FAQ

Q. Do I need to have an appointment?

Yes, patients are seen by appointment.

 

Q. What forms of payment do you accept?

Cash, Debit/Credit Cards, Money Order, and Personal Checks. Online payment is also available for online food/prescriptions.

 

Q. When should I pay?

Payment, under no exception, is required at the time of service.

 

Q. At what age can I have my pet spayed or neutered?

Spaying or neutering can be done at approximately 6 months of age. Your pet is given an exam prior to surgery to help determine whether your pet is healthy enough to undergo the surgical procedure. Current vaccinations are required at the time of surgery. Also a pre-anesthetic blood screen is recommended prior to undergoing anesthesia and surgery for some pets depending on their age or health status.

 

Q. What is the pre-anesthetic blood screening?

This is a blood test that is run here in the clinic prior to surgery. It tests the organ functions, blood counts and clotting function of your pet. The pre-anesthetic blood screening is done to assure safety during surgery and the ability to heal following surgery.

 

Q. How long do the sutures stay in after my pet's surgery?

Procedures involving sutures require them to be removed 10 to 14 days following the surgery.

 

Q. Is it a good idea to let my pet have at least one litter?

No, there is no advantage to letting your pet have one litter. However, there are plenty of advantages to having you pet spayed or neutered. These advantages include decreasing the chances of breast tumors later in life, decreasing the chance of cystic ovaries and uterine infections later in life, decreasing the desire to roam the neighborhood, decreasing the incidence of prostate cancer later in life, helping prevent spraying and marking, and also decreases the surplus of unwanted puppies and kittens.  The decision about when to spay or neuter your pet can be made with your veterinarian to determine the optimum time.

 

Q.  Do you board pets?

We provide medical boarding for our current patients that require special medical care or observation.  If you are interested in this service, please speak with your veterinarian prior to scheduling.

 

Q. What do I need to know before my pet comes in for surgery or a procedure?

The majority of pets should be fasted overnight prior to anesthesia or surgery: this means no food after midnight, although water is fine up until the time your pet is admitted to the Center for Veterinary Care.  If you feel that your pet has special needs, i.e. diabetes, please speak with your veterinarian about special considerations.

 

Q. What time should I bring my pet in for surgery?

Surgical check-ins are done between 8:30 am and 10:30am.  If you need to drop your pet off earlier, please contact the reception staff so that we can make special arrangements.   Please plan on spending at least 15 minutes getting your pet completely checked in.  If that is not possible, please call us the night before so that we can have the surgical and anesthesia release form completed to expedite your drop-off.

 

Q. What vaccines do you recommend?

Puppies and kittens will need booster vaccines every three to four weeks until they are at least 16 weeks of age.  After they have completed their vaccine series, we will tailor their adult boosters to their individual lifestyle.  Many times we will use a combination of increased vaccine intervals based on the most current vaccine data and vaccine antibody titers.  Rabies vaccines are required by law every three years after their first annual booster.  Please talk with your veterinarian about your vaccine concerns.

 

Q: When does a pet become "old"?

It varies, but cats and small dogs are generally considered geriatric at the age of 7. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans and are considered geriatric when they are approximately 6 years of age. Owners tend to want to think of their pet's age in human terms. While it is not as simple as "1 human year = X cat/dog years", there are calculations that can help put a pet's age in human terms:

Q. What kinds of health problems can affect older pets?

Geriatric pets can develop many of the same problems seen in older people, such as

  1. cancer

  2. heart disease

  3. kidney/urinary tract disease

  4. liver disease

  5. diabetes

  6. joint or bone disease

  7. senility

  8. weakness

 

Q. I know my pet is getting older. How do I help them stay happy and healthy for as long as possible?

Talk to your veterinarian about how to care for your older pet and be prepared for possible age-related health issues. Senior pets require increased attention, including more frequent visits to the veterinarian, possible changes in diet, and in some cases alterations to their home environment. Here are some basic considerations when caring for older pets:

 

Older Pet Care Considerations

Increased veterinary care

Geriatric pets should have semi-annual veterinary visits instead of annual visits so signs of illness or other problems can be detected early and treated. Senior pet exams are similar to those for younger pets, but are more in depth, and may include dental care, possible bloodwork, and specific checks for physical signs of diseases that are more likey in older pets.

