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West Covina vet, veterinarian in West Covina, CA

Adams Animal Hospital

1559 E. Amar Road Suite N

West Covina, CA 91792

626.965.4424

Pets Are Family Too

FAQ
 

How should I care for my pets' teeth?
The best way to properly care for your pet's oral hygiene is to brush their teeth daily. Just like us, our pets develop plaque on their teeth which, if not removed, can lead to oral health problems. There are bones and special treats that can help promote oral health, but the best way to clean your pet's teeth is by brushing them. It may take some time for your dog or cat to get used to the idea of having their teeth brushed, but they can be eased into it. You can start by letting them taste the toothpaste from your finger. There are special veterinary toothpastes made in flavors like chicken that appeal to animals. Once they get used to the toothpaste you can begin by brushing 1-2 teeth to introduce them to the sensation. After a few cleanings your pet will probably start to enjoy the brushing and will be happy to let you do it. Along with the special toothpaste a special toothbrush should be used with soft bristles and a long handle so you can reach the teeth in the back of your pet's mouth.

What are some common dental problems in pets?
A high percentage of cats and dogs will experience periodontal disease during their lives, and the risk increases as they get older. Periodontal disease affects the gum and supporting structures of the teeth. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and bone loss in the jaw. Periodontal disease is also related to other health issues, such as heart disease. It is important to have regularly scheduled teeth and gum cleanings for your pet.

What causes my pet's bad breath?
Many people think that it is normal for a dog to have bad breath, but that is not the case. Bad breath is caused by bacteria in the mouth that create byproducts that contain sulfur. Regular home cleanings accompanied with scheduled professional cleanings will help to prevent bad breath and the bacteria that cause it.

How can I help my pet lose weight?
If you have noticed that your pet has gained weight recently you should schedule an appointment with your vet. Changes in your pet's weight can be a sign of disease. Once sickness is ruled out, your vet can help you come up with a diet and exercise plan for your pet to help manage their weight. There are specially made pet foods for pets that are overweight. You also need to make sure you are regularly walking your dog or taking time to play with your cat so they are getting the exercise and activity that they need on a daily basis.

What are heartworms and how can they be prevented?
Heartworms are a parasite that attacks your pet's heart. They are usually transmitted by a bite from an insect that is carrying the parasite. If heartworms are left untreated they can cause serious heart problems. There are preventative medicines available, like Heartgard, to keep your pet from being infected with heartworms. Your pet should start taking this medication at around 2 months old.

We are going away on vacation and the kennel requires that our dog has a kennel cough vaccine. What is that?
Kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection caused by either bacteria or a virus. It can cause a harsh dry cough in your dog that can last for a few weeks. It is very contagious and is commonly transmitted in environments where there are many dogs in one place, like a kennel. Most kennels require that your dog is vaccinated for their safety and the safety of the other dogs.

When should my pet be spayed or neutered?
Your pet can be spayed or neutered at any time, but it is recommended that they undergo the procedure at about 4-6 months of age.

How Will Neutering Change My Dog?

You’ll gain medical and behavioral benefits by having your male dog neutered. You’ll also help control the pet overpopulation crisis, which results in millions of healthy dogs and cats being euthanized (humanely put to death) each year in the United States simply because there aren’t enough homes to go around. While the traditional age for neutering is six to nine months, puppies as young as eight weeks old can be neutered as long as they’re healthy. Dogs can be neutered as adults as well, although there’s a slightly higher risk of post-operative complications in older dogs who are overweight.

Medical Benefits

There are significant medical benefits to be gained from neutering your dog. Neutering prevents the following medical conditions:

  • Testicular cancer Neutering removes the testes and eliminates the risk of your dog developing testicular cancer, a common and life-threatening cancer in older male dogs.
  • Prostate problems Without neutering, your dog’s prostate will gradually enlarge as he gets older. This can become uncomfortable for him and even make urination difficult. If the prostate becomes infected, it’s difficult to treat without neutering. While neutering doesn’t completely guard against prostate cancer, it does prevent enlargement and possible infection of the prostate.

Behavioral Changes

The only behaviors influenced by neutering are related to male sex hormones. Neutering won’t affect your dog’s working abilities, friendliness, playfulness or personality. However, hormones like testosterone are reduced by neutering, which can reduce behaviors associated with them. You may see a reduction in the following behaviors after neutering your dog:

