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Frequently Asked Questions

At what age should my puppy or kitten begin receiving vaccinations?
 
We recommend beginning to vaccinate a puppy or kitten at 8 weeks of age and approximately every 3 weeks there after until 16 weeks of age.
 
What vaccines should my pet get?
 
Dogs:
  • DHLPP-(Distemper, Hepatitis, (Leptospirosis), Parainfluenza, Parvo virus)- This vaccine containing 4-5 components is started at 8 weeks of age and is given at 2- 3 week intervals until the age of 16 weeks; then is boostered the following year. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by drinking water that has been contaminated by wild life. Whether or not this component of the vaccine is used depends on you dog’s lifestyle. Our veterinarians will discuss this with you further to help customize vaccines to your pets needs. Future vaccine boosters are done yearly or every 3 years depending on whether or not your dog is being vaccinated for Leptospirosis.
     
  • Bordetella- “Canine Cough” is given any time after 6 weeks of age. We recommend this vaccine on a yearly basis if your dog is boarded, groomed or in close contact with multiple dogs.
     
  • Rabies- Rabies is given as early as 12 weeks of age, and then boostered the following year. Future vaccines if kept current are protective for 3 years. Additional boosters may be required if any exposure occurs.
     
  • Lyme- Lyme vaccine is recommended if your dog is going to be hiking, biking, camping, hunting, or if you live in close proximity to deer. Lyme has recently become prevalent in our area and if your dog is in one of these risk groups we strongly recommend vaccinating as a preventative measure. This vaccine can be given at 9 weeks of age and needs to be boostered in 2 to 3 weeks; then annually.
     
Cats:
  • FVRCP- (Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, Panleukopenia)- We begin the feline distemper at 8 weeks of age, and repeat every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks of age; then booster the following year. Future vaccine if kept current are protective for 3 years for most cats.
     
  • FeLV- Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is recommended for any cats that will be going outside. The vaccine can be given at 9 weeks of age, is boostered 3-4 weeks later and then annually.
     
  • Rabies- Rabies can be given as early as 12 weeks of age, and then is boostered annually.
     
Ferrets:
  • Distemper- Distemper in ferrets is started between 6 and 8 weeks of age and then boostered every 3 weeks. After such time they are boostered annually.
     
  • Rabies- Given at 12 weeks, and then boostered annually.
     
Why does my cat need vaccines if it’s an indoor cat?
 
All cats regardless of indoor, outdoor status are required by Maine state law to be vaccinated against rabies. In addition bats are among common carriers of rabies, and they sometimes enter the house.
 
Why do they need rabies?
 
Rabies is a viral infection of the central nervous tissue that is fatal in most mammalian species. It is Maine state law that all cats and dogs be vaccinated for rabies. All other livestock and domestic pets are to be vaccinated at the veterinarian’s discretion. We vaccinate animals not only for their protection against this virus, but more importantly we vaccinate to provide a barrier for humans from indigenous animals (bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes).
 
How old is my pet?
 
If you are not sure of the age of a pet, the doctor may be able to approximate the age based on physical traits. The younger an animal is the easier it is to estimate their age, while the older the animal is it becomes more difficult to determine.
 
Should I spay or neuter my pet? At what age?
 
Yes. In addition to helping to reduce the over population of abandoned animals in our local shelter, there are multiple medical advantages to having you pet spayed or neutered. Typically we recommend doing this procedure between 5 and 6 months of age.
 
Why do I need to check a stool sample on a regular basis?
 
Stool sample will test your pet for intestinal parasites. Intestinal parasites are transmitted through contact with infected stool or by ingestion of small animals. It is possible for these parasites to be transmitted to humans so periodic screening is recommended. Another important prevention measure is to wash your hands carefully after working in the yard, also to cover sandboxes as stray animals find these excellent litter boxes.
 
How much should I be feeding my pet?
 
We generally recommend feeding a high quality commercial pet food, and following the guidelines on the back of the bag.
 
Why do I need a physical exam every time I come in?
 
A physical exam is needed to ensure the general health of the patient. Physical exams as well as blood analysis and radiographs can often detect disease conditions before the animal starts to show any symptoms. In general early detection of an illness allows for a better outcome. In addition we cannot dispense any medications without having seen the animal.
 
Are ear infections contagious?
 
Most ear infections are caused by yeast and bacteria over growth, which are not contagious. The exception to this is ear infections caused by ear mites which is most common in cats.
 
Can I give my pet over the counter medications?
 
