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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

This page serves as a forum for us to provide answers to general questions posed by our clients and friends. The answers provided are for informational and educational purposes only, and are supplements to, not a substitute for, the judgment of a licensed veterinarian. Any serious questions regarding your pet’s health or behavior should be addressed individually by telephone or through an office visit. Questions for the FAQs page can be submitted by surface mail or email. Our email address is Personal responses to individual questions should NOT be expected. We will post answers to selected questions as often as possible. No personal, identifying information will be included in our responses. In depth discussions on a number of other topics can be found on the Client Handouts page.

Our veterinary hospital is proudly located in White Bear Lake, Minnesota; serving the communities of White Bear Lake, Hugo, Forest Lake, Mahtomedi, Birchwood Village, Willernie, Grant, Stillwater, Lake Elmo, Oakdale, Maplewood, Gem Lake, North St. Paul, St. Paul, Vadnais Heights, North Oaks, Arden Hills, Shoreview, Lino Lakes, Roseville and beyond! We thank you for choosing our veterinary hospital and invite you to read below for more information!

1) My pet hardly ever goes outside. Does he/she really need to be vaccinated?

Our veterinary hospital recommends that pet vaccinations be considered on an individual basis according to your specific pet and advice from a licensed veterinarian. We do not recommend all vaccines for all pets. However, we strongly encourage all pets to be vaccinated for the “core” diseases. Optional vaccinations should be considered based on your pet’s lifestyle. The core vaccines include Distemper, Adenovirus Type 2, Coronavirus, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza, Leptospira, and Rabies for dogs, as well as Distemper, Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Rabies for cats. Many of these diseases can be passed from infected animals to your pet indirectly through contaminated shoes, clothing, water or food bowl, your hands, or the air.

In addition, our veterinarians and staff strongly believe that it is very important that all pets be vaccinated for Rabies even though most pets are at extremely low risk of infection. Pets can unexpectedly escape and become infected or Rabies infected animals (skunks, bats, raccoons) may gain entrance to your home unexpectedly. All dogs are required by law to be vaccinated for Rabies and many communities require that cats be vaccinated for Rabies as well. You should check with your individual community regarding cat Rabies vaccination requirements.
Vaccinating your pet for Rabies also provides peace of mind. In the unfortunate event that your pet bites someone, it is much less stressful for you and the bite victim if your pet has been previously vaccinated for Rabies. Unvaccinated pets have had to be euthanized and tested for Rabies to satisfy bite victims or their families. For additional information, please see the Client Handouts page, A Healthy Start for Your New Kitten and A Healthy Start for Your New Puppy.

If you have additional questions, feel free to contact our animal clinic directly!

2) My dog was recently diagnosed with hip dysplasia. What exactly is it and what are my treatment options?

Hip dysplasia is the malformation and degeneration of the coxofemoral or hip joint(s). The coxofemoral joint is a ball-and-socket type of connection between the head of the femur (ball) and the acetabulum (socket).

Hip dysplasia is a developmental defect that is affected by a number of genetic and environmental factors. Diagnosis is based on the pet’s history, physical examination findings, and radiographs. You can refer to the x-rays below for examples of both normal and dysplastic dog hips.

Treatment options include management of the degenerative joint disease (for an in depth discussion, see the Client Handouts page, Degenerative Joint Disease and Your Pet) and surgery. Surgical options commonly recommended by our veterinarians and staff include the following:

  1. Triple Pelvic Osteotomy – the head of the femur and the acetabulum are realigned via a series of surgical incisions through the pelvis,
  2. Total Hip Replacement – an artificial hip joint is implanted to replace the head of the femur and the acetabulum
  3. Excision Arthroplasty – the head and neck of the femur are removed (see x-rays 3 and 4 below).
  4. Denervation – the nerves that send pain signals from the hip to the brain are detached from the rim of the acetabulum resulting in a loss of pain sensation from the affected hip(s).

Each surgical procedure comes with its own risks and benefits. Not every patient is a good candidate for every surgical procedure so proper patient selection is critical. Be sure to discuss all available options with your veterinarian in order to decide which treatment option is best for you and your pet. Please remember, pets known to have hip dysplasia should never be bred.

The following radiographs (x-rays) were taken with the dog in the standard position known as VD or ventrodorsal. The dog is laying on its back and its head is at the top of the radiograph. The dog’s left side is on the right side of the radiograph and the dog’s right side is on the left side of the radiograph.

A dog with normal hips

A dog with severe bilateral hip dysplasia.

The same dog after undergoing Excisional Arthroplasty

The same dog several months after surgery on the left hip

3) When is the best time to spay/neuter my pet?

Spaying (ovariohysterectomy) of female dogs and cats is best done at about six months of age, before the first heat cycle.

Spaying will likely lengthen the life of your pet, since she will not develop Pyometritis, a potentially life-threatening uterine infection not uncommon in unspayed, middle-aged or older dogs and cats. Treatment for Pyometritis requires surgery at a time when she is quite ill. The spayed pet is also less likely to develop mammary (breast) tumors, which often develop as she gets older, especially if she has several litters.

Neutering (orchectomy) or castration of a male dog or cat is an operation which may be performed by a veterinarian at six months of age or older. After he has the operation your pet will make an even better companion. He will express his vitality in play, often quitting some of his male behavior traits found to be embarrassing or unwanted.

A neutered pet is less likely to roam thereby decreasing his chance of being hurt or killed and less apt to damaging a neighbor’s personal property. Neutering will also eliminate the possibility of your pet’s developing testicular cancer and benign prostatic enlargement (dogs only) in their older years.

A neutered cat will not undergo anxiety and stress, accompanied by aggressiveness and howling when in the presence of a female cat in heat. He will stay home more frequently, exhibiting less desire to roam. If neutering is completed when the cat is young, he may not acquire the bad habit of spraying or urine marking.

For additional questions, you can always consult with our veterinarians directly, or visit our animal hospital to speak with us about your pet.

4) How do I know when it is the right time to euthanize my pet?

This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult questions we face as pet owners and as veterinarians. Every case is different. The determination of an individual pet’s quality of life is complex and is best determined by those who know him/her best.

Issues to consider include:

1) whether or not your pet is in pain (pain in pets can be difficult to determine but signs may include abnormal vocalization, restlessness, increased heart and respiratory rates, dilated pupils, muscle tremors and changes in appetite and/or sleeping patterns),
2) whether or not he/she is able to get around relatively independently to eat, drink, urinate, defecate,
3) does he/she seem happy (does your pet wag its tail, greet you at the door, enjoy his/her treats, want to play).

We strongly recommend that you discuss your individual situation with a veterinarian before making any determinations regarding euthanasia so that you are fully aware of your diagnostic and treatment options.