  • Urine marking Testosterone makes a dog more interested in advertising his presence by urine marking. Neutering your dog will reduce his desire to excessively mark his surroundings with urine. This includes areas outside and around your yard, as well as inside your home.
  • Roaming Unaltered dogs often try to leave home in search of females in heat, which puts them at risk of getting lost and being injured or killed on roadways. Neutered dogs tend to live longer than sexually intact dogs, probably because they’re less likely to engage in risky behaviors like roaming. Neutering will lessen or eliminate your dog’s urge to roam.
  • Aggression Some studies suggest that neutering can decrease aggression toward other male dogs because testosterone might increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior. Other studies have found no significant relationship between aggression and neutering. It’s possible that competition for mates results in aggression between male dogs, so a dog’s urge to fight with other males might go away when his desire for females is eliminated by neutering. However, there are many complex reasons why dogs fight, and you may not see any changes in your dog’s aggressive behavior simply because he’s been neutered.
  • Social problems Other male dogs can easily detect an unneutered dog’s high testosterone level and become aggressive. This can make your intact dog a target of harassment by other male dogs. Neutering can reduce or eliminate this undesirable attention.
  • Inappropriate mounting Your dog might be less likely to mount other dogs, people and inanimate objects after he’s neutered. However, mounting is a complex behavior. It can be a sexual behavior, but it can also be a playful behavior or an attempt to assert social control. Only sexually motivated mounting can be reduced by neutering. And although a dog’s interest in females in heat will diminish after neutering, it might not be completely eliminated. He might still become aroused and try to mate if he encounters a receptive female.

To prevent the development of the behaviors listed above, it’s best to neuter your dog before he reaches sexual maturity at six to nine months of age. That way, he’s unlikely to develop unwanted habits. If your dog has practiced these habits for months or years, they might persist even after neutering. However, if you have an older dog, it’s still a good idea to neuter him. Even if you can’t completely get rid of his problematic behaviors, you might see them less often after he’s neutered—and neutering will still be beneficial to his physical health.

If your dog still has habits that you dislike after you neuter him, like excessive urine marking, roaming, aggression or inappropriate mounting, it’s best to seek professional advice. Getting help is particularly important if your dog has an aggression problem. Please see about locating a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), a veterinary behaviorist (Dip ACVB), or a qualified Certified Professional Dog Trainer (CPDT). If you elect to hire a CPDT because you can’t find a behaviorist in your area, be sure to determine whether she or he has professional training and extensive experience in successfully treating aggression, as this training and experience are beyond what CPDT certification requires.

A Common Myth

Neutering as a Quick Fix for All Behavior Problems

Some people think that neutering a dog will immediately get rid of all his behavior problems. Although it often reduces undesirable behaviors caused by a higher level of testosterone, there’s no a guarantee that your dog’s behavior will change after he’s neutered. Although the surgery will reduce the amount of testosterone in your dog’s system, it won’t eliminate the hormone completely. The effects of neutering are largely dependent on your dog’s individual personality, physiology and history.

Neutering is unlikely to change fearful or aggressive behavior toward people or other dogs unless the aggression is specifically related to competition over access to female dogs. If your dog continues to have serious behavior problems after he’s neutered, please locate a behavior expert near you.

Potential Detriments of Neutering

Although neutering is beneficial in many ways, there are a few potential effects to be aware of:

  • A small percentage of male dogs become attractive to intact male dogs after being neutered. Other male dogs may become sexually aroused and try to mount your neutered dog.
  • Dogs neutered before they’ve stopped growing may grow slightly taller than they would have had they not been neutered.
  • There is a very slight increased risk for neutered dogs to develop osteosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma (two kinds of cancer), particularly those breeds that are already predisposed to these diseases.
  • Dogs neutered prior to five months of age may be slightly more likely to develop hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture, particularly those breeds that are already predisposed to these diseases.
  • Neutered dogs are at increased risk of developing hypothyroidism.
  • Physiological changes after neutering may affect your dog’s metabolism and appetite, making him prone to weight gain. There’s some evidence to suggest that puppies neutered before five months of age are at greater risk of becoming obese than puppies neutered later. This potential drawback is easily controlled with appropriate diet and exercise. If you notice that your dog looks overweight, you can decrease the amount of food you give him and increase his exercise. If you’re not sure if your dog’s weight is appropriate, please consult your veterinarian.

Many pet owners wonder "how will spaying change my dog?" There are a number of medical and behavioral benefits that arise when a female dog is spayed. Millions of healthy dogs and cats are euthanized each year in the United States due to an overpopulation of pets and not enough homes for placement. When a dog is spayed, this reduces the number of unwanted puppies. Puppies are typically spayed between the ages of six and nine months but healthy dogs as young as eight weeks can be spayed, as well as adult dogs. Here you will learn what changes your dog may go through after a spaying surgery and the pros and cons of spaying a dog.

How Will Spaying Change My Dog? Medical Reasons to Spay


Decrease the Chance of Mammary (Breast) Cancer. When a female dog is spayed before their first estrus cycle, or heat, the risk of developing mammary cancer is nearly absent. Each time your female dog experiences a heat cycle, the chance of developing this cancer increases. The first heat cycle can begin as early as six months of age so it's important to spay before this occurs.

