Care First: Answering All of Your Pet Health Questions

Check back for a list of Frequently Asked Questions and downloadable Pet Care Guides.

  1. How often should I bathe my dog or cat?
  2. What do I do if I miss a monthly heartworm pill?
  3. I found a tick on my pet! What do I do?
  4. How do I clean my pet’s ears?
  5. Why should I brush my pet’s teeth?
  6. What are some things I should have in a first-aid kit for my pet?

How often should I bathe my dog or cat?

For cats: Most cats don’t really need to have a bath, unless they are older and not grooming, or have allergies or skin disease. Cats will normally clean themselves!

For dogs: A normal dog: bathing once a month is good. Just like people, dirt can build up on the skin and cause irritation and infections. Dogs with allergies or skin disease: Bathing once to twice a week in a medicated shampoo will make a world of difference. By controlling the dirt, dander, and allergen load on the skin, secondary infections are less likely to occur. Bathing also helps to calm the skin, if using a veterinary recommended shampoo. Hylytt is a perfect everyday shampoo that won’t dry your pet’s skin. Malaseb and Relief shampoos can be used to treat skin irritations and infections.

What do I do if I miss a monthly heart worm pill?

As soon as you realize you have missed a dose, restart the prevention. Call to schedule an appointment for a heart worm test to ensure your pet is still negative, then repeat the test in 6 months to make sure there isn’t any infection. Why do we retest in 6 months? The heart worm test performed is an antigen test and can take up to 6 months to test positive for heart worms.

I found a tick on my pet! What do I do?

The first thing to do when you find a tick is to remove it. Take a pair of tweezers and grab the base of the tick (near the head), tilt the tick’s body in the opposite direction than it is laying and the head should unlatch. Pull. Clean the site with rubbing alcohol and kill the tick. Because tick diseases can be transferred quickly, schedule and appointment to be seen for a serum blood test to ensure your pet did not contract a debilitating tick disease.

How do I clean my pet’s ears?

Cleaning your pet’s ears can be fun and satisfying! Start with a veterinary-approved ear cleaner, like the Epi-Otic or the Triz-Keto cleaner. Pour a generous amount into each ear and massage the base of the ears (the trick to preventing your pet from shaking their head during this step is to lift up on one of the ear pinnas). Release your hands and let your pet shake their head. Then using cotton balls and Q-tips, clean out all the folds and ripples in the ear. Can you go too deep? Yes, but this is very difficult since the ear canal has a vertical canal and then makes a 90 degree turn towards the head, then a lateral canal, on the end of which is the ear drum and the bulla. Clean your pet’s ears once to twice weekly to prevent infections and wax build up.

Why should I brush my pet’s teeth?

Tartar can build up on the teeth within 48 hours and turn into plaque. Plaque and tartar harbor bacteria that can get into the gums and lead to kidney, heart, and gastrointestinal diseases. Using an appropriate enzymatic toothpaste to brush your pet’s teeth will help prevent tartar and bacteria build up. The CET toothpaste comes in chicken, vanilla mint, and salmon flavors your pet will love! Just a quick brush a day to keep the tartar away!

What are some things I should have in a first-aid kit for my pet?

  • Phone numbers—Your current veterinarian, emergency clinic near your destination, ASPCA poison control (1-800-426-4435)
  • Your pet’s paperwork—copies of vaccine history and medical records, copy of rabies certificate
  • Extra leash, collar/harness
  • Muzzle to prevent biting—even the sweetest dog may bite if painful or scared
  • Ice pack
  • Gloves
  • Thermometer and lubricating jelly to obtain a rectal temperature (Normal is 101-102.5 F)
  • Nail trimmers—nails can be easily broken or torn during activity
  • Towels/blankets
  • Tweezers—can help remove ticks or foreign material from wounds. Use rubbing alcohol to clean the area and kill the tick after it is removed
  • Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting—you will need to call to obtain dosing for your pet’s size and to make sure that it is safe to induce vomiting depending on the substance ingested
  • Medications:
    • Antibacterial ointment
    • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl)—can help decrease the severity of allergic reactions or itchiness from insect bites, will need to call to obtain dose for your pet
    • Extra supply of any medications your pet is routinely taking
    • Diabetic pets—Extra insulin, extra syringes, Karo syrup in case of a hypoglycemic episode