The following online article (click here) may me helpful in making decisions regarding your pet’s quality of life and
end of life decisions.

To help evaluate your pet’s quality of life, the Quality of Life Scale is reprinted below. It allows owners to quantify their pet’s quality of life based on several different criteria.

Using a scale of 0 to 10 (0 = Unacceptable, 10 = Excellent), patients can be evaluated for their quality of life.

    Score Criterion

  • 0 – 10 Hurt – Is the patient in pain, including distress from difficulty in breathing? Can the pet’s pain be successfully managed? Is oxygen necessary?
  • 0 – 10 Hunger – Is the pet eating enough? Does hand-feeding help? Does the pet require a feeding tube?
  • 0 – 10 Hydration – Is the pet dehydrated? Are subcutaneous fluids once or twice daily enough to resolve the problem? Are they well tolerated?
  • 0 – 10 Hygiene – The pet should be kept brushed and clean, particularly after elimination. Does the pet have pressure sores?
  • 0 – 10 Happiness – Does the pet express joy and interest? Is it responsive to things around it (family, toys, etc)? Is the pet depressed, lonely, anxious, bored, afraid? Can the pet’s bed be near the kitchen and moved near family activities to minimize isolation?
  • 0 – 10 Mobility – Can the pet get up without assistance? Does the pet need human or mechanical help (eg, cart)? Does the pet feel like going for a walk? Is the pet having seizures or stumbling?
  • 0 – 10 More Good Days than Bad – When bad days outnumber good days, the pet’s suffering is appreciable and quality of life might be too compromised. When a healthy human-animal bond is no longer possible, the caregiver must be made aware that the end is near.

   Total: A total of greater than 35 points is acceptable quality of life for pets.

Adapted from Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond, Villalobos A, Kaplan L, Hoboken, NJ, Wiley-Blackwell, 2007 and Decision-Making Issues with Euthanasia, Villalobos A, Ethics in Practice, NAVC Clinician’s Brief, May 2008, pp 23-24.

In the event that you decide to euthanize your pet, the following Pet Loss and Grief Resources may be helpful. This list was originally compiled by Twin City Tails magazine.

5) My dog/cat hardly ever goes outside. Does he/she really need heartworm testing and prevention?

The short answer is YES.

The long answer is…

Heartworm disease is caused by the blood parasite Dirofiliaria immitis. An
immature form of the parasite is transmitted by female mosquitoes from an
infected animal to an uninfected animal. Both dogs and cats can be affected.
Heartworm disease is endemic in our area, meaning that there are enough
unprotected infected dogs to continually maintain the disease. Since
heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes, any dog or cat exposed to mosquitoes
is at risk of contracting the disease.

Therefore even “indoor” pets are at risk of heartworm disease since
mosquitoes can enter our homes and since most dogs and some cats go outside
to urinate, defecate, play, walk, etc. Current heartworm tests for dogs
indicate whether or nor a dog was exposed six months or longer ago.
Therefore, we recommend first testing dogs when they are between eight and
nine months of age AND if they were born during heartworm season. If one of
these requirements is not met the pet should be put on heartworm prevention
and tested at an appropriate time.

We recommend that all dogs be tested regularly for heartworm disease. There
is now an in-house test for heartworm disease in cats, however, we are not
recommending it on a regular, screening basis. The frequency of the
recommended testing depends on which preventative you chose to use.

For more information, check out the website for The American Heartworm

The two heartworm prevention products we offer are Heartgard Plus and
Revolution. ProHeart6, a third heartworm prevention option, was recalled due
to reports of possible adverse reactions. ProHeart 6 has recently been
reintroduced to the market, but we do not currently carry it in our clinic.
See FAQs Number 18 for more information.

The specifics of the three products are summarized in the table below, where
D = dogs and C = cats:

Product Heartgard Plus proHeart 6 Revolution
Active ingredient(s) Ivermectin/Pyrantel Moxidectin Selamectin
Used in which species? Dogs only Dogs only Dogs and Cats
Means of administration chewable tablet (at home) injection (in clinic) topical (at home)
Frequency of administration monthly every 6 months monthly
Period of administration 8 months (May – December) year round 8 months (May – December)
Frequency of testing annually first and second years, then every other year annually
Age at which can first be given 6 weeks for puppies and kittens 6 months for puppies only, not recommend for kittens 6 weeks for puppies and kittens
Safe for pregnant or lactating animals? yes yes yes
Other parasites affected hookworms, roundworms hookworms D: sarcoptic mange mites, fleas, ear mites, American dog tick C: fleas,
ear mites, hookworms, roundworms
Safe for Collies and other Ivermectin-sensitive breeds? yes yes yes
Safe for heartworm positive dogs? probably, but not labeled for such use probably, but not recommended probably, but not recommended

6) My cat has recently been urinating/defecating outside of the litter box. What can I do about this?

Feline inappropriate elimination (urination and/or defecation) can be very frustrating for owners and veterinarians.

There are many possible reasons for a cat not to use its litter box, including medical problems, behavioral problems, or some combination of the two.

The first step in diagnosing the problem is to bring your cat to your veterinarian for a complete history and a thorough physical examination. At that time we will likely want to collect urine for analysis, and possibly bacterial culture. We may also want to collect blood for analysis and/or take radiographs (x-rays).

Specific recommendations will depend on the individual case. Problems of feline elimination disorders, while frustrating, can often be solved with patience, persistence, and dedication both on the part of the owner and the veterinarian.

Don’t give up.

7) How old is my cat/dog in human years?

Our pets age at varying rates depending on a number of factors including species (cat versus dog) and size. The information summarized in the table below is based on data provided by IDEXX Laboratories and Fred L. Metzger, DVM, DABVP.

8) My groomer said that my dog's anal sacs were very full. What are they anyway and should I be concerned?

Anal sacs are a pair of sacs located between the internal and external anal sphincter muscles on either side of the anus in carnivores. The walls of the sacs are lined with numerous glands. The nature of these glands varies somewhat between dogs and cats.

The secretions from the glands are malodorous, usually grey to brown, liquid to granular to pasty in consistency, and are normally expelled in small quantities with each defecation. The secretions likely serve as a form of territorial marking or individual identification.
Problems which can arise with anal sacs include impaction, ductal blockage, infection, abscess formation, and rupture.

Unfortunately, there are malignant tumors which can affect the anal sacs as well. Signs of anal sac problems include “scooting” on the floor or ground, rubbing or licking of the anal area, rear end sensitivity, and changes in the gait or lameness (primarily seen in cats).
Visual and manual inspection of the anal sacs will usually reveal the problem. If necessary the anal sacs’ contents can be emptied by either external or internal manual expression.

