Ask a Vet
Even the best of pet owners have questions about the ideal care for their animals. Here is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions our clients pose to us:
What constitutes an emergency?
Many clients are not sure of what constitutes an emergency in their pet, and often
fail to seek appropriate medical treatment in time, or become anxious over a problem
that may not need immediate attention. Reasons to seek immediate care for your pet
included such things as:
• intractable vomiting or profuse bloody diarrhea,
• restlessness, retching and abdominal swelling in large breed dogs,
• an inability to urinate in any species,
• no appetite for more than one day,
• consumption of poisonous substances such as rat poison or chocolate,
• violent trauma such as being hit by a car or attacked by another animal.
Why spay or neuter my pet?
Spaying or neutering your pet is extremely important for many health and behavioral
reasons. Uterine, ovarian mammary and testicular cancer as well as uterine and
prostatic infections pose a serious and life threatening risk to your pet. These are easily
eliminated with these surgeries. Additionally, roaming, marking, mounting, humping
and fighting are often eliminated with a spay or neuter surgery. Finally, unwanted and
unexpected litters would not be a problem.
How important is heartworm prevention? Does my pet need it year round?
Heartworm prevention is one of the single most important things you can do for the
health and well-being of your pet. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos and
present a terrible problem in South Carolina. The adult worms come to live in the
heart and lungs where they damage the heart muscle, pulmonary arteries and the
lungs. Heartworms can kill if left untreated.
Vaccines: Why We Give What We Give When We Give It
There are many dangerous and life threatening diseases in the dog and cat population
against which we can and do vaccinate. However, we tailor our vaccination protocol to
the needs of the individual pet and pet owner. There are core vaccines which we feel
every pet should have, and there are other vaccines which we may add depending on
the pet’s lifestyle.
Core vaccines for dogs:
- Parvovirus: a dangerous and deadly virus that attacks all rapidly dividing cells in
- the body. Most often causes life threatening vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and
- secondary bacterial infections, and sometimes heart damage. Also depresses the immune system.
- Hepatits: a virus that attacks the liver and occasionally ocular tissues, sometimes resulting in irreversible damage or death.
- Distemper: a virus that causes a multitude of varied symptoms in major body systems such as respiratory, gastrointestinal and neurologic systems.
- Parainfluenza: a virus that attacks the respiratory system of dogs and may cause pneumonia or tracheobronchitis.
- Rabies: always fatal viral infection involving the neurologic system. Transmitted from bite wounds. Endemic in South Carolina.
Non-core vaccines for dogs:
- Leptospirosis: a bacterial infection with seven different serotypes, this infection is spread from wildlife and rodents. Causes different syndromes depending on which type, ultimately causing liver or kidney failure.
- Tracheobronchitis: Also known as “kennel cough this disease is composed of a bacterial infection, bordatella, and the parainfluenza virus. Causes a persistent cough in dogs but may progress to pneumonia. This vaccine is important for dogs who are boarded or groomed frequently, or that come into contact with many other dogs in other settings such as dog shows or dog parks.
Core vaccines for cats:
- Rabies: as described above.
- Rhinotracheitis: consists of the herpes and calici viruses. Also known as the upper respiratory vaccine, as these diseases cause upper respiratory infections.
- Panleukopenia: a viral infection that depresses the immune system and can cause a myriad number of symptoms and death in cats.
Non-core vaccines for cats:
- Feline leukemia virus: a virus that depresses the immune system and induces cancer in cats. Always deadly if a cat retains the virus. Must be transmitted cat to cat, so is encouraged in cats that go outside or to cat shows.
When do we vaccinate?
- Puppies at 6, 9, 12 and 16 weeks and dogs annually. Certain parvo susceptible breeds such as Rottweiler’s, pit bulls, German Shepherds, “anything black and tan” we vaccinate out to 20 weeks in puppyhood.
- Kittens at 9, 12 and 16 weeks and cats annually. We encourage all cats to be tested for feline leukemia and FN when new to a household.
What do we NOT vaccinate for?
- Coronavirus: is largely a tiny puppy disease that by the time you begin the vaccination period the susceptible period is over.
- Lyme’s disease: Rarely will we vaccinate the very busy hunting dog, but as of now, Lyme’s is not widespread in South Carolina. This is changing, however, and we may vaccinate for Lyme’s in the future.
- Giardia: a parasite causing diarrhea. Not common enough to warrant vaccination.
- FIV: causes cats to come up positive on the test for FIV, and thus may be unjustly euthanized.
- FIP: not a very good vaccine and has been known to actually induce the disease.
WHY do we not vaccinate for everything, just to be sure?
Every time an animal is vaccinated, an immune response is initiated. Every time an
immune response is initiated, there is the potential for vaccine reactions (allergic or
anaphylactic) as well and immune malfunction. We want to protect our pets against
major diseases without subjecting them to over vaccination.