Frequently Asked Questions
1Am I being a good Pet Parent?
- Is my pet’s weight correct? You will be feeling over your pet’s ribs to make this evaluation. Use your index finger and rub it along the last few ribs of your pet. If it feels like your knuckles on your hand when you make a fist, your pet is too thin. If it feels like the back of your hand, it’s just right. If it feels like the muscle pad on the palm of your hand by your thumb, your pet is over weight.
- Why should I have a stool check or de-worming done on my pet? Florida has a large number of parasites in the soil. These are carried by feral and wild animals that live around us. Many of these parasites can be transferred to people from animals. Depending on the area, the CDC estimates that 20-25% of the pet population will have some kind of intestinal parasite. Over 60% of pets sleep in bed with someone in the house. Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable knowing your pet has been checked for parasites?
- Why is running blood work and lab tests important? Our pets are very good at hiding disease signs and symptoms. They also can’t tell us what is wrong or that they don’t feel normal even if they seem to be acting fine. IN one study, roughly 30% of apparently normal pets had an abnormality on their lab tests that needed to be addressed. If we get normal results, then we have a good healthy baseline for the future. As pets age, things may change.
- Fleas: You should be using a good veterinarian recommended flea product regularly. Here in Florida our flea season is all year long. It usually doesn’t get cold enough for a long enough time period to have much of an impact. For every flea you see on your pet, there are 30 in the environment in various stages of development.
- Ear mites: these are caused by a tiny parasite that lives on the wax and dead skin cells in our pet’s ears. They will make your pet’s ears very itchy and lead to ear infections and other ear problems. There are certain ear infections, especially yeast, that can look like ear mites. Ear mites are usually transmitted from one infected pet to another by close contact. Many of the veterinary prescription flea control products will also help prevent ear mites.
- Heart worm prevention and testing: Heart worms in a dog or cat are a severe health issue and can be life threatening. Signs and symptoms can vary from apparently normal to sudden death. Sometimes a dull hair coat, thin and unthrifty appearance are noticed. The pet may or may not be coughing. We require testing at least once a year in dogs and cats to dispense heart worm prevention. WE STRONGLY recommend testing twice every 6 months because Florida has a large amount of mosquitoes that carry heart worms. In St. Augustine, it is IMPORTANT to give heart worm prevention to your pet all year long.
2Do you provide cat declawing?
Yes! We understand that there are times that declawing may be necessary for the health and safety of the cat and family. In order to ensure the safety of your pet, we use cold laser therapy, and keep them hospitalized for a few days for observation and pain management.
3Does heartworm prevention and flea control need to be given year round?
Yes! Mosquitos and fleas are both present year round across the United States, but especially in Florida where warmer, humid weather occurs for most of the year. Heartworm disease in this region is very prevalent making year round heartworm prevention an absolute necessity.
4Is it really necessary to bring my dog or cat in for a yearly comprehensive pet exam?
Yes! In fact, we recommend visits every 6 months. This is due to the parasite issues in Florida and animals ability to hide disease. During a comprehensive examination, the veterinarian will examine your pet's eyes, ears, skin, hair coat, listen to their heart and lungs and discuss any concerns you may have. And remember, 6 months for your pet represents about 3 years. Would you go to your doctor only once every 3 years?
5We just found a stray pet. What should we do?
First, examine the pet for a collar or tags. If there isn’t one, feel free to come to the clinic where we can perform a free microchip scanning. If there is no microchip present, we recommend bringing the pet to the local St. Johns Animal Shelter.
6Do you offer veteran discounts?
A 10% discount will be applied to the total bill to any veteran with a valid military ID.
7How do I transfer my pet’s records from a previous clinic?
You can call your previous clinic to have your records either faxed to us at (904)-825-4842 or emailed to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. At your convenience, if you give us contact information, we can also call your previous veterinary clinic to obtain your pets records. Keep in mind that some clinics do require the owner to authorize record transfers.
8What do I need to bring to board my pets?
If you are a new client, vaccine history is required to ensure your pet is up to date on required vaccines and lab-work to board. Blankets, beds, food, and treats are all acceptable things to bring while your pet is staying with us.
9When do you perform surgeries?
We currently perform surgeries every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. Most surgeries can be scheduled within 7 days.
10My animal is having surgery tomorrow; can he/she have food and water?
In order to perform the surgery safely, no food must be given later than 8:00 PM the night before surgery. Water is ok in small increments up until midnight. If your pet has kidney disease, please consult the veterinarian.
11What are the benefits of having my pet spayed or neutered?
Spaying or neutering your pets can greatly reduce their risk of developing many types of cancer later in life. Spaying your animals will also reduce/eliminate the chances of your pets developing a uterine infection called a pyometra, which can be a life threatening condition. It may also decrease or even eliminate unwanted behaviors such as aggression or running off. Spaying or neutering your pets is also the only way to avoid unwanted litters of puppies or kittens without placing an extra burden on animal shelters.
12How old does my puppy/kitten have to be before they can be spayed/neutered?
We generally recommend waiting until your animal is 6-9 months of age to try to avoid any urinary incontinence issues from spaying or neutering them too young. Waiting until they are of this age also allows them to develop and mature to their ideal size.
13How do I know when my pet needs a dental?
