Pet Health FAQ

Puppy and Kitten Questions

Parasite Questions

Immunization Questions

Reproductive Questions

Medical Questions

Puppy and Kitten Questions

When does a puppy or kitten start its vaccinations?


We recommend starting vaccinations at 6 to 8 weeks of age. We give them in a series 4 weeks apart so that your pet will have good immunity. We give rabies vaccinations at the time of your pet’s final booster. Vaccination boosters are done yearly except rabies which is done every 3 years after the initial year booster. Please see our puppy and kitten guides for general advice and recommendations on caring for your new pet.


What is a spay?


Spay is the common term for a complete ovariohysterectomy, or the removal of the entire uterus and ovaries. We recommend spaying at 5-6 months but it can be performed any time after the age of 8 weeks.


What is a neuter?


Neuter is the common term for castration, or the removal of the testicles. We recommend neutering at 5-6 months.


What is the best way to identify my pet?


Keep a collar with identification on him/her at all times. A cat should wear an elasticized or breakaway collar. Microchipping is available at our clinic; it is a permanent way to identify your pet. Your pet’s microchip number is entered into an international database with your identification information. Lost pets are routinely scanned for microchips and matched to owners. Alternately your pet could have a tattoo put in his/her ear but there is no database containing the tattoo numbers for matching pet with owner.

Parasite Questions

What is a parasite?


A parasite is an organism that lives at the expense of another living being. In our pets, the most common parasites are intestinal worms (internal parasites) and fleas, ticks, lice and mites (external parasites).


How can I tell if my dog or cat has worms?


Certain parasites, such as tapeworms, are visible to the naked eye, but others must be detected under the microscope. You can bring a stool sample into our clinic to be examined microscopically to see if your pet has worms.


I saw small worms caught in the hair on my pet’s hind legs and tail. What are they?


Small white worms about the size of a grain of rice are tapeworm segments. They come from swallowing fleas or from eating mice. Your veterinarian can prescribe medications to eradicate tapeworms. There are NO products in the pet stores or grocery stores to kill tapeworms. Also, in order to keep them away, you should practice good flea control. Click tapeworm for more information.


Should I do a routine deworming of my pets?


We recommend microscopic examination of you pet’s fecal sample every 6 months to a year. Pets can be given deworming medication routinely every 6 months or yearly if you prefer.


How do I control fleas on my pet?


With the advancement of flea control medications, fleas are no longer the nuisance they once were for you and your pet. Your vet can prescribe various types of preventive medications. Topical liquid medication is applied on the pet's back which kills all fleas within 24 hours and continues killing them for 6 weeks (cat) to 3 months (dog). There is also a chewable pill that is given by mouth every month with a meal. These products are SAFE for your pets and used as directed will not harm you or your children. Do NOT confuse these products with others you find in the pet stores. Those products are insecticides that can potentially harm your pet. Click fleas for more information.


How can I treat fleas on my puppy or kitten?


Puppies must be 4 weeks old and weigh 2 pounds before monthly chewable flea preventive medication can be used. Topical flea medication can be used on puppies and kittens 8 weeks old or more. If your puppy or kitten is younger/smaller than this, it is only safe to gently wash your pet with baby shampoo and towel dry. Do not let the puppy or kitten get chilled.


Are flea collars very effective?


Not really. Since they are placed around the neck of the pet, they usually cannot kill any fleas that are around the tail of your pet. The insecticide from flea collars is designed to be absorbed into the pet’s blood stream and can be toxic. There are much better forms of flea control available, check with your veterinarian.


I think my dog has lice. What can I do?


Lice are small grayish parasites that attach themselves right to the skin and tend to be on the front end of the dog. Topical flea preventive medication does kill lice as well, but we recommend repeating the treatment every 2 weeks instead of every month. Lice are very species specific and cannot be transferred to you. Click lice for more information.


How do I prevent my dog from getting ticks?


Topical medications, used monthly, are effective for prevention of ticks. You should know that ticks carry a vast array of diseases including Lyme disease. There is a vaccination for dogs against Lyme disease but the best protection is prevention with monthly topical medication. Click ticks for more information.


What are heartworms and how can I prevent my dog from getting them?


Heartworms are parasites that actually live in the dog's heart. There is a blood test available to test for heartworm. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes so dogs need only to be treated in mosquito season (June to November), however if you travel to warmer climates you should keep your pet on year-round preventive medication. One tablet is given once a month for prevention of heartworm after your dog is confirmed heartworm negative with a blood test. Click heartworm for more information.

