FAQs

FAQ is a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

We have collected here a list of questions our clients ask most often. Please browse through the list to see if the answer to your question is here. If it is not, feel free to call us at 972-578-2553 so we can help!



1. Feeding & Food

Feeding your pet properly is important. We recommend you feed your pet once or twice a day in distinct portions.
Do not leave food out all day for your pets. If you do this, you may not know how often or how much your pet is eating. A bad appetite is often the first noticeable sign of illness.
Over-feeding a large breed puppy can lead to problems such as hip dysplasia, and other bone and joint problems. Leaving food out all day contributes to the puppy's overeating.
An adult or senior diet should be given to pets older than 3-5 years. Senior/adult food has more fiber, which enables adult animals to digest and eliminate more comfortably.
Although both canned and dry foods offer a sufficiently balanced diet, we believe that a diet of canned food can have many more benefits for your cat.
These benefits include:

Cats do not drink as much water as they need.
This puts a strain on their kidneys because there is less water to help the kidneys function. With their kidneys working harder than they should, some cats develop kidney problems when they get older (usually after 9-10 years of age). Kidney disease is the number one cause of death in geriatric cats. By eating canned food, they get higher moisture content in their diet, allowing them to drink less and still maintain healthy kidney function.

Canned food is less irritating to a cat's digestive tract.
This may help prevent a condition known as inflammatory bowel disease. Whenever we treat any cat with a debilitating disease we put them on canned food because of its digestibility and more concentrated nutrient density. This means your cat's tummy works less to get more vitamins in a shorter amount of time.

It's easier to portion.
If a cat is having a weight problem, it is easier to regulate the amount of food they are eating when they are fed pre-measured meals of canned food.

You notice your cat's eating habits.
If a cat stops eating, it is more noticeable if they are eating the same amount of food every day. Lack of appetite is often the first sign that your cat's heath is deteriorating.

Softer tartar.
There has not been a notable difference in the number of dental visits that need to be done on a cat eating canned food. In fact, cats eating canned food have a softer tartar that is easier to remove than the tartar seen on cats eating dry food.

Although canned food may take more time to feed and cost a little more, it will most likely save you on vet bills when your cat gets older.

How Much And What Kind Do I Feed?
Feed 1/2 of a 6 oz can twice a day for the average sized cat.

Buy chicken, turkey, or lamb-based products.
Stay away from fish entirely as it can cause other health problems in your cat.
Beef is okay, but some cats have an allergy to beef-based products.

The bottom line is that there is nothing wrong with feeding dry cat food, but we believe that the extra benefits obtained with starting your cat on canned cat food at an early age are well worth the extra expense and time involved. It is never too late, however, to convert an older cat to wet cat food.
Dogs do not have the same water-consumption issues as cats. Thus you may feed your dog dry dog food or wet, as you prefer.

We recommend the following brands:
Iams
Eukanuba
Science Diet
Walthams
Authority

These brands use quality ingredients, and have fewer of the minerals and additives that can cause health problems over long periods of time.

Dog Food Flavors
Certain meats and combinations are better for your dog than others. We recommend the following:

Chicken and rice
Turkey and rice
Lamb and rice
Vegetables
Venison and rice

Do not use beef flavors, as these can cause health problems for your dog.
When you change an animal's food from one brand to another, the sudden change can shock their systems. A gradual transition from one type of food to the next is best. Mix some new food in with the old over a period of a week.

In the first two days, mix about 25% new brand and 75% old brand. Increase this mix to 50-50 new/old for the 3rd and 4th day, and for the 5th and 6th day, it should be 75% new food, 25% old food. On the last day, you should be able to switch completely to the new food.

If you notice diarrhea or vomiting with the new food, call us to see what the causes may be. Diarrhea and vomiting are always signs of health problems and distress in animals, and indicate an immediate issue that needs to be solved.
Obesity in animals causes as many health problems as obesity in humans does. Animals, however, are not in charge of what they eat. As responsible pet owners, we must take proper care of our animal friends, and help them maintain a healthy weight.