As a rule of thumb, we do not recommend any human over the counter medications be given to animals, though it is always a good idea to check with your veterinarian before giving any medications to you pet. Certain common human drugs can cause sever liver damage, kidney damage or gastrointestinal ulcers.
 
How do animals get heartworm?
 
Heartworms are transmitted from one dog to another by mosquitoes. When a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae bites your dog the larvae can be transmitted. Heartworm preventative kills this stage of the heartworm, before it has the chance to develop into the adult form. Without heartworm preventative, the larvae will continue to develop in the blood until they reach the heart where they will attach in the right atrium. Heartworms can grow 7 to 11 inches in length and if the infection is great enough the heartworms can cause serious damage to the heart and lungs. In the severe cases, they can cause heart failure.
 
Why do I need to heartworm test my dog if he/she is on heartworm preventative?
 
We recommend bi-annual heartworm testing even if your dog is on heartworm medication year round for several reasons: 1) ensure the medication is working, 2) screens for other diseases including: Lyme disease (a tick born bacteria) and Ehrlichiosis (another tick born disease).
 
Can cats get heartworm?
 
Yes, cats can get heartworm. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes which can get inside the house.
 
What is a feline immunodeficiency virus/ feline leukemia virus combo test?
 
The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) are two viral infections that are transmissible from cat to cat. Both diseases are eventually fatal. Although you cat may appear to be healthy, some cats can live upwards of 7 years with out showing any symptoms. It is possible for your cat, if infected, to spread the disease without showing symptoms.

To run the test we simply need a few drops of blood and 10 minutes. We recommend testing if your cat falls into one of the following groups:

  • Newly adopted
  • Was a stray
  • Spends time outside
  • Gets into Fights
  • Has had a bite wound
 
At what age do females begin their first “heat” cycle?
 
Depending on the breed and size of your pet “heat” or estrus, normally begins between the ages of 8 and 15 months. On occasion it can begin as early as 6 months.
 
How long does a pregnancy typically last?
 
Dogs typically 63 to 68 days
Cats typically 62 to 65 days
 
I have treated my pets for fleas but they keep coming back, what am I doing wrong?
 
The important factor in treating for fleas is that you need to treat the animal and the environment at the same time. Also you need to kill every stage of the flea, or you will need to treat again. We recommend using Frontline® as it will kill all stages of the flea. You will need to use it for at least several months for best results.
Below is some information from Merial, the makers of Frontline®, about the life cycle of fleas:

Flea Life Cycle

Although fleas can be a problem for your pets all year, flea populations typically explode about 5–6 weeks after the weather starts to warm up.

EGG STAGE
A female lays about 2,000 eggs in her lifetime. In one day, a single female flea can lay up to 50 eggs. The eggs aren't sticky – some may quickly fall off your pet and into areas of your home. In two to five days, the eggs hatch.

LARVAL STAGE
After hatching, the larvae head toward dark places around your home and feed on "flea dirt" – excrement of the partially digested blood of your pet. The larvae grow, molt twice, then spin cocoons, where they grow to pupae.

PUPA STAGE
Immature fleas spend approximately 8–9 days in their cocoon. During this time, they continue to grow to adulthood, waiting for the signals that it is time to emerge

.ADULT STAGE
Full-grown adults detect heat, vibrations and exhaled carbon dioxide from inside their cocoons, telling them a host is nearby. The adults leave their cocoons, hop onto a host, find a mate and begin the life cycle all over again.


Adult fleas on your pet are only the tip of the infestation iceberg:

FRONTLINE® Brand Products break the flea life cycle by killing adult fleas before they can lay their eggs. FRONTLINE Plus provides additional flea control by killing flea eggs and larvae.


Why is it bad to give my pet table-scraps?
 
Dogs and cats have different nutritional requirements than people do. Commercial prepared foods are specifically balanced to meet your pets’ needs. Pancreatic (an inflammation of the pancreas which can be life threatening) often occurs in animals that eat table scraps.

What do you recommend to prevent heartworm disease?
 
It doesn’t matter whether your dog is a pampered pooch or is active and strong, every dog is at risk for getting heartworm disease, a potentially deadly condition. Fortunately, prevention is easy with HEARTGARD (ivermectin) Chewables or HEARTGARD Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel), because dogs prefer the taste and texture of these Real-Beef Chewables. Given once a month year-round, HEARTGARD or HEARTGARD Plus is the easiest way to ensure your pet has protection from deadly heartworm disease.
 

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