Frequently Asked Questions


What should I feed my pet?

If only there were an easy answer for this question!  Each dog and cat is different, and so are their nutritional needs and sensitivities.  In addition, the large number of diets available further add complexity to the answer.  If you are unsure what to feed your pet or if changing their food is beneficial, our veterinarian will be happy to answer these questions during your pet’s exam.  

How can I get my pet to lose weight?

Just like with people, the answer is less food and more exercise.  Every pet should get at least 20 minutes of exercise a day.  Unfortunately, being let out in the backyard does not count as exercise!  Dogs should be taken on at least a 20 minute walk every day.  Cats are a little more difficult but having them play with or chase interactive toys. If you are feeling very ambitious and patient, some cats can be trained to use exercise wheels. Cutting back on food will help as well, but increasing exercise is essential.   Also, keep in mind that treats should be kept to an absolute minimum.   Lastly, no table scraps!

Are hair loss and itchiness signs of allergies in my pet?

Hair loss, scratching, and ear infections can be signs of allergies in both dogs and cats. Dogs will also often chew or lick their feet as well. The symptoms, however, are also common in pets with hormonal diseases or skin mites. If your pet is experiencing these symptoms, an examination is necessary in order to determine the cause and establish a course of treatment.

How concerned should I be about Lyme disease?

First, Lyme disease doe snot naturally affect cats, so our furry feline friends are off the hook. As for dogs, it is a much different story. Western Pennsylvania is a hotbed of Lyme disease. Most dogs will never show any symptoms. Those that do will often have a fever, lameness, or swollen joints. The bull's eye rash seen in people with Lyme disease is not seen in dogs. A small percentage of dogs with Lyme disease will eventually go on to develop incurable kidney failure. Therefore, it is very important to prevent your dog from this disease. We will be happy to discuss with you how to protect your pet against Lyme disease during your dog's appointment.

How do I keep my pet's teeth clean?

The answer is the same as it is in people: brushing teeth after every meal. It takes a lot of patience, but dogs and cats can be trained to tolerate having their teeth brushed. The more frequently it is done, the better off your pet’s teeth will be.  Keeping your pet’s teeth clean is about more than just bad breath.  Chronic dental inflammation and infection takes a toll on the whole body including thickened heart valves as well as kidney and liver damage. The longer you let your pet’s dental health go, the harder it is going to be to fix it.  Our veterinarian will discuss with you on how best to maintain your pet’s teeth during your next visit.

Why does my cat not use the litter box?

There are many reasons a cat may stop using a litter box.  They can be related to a cat’s preference of litter, litter box, or location of litter box. It may be due to how many cats are using the litter box. Cat behaviorists recommend having one more litter box than the number of cats in the household.  Stress and anxiety are common reasons for cats to stop, but arthritis and constipation can also be as well. If your kitty has stopped using the litter box, please call us to set up an examination.

Are lilies truly bad for cats?

Yes, just nibbling on lilies can cause a cat to go into kidney failure.  Cats and lilies are never a good mix.  If your kitty is found to have eaten or nibbled on a lily, it is an emergency. Contact a veterinarian immediately.

Are grapes and chocolate truly bad for dogs?

Some dogs can eat grapes and raisins their whole lives and never have a problem. Other dogs can eat just one or two grapes or raisins and go into kidney failure. The reason is unknown, and it is impossible to predict which dogs will react. It is best to always avoid having dogs near grapes or raisins.  As for chocolate, it does not take a whole lot to make a dog sick. Solid chocolate especially can act as a strong stimulant in dogs causing vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, heart arrhythmias, and even death. If your dog gets into either grapes, raisins, or chocolate, you need to contact a veterinarian at once.

Can I treat my pet's pain at home?

The simple and best answer is no. The smallest amount of Tylenol will poison a cat, and it is not safe in dogs either. Dogs and cats are much more sensitive to the side effects of drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil), and naproxen (Aleve). Even though the signs may not show up right away, these drugs cause damage to your pet’s kidneys, stomach, and intestines. The best pain medications for pets are by prescription only.  If you feel that your pet is in pain or discomfort, call us today to set up an appointment.

Why and when should I spay or neuter my pets?

Females are spayed, a surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus.  Males are neutered, a surgical removal of the testes.   There are a lot of benefits to spaying or neutering your pet.  The first is to control the pet population.   Shelters are full of unwanted pets, and we all want to see an end to that.  If your pet does get pregnant, there can be complications which require a C-section.  This can be expensive procedure especially if it needs to be done on an emergency basis.   Female dogs, especially small ones, are prone to eclampsia while nursing.  This is another condition that requires emergency care.   Dogs who are not spayed are much more likely to develop mammary (breast) cancer.  They also frequently develop severe uterine infections which is another situation that requires emergency surgery.  Male dogs are not off the hook either.   Dogs that are not neutered often run off looking for the ladies.  This results in a lot these guys getting hit by a car.  

As for when to spay or neuter your pet, we recommend doing so at 6 months of age.  This is right before they start going through doggie and kitty puberty.   Male dogs will start to mark and mount once this happens, and male cats will start to spray.   Female dogs will go into heat for several weeks which they will develop leaking, swollen genitals. When female cats go into heat, they are very vocal and will actively try to escape.   Neutering or spaying your pet at 6 months of age will avoid all of this.