Answers to Common Pet Health Questions & Concerns

Answers to Common Pet Health Questions and Concerns

We've tried to answer some of the most common questions we receive here at PetCare. We hope you find this information useful!

How do I get rid of fleas?
What can I do about my pet's itchy skin?
Why is my pet scooting on the carpet?
I have a new puppy or kitten. Where do I start?
What is the best food for my pet?
Is a grain-free diet better?
Is my pet overweight?
How often does my pet need to visit the vet?
How often should my pet be vaccinated?
Can I give human medications to my dog or cat?
How often do pets come into heat?
What is the best skunk odor removal home remedy?
What are the regulations for taking your pet to Hawaii?

How do I get rid of fleas?

Use a name-brand topical or oral flea medication recommended by your vet for each and every pet in the household, indoors and out.

For the home, consider using a professional pest-control company or DIY with appropriate sprays, bombs or powders. One good choice for inside the home is Flea Buster's Rx for Fleas. This non-toxic powder will desiccate/dry fleas for weeks to months. It's also important to vacuum frequently and toss bags immediately after use.

For the outdoors around the house, food grade diatomaceous earth is a good option for non-toxic flea control.

What can I do about my pet's itchy skin?

Allergies and dry skin are common causes of itchiness, though fleas remain the number one cause for persistent scratching.

A check-up is needed to diagnose the problem and come up with a solution that fits your dog or cat, since each pet may be scratching for very different reasons!

Remember not to over-bathe, especially with flea shampoos. These remove oils from the coat causing dryness and scratching to intensify. Oatmeal-based dog/cat shampoos are generally safe as they are soap-less and less disruptive to the skin's protective barrier.

Why is my pet scooting on the carpet?

Dogs (and cats) scoot their bottoms on the carpet to relieve itchiness or discomfort.

Sometimes the solution is as simple as expressing full anal glands. However, other times the cause is less obvious: infected or impacted glands, parasites such as tapeworms, allergic skin problems, or even masses or tumors causing irritation and scooting. Persistent scooting should be investigated by your veterinarian.

I have a new puppy or kitten. Where do I start?

Puppies and kittens should be examined by a doctor as soon as adopted since preventative health care starts early.

By 7-8 weeks of age, they will need their first set of vaccines, deworming and certain fecal and blood tests. It's important that your new "baby" receives vaccines on time and at set intervals as the mother's immunity wanes.

What is the best food for my pet?

With so many choices, opinions and advertisements, it's hard to pick and always best to ask your veterinarian first. Puppies and kittens need growth formulas, although not all foods are alike - a rich puppy food for a Chihuahua is not appropriate for a rapidly growing Great Dane!

On the most basic level, your pet's food should be AAFCO certified for safety and nutrition. From there, you and your veterinarian can decide which diet best fits your pet's life stage and medical needs.

Is a grain-free diet better?

In a nutshell, no.

Dogs are omnivores, and they need grains for a varied and appropriate diet. Cats are carnivores and benefit from the micronutrients and fiber in grains as well.

Allergies to foods are rare, and when present are typically caused by the protein source - such as beef - rather than the grain. These are fad-diets linked to the human preference and pet food advertising, rather than fact.

Is my pet overweight?

If in doubt, ask your veterinarian. Plan to discuss ways to control your pet's calories. Increasing exercise alone is rarely adequate for weight loss.

Each breed, stage of life, medical problem and activity level will determine their optimal weight which is measured by a bodyweight score. In general, you should be able to clearly see your pet's waist and feel their ribs when running your hands gently over their chest.

If Fifi or Fido needs to lose weight, strive for a slow and comfortable pace with a lower calorie diet, fewer snacks (how about unflavored rice cakes or carrots for dogs?) and a monthly weigh in to keep track of progress. Always have your vet rule out medical causes for weight gain before starting a new diet.

How often does my pet need to visit the vet?

As a kitten or puppy - he or she needs to go every 3-4 weeks between approximately 8-18 weeks of age which is at least 3 visits during this phase of rapid growth and change.

As an adult - between the ages of approximately 1-7 years - your cat or dog should be examined yearly.

As a senior - after the age of 8-10 years for a cat and 6-8 years for a dog - your older pet needs a physical exam and blood testing every 6 months to identify problems in early stages (when treatment is easiest and least costly!)

How often should my pet be vaccinated?

While the annual or biannual physical exam is the most important part of the visit, vaccine schedules differ depending on exposure to disease.

Cats:

  • After the kitten series, rabies and distemper is repeated again in 1 year.
  • Cats that live indoor/outdoor will need their annual leukemia vaccine.
  • Cats receive rabies vaccines every year, leukemia every year and FVRCP/distemper every 3 years, again depending on exposure.

Dogs:

  • After the puppy series, rabies and distemper is repeated again in 1 year.
  • Dogs exposed to other dogs, and who spend time outdoors, will receive their annual leptospirosis vaccine and bordatella/kennel cough vaccine every 6-12 months.
  • After 1 year boosters, dogs will need rabies and DHPP vaccines every 3 years, leptospirosis every year, and bordatella every 6-12 months for life.

By law ALL cats and dogs must be vaccinated against rabies, on schedule, for life.

Can I give human medications to my dog or cat?

While many medications for people and animals are identical, the dosages are not, especially for cats which are NOT small dogs.

It is NEVER safe to give an over-the-counter (or prescription) human medication to your pet without the advice of a veterinarian.

Dr. Google does not count as veterinary advice! The internet is full of misinformation regarding pet care. This practice is potentially costly to both owner and pet, so play it safe and seek veterinary care first.

How often do pets come into heat?

Most dogs come into heat every 6 months. Cats are seasonal ovulators and need to be induced by a male cat.

What is the best skunk odor removal home remedy?

Ingredients:

  • 3% Hydrogen Peroxide - 1 Quart
  • Baking Soda - 1/2 Cup
  • Liquid Dish Soap - 2 Teaspoons

Directions:

  1. Begin by mixing the hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid dish soap.
  2. Immediately massage the skunk odor removal solution into the dog or cat's fur and skin.
  3. Continue to work the skunk odor remedy into the pet's fur, as would be done with shampoo.
  4. After ten minutes, thoroughly rinse the solution from the pet's fur using running water.

If the odor remains, repeat steps 1 through 4.

What are the regulations for taking your pet to Hawaii?

Hawaii is rabies free and is very strict regarding their process for exporting pets to the islands. We recommend you read carefully the following brochure to learn about what you need to do. PetCare assumes no responsibility if guidelines are not followed properly and Hawaii denies exporting your pet with the limited quarantine period.

View the Quarantine Brochure, and visit Hawaii's Quarantine website.