Immunization Questions

What is Parvovirus?


Parvovirus is a highly contagious disease that causes vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. It is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces (stool), environments, or people. The virus can also contaminate kennel surfaces, food and water bowls, collars and leashes, and the hands and clothing of people who handle infected dogs. It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time. Even trace amounts of feces containing parvovirus may serve as environmental reservoirs of the virus and infect other dogs that come into the infected environment. Parvovirus is readily transmitted from place to place on the hair or feet of dogs or via contaminated cages, shoes, or other objects. We recommend vaccinating your dog once a year for adequate protection against this deadly virus.


What is Canine Distemper?


Canine distemper is a contagious, incurable, often fatal, multisystemic viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. The canine distemper virus is spread in many ways.  An infected animal can easily shed the virus through exhalation implying that the virus is transmitted via air.  The virus is also shed through other bodily secretions and excretions such as urine and feces. Although it is more common in puppies than in adult dogs, all dogs are susceptible to it. We recommend yearly vaccinations against this dangerous disease.


What is kennel cough?


Kennel cough is a respiratory disease usually contracted in areas where large numbers of dogs are housed such as a kennel or a grooming salon. It is transmitted by nose-to-nose contact so they can get it from any dog. There is a vaccination available for protection against kennel cough.


Does my pet really need a Rabies vaccination?


YES. Rabies is a fatal disease if left untreated and can affect all mammals. In New York State by law all dogs must be vaccinated against rabies.


My cat stays inside all the time. Why does it need vaccinations?


If you ever have a personal emergency when you have to board your cat or a medical emergency when your cat must be hospitalized, the unvaccinated cat will be vulnerable to any of the feline diseases. It may be even more susceptible than other cats since it has never been exposed to any type of disease. You can also unknowingly bring some viruses home on your clothing from a stray or other sick cat.


We have adopted a stray cat. Should I do anything special before I let it play with my other cats?


You should have the new cat examined by the veterinarian before exposing it to your cats. The new cat should be tested for FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and Feline Leukemia - two deadly diseases that could be transmitted to your cats. Also, we strongly recommend that you have your new cat vaccinated as soon as possible.

Reproductive Questions

How long is a dog or cat in heat?


A dog is in heat for about 21 days. The first 10 days include bleeding from the vagina, then your dog is ready to accept the male. A cat is completely different from a dog. They go in and out of heat all year round until they are either bred or spayed. It always best to spay your pet if you do not intend to breed her so that she does not develop breast or uterine cancer.


How long does pregnancy last in a dog or cat?


A dog is pregnant for 63 days and a cat for 61 days. A veterinarian should examine the newborns within 24-48 hours.


Will spaying or neutering my dog or cat make them fat and lazy?


No. Spaying or neutering will not contribute to obesity at all. If you watch your pets diet and give them plenty of exercise you should not have a problem.


Can my female dog be spayed while she is in heat or while she is pregnant?


It is best to wait until a female is out of heat before she is spayed. During the heat cycle all the blood vessels that lead to the ovaries and uterus are inflamed and this makes surgery more of a risk to the dog, however we can spay a dog when she is in heat. A dog can be spayed if she is early in pregnancy. You should discuss this with the veterinarian.


How soon after my dog or cat has had puppies or kittens can she be spayed?


As soon as the puppies or kittens are weaned and the mother's milk had dried up, she can be spayed.


I've heard that letting my female have a litter makes her a better pet. Is this true?


ABSOLUTELY NOT. In fact, more heat cycles and pregnancies increase the chances of mammary tumors later in life. Some pets also have behavioral changes after having a litter.


If I neuter my cat, will he stop spraying my furniture?


When a cat sprays, he is exhibiting the male tendency to mark his territory with urine. Neutering decreases his male hormones and makes him much less likely to exhibit this undesirable trait (although - neutering does not guarantee that he will stop spraying).


Couldn't I just give my a dog a vasectomy? Why does he have to be castrated?


A vasectomy, although it makes your dog incapable of breeding, does nothing to diminish his sexual drive. He will still roam, still fight with other dogs and still tend to be aggressive. By castrating, you reduce the hormones that are causing the undesirable behaviors.

Medical Questions

My dog was accidentally hit by a car but appears fine. Is it okay to watch him for a while?


NO! Many times dogs hide a concussion that can be life threatening if not treated immediately. Also, dogs and cats can suffer from a condition called "traumatic lung syndrome”, a condition in which the lungs can become full of fluid after a sudden blow. It is best to contact a veterinarian anytime your pet has been in an accident with a car.