Inflamed gums, plaque and tartar buildup, and loose teeth are all of great concern when it comes to the health of your pet’s mouth. If you notice any of these signs, please bring your pet in for a dental checkup so we can schedule a dental cleaning.
14Why is my pet scooting its rear end on the ground?
There could be several reasons that your pet is scooting on the ground. Your pet may need its anal gland expressed, need to be dewormed, have allergies, or have other more serious issues. If you notice your pet doing this behavior, please make an appointment to see us.
15Why is my pet scratching itself?
Skin issues are among the most common health problems we see in our hospital. Itchiness can have a variety of causes. Cats and dogs often have an underlying allergy to either their environment or food. Other times, bacteria, yeast, or mites can cause infections that make your pet uncomfortable. Depending on the cause, there are a variety of medical options and treatments to help manage skin issues and keep your pet more comfortable.
16Why do I need multiple exams for my puppy/kitten when it’s healthy?
Young pets should receive multiple exams in the first year of life. These initial exams allow us to gauge the overall health of your pet and give the need vaccinations.
17Why do we have to test a fecal sample if they have already been dewormed?
Almost all puppies and kittens are born with worms, which is why we recommend routine deworming and parasite checks. Even if we do not see any parasites during our diagnostic testing does not mean that your pet does not have worms, it just means the sample we obtained did not have worms. There are a variety of intestinal parasites and different medications may be needed to eliminate them. Often times, it can take more than one dewormer to completely eliminate intestinal parasites. We recommend deworming puppies and kittens at 2, 4, and 6 weeks of age.
18Do you accept pet insurance?
Yes! We work with all forms of pet insurance. Typically the pet owner pays us at the time of the visit. We help fill out the form and the owner can file for reimbursement from their insurance company. We also have the ability to process care credit.
19Do I need to make an appointment to see a veterinarian?
Walk-in appointments are welcome, however we can’t guarantee immediate service without a scheduled appointment. To avoid waiting time, we recommend scheduling an appointment with us first.
20How old is a dog when it goes into heat?
6 months of age is the average age of a dogs first heat, however this can vary widely. Some dogs can go into heat as early as 4 months, whereas other dogs, especially larger breeds, can take up to 2 years before their first heat.
21What age do I need to bring my puppy/kitten in to start vaccines?
6-8 weeks is the recommended age to start vaccinations. Your pets’ vaccine schedule will be Dependent on the animals weight, health and home environment to determine how many vaccines they can have at each booster appointment.
22What are the core vaccinations my dog should have?
For dogs, Rabies, Bordetella, and Distemper are the core vaccines that your dog should always be up to date on. Bordetella is a highly contagious bacterium that causes severe fits of coughing, whooping, vomiting, and in very rare cases death. Distemper is a very severe and contagious disease that attacks the gastrointestinal, respritory, and nervous system. This airborne disease causes fever, coughing, discharge from the eyes and nose, diarrhea, seizures, twitching, paralysis, and often times death. Rabies is a viral disease that invades the central nervous system. It’s most often transferrable through the bite of a rabid animal. Unlike with humans, there is no treatment for Rabies in animals. Keeping your pet up to date on all 3 of these vaccinations will greatly decrease their chance of contracting these illnesses.
23What are the core vaccinations my cat should have?
For cats, Rabies, FVRCP, and Bordetella are the core vaccines that your cat should always be up to date on. FVRCP, commonly called feline distemper, is a combination vaccine that protects against 3 common diseases; rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia. Rabies is a viral disease that invades the central nervous system. It’s most often transferrable through the bite of a rabid animal. Unlike with humans, there is no treatment for Rabies in animals. Bordetella causes very contagious upper respiratory infections. This vaccine is especially important if you have a multiple cat household.
24What are the optional vaccines my dog/cat can have?
Depending on the environment of your home and your lifestyle, your pet may also need additional vaccines on top of the core vaccines. Lyme and Lepto vaccines are an option for your dog if ticks or stagnant water reside near your home. If your dog is very social with other dogs, or goes to social gatherings such as dog parks, the influenza vaccine might be a good idea to have for your dog as well. For cats, feline leukemia is highly contagious and the FELV vaccine is recommended if your cat goes outdoors.
25What is cold laser therapy?
Cold laser therapy is low-intensity laser therapy that stimulates healing while using low levels of light. Its common uses are to reduce pain, reduce inflammation, reduce swelling, and accelerate the healing process while strengthening damaged tissue. If your pet is suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia, spinal bridging, muscle pain, hotspots, or any other uncomfortable illnesses, consult with one of our veterinarians to see if laser therapy is right for your pet.
26Why do you recommend senior profiles at age 7 for my pet?
Dogs are very good at masking illness and disease may be present even in animals that do not appear to be sick. If a disease can be found early on, before a pet shows signs of illness, then steps can often be taken to manage or correct the problem before permanent damage occurs. Wellness testing is particularly important in senior dogs and cats, since there is a greater chance that an older animal will develop disease or have an ongoing but stable condition that needs to be monitored. We recommend dogs and cats getting senior profiles annually starting at the age of 7 because that is roughly the time when your pet will have a greater chance of developing diseases. A senior profile includes a complete blood count, complete animal profile, urinalysis, thyroid test, and heartworm test.