharmacy is fully stocked with a wide variety of prescription medications and diets for your pet. We are here to answer your questions about selecting the best medication, choosing the proper dosage, and information on side effects or other drug interactions. If you have any concerns or your pet experiences adverse reactions, we urge you to contact us immediately so one of our trained staff can assist you.
The fees we charge for services are based upon what is needed to maintain the high quality of care we are proud to provide. Payment is required at the time the services are performed. For your convenience, we accept cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and CareCredit.
How do I know if my pet is in pain?
It can sometimes be difficult to tell. If you are not sure but suspect your dog or cat may be hurting, or is just not acting right, call us to have us examine your pet. Some signs of pain are more obvious, such as limping, but some signs are more subtle and can include: not eating, a change in behavior or normal habits, being more tired and having less energy. Of course, these symptoms can also be caused by many problems, so early observation and action is important.
When is the best time to spay or neuter my pet?
The best time to spay or neuter your dog or cat is approximately 5-6 months of age. However, the procedure can be done at most ages.
Vaccines are an important part of your dog or cat’s health care. Vaccines keep your pet healthy and prevent serious diseases. Our veterinarians will make sure that your pet avoids these problems with annual wellness exams, vaccinations and parasite protection. It is our policy that all pets receiving a vaccination be fully examined by one of our veterinarians prior to the vaccine being given.
Rabies Vaccine: Rabies is transmitted by bites from wild animals, particularly skunks, raccoons, possums, bats, and foxes. This disease can be transmitted to humans through the bite or scratch of an infected animal. Puppies and kittens will first receive this vaccination at 12 weeks of age, and then they will be revaccinated every 1-3 years as required by law.
DAPP Vaccine: This is a “4-way” canine vaccine that vaccinates against canine distemper, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Distemper and parvovirus are often times fatal, especially in puppies and is why it is boostered multiple times. Puppies can be vaccinated as early as 6 weeks and are boostered every 3 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Adult dogs are then revaccinated every 3 years.
Leptospirosis Vaccine: Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease. It is spread by wildlife (raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, rats) and domestic animals. It can be passed to people. Canine leptospirosis has risen dramatically in recent years. Infected animals shed the bacteria in the urine. To prevent Leptospirosis in your dog, discourage your pet from drinking standing water and vaccinate yearly.
Bordetella Vaccine: Also known as kennel cough. We recommend the oral vaccine when a patient will be boarding, grooming, or in any situation where they will come into contact with other pets (dog care, obedience, park, etc.).
Canine Influenza:Also known as the dog "flu". Just like the human flu is among humans, canine influenza is highly contagious among dogs.This is because the virus is relatively new (it was first reported in the US in 2003), and dogs have no natural immunity to it. Nobivac® Canine Flu H3N8 is the first vaccine for canine influenza. It has been clinically proven to significantly reduce the severity of influenza and the length of time that a dog is sick.We can advise you whether this new influenza vaccine should be added to your dog’s vaccination schedule.
Rabies Vaccine: (See Above)
FVRCP Vaccine: This is a “4-way” feline vaccine that vaccinates against feline distemper (aka panleukopenia), rhinotrachetitis, and calici. Kittens can be vaccinated as early as 6 weeks and are boostered every 3 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Adult cats are then revaccinated every 3 years.
Feline Leukemia Vaccine: Feline Leukemia Vaccine is recommended for kittens and cats that are of high risk such as indoor/outdoor cats.
What is kennel cough?
Kennel cough is also called Infectious Tracheobronchitis, and is easily transmitted through the air. It is caused by viruses and/or bacteria that affect the respiratory system of dogs. The best way to reduce the severity of respiratory disease is with frequent vaccination. There are several types of vaccinations available to treat kennel cough.
When does my pet need blood work?
We recommend that yearly blood work should be performed to detect infections and diseases, helping us to detect disease early. In many situations, early detection is essential for more effective treatment. The type of blood work will be determined specifically for each pet depending on his or her individual needs. This annual blood test is convenient to do at the time of your pet’s annual heartworm test, but it can be done at any time of year.
How many months should my pet be on heartworm prevention medication?
Heartworm disease is a serious disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and can be fatal if left untreated. We recommend all dogs be given year round heartworm prevention, regardless of lifestyle.
A simple blood test is needed to check your dog for heartworm disease on an annual basis. Heartworm prevention is administered once a month either by pill or by topical application. Depending on the specific product you and your veterinarian choose for your pet, heartworm prevention medication can prevent other parasite infestations including internal parasites (intestinal parasites) and external parasites (fleas and ticks).
Why does my dog need a blood test before purchasing heartworm prevention?
Dogs can get sick (vomiting, diarrhea, and/or death) if placed on heartworm prevention when they have a severe heartworm disease. Even if they have been on heartworm prevention year round there is always the possibility that the product may have failed for various reasons (your pet spit out the pill, did not absorb the pill appropriately, topical medicine was not applied properly, forgot to administer medication on time, etc.) and the earlier we can treat your pet for heartworm disease, the better the prognosis. Some companies will guarantee their product providing that you use the heartworm prevention year round and are performing yearly heartworm test.