Obese
Pet weighs 20% more than the ideal body weight for their breed and size.
You have difficulty feeling their ribs through a thick layer of fat on their side.
The base of their tail is also thickened by a layer of fat and the bones there are not easily felt.
From the side, they have no waist, and fat hangs from their abdomen.
When you look down at the animal, their back is noticeably wide.
Pet may be short of breath during normal activity, have a bad temper, waddle when walking, and find it difficult to move freely.

Overweight
Pet weighs 10% more than the ideal body weight for their breed and size.
You have difficulty feeling their ribs through a moderate layer of fat on their side.
The base of their tail is also thickened by a layer of fat and the bones there are palpable, but not distinct.
From the side, they have no abdominal tuck.
When you look down at the animal, their back is slightly broadened at the waist.
Pet may be short of breath during moderate activity, have a bad temper, waddle when walking, and find it difficult to move freely.

Ideal
You can easily feel their ribs through a thin layer of fat on their side.
The base of their tail has a smooth contour and a slight pad of fat cover.
From the side, they have an abdominal tuck.
When you look down at the animal, waist is well proportioned. Veterinarians suggest half of all pets are considered overweight or obese. Obesity is recognized as the most common form of malnutrition in pets, and may affect more than 25% of all pets in the US.

As the pet's weight increases, so does the risk of health problems such as:

  • Arthritis. The extra weight placed on the animal's bones and muscles causes premature arthritis, and aggravates arthritis in older dogs.
  • Ruptured ligaments. The ligaments in the animal are not built to withstand excess weight for long periods of time, and gradually weaken and rupture under weight stress.
  • Slipped discs. An especially urgent concern for longer-backed breeds like Daschunds and Corgis, slipped discs in the dog's back are caused by the weight of their body dragging the pet down and making simple tasks like jumping on the bed or hopping up a curb, risky activities. Cats are likely to jump more often than dogs, and obesity can harm their backs as well. The usual jump up to their favorite windowsill can become a dangerous activity for an overweight cat.
  • Diabetes, heart disease and breathing problems. Just as human obesity increases the risks of these very serious conditions, so does animal obesity increase their risks.
  • Anesthetic and surgical risks. These risks are a byproduct of the other health problems caused by animal obesity. When an animal is overweight and they need surgery there is a greater risk of complications due to obesity.

Though obesity is a problem for animals, proper management of their diet can reverse and prevent most of these issues.

The four main reasons pets become obese are:

  • Too much food / overeating
  • The wrong type of food, or low-quality food
  • Lack of exercise
  • Medical disorders

The specific cause of obesity in your pet should be determined by Dr. Carver, and treated immediately. This could be such a simple act as changing Fluffy's food, or taking Spot for a walk a few times a week, but the possibility is always there that your pet is suffering from a medical condition, and it is better to be safe than sorry.

  • Monitor your pet's food intake. If you are in control of regular portions of their food, they can't overeat. Also, when an animal is sick, the first sign is often a lack of appetite. If you watch how much your pet eats, you can better monitor their health.
  • Don't feed your pet people food or table scraps. Dogs, especially, love people food, but they don't understand that what tastes good may be bad for them.
  • Give fewer treats. High-calorie treats should be fed every once in a while, not on a regular basis.
  • Feed your pet before you eat, to reduce the amount of begging.
  • Exercise and play with your pet. This is good for both their minds and bodies.

2. Fleas, Ticks, and Worms

All causes of itching and scratching can be dangerous to your pet's health. A diagnosis of the problem by Dr. Carver is the safest way to help your pet with this annoying and frustrating problem.
Puppies

The most common cause of itching in puppies is fleas. See our secition on fleas to determine if this is the issue.


