I usually spay (female cats and dogs) and neuter (male cats and dogs) between 5 and 6 months of age. At this point and time, most are not sexually mature, but are old enough to tolerate anaesthesia and surgery.
Many shelters in the US are spaying and neutering as early as 8 weeks of age. This is done in order to ensure that all adopted pets leaving the shelters are sterilized and there is no chance of owners failing to follow through with spay/neuter agreements.
A flea is a tiny, laterally flat and wingless insect that subsists on the blood of its host. Fleas have long legs that enable them to jump tremendous distances and they can quickly crawl through your animal’s fur. Check your cat or dog frequently for fleas by brushing them over 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 your veterinarian for recommendations concerning flea control and prevention.
Unfortunately there is no definite answer to this very common question. Many current studies show that cats and dogs have sustained protection from routine vaccinations that are given every year.
I am suggesting to owners of older pets that they consider not vaccinating and in addition requesting a titer check. A titer is a blood test that indicates a level of antibodies (cells that protect mammals from disease).
It is not a 100% guarantee that your pet is protected, but neither are vaccines guaranteed to be 100% effective either.
In fact we know that in cats, we see a problem called injections sarcomas, which we suspect is due to a reaction from vaccinations either from the site (usually the neck) or what is in the vaccine.
After declawing cats for 16 years and observing them after surgery and through their life, I have come to the conclusion that the benefits for declawing are almost non existent.
Cats that are declawed have:
- More pain despite how the surgery is performed which can last for days to weeks and longer.
- The vast majority of declawed cats that are in shelters are surrendered because of behavioral problems we think is directly to declawing.
- Teaching the owner about caring for the cats claws via nail trims and scratching posts eliminates most problems.
Brushing your dog’s teeth, combined with professional dental cleanings by a veterinarian, is a very important part of maintaining the animal’s health. A dog 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, dogs 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.
Dogs, especially the smaller breeds, actually require the same kind of care for their teeth as people do for theirs. Smaller breeds tend to acquire a tremendous amount of plaque and tartar on their teeth. This is most likely because they often do not chew on bones and other hard items that help with the mechanical breakdown of plaque and tartar, or eat soft, canned food rather than the hard varieties.
It is important to start brushing your dog’s teeth as early in life as possible. Never use human toothpaste, since it contains foaming agents that can cause the dog to vomit if swallowed. Veterinary toothpaste does not contain these foaming agents, so a dog may safely swallow it. Most dogs love the taste of the veterinary toothpaste, which comes in a variety of flavors, including chicken, beef, and malt. (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. 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.
Use the toothbrush on all the surfaces of your dog’s teeth—especially the back molars—at least one to two times a day. You’ll quickly see results in the dog’s breath odor. The long-term benefits to its teeth, gums, and general health, will be rewarding to both you and your pet.