 

Diet and nutrition

Geriatric pets often need foods that are more readily digested, and have different calorie levels and ingredients, and anti-aging nutrients

 

Weight control

Weight gain in geriatric dogs increases the risk of health problems, whereas weight loss is a bigger concern for geriatric cats.

 

Parasite control

Older pets' immune systems are not as healthy as those of younger animals; as a result, they can't fight off diseases or heal as fast as younger pets

 

Maintaining mobility

As with older people, keeping older pets mobile through appropriate exercise helps keep them healthier and more mobile.

 

Vaccination

Your pet's vaccination needs may change with age. Talk to your veterinarian about a vaccination program for your geriatric pet.

 

Mental health

Pets can show signs of senility. Stimulating them through interactions can help keep them mentally active. If any changes in your pet's behavior are noticed, please consult your veterinarian.

 

Environmental considerations

Older pets may need changes in their lifestyle, such as sleeping areas to avoid stairs, more time indoors, etc. Disabled pets have special needs which can be discussed with your veterinarian

 

Reproductive diseases

Non-neutered/non-spayed geriatric pets are at higher risk of mammary, testicular, and prostate cancers.

 

Q. My older pet is exhibiting changes in behavior. What's going on?

A: Before any medical signs become apparent, behavioral changes can serve as important indicators that something is changing in an older pet, which may be due to medical or other reasons. As your pet's owner, you serve a critical role in detecting early signs of disease because you interact and care for your pet on a daily basis and are familiar with your pet's behavior and routines. If your pet is showing any change in behavior or other warning signs of disease, contact your veterinarian and provide them with a list of the changes you have observed in your pet. Sometimes, the changes may seem contradictory - such as an older pet that has symptoms of hearing loss but also seems more sensitive to strange sounds.

Possible Behavior Changes in Older Pets

  • Increased reaction to sounds

  • Increased vocalization

  • Confusion

  • Disorientation

  • Decreased interaction w/humans

  • Increased irritability

  • Decreased response to commands

  • Increased aggressive/protective behavior

  • Increased anxiety

  • House soiling

  • Decreased self-hygiene/grooming

  • Repetitive activity

  • Increased wandering

  • Change in sleep cycles

 

Q. Is my pet becoming senile?

Possibly. Once any underlying or other disease causes have been ruled out, there is a chance your pet may be experiencing cognitive dysfunction. Studies conducted in the early 1990s were the first to identify brain changes in older dogs that were similar to brain changes seen in humans with Alzheimer's disease (ie, ß-amyloid deposits). Laboratory tests were also developed in the 1990s to detect learning and memory deficits in older dogs. Recently these studies have started on younger dogs in order to fully understand the effect of aging on the canine brain. Similar studies in young and older cats are also ongoing.

While researchers are still not able to identify any genetic cause of why certain animals develop cognitive dysfunction, there are drugs and specific diets available that can help manage cognitive dysfunction in dogs. If you think your pet is becoming senile, discuss it with your veterinarian.

 

Q. What are the common signs of disease in an older pet?

The signs you might see will vary with the disease or problem affecting your pet, and some signs can be seen with more than one problem. As the pet's owner, you can provide your veterinarian with valuable information that can help them determine what is going on with your pet.

 

Common Warning Signs of Disease in Older Pets

Decreased appetite

Increased urination/spotting or "accidents" in the house

Coughing

Increased thirst

Straining to urinate

Difficulty breathing

Increased urination

Blood in urine

Decreased tolerance of exercise

Decreased or no urination

Weakness

Poor hair coat

Vomiting

Sore mouth

 

Q. How common is cancer in older pets?

In pets the rate of cancer increases with age. Almost half of dogs over the age of 10 will develop cancer. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while there is less information about the rate of cancer in cats. Some cancers, such as lymphoma, are more common in cats than in dogs. A diagnosis of cancer may be based on x-rays, blood tests, physical appearance of tumors, and other physical signs.

The ultimate test for cancer is through confirmation via a biopsy. 