My cat is going to his litter box a lot and seems uncomfortable. What does that mean?


Cats are very prone to a condition called "feline lower urinary syndrome". Basically, it is a urinary bladder infection that can lead to urinary tract obstruction in male cats. We recommend bringing in a urine specimen for laboratory analysis. Urinary tract obstruction is a serious condition and you should contact our clinic IMMEDIATELY if you suspect this in you male cat.


Why is my dog urinating more frequently and inappropriately?


Your dog may have a urinary tract infection. We suggest you bring a urine sample into the clinic for testing.


How do I collect urine from my cat or dog?


We need about a tablespoon of urine for urinalysis.


To collect urine from your cat, close your cat in a small room like a bathroom. Close the drains and toilet. Place a clean litter box containing a few strips of wax paper in the room with the cat. After the cat has urinated in the liter box transfer the urine into a clean container.


To collect urine from you dog, walk the dog on a short leash. When a female squats to urinate slide a clean shallow dish under her to collect the urine. When a male lifts his leg, catch the urine in a clean wide mouth bottle.


My dog licks his feet all the time. Why?


A dog that licks his feet, rubs his face, or scratches behind his elbows may be showing signs of an allergy. Dogs can be allergic to all sorts of things such as house dust, grass, or weeds. Consult our clinic about this, especially if your dog is showing any hair loss. Click allergies for more information.


What is a dog's or cat's normal temperature?


Cats and dogs have a higher body temperature than ours, which is why they sometimes feel "hot" to the touch. Their normal body temperature is 100 to 102.8 Fahrenheit. The best way to see if your pet is running a fever is to take his/her temperature with a rectal thermometer. If you notice that your pet's temperature is above normal, you should contact our clinic immediately.


My dog has diarrhea. What can I do?


If your dog is acting normally other than the diarrhea, then you can try withholding all food and giving small amounts of water for 24 hours. After that time period, you can introduce small amounts of bland food at a time. However, if your dog is lethargic in any way, you should call our clinic for instructions. Click diarrhea for more information and instructions.


My dog is "scooting" his behind on the carpet; does he have worms?


He may have worms but usually that is not why he is "scooting". It is usually an indication that his anal glands are full and need attention by a veterinarian. Anal glands are small glands on either side of the rectum. They contain a fishy smelling substance and before domestication dogs and cats used them to mark their territory. Pets no longer have active control of these glands and therefore they can become full and need emptying. Cats will generally lick their rectal area excessively if their anal sacs are full. Click anal sac disease for more information.


What chew treats are okay to buy for my dog?


We generally recommend rawhides (that are made in North America), most dental chews and vegetable/fruit chews (edible Nylabones). Cow hooves are very hard and can fracture teeth and some pig ears have recently been shown to contain the harmful bacteria Salmonella.


What is the best food to feed my pet?


That is a difficult question to answer, as one food isn't right for all pets. Generally, if the food you are feeding says on the label that it is good for "all life stages", then find another food. Puppies, adults, and seniors all have different nutritional requirements. Pet food that is purchased from a pet supply store or from your veterinarian is usually better quality. Contact us if you would like more information.


Is it normal for my cat to vomit hairballs?


No. Cats love to groom themselves and in doing so they swallow large amounts of hair. Vomiting hairballs is a sign that the hair is not moving from the stomach into the small intestine. There are pastes, treats, and food that either dissolve hairballs or help them pass into the small intestine. Click vomiting for more information.


My dog smells. What could it be?


There are three main areas that are usually associated with a dog being smelly: ears, teeth, and skin. If your dog has any brownish material in his/her ears he/she may have an ear infection. If he/she has tartar on his/her teeth or very red gums his/her teeth need attention. Click dental for pictures of dental disease stages. If his/her skin is dry or has bumps on it this may be the cause of the odor. Contact our clinic if any of these conditions occur.


My dog has been coughing for several days. What should I do?


A cough can be caused by a number of things, such as allergies, bronchitis, or even kennel cough. The doctor should check your dog to determine the cause of the problem. Please call our clinic for an appointment.


My dog/cat has licked up some antifreeze. Will this hurt him?


Antifreeze is extremely poisonous to dogs and cats. Please call us and bring him/her to the clinic immediately for treatment.


Lakeside Veterinary clinic assumes no liability for injury to you or your pet incurred by following these descriptions or procedures.