Most groomers will only perform external expression. If a pet has severe or repeated episodes of anal sac problems surgical removal of the sacs is curative. A thorough history and physical examination is the best place to start if you have concerns that your pet may be experiencing problems with his/her anal sacs.

9) My veterinarian recommended preanesthetic blood work for my, apparently, healthy pet. Is it really necessary?


We strongly believe that preanesthetic blood work is important no matter what the age of
your pet. Our four main reasons for recommending preanesthetic blood work are:

Provide the pet’s owner with peace of mind by reducing medical/anesthetic risk and
ensuring the health and safety of the pet. Reduce anesthetic risk by identifying potential
problems which might require a change in anesthetic protocol. Provide a baseline of
information to compare against in the future. Detect diseases earlier, before the pet is
showing more obvious clinical signs of disease.

Obviously there is no way to guarantee a safe anesthetic procedure, but preanesthetic
blood work (combined with a thorough history, physical examination, and other diagnostic
tests as indicated) provides a great deal of information regarding your pet’s ability to
tolerate anesthesia, to breakdown and excrete the anesthetic drug(s), and to form normal
blood clots. Depending on the individual case, additional tests (blood, urine),
radiographs (x-rays), electrocardiogram (ECG), or other diagnostic procedures may be
recommended prior to your pet’s anesthetic procedure. Exactly what type of blood work we
recommend prior to anesthesia depends on the age of your pet.

For Juvenile and Adult pets we recommend a Select Preanesthetic Profile. For Senior and
Geriatric pets we recommend a Complete Preanesthetic Profile. See the answer to
FAQs Number 7 to see how old your pet is in human years. The individual
tests and their significance are summarized below.

Select Preanesthetic Profile
and Adult Pets

Test Definition Significance
Alanine Aminotransferase
An enzyme specific to liver cells Increased ALT may indicate liver disease or injury or the presence of
certain drugs.
Alkaline Phosphatase
An enzyme produced by the cells lining the gall bladder and the bile ducts and by
Increased ALP may indicate liver, bile duct, bone or hormonal disease or
may be associated with normal growth in young animals or the presence of certain
Blood Urea Nitrogen
A by-product of red blood cell metabolism produced by the liver and excreted by
the kidneys
Increased BUN may indicate dehydration, kidney disease, urinary tract
obstruction, a recent meal or gastrointestinal bleeding.
BUN may indicate liver disease, excessive drinking and urination,
anorexia or a low-protein diet.
A by-product of muscle metabolism produced by the liver and excreted by the
Increased Crea may indicate kidney disease or urinary tract obstruction or
feeding cooked meat.
Crea may indicate severe loss of muscle mass.
A simple sugar (monosaccharide) used as a major source of energy, stored in the
liver as glycogen
Increased Glu may indicate hormonal disease, stress (especially in cats), a
recent meal or the presence of certain drugs.
Glu may indicate insulin overdose, overexertion, liver disease,
infection, cancer, severe infection or starvation.
Total Protein
A combined measurement of a number of different proteins, including Albumin
(see below)
Increased TP may indicate dehydration, infection, immune-mediated disease
or cancer.
Decreased TP may indicate liver, kidney, gastrointestinal or parasitic
disease, hemorrhage or inadequate protein intake.
(Sodium, Na+)
(Potassium, K+)
(Chloride, Cl-)
Chemicals that carry either a positive or negative charge and are involved in the
electrical balance of all cells in the body
Changes in electrolytes are often associated with hydration status, medications or
conditions affecting the gastrointestinal, hormonal or urinary systems.
Packed Cell Volume
The percentage of the blood that is made up of red blood cells Increased PCV may indicate dehydration.
PCV indicates anemia.

Complete Preanesthetic Profile
and Geriatric Pets
Includes all of the tests in the Select Preanesthetic Profile in
addition to:

Test Definition Significance
An important protein molecule produced by the liver Increased Alb may indicate dehydration.
Alb may indicate liver, kidney, gastrointestinal, or parasitic
disease, hemorrhage or inadequate protein intake.
A digestive enzyme produced by the pancreas and excreted by the kidneys Increased Amy may indicate kidney, pancreatic or intestinal  disease.
A mineral important in proper formation and function of the heart, muscles, bones,
teeth, nerves and blood clots
Increased Ca may indicate kidney or parathyroid disease, cancer or
Ca may indicate low Albumin, kidney or parathyroid disease, post-
partum complications or toxicity.
A steroid alcohol found in animal fats and oils, bile, blood, brain tissue, milk,
nerves, liver, kidneys and adrenal glands
Increased Chol may be spontaneous or diet related or may indicate liver,
kidney or hormonal disease.
Chol may indicate intestinal or liver disease, cancer or severe
An essential dietary mineral important to bone and cell metabolism Increased Phos may indicate a young growing animal, kidney, hormonal, bone,
or muscle disease or toxicity.
Phos may indicate intestinal or kidney disease.
Total Bilirubin
A metabolic by-product of hemoglobin and a component of bile that is secreted by
the liver into the gastrointestinal tract
Increased TBili may indicate liver, bile duct, or pancreatic disease or red
blood cell destruction.

10) I am planning on taking a trip with my pet. Is there anything special I need to know?

Owner’s frequently travel with their pet dogs and cats. Whether the trip is
local, interstate, or international will determine what you need to do ahead
of time. Regardless of the trip your pet should be current on all relevant
vaccinations and parasite prevention. Contact your veterinarian to see what
your pet might need. You should be sure to have documentation of your pet’s
vaccinations especially your signed Rabies vaccination certificate. For
additional recommendations, see the list below:

For interstate and international travel a completed United States Department
of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS)
Certificate of Health Examination For Small Animals (Form 7001) must be
completed by an accredited veterinarian within 10 days of transport. These
certificates are valid for 30 days. If your pet is transported again after
the initial 30 days you will need to complete a new Certificate of Health

For in depth information and recommendations on air travel with pet dogs and
cats from the USDA APHIS, click here and here.

For in depth information on country by country regulations regarding pet
transportation from the USDA APHIS, click here and here.

If you are transporting your pet by air, train, bus, or ship be sure to
contact your carrier several weeks in advance and find out what their
specific requirements are. These requirements vary and are subject to change.

Some pets find travel to be a stressful or even nauseating experience. If
this sounds like your pet, contact your veterinarian to discuss possible

If your pet requires special food or medications make sure you have enough
for your trip or take written prescriptions with you.

We strongly recommend permanently identifying your pet with a HomeAgain
microchip just in case your pet is lost or stolen. Make sure that your pet is
wearing a sturdy, safe collar with identifying information and Rabies tag.

11) I have recently seen several commercials and print advertisements regarding less expensive prescription medications for my pet that I can purchase by mail or over the internet. Can't I just buy my pet's medications through them and save a little money?