A second possible cause is mange. If your puppy is a shelter animal, or you got them anywhere else other than a reputable breeder, mange is possible. Mange is caused by one or more of three different types of parasites, and is not contagious to humans, but can spread to other animals. It is characterized by chronic itching, and possibly also hair loss on the face, ears, or rest of the body, as well as doggy dandruff.


Visit Dr. Carver as soon as you get your puppy to keep puppy problems in hand, and to avoid infesting your home with parasites.


Scratching Around Rear

If your pet scratches themselves mostly around their rear, the cause is most likely fleas. See our section on fleas for more information about how to combat this problem.


Other possible causes: impacted anal glands, allergies (which establish themselves when your pet is 1-2 yrs. old), or other esternal parasites. Because the causes vary greatly, consult us before you treat the problem.


Itchy Ears, Face, Stomach, Paws

If your animal itches in their ears, on their face, stomach, and/or paws without any visible ear mites or other infestations, your pet may suffer from allergies. There are treatments available for pets with allergies, and Dr. Carver would be happy to discuss options with you if allergies are diagnosed.


Itching With Patchy Hair Loss / Pink Ring-Shaped Sores

If your pet's hair falls out in patches, or if there is an itchy patch of skin in a pink ring shape, these are common signs of ringworm or some other infestation of your animal's skin. The skin of the animal may instead be patchy and scaly. A ring shape might not form on your pet, but the infection will surely spread from one part of your pet to other parts of their body.


Ringworm is very contagious, and to keep from getting it yourself, your pet should be handled very carefully. Call us for tips on how to transport your pet to our facility for diagnosis.


Infest dogs, cats, and the living area. Lay eggs on the pet, which drop off, and hatch in carpeting, furniture, leaves, and other dark places. Larvae feed on fecal matter dropped by adult fleas. Can bite and infect humans.

Fleas are an integral part of the transmission of tapeworms.

Symptoms / Diseases Caused and Facts

Discomfort Fleas lay 600-2000 eggs before they die.

Flea allergy dermatitis Even one flea in your home may signal an infestation.

Tapeworm infestation May be difficult to notice in cats.

Anemia One flea can bite a pet 400x a day.
The life cycle from egg to adult takes as little as 2 weeks.
Eggs can survive over winter.
Adults can survive without blood for over 9 months.
Thrive in high humidity and moderate temperatures.

Attach to dogs, cats, and humans. Suck blood from their host, transmitting diseases into the blood stream.

Symptoms / Diseases Caused and Facts

Lyme Disease Thrive in high humidity and moderate temperatures.
Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever Can survive for years without feeding.
Ehrlichiosis (a parasitic infection), Babesiosis (a parasitic infection), Tick Paralysis Live in grassy or wooded areas, and attach to animal walking through.

Cytauxzoonosis (a fatal parasitic infection) Prefer areas of the pet's body with little fur or hair coverage (under legs, spine, base of tail, ears, etc.)
Topical Prescription Flea/Tick Treatments (like Advantage and Frontline)

  • Application: Dropped on the skin on the back of the neck (cats), or between the shoulder blades (dogs)

  • Kill ticks and fleas within a short period of time, often 24 hrs.

  • Spreads itself over the animal's body.

  • Continues treating for a month.

  • Can be gentle enough for kittens and puppies.

  • Is stored in glands under the skin and continuously released into the fur.

  • Can be water resistant.

  • Can dry quickly.

  • May kill fleas/eggs in the environment as well as those on the pet.

Note: Some treatments are NOT SAFE TO USE ON OR AROUND CATS. Tell us if you have or may have a cat near the dog being treated for fleas and ticks so we can prescribe the appropriate medication.

Enter the cat or dog's body and infest the heart and lungs.

Symptoms / Diseases Caused and Facts
Coughing Stop blood flow, damaging the dog's internal organs
Vomiting Can grow up to 14 inches long
Difficulty breathing Spread by mosquitoes
Heart & organ failure Any dog that goes outside is at risk
DeathMonthly heartworm medication can prevent heartworm infestations

Live in the intestines of the pet. Can be transmitted to humans.