 

Common Signs of Cancer in Pets

  • Abdominal swelling

  • Bleeding from the mouth, nose or other body openings

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Difficulty eating

  • Lumps, bumps or discolored skin

  • Non-healing wounds

  • Persistent diarrhea or vomiting

  • Sudden changes in weight

  • Unexplained swelling, heat, pain or lameness

  • Visible mass/tumor

 

Q. My pet seems to be in pain, and isn't as active as they should be. What should I do?
First, talk to your veterinarian and have them examine your pet. Your pet might have arthritis. Older pets, especially large dogs, are vulnerable to arthritis and other joint diseases, and the signs you see can vary. This chart provides the basic signs you might see if your pet has arthritis; you might see one or more of these signs in your pet.

 

Signs of Arthritis in Pets

  • Favoring a limb

  • Difficulty sitting or standing

  • Sleeping more

  • Seeming to have stiff or sore joints

  • Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs

  • Weight gain

  • Decreased activity or interest in play

  • Attitude or behavior changes (including increased irritability)

  • Being less alert

Signs of arthritis often are similar to signs of normal aging, so if your pet seems to have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, the best thing to do is to have your veterinarian examine them, and then advise you as to what treatment plan would be best to help your pet deal with the pain. Arthritis treatments for pets are similar to those for humans, and may include:

  • Healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight.

  • Working with your veterinarian to find a drug treatment that helps relieve the pain.

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): the most common treatment for arthritis in dogs. These drugs are similar to ibuprofen, aspirin, and other human pain relievers. However, never give a NSAID for people (over-the-counter or prescription) to your pet unless instructed to do so by your veterinarian; some of these drugs (such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen) can be toxic for pets. 

  • Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both may help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.

  • A veterinarian-prescribed NSAID and an over-the-counter treatment that together may help decrease pain and disease progression.

  • Diets with special supplements may also help decrease the discomfort and increase the joint mobility

Do not give human pain medications to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian. Some human products, including over-the-counter medications, can be fatal for pets.

Changes in the home environment may also help you deal with an older pet who is experiencing stiffness and/or pain. Orthopedic beds, stair steps to help an animal up to higher places (so they don't have to jump), raised feeding platforms, etc. can help make your arthritic pet's life more comfortable.

 

 

Q. When should we euthanize a pet? How will we know it's the right time?

This can be an incredibly difficult question for both the owner and the veterinarian, and is often a very tough decision to make. Sometimes, euthanasia is obviously the best thing to do for your pet. At other times, however, it can be less clear. An open discussion with your veterinarian, including an honest evaluation of your pet's quality of life, should help you make the decision.

One way to determine if your aging pet is still enjoying life and can remain with us a little longer is by using a "Quality of Life" scale to determine if the animal's basic needs are being met. This scale can be helpful for the veterinarian and pet owner when deciding what is best for your pet. In this scale, pets are scored on a scale of 1 through 10 in each category, with 10 being the highest score for quality of life. Again, only an honest evaluation of each category will help with the decision. Because the scoring is subjective, this score should be a part, but not the sole driver, of your decision based on your pet's individual situation.  ​

 

Quality of Life (HHHHHMM Scale)

0-10            HURT  Adequate pain control (including breathing ability)

0-10            HUNGER  Is the pet eating enough? Does the pet require hand-feeding or a feeding tube?

0-10            HYDRATION  Is the pet dehydrated? Does it need subcutaneous fluids?

0-10            HYGIENE  Pet needs to be brushed and clean, especially after elimination

0-10            HAPPINESS  Does the pet express joy/interest? Does it respond to its environment? Does the pet show signs of boredom/loneliness/anxiety/fear?

0-10            MOBILITY  Can the pet get up without assistance does the pet want to go for a walk? Is the pet experiencing seizures/stumbling?

0-10            MORE GOOD THAN BAD  When bad days start to outnumber good days, the quality of life becomes compromised and euthanasia needs to be considered

Total

A total of 35 points is considered acceptable for a quality of life score.

The AVMA offers several additional resources for pet owners, including brochures that are available online and can be downloaded and printed at no charge.

Copyright © 2018 Skyline Animal Hospital LLC. All rights reserved.

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