Update: The FDA has recently warned pet owners against purchasing their pet’s medications online. The FDA Consumer Health Information Sheet can be found by clicking here.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings to pet owners regarding purchasing their pets’ medications online. To review the FDA’s information, follow the links below:

Purchasing Pet Drugs Online: Buyer Beware
Online Pet Pharmacies, Protect Yourself and Your Pet: Be A.W.A.R.E.

Our summarized response to clients questions regarding purchasing their pets’ medications online is summarized in the following PDF:ALERT! A more detailed discussion of the online pharmacy issue is provided below.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) encourages member veterinarians to honor their clients’ requests to prescribe rather than dispense a drug when a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) exists and the veterinarian has determined that the drug is medically necessary. However, before you have your pet’s prescription filled by a mail order or internet pharmacy, you should ask yourself and the pharmacy several questions:

  • Are they properly staffed with an actual licensed pharmacist and technicians and are they properly trained and up-to-date in the field of veterinary pharmacy?
  • Do they make illegal or unethical therapeutic and/or safety claims?
  • Is the pharmacy willing to alter your prescription – increase the number of refills or increase the number of doses without proper authorization?
  • Is this a quality pharmacy, licensed in your state and in the state where they are located?
  • Is the pharmacy a member of the voluntary pharmacy certification program created by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NAPB) called VIPPS (Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites)? Contact the NAPB at for more information.
  • Do they offer prescription authorization by their “pharmacy staff veterinarian” without involving your regular, attending veterinarian? The AVMA does not believe that a valid VCPR can be created over the telephone or the internet.
  • Do they offer to dispense medication despite denial of the prescription by the attending veterinarian?
  • Is the pharmacy located offshore or in a foreign country, and thereby not subject to U.S. law enforcement?
  • Do they have adequate quality assurance of product safety?
  • Can they assure proper storage and shipping of the product?
  • Are they adequately informed to check for possible drug interactions?
  • Does this pharmacy harass veterinarians for prescription orders or refills?
  • Are you really saving that much money after considering shipping and handling costs?
    Is the pharmacy guilty of dispensing:

  • Prescription medications without a prescription?
  • Improperly labeled products?
  • Improperly packaged products?
  • Medications not approved by the FDA?
  • The wrong medication?
  • Illegally imported or foreign products?
  • Products stripped of tracking labels?
  • Generic products illegally substituted?
  • Counterfeit products? Click here for more information from the EPA
  • on counterfeit products for dogs and cats.
    If the pharmacy offers pharmaceutical compounding:

  • Are the raw materials used to produce the compounded formulation of high quality?
  • What type of quality testing is performed?
  • Is their staff adequately trained?
  • Do they use up-to-date equipment that is properly maintained and calibrated?
  • Does this pharmacy practice illegal drug compounding or “drug piracy?”

Ultimately: is your peace of mind and your pet’s health worth the relatively small savings?

If you chose to have your pet’s prescriptions filled by an internet or mail order pharmacy you need to realize that you are interrupting the valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR). This makes it more difficult to monitor for possible drug interactions or to recommend periodic blood tests (for example, heartworm tests and checking liver and kidney values).

By purchasing your pet’s prescription products from us, your local veterinarian, you should also realize that our profit = your profit.

By spending your money locally through the purchase of products from us allows us to be there when you and your pet need us, to hire and train staff, to purchase and maintain equipment, and to maintain our facility. Our primary goal is service. Their primary goal is profit. Loss of prescription medication income may at some point necessitate raising prices in order for your local veterinary clinic to remain profitable.

In the end we hope you will realize that the relatively small amount of money you might save by purchasing your pet’s prescription medication through mail order or internet pharmacies is just not worth it.

12) My yard has numerous brown spots where my dog(s) have been urinating. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? I have heard of products that are supposed to prevent the problem.

Lawn burn or brown spots in the lawn are common complaints among dog and occasionally cat owners. They typically seem to be due to the pet’s urine, but the feces can also create dead spots in the lawn.

Much misinformation exists as to the nature of these spots as well as the best way to deal with them.

Many have speculated that the problem is due to the pH (acid/base) of the urine and claim that female urine causes more problems than male urine because it is more acidic or different in some other way.

The truth is that lawn burn is caused by the high levels of nitrogen in dog urine and feces. The nitrogen is a normal by-product of both dog and cat metabolism. In limited amounts the nitrogen acts as a lawn fertilizer resulting in lush growth at the edges of the brown spots. In greater amounts nitrogen kills the grass causing the brown spots.

There is no significant difference in the composition of male and female dog urine. The urine from female dogs causes more a problem than male urine because females tend to urinate a large volume in a single location. Males on the other hand tend to urinate smaller amounts in a number of locations.

There are a number of commercial products available as well as home recipes that are intended to aid in the prevention of brown spots in the lawn. The ingredients vary widely. The problems with these products and concoctions are that they likely won’t work and that they may change the pet’s urine in unexpected ways and cause a medical problem where one does not currently exist. Dog and cat urine is what it is for very specific reasons. By subtly altering the pH, mineral content, or other factors you may be predisposing your pet to urinary tract infections, crystals, or stones.

We recommend the following:

13) My cat frequently vomits up undigested food shortly after eating. Should I be concerned and is there anything I can do about it?

This is an issue commonly encountered by cat owners.

The first thing to do is determine whether this is truly a vomiting problem or a regurgitation problem. Vomiting is defined as the forcible ejection of stomach contents through the mouth and is usually accompanied by signs of nausea and abdominal contractions.

Regurgitation is defined as the involuntary backward flowing of undigested food usually from the esophagus and often seems to take the pet by surprise. Both vomiting and regurgitation can be caused by a number of different conditions, some of which can be very serious. It is very important that you and your veterinarian rule-out these potentially serious underlying causes. Assuming that the cat is healthy in every other way, and the problem is truly regurgitation, it may be more of a behavioral problem than a medical problem.

Often cats will eat like there is no tomorrow, going through binge-purge cycles where they eat a great deal of food very quickly and then soon after they regurgitate the undigested food onto the floor. The key to solving this problem is to slow down the cat’s eating behavior.

We recommend that you try one or more of the following suggestions:

  • Offer your cat frequent small amounts of food either by putting small amounts of food in the pet’s bowl multiple times per day or better yet by using an automatic pet feeder.
  • Feed your cat their dry food through a food puzzle that intermittently dispenses a piece of food as the cat plays with it.
  • Spread out your cat’s dry food on an old cookie sheet or similar material so that it can only eat one or a few pieces of food at a time.
  • Add golf balls or similar objects to your cat’s food dish so that they have to move the objects around in order to eat. MAKE SURE that the objects are too large for the cat to swallow!
  • Consider one of the new pet feeding bowls that are available to slow down the pet’s eating.
  • Remember, it is very important to rule-out potentially serious causes for your cat’s vomiting or regurgitation. Don’t self-diagnosis. Contact your local veterinarian for a complete history and physical examination.