Symptoms / Diseases Caused and Facts

Diarrhea Often caught from mother or her milk.
Vomiting Can be picked up from soil.
Stunted growth, Bloated stomach:"pot belly" , Weakness , Scruffy coat , Can be treated & prevented with worming medication.

Attach with "hooks" to intestinal lining of dogs or cats. Can be transmitted to humans.

Symptoms / Diseases Caused and Facts

Diarrhea 100 hookworms can kill a puppy.
Internal bleeding Spread from mother or her milk.
Anemia Can be spread through soil and swallowed.
Weakness Can also penetrate through a dog's feet.
Weight loss, Scruffy look, Pale gums , Sudden death Can be treated & prevented with worming medication.

Live in the large intestine.

Symptoms / Diseases Caused and Facts

Bloody diarrhea Can produce 2000 eggs a day
Anemia Eggs passed in feces into soil.
Dehydration Very difficult to eradicate.
Loss of appetite Can be treated & prevented with worming medication.

Prescription worming medications, such as Heartgard, are given orally to both cats and dogs. These medications are usually preventative, and prevent infections from heartworms, and several types of roundworms and hookworms. Monthly use of worming preventatives will eliminate the risk of infection by the types of worms these preventatives treat.

3. Shots, Exams, and Getting Fixed

for Rates, please see the Rates page

Vaccinations are injections of dead virus or infection particles that help your body build up immunity to that disease. Because pets are initially protected by the antibodies passed from their mother, they do not need shots until those antibodies start wearing off a few weeks into their lives.

Every pet should have blood work done yearly after they reach 3 years of age to detect illnesses before they become problems.

Heartworm tests should be done yearly on outdoor pets 6 months and older to prevent heartworm infestations. Medications such as Prevention will be given to stop heartworm infestations before they start.

Kittens We recommend testing your kitten for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline AIDS (FIV) before exposing them to any other pets in your household. This test takes 10 minutes, and costs only $30. This test is strongly recommended, and can assure you that your kitten can physically cope with the vaccination series.

Kittens need a 2-shot series. These shots are spaced 4 weeks apart, an initial shot, and then a booster, to allow the kitten to build up antibodies for the shots they have been given before another shot is distributed.

The first shot is the feline distemper vaccination (FVRCPC), followed by the feline leukemis (FeLV) vaccination after 9 weeks of age, and the rabies vaccination after the kitten is 12 weeks old. Booster shots for each of these vaccinations will follow 4 weeks later.

Puppies need a 3-shot series starting at 8-10 weeks of age, with 4 weeks ebetween shots.

Tooth decay and periodontal disease is just as threatening to animals as it is to people. Untreated tooth decay often leads to bad breath, tooth loss, and serious infections. The heart, kidneys, and liver can be weakened over time by the constant addition of bacteria to their bloodstream.

Stage 1 The first sign of gingivitis in your pet is bad breath, which is not present in dogs with healthy teeth. In addition to this, the dog's gums will be swollen, and a thin layer of buildup will be present on the teeth near the gumline. At this point in the disease, your pet's gums are swollen and trapping bacteria beneath them.

Stage 2 Early periodontal disease is indicated by severely swollen gums and increased bad breath. Your pet's jawbone is being eroded by the bacteria trapped under their gums, and their gums bleed when probed.

Stage 3 Indicated by bleeding gums, a 50% loss of gum attachment to the teeth, and repulsive breath. At this point, bone loss is accelerated due to the high amounts of bacteria in the dog's mouth. Teeth move when you wiggle them.

Stage 4 The final stage in the disease. Gums have receded significantly, and they bleed easily. Food and pus are trapped beneath the buildup on the animal's teeth. Breath odor is overwhelming. Teeth move easily when wiggled.

Periodontal disease can be prevented by feeding a proper diet, and having regular dental exams and cleanings. Call us today to schedule your pet's dental cleaning!