When starting heartworm prevention, or if your dog has not been on heartworm prevention year round, it is important that you perform an initial heartworm test and an additional heartworm test 6-7 months after starting the prevention to fully rule out the prior infection. During the early stages of development, some larvae are not detectable by the test. It may take a full 6-7 months before they can be detected, which is why we need to repeat the testing later after starting preventative measures.
Doesn’t the fecal sample test for heartworms?
No. Heartworm disease is a blood-borne disease that is transmitted through mosquitoes. A simple blood test will confirm whether or not your dog has heartworm disease.
Why does my pet need a dental cleaning and how often should this be done?
We believe an annual professional dental exam, tooth scaling and polishing are necessary to treat and maintain your dog and cat’s healthy teeth and gums. As your pet ages or his or her health needs change, advanced dental care may be required. Your pet's teeth and mouth should be examined by us on a regular basis.
Do I need to brush my pet’s teeth at home?
Yes. Proper dental care at home is highly recommended to help maintain the oral health of your dog and cat. Home dental care for your pet should start early, even before their adult teeth come in. It is best if owners brush their dog’s and cat’s teeth frequently. Although tooth brushing is the best method of preventing plaque, calculus, and bacterial build-up, there are many options for dental home care. Other oral home care options such as dental formulated foods, water additives, and dental treats should be considered.
Are there any special at-home care instructions for my dog or cat before undergoing surgery?
Please do not feed your pet after 12AM the evening before a scheduled procedure. There is no restriction on drinking water. We suggest that you plan to arrive at the office early enough to allow 30 minutes for check-in procedures.
Why does my pet need to be admitted several hours before a surgical procedure?
In preparation for the procedure, your pet will receive:
- A pre-anesthetic exam
- Pre-anesthetic blood work (if required)
- Medication to easy anxiety and to smooth induction of anesthesia
- Placement of an intravenous catheter to deliver medications and fluids that support blood pressure and organ function during anesthesia
- In addition to the above, it gives your pet a chance to adjust to the hospital’s environment which makes the situation less stressful
- Each of these steps must be completed BEFORE your pet's scheduled procedure time
Is anesthesia safe for my pet?
Our veterinarians and staff take all anesthetic cases very seriously. We utilize the safest, multi-modal approach that is individually created for each dog or cat. It includes injectable medications for sedation and pain management as well as gas anesthetic agents. The combination of pre-anesthetic assessment of your pet (including blood work), use of modern anesthetic agents, and the latest anesthetic monitoring equipment means that anesthesia is generally considered to be a very low risk for your pet.
Our highly trained staff will closely monitor your pet during the entire procedure (including recovery) using advanced monitoring equipment. Parameters often monitored include oxygen concentration in the blood stream (pulse oximetry), electrocardiogram (EKG), core body temperature, respiratory rate, and blood pressure and carbon dioxide level.
When we place your pet safely under general anesthesia, a breathing tube is inserted into the trachea (windpipe) to administer oxygen mixed with the anesthetic gas. As with people, an intravenous catheter is placed into your pet’s arm or leg to infuse with fluids during the procedure. Once the procedure is completed and the anesthetic is turned off, oxygen is continued to be delivered to your pet until they wake up and the tube is removed.
What is a multi-modal approach to anesthesia?
A multi-modal approach refers to the layered administration of small amounts of different medications to achieve the desired levels of anesthesia and pain management. We administer lower doses of each individual anesthetic which generally equates to, fewer side effects, complete pain relief and faster post-operative recovery.
How will you manage my pet’s pain during surgery?
We believe in performing surgery with advanced pain management techniques because we want to maximize the comfort of your pet during and after his/her procedure. Comfort control improves your dog or cat’s recovery and speeds the healing process. We administer pain medication before beginning the procedure, during and post-operatively as needed by your pet.
My pet is older, is anesthesia safe?
Anesthesia in otherwise healthy, older pets is considered safe. It is important to have recommended pre-operative testing performed prior to anesthesia to check the status of major organ function and allow us to tailor the anesthesia to any pre-existing medical conditions.
My pet has kidney and heart disease, is anesthesia safe?
Prior to anesthesia, patients with kidney disease should be fully evaluated with blood tests, urinalysis, and possibly ultrasound. Cardiology patients should also be evaluated including blood tests and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).
When my pet is having surgery, when should I expect an update on my pet?
At your request, you will receive a phone call once your pet has entered recovery. If there are any abnormalities during the pre-anesthetic exam or blood work, you will receive a call prior to the procedure in the event that we need to change plans. Remember that no news is good news, and you will be contacted immediately should the need arise.
After surgery, when will my pet be able to go home?
Please schedule additional time to meet with the doctor when picking up your animal post-surgery. This will allow the doctor to go over discharge instructions tailored specifically to pet and the procedure. Our doctors are more than happy to answer any questions you may have to ensure proper recovery for your pet. Your doctor will provide you with a written set of discharge instructions for you to follow at home.