14) I am considering taking my dog to one of the local off leash parks I have heard of. Any suggestions on things I should know?

In the last several years off leash dog parks have become very popular ways to exercise pets that are normally restricted to fenced backyards and leashed on sidewalks. Off leash dog parks provide an excellent opportunity to exercise your dog, but you should keep several things in mind:

  • Make sure that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. These include Distemper combination, Rabies, Bordetella (kennel cough) and Lyme disease. See the Answer to Question 1 for more vaccine information.
  • Make sure that your pet is adequately protected against Heartworm Disease with Iverhart Plus or Revolution given monthly. See the Answer to Question 5 for more information on Heartworm Disease.
  • We strongly recommend using a topically applied flea and tick prevention product such as Frontline Plus or NexGard.
  • We strongly recommend checking your pet’s feces for signs of intestinal parasites twice a year.
  • Make sure that your dog is trained to respond to basic commands, especially sit, stay, and COME! You must be able to control your dog at all times.
  • Remember, you may be very diligent about keeping your dog up to date on all his or her preventative veterinary care, but that doesn’t mean that every dog at the off leash park will be as well cared for.
  • Be very cautious about letting your dog play with other dogs that you don’t personally know. Many dogs can be very sweet towards people but very aggressive towards other dogs. Don’t assume that the owner of that sweet looking dog is as responsible as you are.
  • Listed below are the primary off leash dog areas and parks. This list was originally compiled by Twin City Tails magazine. Thanks!
Bloomington Dog Park 111th Street, between Nesbitt and Hampshire Avenues 952.563.8892 daily dawn to 10 pm
Burnsville Alimagnet Dog Park Permit Required 1200 Alimagnet Parkway (off County Road 11) 952.895.4500 daily 5 am to 10 pm
Minneapolis Permit Required 612.673.5310 daily 6 am to 10 pm
Columbia Park St. Anthony Parkway off Central Avenue (across from the Training Center)
Franklin Terrace 925 Franklin Terrace (Franklin Terrace and 30th Avenue South)
Lake of the Isles 2845 East Lake of the Isles Parkway (Lake of the Isles Parkway and West 28th Street)
Minnehaha Park 5399 South Minnehaha Park Drive (Minnehaha Avenue and East 54th Street)
Plymouth Egan Park *NOT FENCED* 17105 County Road 47 (South side of County Road 47, two blocks west of Dunkirk Lane) 763.509.5000
Ramsey County 651.266.8500 651.266.8500
Maplewood Battle Creek (near Lower Afton and McKnight Road)
Roseville Woodview (off Larpenteur Avenue, just east of Dale Street)
Shoreview Rice Creek (just south of County Road J on Lexington Avenue)
Rosemount Schwartz Pond 13787 Dodd Boulevard County Road 42 (north on Highway 3 to Dodd Boulevard on the left) 651.322.6000
St. Paul ArlArk -Arlington/ Arkwright Off-Leash Dog Park on the corners of Arlington Avenue and Arkwright Street sunrise to 9 pm
Three Rivers Park District Permit Required 763.559.9000 daily 5 am to sunset
Osseo Elm Creek Park Preserve 13351 Elm Creek Road (between Champlin, Dayton, and Maple Grove) 763.424.5511
Prior Lake Cleary Lake Regional Park near Prior Lake on Scott County Road 77 952.447.2171
Rockford Lake Sarah Regional Park 763.559.9000
Rogers Crow-Hassan Park Reserve west of Rogers on Sylvan Lake Road, off of County Road 203 763.424.5511

15) What should I do if I suspect that an animal is being mistreated or abused?

If an animal’s life is in immediate danger, call 911. In Minneapolis, call the Animal Humane Society Cruelty Investigator at 763.489.2235. In St. Paul, call the Humane Society for Companion Animals Cruelty Investigator at 651.645.7387 ext. 13. Outside of these areas, call the Minnesota Federated Humane Society at 877.826.4625 or

16) I have been told that my pet needs "Sub Q" fluids and that I should be able to give these fluids at home. What are Sub Q fluids and how do I give them?

Sub Q (SQ) fluids is an abbreviation for subcutaneous fluids. Subcutaneous means under the skin.

SQ fluids usually consist of either sterile Lactated Ringer’s solution or sterile 0.9% Sodium Chloride solution. The purpose of giving SQ fluids is to replace fluids that a pet has lost due to a combination of insufficient fluid intake, illness (vomiting, diarrhea, excessive urination), and normal fluid loss.
The benefits of SQ fluid administration are that SQ fluids are quick and convenient to administer, they do not require hospitalization of the patient, they can be done on an outpatient basis, and the owner can be taught how to perform the procedure at home.

However, SQ fluids are not as efficient or as aggressive as intravenous fluids as a means of rehydrating an animal.
For step-by-step instructions on giving SQ fluids to your pet, see Administration of Subcutaneous Fluids at Home on the Client Handouts page. As always, follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully and call your veterinary clinic if you have any questions.

17) Twice now I have brought in new kittens to be examined that I believed were female only to be told that they were both male. How do I tell the difference between male and female kittens?

Surprisingly enough, this is not all that unusual of a situation. The problem in identifying
male versus female kittens arises for a number of reasons, including: the small size of kittens’
genitals, poorly developed scrotums in the young, immature males, and the failure to recognize
that male cats have a prepuce and penis that point backwards rather than forwards as many people
are used to seeing in dogs, horses, cows, etc.

Refer to the photographs below for the primary means of distinguishing between male and female
cats and kittens. In both photographs the cats are facing away from the viewer with their tails
at the top of the picture and the rear legs at the bottom of the picture.

Male Cat

The blue arrow points to the cat’s anus, the green arrow indicates the cat’s scrotum containing the left and right testicles, and the white arrow points to the circular prepuce which covers the penis. The red line indicates the cat’s anogenital distance, which is relatively longer in the male than in the female cat.


Female Cat

The blue arrow points to the cat’s anus, and the white arrow points to the cat’s elongated vulva. The red line indicates the cat’s anogenital distance, which is relatively shorter in the female than in the male cat.

18) Is it OK to feed my pet a raw diet?

In the last several years, raw diets for dogs and cats have become very popular for a wide variety of reasons. Unfortunately, the veterinary nutritional science supporting raw diets for pets is lacking and raw diets can actually pose significant health risks to both you and your pet.

In general, we do NOT recommend raw diets for our patients.

Before you switch your pet to a raw diet, you first need answers to two basic questions:

  1. Is the diet complete and balanced for your pet?
  2. Was the diet formulated by a board certified veterinary nutritionist?