Cats
The signs of heat in cats are distinct:

- She will yowl or meow loudly. This may go on for several days or until she mates.
- She may become unusually affectionate and rub her hindquarters against furniture, people, or other cats.
- She may stand in the mating position with her upper body lowered to the ground, her hind-end raised, and her tail held high and to the side. She may also tread rhythmically with her hind legs.
- If she doesn't mate, she will go back into this state continuously for 5 to 14 days every 2 to 3 weeks until she is bred or spayed. This means you can't just ignore your cat's heat cycle hoping it will go away.

It is best to spay your cat at a young age, at about 5 and a half to 6 months of age to prevent the discomfort of the heat cycle, and to prevent unwanted kittens.

Spayed cats also have fewer health problems than unspayed cats.

Dogs
The signs of heat in dogs are distinct:

- She will have a reddened and noticeably swollen vulva.
- There will be bleeding from the vulva, which will cease for the fertile period, and then return after if the dog is not bred.
- Her nipples will swell and change shape and color.
- She may rub her rear on the ground, or against other objects or animals.
- If a dog is not mated when in heat, she will finish the heat cycle (length varies from dog to dog), and go back into heat approximately four months later.

It is best to spay a dog when she is not in heat (6 months of age for small dogs, 10 months of age for large breeds).

Like cats, a spayed dog may have fewer health problems, and be less trouble for the owner.

4. Other Issues

We recommend harnesses over collars for the simple fact that a collar is no better than a noose around your dog's neck. Pulling on the leash with a collar causes throat trauma, and can choke, or seriously hurt your dog.

A harness that goes around the dog's chest and midsection gives the owner even more control of the dog's movements, and does not threaten the dog's well-being, as the pulling forces are distributed more evenly around the body rather than being concentrated on the dog's throat.

Our office is now equipped with the abillity to perform laser surgery. Why lasers? Because lasers provide great benefits to your pet both during and after surgery.

While laser surgery costs more than standard procedures, Dr. Carver will always highly recommend laser surgery for your pet because of its many benefits. See more about the benefits of laser surgery on our laser surgical procedures page.

Inappropriate urination in cats can be caused by a variety of factors. The problem can be physical, psychological, or due to a cat's tidy nature. Cats don't like to go to the restroom outside their litterbox, but they feel forced by certain conditions to do so.

Physical Infection

First we must rule out the issue of a physical infection. Infections of the blood or urinary tract may cause a cat in pain to stop using the litter box. This is an indication of a physical problem, and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as scooting their rear around on the floor, or dark or painful urination. Then again, this may be the only symptom of the infection. If your cat starts to go outside the litter box, bring them in to see us to rule out a physical problem.

Stress

Second, cats under stress break their normal habits and may start using areas other than the litter box. This is not "revenge" or an attempt to punish you, but in fact a physical reaction to stress by a confused animal.

If there has been a major change in the cat's life, such as

a new pet
a new baby
a move
a divorce
any other change in the cat's routine ?

they may respond by changing their habits. Please help your cat through this difficult time by shielding him from the stressor, or giving him more attention than normal. Because each stress has a different solution, feel free to ask us for more ways you can help your cat through stressful times.

Territory

Some cats are territorial and don't want to share their litter box. A multiple-cat household should have at least one litter box per cat, spaced evenly throughout the house. The boxes should be cleaned every day, or even twice a day, depending on how many cats are using them. This may reduce bad box behavior.

Dirty Box

Finally, if a litter box is too dirty for a cat's tastes, they may start going to the bathroom outside the box. This may be the cause in a cat that has occasionally gone outside the litterbox throughout their life. A sudden change in litterbox use, however, indicates a physical or psychological problem.

Some cats prefer a perfectly clean box, and even one little puddle or pile may cause your cat to go in the corner. If this is the case, a self-cleaning litter box, or a little more cleaning of the box, should help with the problem.