Decreased appetite can occur after surgery. There are several things you can try:
- Offer them their favorite foods or treats
- Warm the food slightly above room temperature to increase the odor and taste
- Some pets like low-sodium chicken/beef broth or chicken baby food. These can be fed separately or added to regular pet food
Bandage, cast or splint is wet, soiled or removed
If the bandage becomes soiled, damp, chewed, or chewed off, please do not re-bandage at home. Duct tape and other items can trap moisture within the cast/bandage causing inflammation of the skin and tissues. In some cases, bandages that are applied incorrectly at home can even cut off the circulation to the foot.
Call us immediately if you have concerns about your pet's bandage. Confine your pet to a single room or similar small area until you can call us and we can advise you to whether the bandage needs to be replaced. After a cast or splint is first removed, it may take 1-2 weeks for your pet to become accustomed to using the leg without the splint.
Constipation, bowel movements
Difficulty having bowel movements can be expected after illness, anesthesia, or surgery. It may take a few days for the gastrointestinal system to return to normal function. Fortunately, it is not vital for your pet to pass a stool on a regular daily basis. Please contact us if your pet has not passed a stool within 72 hours of discharge from the hospital or appears to be straining to defecate.
Although vocalizing can indicate discomfort, it is usually not a sign of pain (instinctively most pets will not vocalize because in the wild, this would attract predators). Often, pets vocalize due to the excitement or agitation that they feel on leaving the hospital and returning to their familiar home environment. If crying or whining is mild and intermittent, you may simply monitor the situation. If vocalization persists, please call us for advice. In some cases, a mild sedative may be prescribed or pain medication may be adjusted.
Your pet may experience diarrhea after hospitalization. This can be caused by change in diet but is more commonly caused by the stress of being away from home. Certain medications prescribed to your pet may also cause diarrhea. If no blood is noted in the diarrhea, feed your pet a bland diet for 2-3 days to help the digestive tract get back to normal. If the diarrhea is bloody, lasts longer than 12-24 hours or if your pet becomes lethargic or vomits, please contact us immediately.
You can purchase a nutritionally complete bland food from us, available in cans or kibble. Alternatively, you may feed steamed rice mixed with an equal volume of low-sodium chicken broth, boiled chicken, chicken baby food or cooked turkey. Very lean, boiled hamburger meat can be substituted as well. Small meals should be given every 4-6 hours. We do NOT recommend using any over-the-counter medication to treat the diarrhea. Please call us if there are any questions or problems.
We rely on you to keep the e-collar on your pet. While they may not enjoy it initially, they will enjoy even less having to come back to our office for another visit to repair an incision that has been chewed open. If this occurs, they will need to wear the collar for an extended period of time. Most pets become accustomed to the collar within one or two days, and they will be able to eat, sleep, and drink with it on. We are counting on you - please keep the e-collar on your pet.
Implant or hardware is visible/exposed
Immediately confine your pet to a single room or a cage, call us, and come in so the doctor can reexamine the surgery site.
Injury to surgical site
If for any reason you suspect that your pet has reinjured the surgical site, confine your pet to a safe location and call us immediately for advice.
If you have given your pet all of the pain medication prescribed and you feel your pet still has discomfort, please give us a call, and we will be happy to discuss refilling the pain medication.
Despite the medications we have prescribed, some pets will still show signs of pain at home, such as restlessness, inability to sleep, poor appetite, lameness or tenderness at the site of surgery. Please confine your pet to limit their activity, then call us immediately so we can prescribe additional medication or therapies as necessary to keep your pet comfortable.
This is commonly seen after surgery. It may indicate soreness but is often due to anxiety. Please call us so we can help determine whether additional pain medication is required. We will be happy to recheck your pet for your peace of mind.
Seroma (fluid pocket)
In any healing surgical area, fluid produced during the healing process may accumulate and form a seroma (fluid pocket). Fortunately, this is not painful and does not delay the healing process. Eventually, the body will reabsorb the fluid so if the seroma is small, we typically will leave it alone. If it is large, we may remove the fluid with a needle and syringe, or even place a drain if necessary. If you notice a seroma developing, please call our office. We may wish to recheck the area to ensure there is no infection.
This is a very common response to physiologic stress after surgery, injury, or any other health procedure. The amount of shaking or trembling may be dramatic, but it does not imply severe pain, cold, or distress. It may involve the entire body, or just the area of surgery. It is most noticeable in the first 5-7 days post-operatively, and typically subsides in 1-2 weeks. Please call us if your pet shows signs of pain such as restlessness, lack of appetite, or crying out.
Some pets may urinate less after surgery or may seem to be unable to control urination. This is usually temporary and may be a side effect of medication, anesthesia drugs, or difficulty assuming "the position" to urinate. Many pets initially drink less after returning home, but if your pet has not produced urine for more than 12-24 hours, please call our office.
Occasionally, there may be an episode or two of vomiting after surgery or anesthesia. If the vomiting continues, blood is noted in the vomitus, or if your pet is not holding down any food or water, call us to schedule a follow up examination of your pet.