You must be able to answer “Yes” to both questions before you even consider feeding the raw diet to your pet.

Additionally, you need to understand that raw diets can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella spp, Campylobacter spp, Clostridium spp, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and enterotoxigenic Staphylococcus aureus, which can cause serious infections in both pets and their owners.

For more information, go to:

19) What's the best way to remove skunk smell from my dog or cat?

Consider trying Krebaum’s Formula to get rid of skunk smell from pets or other objects.

  • 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of liquid soap

Wash and rinse thoroughly. Repeat if necessary. Keep out of eyes, nose, and mouth.

REMEMBER, skunks are the main reservoir of rabies in Minnesota. It is illegal to own, acquire, purchase, import, export, give, sell or barter a skunk in Minnesota.

20) Recently I have been hearing a lot about a canine influenza or dog flu. Can you please tell me more about this disease.

Canine influenza (dog flu) is a newly emerging respiratory disease of dogs. It has been diagnosed in several states with recent outbreaks in Detroit Lakes, MN, Chicago, IL and Madison, WI. No confirmed cases of canine influenza have been reported in the Twin Cities to date. For more information from the University of Minnesota, click here. For even more information from the American Veterinary Medical Association, click here.

21) I just noticed that one of my pet's teeth is discolored compared to the other teeth. Can you please tell me what this means.

Teeth can be discolored for a number of different reasons, including staining, disease, trauma, drugs, or chewing on metal. Of course, to accurately determine the exact cause for discoloration of a particular tooth, a full examination by a qualified veterinarian is required. That being said, the following descriptions may be helpful.

Dental staining is usually DARK ORANGE or BROWN in color and does not appear to rise above the surface of the enamel. Dental staining can sometimes be removed with proper dental scaling, but too much scaling to remove stain may damage the underlying tooth. Daily brushing of the teeth with a pet appropriate toothbrush and toothpaste is the best way to prevent dental staining.

Dental tartar or calculus is usually a YELLOW material consisting of calcium phosphate and calcium carbonate, food particles, bacteria, and other organic matter that is deposited on the teeth by saliva. Initially the tartar may appear as a thin film on the teeth. If allowed to progress the tartar eventually will appear as a thick, hard covering over the dental enamel. Pet’s with significant tartar accumulation will likely have bad breath (halitosis) and are more likely to develop oral pain, gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue), tooth root infections, and loose teeth. Daily brushing is the best way to avoid tartar accumulation. Once tartar has accumulated on the teeth it is best removed by professional veterinary dental scaling and polishing. DO NOT hand scale your pet’s teeth at home with metal scaling tools as this will scratch the underlying enamel. Scratched enamel is a rough surface that allows tartar and bacteria to more easily attach to the tooth.

In the case of trauma, a healthy tooth may suffer blunt impact causing internal hemorrhage or bleeding. As a result the tooth turns PINK in color. A PURPLE tooth is dying due to increased pressure within the pulp cavity. A GRAY or BROWNtooth is likely a dead tooth. Early intervention is the best option to save a traumatized tooth. Left untreated the damaged tooth may become infected or loose resulting in oral pain, swelling or redness of the associated gum tissue, and/or a reluctance to eat or drink. Depending on the condition of the individual tooth treatment options include no treatment (monitor), antibiotics and steroids, root canal, or extraction.

Tetracycline and related antibiotics have long been documented to cause teeth to turn YELLOW, LIGHT BROWN or GRAY when given to young animals. This class of antibiotics should be avoided in young animals until all of the adult teeth have completely erupted.

A tooth with SILVER discoloration usually indicates that the animal has been chewing on some metallic surface, usually the galvanized metal of kennels or crates. It would be wise to determine the exact cause of the animal’s chewing in an effort to avoid broken teeth and/or unnecessary stress on the part of pet.

22) Do you have any advice for instructing my children on how to interact with dogs they don't know or meet on the street or sidewalk?

This is a great question. Teaching our children how to interact with dogs, especially ones they don’t know, is extremely important for the child’s safety. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we recommend you visit the American Kennel Club web pages that cover a wide variety of important topics covering responsible dog ownership and safety around dogs. The pages includes a number of helpful activity sheets, educational kits, games and a coloring book.

23) I have heard that there are a lot fewer veterinary schools than there are medical schools. Exactly how many veterinary schools are there in the U.S.?

There are 28 colleges of veterinary medicine offering DVM degrees in 26 of the 50 United States. There are also a number of other veterinary schools around the world. All of the U.S. veterinary schools and many of the other schools are listed below. For two different lists of colleges of veterinary medicine and their contact information, click here and here.

United States (28)
Auburn University (AL)
Colorado State University
Cornell University (NY)
Iowa State University
Kansas State University
Louisiana State University
Michigan State University
Mississippi State University
North Carolina State University
Ohio State University
Oklahoma State University
Oregon State University
Purdue University (IN)
Texas A & M University
Tufts University (MA)
Tuskegee University (AL)
University of California, Davis
University of Florida
University of Georgia
University of Illinois at
Urbana – Champaign
University of Minnesota
University of Missouri
University of Pennsylvania
University of Tennessee
University of Wisconsin – Madison
Virginia – Maryland Regional
College of Veterinary
Washington State University
Western University of Health
Sciences (CA)

Canada (5)
University of Montreal
University of Calgary
University of Guelph
University of Prince Edward Island
University of Saskatchewan 

Other International (13)
Massey University (New Zealand)
Murdoch University (Australia)
National Autonomous University of Mexico
(UNAM) (Mexico)
Ross University (St. Kitts)
St. George’s University (Grenada)
St. Matthews University (Cayman Islands)
University of Dublin (Ireland)
University of Edinburgh (Scotland)
University of Glasgow (Scotland)
University of London (England)
University of Melbourne (Australia)
University of Sydney (Australia)
Utrecht University (Netherlands)

24) I am interested in becoming a veterinarian. Can you tell me what veterinarians do, what career opportunities are available to veterinarians, what a typical day is like for a small animal veterinarian, the pros and cons of being a small animal veterinarian and what sort of salary veterinarians make?

The job description of a veterinarian can vary widely depending on what branch of veterinary medicine they pursue. While a large percentage of veterinarians work with pets in exclusively small animal practices, there is a wide variety of career opportunities available to individuals with degrees in veterinary medicine. Many of these career fields are summarized below. For more information, click here.

