Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians in Wilmington

How often should my pet have an exam?

Wilmington Animal Healthcare Veterinary Hospital recommends yearly visits for most pets and older pets coming in more frequently – at least every 6 months. Yearly exams include physical examinations by our veterinarians plus annual vaccinations or booster vaccinations, parasite screening & prevention and various lab tests performed.

For puppies and kittens, we need to see them on a more frequent schedule during their first year of life. For pets over age 7, we recommend exams and blood work every 6 months to help us detect diseases and issues before they become a problem.

How safe is my pet’s procedure?

Our veterinarians take every precaution to make sure your pet comes out of any procedure, whether major or minor, on the way to a swift recovery. To ensure your pet’s safety, we provide round-the-clock care and monitoring for all surgical patients during business hours. We perform all pet surgeries under anesthesia and advocate the use of pre-anesthetic blood work to detect any underlying disease that may affect the response to anesthesia.

With your pet’s comfort and safety at the forefront, we utilize pain management protocols before, during, and after surgery until they are completely recovered. This includes monitoring of vital signs, assessing your pet for pain indicators and keeping them well fed, warm and comfortable in their surroundings.

Why does my pet need a dental cleaning?

Besides just BAD BREATH, dental disease:

  • Releases bacteria into the bloodstream
  • Increases risk for heart, liver and kidney disease
  • Can cause severe pain and problems for your pet

Pets need regular dental cleanings to increase quality and length of life and:

  • Allows us to chart dental disease over time
  • Means less time under anesthesia
  • Reduces the need for more advanced and expensive treatment in the future such as teeth extractions and oral surgery

Dental disease is THE most common disease in dogs. Recent studies show that 85% of cats and 92% of dogs over age 3 have periodontal disease.

What happens during my pet’s dental cleaning?

A thorough dental cleaning can only be accomplished while the pet is under general anesthesia. The anesthesia we use is safe for all animals and your pet is constantly monitored during the dental procedure. Prior to anesthesia, blood tests are performed to help uncover any hidden illnesses.

A professional cleaning (sometimes called a prophylaxis) removes plaque and tartar from the teeth. Your pet's entire mouth health (teeth, tongue, gums, and lips) will be examined and assessed.

I noticed a change in my pet’s behavior. Should I see a veterinarian?

Pets cannot tell us how they feel and are able to hide their pain from us (especially cats). Changes in behavior such as appetite change, lethargy, energy level, aggressiveness, inappropriate elimination and vocalization (barking/meowing) can be symptoms of behavior or health issues. Contact our vet hospital for an exam appointment right away.

What should I do if I notice fleas or ticks on my pet?

Fleas, Heartworms, and Ticks…Oh, My! In this part of the country, we are blessed with temperate weather, often year round. As such, we also play host to a variety of insects that are carriers of diseases that can affect the health of our pets, and sometimes ourselves and our children. The old adage "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," is especially true when it comes to dealing with fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease. In recent years, a new generation of flea and tick control products has been introduced to the market, which are highly effective in the prevention of fleas and ticks.

At what age should I have my pet spayed or neutered?

Wilmington Animal Healthcare Veterinary Hospital recommends waiting until your pet is at least 4-6 months of age before seeking a spay or neuter procedure. Contact us to discuss specific details based on species, breed, and size. Spaying/neutering has health and behavior benefits to your pet and of course helps prevent overpopulation.

What are heartworms? How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworms?

One infected mosquito is all it takes to infect your dog with the baby form (larval stage) of the heartworm parasite.

Heartworms are a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets. Twelve-inch-long worms (looks like spaghetti) live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of infected pets, causing lung disease, heart failure, organ damage and can be fatal if untreated.

How does my pet get heartworms? Heartworms living in an infected dog, cat or wildlife produce baby worms that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it picks up these worms and when it bites another animal, the worms enter through the bite wound. Heartworms can grow and live for 5 - 7 years in dogs and 3 years in cats.

What can I do to protect my pet? The MOST important aspect of heartworm management is prevention. There are currently several highly effective products on the market that are used once monthly for the prevention of the disease. In this part of the country, mosquitoes can be active and transmit disease even in the winter months, this is due to the local mild climate. We highly recommend using an appropriate preventative once-a-month, year-round, for life in both dogs and cats. Dogs are tested yearly for heartworms, with a simple blood parasite test.

Heartworms are a type of parasite that live within the hearts of infected dogs and to an increasing degree, cats. The disease is 100% fatal if not treated. Currently, there are no viable treatment options for cats who acquire the infection. Your pet's quality of life can be seriously affected by this disease. The worms affect the heart, liver, lungs, and other organs eventually causing death. Treatment for heartworms is an option, and can be discussed in detail with your veterinarian.

Cats should be tested before starting prevention and re-tested as the veterinarian deems appropriate. There is NO treatment in cats, so prevention is critical and the only means of protection.

Wilmington Animal Healthcare Veterinary Hospital has safe, effective products available that cater to you and your pet's lifestyle and your budget. Heartworm prevention should be provided 12 months of the year.

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