Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I spay/neuter my pet?
We usually spay (female cats and dogs) and neuter (male cats and dogs) between 5 and 6 months of age. At this age, most cats and dogs are still not sexually mature, but they are old enough to tolerate anesthesia and a successful surgical outcome.
Many shelters in the United States spay and neuter as early as 8 weeks of age. This is to ensure that all adopted pets leaving the shelter are sterilized. Henrietta Animal Hospital prefers to wait until your pet is old enough to handle the surgery successfully!
For additional information about spaying and neutering pets, visit our dedicated page here.
How can I check my pet for fleas?
A flea is a tiny, laterally flat and wingless insect that lives on the blood of its host. Fleas have long legs that enable them to jump tremendous distances, and they quickly crawl through your animal’s fur. Check your cat or dog frequently for fleas by brushing them while they are standing over a white sheet or towel; flea feces—small, black flecks of digested blood—will fall off easily, indicating the presence of fleas. A flea comb with very fine teeth is helpful for removing flea debris and may remove some adult fleas if enough are present.
Most fleas congregate over the rump and tail area of the pet. If evidence of fleas is noted, the animal should also be checked for tapeworm segments, which appear as cream-colored, rice-like segments stuck in the fur around the anus or in the feces. Consult with us for recommendations concerning flea control and prevention.
Should I vaccinate my older dog or cat?
Unfortunately there is no definite answer to this very common question. Many current studies show that cats and dogs have continued protection through routine vaccinations given annually.
We suggest to owners of older pets (ages 7 and up) that they consider not vaccinating and INSTEAD request a titer check. A titer is a blood test that indicates the level of antibodies (cells that protect mammals from disease) present in your pet. Neither are guaranteed to be 100% effective, so if you have questions, we are happy to discuss it with you.
Why doesn't the Henrietta Animal Hospital declaw cats?
After declawing cats for 16 years and observing them after surgery and through their life, we have concluded that the benefits for declawing are almost non-existent.
Despite how the surgery is performed, declawed cats have more pain which can last for days to weeks, or longer.
The vast majority of declawed cats in shelters are surrendered because of behavioral problems we think are related directly to declawing.
Most problems can be eliminated by teaching owners about caring for their cats’ claws as well as nail trims and scratching posts.
How do I brush my pet's teeth?
Brushing your pet's teeth, combined with professional dental cleanings by a veterinarian, is a very important part of maintaining the animal’s health. A pet with healthy teeth and gums is more likely to keep its teeth for life, continue to eat hard food, and have less breath odor. In addition, pets that have a consistent dental health regimen are less likely to develop bacterial infections of the bloodstream. Bacteria from the teeth are known to colonize the valves of the heart, causing a type of heart disease called bacterial endocarditis.
Use the toothbrush on all the surfaces of your
pet’s teeth—especially the back molars—at least one to two times a day. The long-term benefits to its teeth, gums, and general health will be rewarding to both you and your pet.
It is important to start brushing your pet's teeth as early in life as possible. Never use
human toothpaste, as it contains foaming agents that—if swallowed—can cause the
dog or cat to vomit. Veterinary toothpaste does not contain these foaming agents, so
a pet may safely swallow it. (Most pets will try to lick it off the brush before their teeth have been cleaned!) Also available are fluoride sprays and gels that can be applied to the teeth after brushing in order to help prevent tooth decay.
There are many different types of toothbrushes designed for dogs and cats. Some fit over the finger and are called “finger brushes,” while others are very long and angled, with a wide brush head. These can be purchased from a veterinarian or a pet store. Some people use a human toothbrush with soft bristles that will not damage the gums.
How do I give my pet a pill?
Of course this is always easier said than done! Here are a few pointers that work well for us:
Hold the pill in your dominant hand and with the other hand open the mouth, as shown in the video.
With dogs only, slipping one finger onto the roof of their mouth delays them closing their mouth and gives you time to insert the pill.
If this fails, hide the pill in food but only if advised to do so as some medications must be given on an empty stomach. Try to avoid high fatty snacks if possible.
Cats differ, especially if they try to resist! Their claws may become weapons, so we strongly recommend wrapping your cat in a towel before administering medications.
Liquid medications can be inserted into a “pocket” formed when the lower lip is gently pulled forward.