Private Practice

  • Small Animal Exclusive (Pets) – dogs, cats, rabbits, rodents, birds, ferrets, reptiles, exotics, fish
  • Large Animal Exclusive (Production) – cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, turkeys, elk, bison, llamas
  • Equine Exclusive – horses
  • Mixed – Small, Large, Equine
  • Humane Societies, Animal Shelters, Rescue Groups, Refuges, Sanctuaries, Wildlife
  • Zoos, Circuses

Private Business

  • Research and testing for drugs or medical device companies
  • Sales Representative for drug or medical device companies
  • Zoos, Circuses


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
  • Agricultural Research Service
  • Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA)
  • National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA)
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
  • Board of Veterinary Medicine
  • Military
  • Police
  • Animal Control
  • Zoos


  • University hospital practitioner
  • University hospital administrator
  • Teaching
  • Research

Areas of Veterinary Specialization

  • Alternative Medicine/Holistic Medicine
  • Anesthesiology
  • Behavior
  • Cardiology
  • Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Emergency / Critical Care
  • Internal Medicine
  • Laboratory Animal Medicine
  • Microbiology
  • Neurology
  • Nutrition
  • Oncology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Private Practice
  • Public Health
  • Radiology
  • Reproduction
  • Surgery
  • Toxicology

The duties of a small animal private practice veterinarian include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • See appointments for both healthy and sick or injured pets
  • Examine pets
  • Communicate with pets’ owners
  • Interpret results of diagnostic tests – blood, urine, feces, skin, radiographs, ultrasound, etc.
  • Diagnose medical, surgical and behavioral conditions
  • Formulate treatment plans for sick or injured pets
  • Determine routine preventative care for healthy pets
  • Prescribe medications
  • Perform surgery
  • Document everything in the patient record

A typical day for a veterinarian at WBAH:

  • HIGHLY variable depending on season, emergencies, moon phase, etc.
  • Monday – Friday 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday 8 am – 1 pm rotated between veterinarians, closed Sunday
  • Appointments scheduled from 9 am to 1:30 pm and 3 pm to 6 pm Monday through Friday and from 9am to 1 pm on Saturday, closed Sunday. Saturday duty rotates between three veterinarians
  • Surgeries usually performed between 11 am and 2 pm
  • Typical appointments include: vaccinations, new puppies/kittens, sick or injured pets, rechecks, behavioral problems, manage chronic problems
  • Routine surgeries performed by WBAH veterinarians include: dog/cat spay/neuter, cat declaw, dental cleanings and extractions, tumor removal (internal/external), gastric/intestinal foreign body removal, bladder stone removal
  • Specialized surgeries performed by veterinarians from outside WBAH or at referral veterinary hospitals include: orthopedics – fracture, ACL, luxation; intrathoracic – heart, lungs; CNS – brain, spinal cord, intervertebral discs

The Pros:

  • Wide variety of career opportunities
  • Work with animals
  • Work as part of a team
  • Help people/clients
  • Problem solving
  • Continuing education
  • Relieve pets’ suffering
  • Make a good living
  • No insurance hassles
  • Can own your own business
  • Can learn business management
  • Public outreach opportunities
  • Respected by the public
  • See many interesting things
  • Work days can vary widely
  • Develop leadership/supervisory skills
  • Develop relationships with clients
The Cons:

  • Educational and financial commitment
  • Injuries, allergies, animals can’t talk
  • Work with a variety of personalities
  • Deal with difficult clients
  • Decisions made when uncertain
  • Continually challenged to learn
  • Performing euthanasias
  • Probably won’t get rich
  • Deal with clients’ financial issues
  • Owning your own business
  • Must learn business management
  • Public speaking
  • Always “on call,” answering questions
  • Some things are really unpleasant
  • Difficult to predict schedule
  • Supervising others
  • Emotional aspect of relationships

Salary Overview and Statistics

The exact salary a veterinarian will earn will depend a number of factors including the number of years of experience, their specific field, whether they are a generalist or a specialist, what part of the country they work in, whether they work in an urban, metropolitan or rural area and whether they are an associate or a partner/owner.

AVMA* New Graduates’ Average Starting Salaries (2008):

  • small animal, exclusive
  • small animal, predominant
  • large animal, exclusive
  • large animal, predominant
  • mixed animal
  • equine
  • $64,744
  • $61,753
  • $62,424
  • $57,745
  • $58,522
  • $41,636

Salary Statistics from the BLS/OES** (May 2009):

  • median annual wages
  • middle 50%
  • lowest 10%
  • highest 10%
  • $80,150
  • $62,770 – $105,190
  • less than $47,670
  • over $142,910

Top Earning Industries from the BLS/OES** (May 2009):

  • Medical and Diagnostic Labs
  • Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Other Professional, Scientific, Technical Services
  • State Government
  • Federal Government
  • $114,590
  • $107,200
  • $97,620
  • $90,470
  • $88,820
  • $84,200

  American Veterinary Medical Association
** Bureau of Labor Statistics/Occupational Employment Statistics for information on salaries, top states, top cities, etc.

25) I am interested in pet insurance. How does it work and what are my options?

Pet insurance is a great option to help offset the cost of providing veterinary care for your pet and is based on a reimbursement system. After you pay for veterinary services, you submit your claim to your insurance company and they reimburse you according to the specifics of your policy. The cost of the policy will vary by company, coverage desired, deductible and other factors. Links to the most popular pet insurance companies are listed below.

TheBestPetInsurance.Com – learn the facts about pet insurance, determine if a pet insurance policy is necessary
Online Reviews of pet insurance companies and policies
A Vet’s Guide to Pet Insurance
Your Pet Insurance Guide – a pet insurance blog
Purina Care – Pet Health Insurance
Veterinary Pet Insurance – Pet health insurance
ASPCA Pet Health Insurance
Pets Best – Pet health insurance
Pet First Healthcare – Pet Health Insurance
Trupanion – Medical Insurance For Your Pet
Companion Pet Insurance…

28) How should I care for my pet's surgical incision?

Please keep your pet quiet for 3 to 4 days after surgery. No running, jumping or playing. Take him/her outside only for necessities. It is normal for some pets to act sleepy for the first 2 to 3 days after anesthesia. Please keep your pet clean and dry until the incision is healed. You may feed your pet his/her normal diet after surgery. Some animals will have a decreased appetite for 1 to 3 days after surgery.

If your pet’s skin was closed with sutures or staples, they will need to be removed in 10 to 14 days. There is no charge for suture/staple removal. Please call to schedule an appointment.

Monitor the incision for excessive swelling, redness, discharge, bleeding or pain and call us if you suspect a problem. If the incision seems swollen, you can apply a warm compress to the area for 10 minutes, three times a day. Call us if the swelling persists.

Most pets leave their incisions alone, however, some will lick or chew at the incision. Please discourage your pet from licking or chewing. Putting a t-shirt on your pet to cover a chest or abdominal incision can help dissuade them from licking. Clean socks can be used to cover incisions on the legs. Occasionally, an animal will need to wear an Elizabethan collar around their neck to prevent self-inflicted trauma. We have these collars available at the clinic.