Good Health Counts

Schedule a veterinary checkup as part of your travel preparations, whether your pet is going along or will be boarding. Many states and foreign countries require a current health certificate within 10 days of travel, and documentation of rabies vaccination.

Check with your airline and hotel for pet travel arrangements. Always check with Customs of countries prior to travel. Carry copies of your pet's complete medical records if they are traveling with you.

Good Behavior Matters

Use a collar and leash for security, and to keep your pet at their public best. Pet carriers are also useful.

Confirm Your Welcome

check ahead with motels or hotels where you intend to stay with your pet. many allow pet guests and have special facilities, but call to be sure.

Keep Life Cool

Protect your pet from heatstroke and death. NEVER leave your pet in a closed car, even for a few minutes, especially during hot weather. The car's interior temperature can rise dramatically in a short time and quickly reach temperatures that can kill during a hot Texas summer.

Watch the Windows

Keep car windows closed far enough to prevent your pet from jumping out into traffic when loose, and avoid injury by keeping their paws and faces in the vehicle.

Light Food Intake, Fewer Problems

Feed small amounts before you leave for your trip. Make sure your pet has adequate water throughout the trip. It's a good idea to bring a jug of water from home, as the chemicals and smells of the new water may cause tummy problems for your pet.

Motion Sickness?

Ask us for medications that can calm your pet and prevent them from becoming sick while traveling.

Plan to StopSchedule bathroom and activity breaks at regular intervals. For cats carry a litter pan with familiar litter. Remember, the smaller your pet, the more often they will need a bathroom break.

All causes of itching and scratching can be dangerous to your pet's health. A diagnosis of the problem by Dr. Carver is the safest way to help your pet with this annoying and frustrating problem.

Itching & Hair Loss

The most common cause of itching in puppies is mange. Mange is caused by one or more of three different types of parasites, and is not contagious to humans, but can spread to other animals. It is characterized by mild to fierce itching, and possibly also hair loss on the face, ears, or rest of the body, as well as doggy dandruff. Visit Dr. Carver as soon as you notice this to keep the problem in hand.

Scratching Around Rear

If your pet scratches themselves mostly around their rear, the cause is most likely fleas. See our section on fleas for more information about how to combat this problem.

Itchy Ears, Face, Stomach, Paws

If your animal itches in their ears, on their face, stomach, and/or paws without any visible ear mites or other infestations, your pet may suffer from allergies. There are treatments available for pets with allergies, and Dr. Carver would be happy to discuss options with you if allergies are diagnosed.

Itching With Patchy Hair Loss / Pink Ring-Shaped Sores

If your pet's hair falls out in patches, or if there is an itchy patch of skin in a pink ring shape, these are common signs of ringworm or some other infestation of your animal's skin. Ringworm is very contagious, and to keep from getting it yourself, your pet should be handled very carefully. Call us for tips on how to transport your pet to our facility for diagnosis.

Pet health insurance is available to cover medical problems and conditions related to accidental injuries, emergencies, poisonings, and illnesses including cancer, diabetes, ear infections, broken bones, and more. Coverage also helps pay for routine medical tests and office visits.

Mixed or purebred dogs and cats are eligible for coverage. We are a licensed veterinarian, and will accept most types of pet insurance. If your pet runs away and is hurt, having an insurance tag around their neck will increase the likelihood that someone will bring your pet for medical attention.

Coverage for exotic pets (pot-bellied pigs, rabbits, ferrets, reptiles, etc.) is also available , covering conditions specific to these types of animals.

Pet insurance is not offered by our hospital, but we can refer you to insurance companies that can meet your needs.

Microchipping is permanent pet identification. A microchip is inserted under your pet's skin, and is good for the life of the pet. A collar tag is also provided with a phone number for people to call after they have found your pet.

Animal shelters, veterinarians, and animal control officers use harmless scanners to detect and read the microchip under your pet's skin, and contact you so you can come get them.

Microchipping is a fast procedure that does not require anesthesia. It is safe for kittens, puppies, and older animals who may wander away from home.