General Pet Health & Care

General Pet Care from a Canton vet

When it comes to caring for your pet, prevention is the best medicine!

At Cherokee Animal Hospital, our friendly veterinarians provide pet and animal care and preventative medicine including allergy treatment, heartworm prescriptions, flea and tick prevention, and pet vaccines. In addition to providing preventative and emergency vet services for pets, we also provide spay and neuter services for cats and dogs.

It’s important to ensure your kitty or pup stays healthy by keeping them up to date with their shots, medicines, and following all the advice our seasoned and friendly veterinarians offer you and your family.

Choose a pet care subject below to learn several veterinarian tips.

Spay/Neuter

Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

Let’s first infer the following. Spaying or neutering your pet does not:

  • Cause laziness or hyperactivity
  • Reduce its instinct to protect your family and home
  • Cause immature behaviors
  • Postpone or delay normal behavioral maturity
  • Alter its personality in any manner

The unfortunate reality is that more than 4 million pets are euthanizedin U.S. animal shelters each year simply because they have no home. Many are puppies and kittens less than 6 months old. Help stop this needless loss of life by and keep your pet healthier as well.

Spaying a female pet means the removal of the ovaries and uterus.  Ideally, we try to perform this surgery between 4 to 6 months of age to prevent her from going through the first heat cycle. We can reduce the risk of  breast cancer to less than 1% if spaying is performed before the first heat.

We can still reduce the risk of breast cancer if she is spayed later however, after two years of age, this is no longer the case. Spaying at later ages is still recommended to reduce other diseases such as ovarian and uterine cancer, uterine infections, and unwanted pregnancies.

Neutering a male pet means the removal of the testicles and spermatic cord.  Again the ideal age is between 4 to 6 months. Neutering eliminates the risk of  testicular cancer, the second most common tumor in male dogs and of course, unwanted pregnancies.

This surgery greatly reduces the risk of prostate cancer, prostatitis and perianal tumors.  And finally, we reduce the inclination to roam and fight as well as spraying or urine marking in cats.

Heartworms

A Vet speaks about – Heartworms and Your Pet

Pets acquire heartworms through mosquitoes that inject heartworm larvae into the bloodstream during their bite. Some areas have severe heartworm problems while other areas have virtually none.

Georgia Veterinarians say Georgia has some of the highest rates of infection. As many as 80% of unprotected dogs can become infected withheartworms. Even indoor dogs and cats are susceptible to heartworms as the mosquito is very aggressive and often gets into our homes.

The Heartworm is a large worm, up to 14 inches long, that lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected animal. Dogs and other canines such as coyotes, are the natural hosts  but cats can become infected as well.

Heartworm infection can lead to heart failure or sudden death.  Coughing and exercise intolerance are a few signs of this disease but these often take years to develop while heart disease slowly, quietly worsens. Other pets die very suddenly with no prior evidence of any problems.

This disease is nearly completely avoidable with a monthly heartworm preventative. Unfortunately, we still treat lots of dogs for heartworms and the numbers are actually rising.

Cats are very different  indeed. Once infected with heartworms, cats typically have signs of lung disease rather than the heart though sudden death and heart disease is seen occasionally.

In fact, it is thought that many of these cats are incorrectly diagnosed with feline asthma. In our area, the number of heartworm infected cats is larger than those affected by feline leukemia. So, a monthly preventative is just as important for cats!

Testing for heartworms is needed each year, even if pets are on preventative.  This is because if pets become accidentally infected, the preventatives can actually be harmful.

Fleas & Your Pet

A Vet’s Talk About Fleas

Just a few fleas can turn into a massive infestation in a hurry. Your yard is constantly being visited by wildlife such as deer, raccoons and opossums, as well other neighborhood pets (cats are notorious roamers). These animals can spread fleas and flea eggs, which can infest your pet when he goes outside.

In warm, humid areas like Georgia, fleas thrive year round. Plus, fleas can survive on your pet and inside your home all year! Year-round flea control is best for your pet. Fleas carry disease that can make both you and your pet sick.

As veterinarians, we suggest all pets in your household need to be treated— especially the cats (fleas’ favorite host). Some pets are more sensitive to fleas than others, so if you treat only the pet that’s scratching, she’s likely to be re-infested by other pets that also have fleas but aren’t giving you any itchy signals.

Generic or older over-the-counter flea control products are not as safe or effective and do not last as long as the newer products. Don’t be fooled by label claims that these products are the same. Many old products are particularly dangerous to cats. Even if they just rub against a dog treated with these products.

Unlike “natural” products, prescription flea control agents have been extensively tested and approved by the FDA.

Ask us for recommendations. We will take into consideration your pet’s environment and lifestyle to help you make the best choice. In Georgia, we need to use these products consistently year-round.

Allergies

Allergies and Your Pet from a Georgia Veterinarian

Allergies are a very common, and very frustrating problem for people and pets alike. People often get sinus symptoms and itchy, watery eyes.  While we sometimes see these signs in pets (especially cats), it is much more common to have skin and ear problems.

Pets often shake their heads, scratch their ears, lick and chew at their feet, or are itchy all over. As Vets, we see secondary skin and ear infections are a common result.

Pets can be allergic to all the same things we are. Pollens, grasses, molds, foods and insects (fleas). Just like in people, these problems often come and go throughout the year and are managed rather than cured.

This means that a certain amount of itching and chewing will often remain but, that we minimize the secondary problems with medications such as antihistamines.

Not all antihistamines are safe for pets. Some are even toxic if they contain other ingredients such as decongestants. Always call and ask if a medication is ok before giving it. We will be happy to answer or offer alternatives.

Pet Vaccines

Vaccines are medications that interact with the body’s immune system.

They are very important but are not risk free.

For this reason, we as veterinarians perform a thorough physical exam and ask detailed history questions to assure our patients are healthy enough to receive vaccines.

There are many pet vaccines available, but generally only a few that are recommended for each individual pet. Veterinary vaccine recommendations are based on the lifestyle of each individual patient.

While every dog and cat are required to be vaccinated against rabies, not every pet needs to be vaccinated against Leptospirosis…a disease transmitted in urine of infected wildlife such as deer, raccoon and beavers.

A city dwelling Chihuahua may have different exposure risks than a Labrador that hikes and camps with the family. We tailor vaccine protocols based on these lifestyles.

Not all vaccines are created equal.  For example, certain vaccines against Feline Leukemia, a deadly feline virus, are much safer than others. They are created in ways that greatly decrease possible side effects and reaction. We use the safest vaccines available for all our vaccine choices.

Legally, veterinarians must have a current relationship with each pet to prescribe any medication or administer vaccines.