Ask the Vet

CleoMLukeA2Cooper

  1. You can feed your pet raw food?

Yes, you certainly can.  Commercially prepared raw foods are fresh and kept clean because they are designed to be fed raw, like sushi-grade fish.  Raw foods provide the best nutrition as very little nutrients are destroyed during preparation and storage.  And raw meat with bone would be nutritionally complete for most cats and dogs.

  1.  Why is my dog/cat shaking their head and scratching their ear?

Most likely your pet has an ear infection.  Ear infections are common in dogs and cats and often these pets ears appear to be “dirty”.  Ear infections are very responsive to medications, though they may come back after treatment.  This is usually because there is some underlying problem, like allergies.

  1.  How do I know if my pet has fleas?

The easiest way to check for fleas is to check the fur on the dog/cat’s back near the tail.  Can you find specks of pepper?  If you place these specks on white paper and wet it a bit, do they smear to a rust color?  If so, that’s flea dirt.  If your pet is itchy and/or losing hair on the lower back, tail, hind legs this also may be due to a flea allergy.  Can you find the fast moving critters on your dog/cat’s belly or inner thighs.  Sometimes it’s easiest to see fleas where the pet’s hair is sparse.

  1.  Does my dog/cat need a rabies vaccine?

Rabies is the only vaccine required by law in Connecticut.  If you don’t rabies vaccinate/booster your pet, you are breaking the law.  There may be consequences to non-compliance if your pet bites someone or is exposed to a potentially rabid animal, which could include mandatory quarantine for 2 weeks at an animal hospital, or confinement to your property only for up to 6 months.

  1.  When is the best time to spay/neuter my dog?

The jury is still out on this one.  It seems as though female dogs who are not reproducing and nursing litters will likely benefit significantly from spaying before their 4th heat.  Male dogs often times make nicer/easier house pets if they are neutered before social maturity hits at approximately 12-18 months, and likely have some health benefits to being neutered before middle age.  It may become evident that large breed dogs may have healthier bones/joints if they stay intact until their skeletons are fully mature, between 10 months and 2 years old.

Small and medium breed dogs are not predisposed toward the same bone/joint problems as large breed dogs, and should be spayed at approximately 6 months old, before their first heat, and neutered around the same time.

  1.  Does my dog really need heartworm preventative year round?

If your dog stays in the Northeast U.S., he/she would not need heartworm preventative year round.  Eliminating unnecessary doses of medication should always be a goal in today’s society.

  1.  Does my dog need flea/tick preventative year round?

Maybe.  If you decide to use a chemical flea/tick preventative you can eliminate its use when there is snow on the ground.  Otherwise, ticks will be out and potentially active year round.

  1.  Are there natural alternatives to Frontline?

Yes, and you should try and use them.  Some of my favorite products include: Animal Wellness Tick-Off Drops applied to your dog’s or cat’s collar daily, Sentry Natural Defense squeeze-on to your dog’s skin monthly, Vetri-Repel wipes or spray for dogs or cats every few days.

  1.  I shouldn’t feed my cat dry food?  I thought it was good for their teeth?

Cats should not eat dry food.  Dry food is not healthy for cats.  It has too many carbohydrates for cats, which are carnivores, and is devoid of water, the most important nutrient for cats.  Canned food, commercially prepared raw food diets, or a veterinary-guided fresh cooked diet are best for your cat.  If you’d like to keep up with their dental health you can brush their teeth, give them dental chews, or even give a small handful of high quality dry food as a treat once daily.

  1.  My dog has allergies.  Can anything be done?

Yes.  Though allergies are one of the most difficult problems to resolve completely, we have found a very effective means to significantly improve the skin problems associated with allergies in the vast majority of our patients.  Your pet can be allergy tested, including food allergy tested.  The results of our tests help us make food recommendations.  Oftentimes, food alone makes a significant difference.  If after 12 weeks of a new diet, your pet is still having skin issues we can then move on to nutritional supplements, chinese herbs, or allergy shots to help them with environmental allergies.  We are extremely successful in treating pets with allergies.