Your pet may have been intubated during surgery, meaning a tube was placed down the throat to help him/her breathe during surgery. A mild cough due to throat irritation can occur for a few days after surgery.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us at 651-777-1393. If you have an after hours emergency, you can call the Animal Emergency and Referral Center in Oakdale at 651-501-3766.

26) I have been told that I should be giving heartworm and intestinal parasite prevention year-round to my dog. Why is this necessary?

Heartgard Plus, our preferred parasite preventative, protects against heartworms, roundworms and hookworms.

Heartworms are blood parasites that are transmitted by infected mosquitoes.

  • Heartgard Plus is only effective if it is given every 30 days.
  • Heartgard Plus is only effective against immature heartworms (larvae).
  • Owners can forget to give Heartgard Plus.
  • Dogs can throw up Heartgard Plus without their owners knowing it.
  • Giving Heartgard Plus year-round increases the likelihood that all heartworm larvae will be killed.
  • The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round heartworm prevention.
  • Immiticide or melarsamine dihydrochloride, the preferred drug to treat canine heartworm disease, is currently unavailable.

Roundworms and hookworms are intestinal parasites that are transmitted through the soil from infected stool.

  • Roundworms and hookworms can survive Minnesota winters and become infective during warm spells.
  • Dogs can become infected with roundworms and hookworms when they travel during the winter.
  • Roundworms and hookworms can infect people and cause significant and in some cases life threatening disease.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and the Companion Animal Parasite Council recommend year-round intestinal parasite prevention.

27) What should I expect after my pet's vaccinations?

Most pets have no significant reaction to their vaccinations. However, some pets will experience some or all of the following mild side effects (usually starting within hours of vaccination and typically lasting no longer than a few days): 1) discomfort and local swelling at the vaccination site, 2) mild fever, 3) diminished appetite and activity, 4) sneezing or other respiratory signs (following an intranasal vaccine). If these side effects last for more than a few days, please contact us. A small, firm swelling under the skin may develop at the site of a recent vaccination and should disappear in a couple of weeks. If it persists for more than three months or grows in size, please contact us.

More serious but rare side effects, such as severe allergic reactions, may occur within minutes to hours after vaccination. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, itchy skin, difficulty breathing and collapse. These allergic reactions can be life-threatening and are medical emergencies. Contact us or the Animal Emergency and Referral Center in Oakdale (651-501-3766) immediately, as your pet may require medical treatment.

SOURCE: American Veterinary Medical Association.

29) How should I care for my pet's bandage?

If your pet has a bandage, splint or cast it is very important to keep the bandage clean and dry. Check the bandage twice daily for odor, redness or swelling and call if any of these occur. Also call us if your pet chews on or removes the bandage. When your pet needs to go outside on a damp or rainy day, cover the bandage with a small plastic cover to keep the bandage dry (NO RUBBER BANDS!). Remove the plastic once inside again.

30) I have heard that it is possible to determine my dog's breed by DNA analysis. How does it work and what exactly is involved?

There are several companies that provide dog breed determination based on DNA analysis. These companies are able to identify breed-specific genetic markers for dozens of different breeds of dogs. The number of breeds that can be identified varies by company. Two different sample options are currently available: cheek swabs and blood. The cheek swab kits can be ordered on line by pet owner’s and submitted directly to the company for analysis. The blood samples are typically collected by veterinary clinics to be submitted. The cheek swabs are usually less expensive than the blood samples. Determining your dog’s breed or breeds can be fun, but it can also be useful because many breeds of dogs are predisposed to a wide variety of medical conditions. Costs for the tests generally run between $60 and $150. 

A nice discussion of dog DNA breed analysis can be found by clicking here.

Links to a few companies to consider are listed below.

31) What type of chew toys are safe for my dog?

The following information was provided by the Animal Emergency and Referral Service of Minnesota (AERC):

Clients often want to know what is safe and what is not safe for dogs to chew on. Our board-certified veterinary dentist, Dr. Brine, has tips for what you can teach your clients about chew toys.

It’s a good idea to…

  • Provide toys with “give” and some flexibility. If you can’t bend it slightly or indent with your fingernail, it is too hard for a dog to safely chew on.
  • Match the dog’s size and chewing style to the right chew toy.
  • Provide “tooth-friendly” toys and treats. Chewing for 10 minutes a day is great for a dog’s teeth, but it does not replace daily brushing. See for a list of Veterinary Oral Health Council approved, “tooth-friendly” products.

It’s not a good idea to…

  • Allow a dog to chew on plastic bones such as Nylabones, real bones, marrow bones, knuckles, antlers, hooves and rocks. These are too hard on the teeth and can injure or break them.
  • Let a dog chew on tennis balls. For a game of fetch, tennis balls are perfectly fine. For dogs that want to continuously chew on a tennis ball, however, the ball’s surface is too abrasive and can cause abnormal tooth crown wear and pulp exposure.
  • The photo above is of a WBAH patient that loves to chew on tennis balls. Note the attrition or excessive wear of the canines and premolars.

32) How do I know if it's too hot for my dog outside?

33) How do I know if it's too cold for my dog outside?

34) How can I tell if my dog or cat is in pain?

Vocalization Whining Meowing
Howling Purring
Whimpering Hissing
Yelping Growling
Aggression Acting out of character Acting out of character
Growling Growling
Biting Hissing
Normally aggressive, but now acts quiet or docile  Biting
Pinning ears back Pinning ears back
Self-Mutilation Licking Licking
Biting Biting
Scratching particular part of body Scratching particular part of body
Daily Habits Decreased appetite Withdrawn
Withdrawn from normal social habits Decreased appetite
Changes in sleeping Changes to sleeping
Changes in drinking Decreased water intake
Lapses in house training Urinating frequently
Sleeping more Not using litter box
Decreased grooming
Sleeping more
Activity Level Restless Restless
Reluctant to move Reluctant to move
Difficulty getting up or lying down Difficulty getting up or lying down
Trouble getting comfortable Trouble getting comfortable
Trembling/shaking Trembling/shaking
Limping Limping
Seeking more attention than normal Can’t leap as high
Seeking more attention than normal
Self-protection Protecting part of body Protecting part of body
Non-weight bearing Non-weight bearing
Not wanting to be held or petted Not wanting to be held or petted
 Facial Expression Grimace/vacant stare, glazed, wide-eyed Grimace/vacant stare, glazed, wide-eyed
Enlarged pupils Enlarged pupils
Flattened ears Flattened ears
Panting at rest Panting at rest
Posture Hunched with abdomen and front end down or on ground “praying” Generally lays with feet underneath
Laying on side Arches or tucks abdomen

Source: American Animal Hospital Association

White Bear Animal Hospital