Avoid Pyometra from Affecting the Uterus. Pyometra is a potentially fatal infection that is caused from bacteria within the uterus of a female dog. Pyometra typically occurs in dogs between seven and eight years and affects 25 percent of all unsprayed female dogs before the age of 10. Signs that your dog may have pyometra include vaginal discharge, depression, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, inflamed eyes, weight loss, abdominal distension or excessive urination.

Eliminate the Risk of Ovarian Tumors. Ovarian and uterine tumors, although rare, can occur in female dogs. Some breeds are more prone to these tumors and they typically occur in older female dogs. When a dog is spayed, the risk for ovarian and uterine tumors is completely eliminated.

Prevent Live Birth Stress and Disease. The stress of carrying and delivering puppies can put tremendous strain and stress on a female dog. Infection and disease can also occur during or after the puppies are delivered for a number of reasons. These dangerous risks can be eliminated when a dog is spayed before it can become pregnant and give birth.

How Will Spaying Change My Dog? Behavioral Reasons to Spay

More Freedom and Prevent Roaming. When a female dog decides to run away or roam, it's often in search for a male dog. Dogs that are not spayed need to be kept indoors or in a secure yard to prevent them from escaping and risking an unwanted pregnancy. Roaming dogs also run the risk of becoming injured or killed on busy roadways, from dehydration or from excessive temperatures. Spayed female dogs will reduce or eliminate her drive to leave home.

Reduce Frequent Urination During Heat. When a female dog goes into heat, they will attempt to attract male dogs through the scent of their urine. This may result in your dog urinating on the carpet or furniture. When a female dog is spayed, frequent urination and bloody discharge, which both occur during the heat cycle, can be diminished.

Prevent Ovarian Pain and Irritability. Intense hormonal changes occur during the heat cycles of a female dog. These estrus cycles can result in ovarian pain and noticeable irritability. When a female dog is spayed, her behavior will remain more consistent as they will not experience these hormonal changes.

Decrease Prior Aggressive Behaviors. Before being spayed, a female dog may be aggressive, overly protective or in competition for her pet owners attention. These are hormonal changes that can be prevented by spaying the dog. Some female dogs experience a "false pregnancy" where they adopt an object and act as if they were a litter of puppies. During this type of phase, the female dog can become increasingly aggressive as they are trying to protect. Spaying can reduce and even eliminate aggressive behaviors.

Sexual maturity occurs when a female dog reaches 12 months of age. Before maturity is present, veterinarians recommend that all dogs should be spayed or neutered. If you have recently adopted an older dog, it's still just as important to spay or neuter. Not only to prevent unwanted pregnancies that add to the pet overpopulation problem, but to reduce and eliminate the risk of emotional and physical health conditions.

It’s important to realize that the potential drawbacks of neutering are minimal relative to the benefits. However, you should discuss both the pros and cons with your veterinarian to make the best decision for the health and well-being of your individual dog.

Why does my pet need yearly bloodwork?
Yearly blood workups should be performed to check for any infections or diseases. It is an easy test to perform and can be done at the same time we do the routine heartworm check. This will help ensure that your pet is healthy, or catch any problems at an early stage so they can be treated effectively.

How often does my pet need a rabies vaccine?
Cats should receive a rabies shot on a yearly basis. The first rabies shot your dog receives is good for one year, and each booster shot will last 3 years.

How can I prevent my pet from getting fleas?
There are many medications available that help prevent your pet from being infested with fleas. They can begin taking this medication at about 8-10 weeks of age, and should take the medicine year round. Fleas are more prevalent in warm areas, but they can continue to live in your house during the winter months, so year round prevention is recommended. On top of the medication, you should be cautious of where your pet walks when outside. High grassy areas tend to be inhabited by fleas and ticks, so beware.

How do I know if my pet is in pain?
Obviously our pets can't tell us where they hurt, but there are some signs to look for. If you notice a change in your pet's behavior (fatigue, depression, change in appetite, increased aggression, etc.) your pet might be in pain or have another physical problem. Your pet may also favor a certain part of their body or limp if they are injured. You should consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs so that they can determine the source of your pet's pain.

My new kitten hasn't used the litter box yet, should I be worried?
Your kitten is probably just adjusting to their new surroundings. They can hold their urine and bowel movements for about 3-4 days when they are nervous or unfamiliar with their surroundings. If they exceed 3-4 days without relieving themselves, or display other abnormal behavior, you should consult your vet to see if there is a deeper health problem.

Can my cat drink milk?
We have all seen cats lapping up milk in cartoons or old TV shows, but this is not healthy for them. Milk cannot be properly digested by most cats and it can lead to diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems. If your cat accidentally drinks some milk there is no need to worry, but you should not regularly give your cat milk to drink.