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* How old does my pet have to be for spaying or neutering?

The majority of dogs and cats are typically spayed or neutered before they reach sexual maturity. We recommend spaying or neutering between the ages of 12 and 16 weeks. It is not recommended or encouraged for females to have a litter prior to becoming spayed.


• Why should I have my pets feces examined?

It is important to test your pets stool sample for intestinal parasites. Our pets can harbor several different intestinal parasites some of which can infect you and your family.  These parasites are not always visible to the eye and require microscopic evaluation.  Those diseases and infections, which are transmitted between animals and man are called Zoonoses. The parasites described below are all zoonotic diseases and are best identified with a fecal exam.

Roundworms (ascarids) are the most common intestinal parasite of dogs and cats. Pets become infected by swallowing roundworm eggs or larvae (immature worms) found in contaminated soil or feces (stool). Human infection with roundworm larvae is possible but does not occur frequently if good hygiene is practiced. Children and avid gardeners are most at risk as the larvae are often found in the soil where pet defecate. If this contaminated soil is ingested humans can become infected leading to serious health problems.

Hookworm (ancylostoma, uncinaria). A common worm infecting humans and domestic dogs and cats. As with roundworms humans are at risk when exposed to contaminated soil.  Animals are typically infected through ingestion of feces or larvae in the soil, but can also be infected via mothers milk.  This is a common cause of puppy mortality. Hookworms can be treated and prevented. 

Giardia is a single-cell organism (protozoa) that can infect the intestinal tract of people and most domestic animals. Infection can occur when contaminated feces, food, or water is ingested. Dog who hike with owners may be more at risk when they drink from contaminated streams.

Other internal parasites that your pet can be infected with include tapeworms, coccidia and whipworms. Regular fecal examinations and monthly dewormer are the best insurance against infections.


* Why does my pet need a current physical before vaccines?

 There can be significant physical changes in your pet's health from year to year. It is important to take time to examine your pet's heart, lungs, eyes, ears, nose, throat, skin, hair, coat, as well as the musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, urogenital systems. During the exam Dr. Sheffield may also address your concerns about nutrition, behavior or other pet health care issues. Early recognition of potential health problems can go a long ways towards improving and extending the quality of life your pet will enjoy.

* Why can't vaccinations be given without a current physical?

Prior to administering any vaccination, we want to establish that your pet is healthy.  Animals that are not healthy may not mount effective immune responses to the vaccinations, diminishing the effectiveness and value of the vaccines. 

A thorough physical exam allows us to detect health problems before they become threatening to the health and comfort of your pet. We can find (and treat) disease such as: dental disease, including tooth decay, gingivitis, and tarter buildup, benign and malignant cancers, including mammary tumors, skin masses, and abdominal tumors, ear infections and heart disease. Early detection is the key to successfully treating and/or curing many of these ailments.

* When should I vaccinate my pet?

Vaccine series for puppies and kittens usually begin at 8 weeks of age.  They receive boosters every 3 weeks until they are 14-16 weeks of age.  If you acquire your pet after this age, please schedule an exam so that Dr. Sheffield can help determine a vaccine schedule that is appropriate for your pet.

* If your pet has a vaccine reaction

Severe reactions to look out for would be persistent vomiting and diarrhea, hives and swelling, particularly in the face, extreme itchiness, difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these signs, call your veterinarian and seek emergency care immediately.


* Does my pet really need heartworm prevention?

YES!!!!!  Heartworm disease is serious and very painful and expensive to treat.  It is easily prevented.  Heartworm prevention for dogs should begin at 8 weeks of age and given every 30 days year round.  Cats should also be protected from heartworms beginning at 9 weeks of age and applied monthly year round. There is no treatment for heartworm disease in cats. Heartworm prevention should be applied to indoor cats as well, as the mosquito vector has been known to come indoors.  Please take the responsibility to protect all your beloved pets. 


* Flea/Tick control

We have many products to choose from.  Please ask Dr. Sheffield which best suits your pet's needs.  Monthly flea control and/or flea/tick control is recommended for your pets ultimate comfort and health.  Fleas can transmit tapeworms to our pets.  Tapeworms are not always identified in fecal examinations, but are noticed on the fur around the anus or on the stool itself.  Occassionally, scooting or anal itching may be noticed.  Please contact us if your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms or if you notice any of these parasites.




* When should I call the Vet to make an appointment?

You should make an appointment when any of the following 
occur for your pet:

  • Changes in behavior.
  • Not eating or drinking.
  • Any chance of ingestion of a foreign/toxic substance.
  • Limping or increased stiffness.
  • Vomiting.
  • Sudden weight increase or decrease.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Difficulty in eliminating, straining.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Straining to urinate.
  • Difficult or labored breathing.
  • Eye discharge, redness, swelling, or squinting.
  • Nasal or ear discharge.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Difficulty moving or unusual movements.
  • New lumps or bumps.
  • Itching, scratching or chewing of the skin.
  • Any change in the skin/hair coat.
  • Lethargy, unusual restlessness or depression.
  • Shaking of the head.
  • Rapid swellings, especially about the head or abdomen.
  • Elevated temperature or sudden drop in temperature, shivering.
  • Rapid or extremely slow pulse.
  • Coughing, wheezing, or sneezing.






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