Frequently Asked Questions
Ballston Lake Veterinarian: Frequently Asked Questions
1. When should I have my puppy/kitten spayed/neutered?
According to newer research, waiting until full growth is considered the best time ( usually around 1 year of age unless a giant breed, then it is closer to 18 months). This allows for normal growth plate closure. We recommend a minimum of 6 months of age if possible. This is not to say we can’t or won’t spay/neuter at a younger age, so if waiting is not something you want to do, just talk to one of us about early spay/neuter.
2. Should my animal be microchipped?
We recommend all animals be microchipped. This increases the chance of your animal being returned to you if lost. A microchip is injected under the skin with a large needle. The procedure is essentially the same as getting a vaccine. It can be done anytime, although if you have a puppy or kitten that is coming in for spay/neuter, doing it at surgery is a great time to do it.
3. What and how often should I feed and how much?
Generally, for puppies/kittens, we recommend 3 meals a day until they are around 5-6 months of age, and then you can slowly wean them onto 2 meals a day. In terms of food, we recommend the Purina Pro Plan line, Royal Canin line and Hills/Science Diet. Amounts vary greatly based on breed, age, and activity level. You can start by using the feeding guide on the bag /can of food, then ask us for recommendations when you come in for appointments.
4. Is there an optimal vaccination schedule?
- DA2PPV: a minimum of 2 Distemper/parvo vaccines spaced 3-4 weeks apart. The last one needs to be around 15-16 weeks of age for full immunity. This does mean many puppies may get 3 or even 4 vaccines depending on how old they were when they had their first vaccination. If you stop the series prior to 15-16 weeks of age, your puppy may not be fully vaccinated. (Age is more important than #)
- Rabies: Rabies is REQUIRED BY LAW for all dogs and cats in NYS ( and most other states). It must be given at 12 weeks or older to be considered a valid vaccine. Generally, we give the first one to puppies and kittens in the 12-14 week age. The initial vaccine is good for 1 year. If you do not keep rabies vaccination up to date, there are very steep fines and penalties including the possible state-mandated euthanasia and testing of your animal if it bites a person while not up to date.
- Bordetella ( kennel cough): Bordetella is part of a complex of various viral and bacterial agents that can cause Kennel Cough Complex. We recommend vaccination of all puppies, since they have immature immune systems, and are often going to puppy classes, etc where they may be exposed. At one year of age, we will assess their risk and recommend it if appropriate ( dogs that board in kennels, or spend a lot of time at daycare/grooming, etc where they are in close proximity to other dogs are at risk). Almost all boarding facilities require this vaccine.
- Lyme disease: Due to the high prevalence/large number of cases of lyme disease in our area, we strongly recommend lyme vaccination to all dogs. It will not completely prevent lyme disease, but it greatly reduces the risk. This vaccine is initially a 2 shot series 3-4 weeks apart with annual boosters after that. We generally start it after the basic vaccines (DA2PPV, RV) are done at about 18-20 weeks of age. You should also use a tick preventative product in conjunction with the vaccine for the best protection.
- Leptosporosis: Leptosporosis is a bacterial infection that can cause kidney and liver failure in dogs. It can also be transmitted to people by infected dogs. Although not that common in this area, we do see occasional cases. It is transmitted via the urine of infected wildlife ( raccoons, opossums, etc). Dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors- hunting, hiking, swimming in lakes/ponds, live on farms, or camp are at higher risk and should be vaccinated. Like Lyme vaccine, it is initially a 2 shot series 3-4 weeks apart, boosted annually. We tend to start it at the same time as Lyme vaccination.
- Canine Influenza (flu shot): This is a relatively new vaccine and disease in the veterinary world. Like our flu shot, it doesn’t prevent canine influenza, but decreases the severity and helps prevent spread of the disease. Canine influenza causes severe upper respiratory disease and in rare cases, death. Some boarding kennels require this vaccine. If you will be travelling often with your dog, or boarding a lot, It would be good vaccine to consider. It is a 2 shot series 3-4 weeks apart, with yearly revaccination.
- FVRCP: Feline panleukopenia ( distemper)/calici/herpes virus vaccine. This vaccine is given to all kittens starting around 6-8 weeks of age. The vaccine is given every 3-4 weeks apart with the last one at 16-18 weeks of age to insure immunity.
- Rabies: same as with puppies
- Feline Leukemia: Feline leukemia is a virus transmitted via close contact ( grooming, sharing dishes, sneezing on each other) between cats. If infected, most cats will develop a cancer called lymphoma within 2 years. Outdoor cats/social cats are more likely to be exposed. Current recommendations from the American Association of Feline Practitioners is for all kittens to receive this vaccine. At the time of annual booster, if risk is low, then it can be discontinued. Generally we do not recommend it in adult or senior indoor only cats. The kitten vaccination involves 2 vaccines 3-4 weeks apart.
- FIV: This vaccine although available, is not recommended at all in cats, and we do not carry it.
5. How and when do I transition from a puppy/kitten food to adult food?
Around 10-12 months of age, you should transition over to an adult food, or one that says “suitable for all life stages”. Transition slowly by slowly reducing the old food while gradually increasing the new food ( mix together) over 1-2 weeks ( eg: start with 75% old food + 25% new food for 2 days, then 50:50, then 25:75, etc). You should always try to transition new foods. Switching suddenly can cause gi upset resulting in diarrhea or vomiting.
6. Does my pet need a fecal ( poop) exam?
YES- all animals should have their stool ( poop) checked at least once a year ( 2-3 times for puppies/kittens). This is to make sure they do not have any intestinal parasites that may cause disease to them and to YOU.
7. What’s the best way to deal with fleas, ticks and other parasites?
- We recommend use of either Bravecto chews every 12 weeks, Seresto collar every 8 months or Advantix II monthly to prevent fleas and ticks. Flea and tick prevention should be used YEAR ROUND- ticks do NOT freeze and can be active in the winter. Please talk to us about specifics.
- Heartworm disease: Heartworm disease is carried by mosquitos and can be deadly to dogs ( and cats). Prevention is much preferred, is cheaper, and safer than treatment of this deadly disease. We recommend either a monthly oral preventative ( Sentinal Spectrum), or in dogs 6 months old or older, an injection given every 6 months called Proheart. Both products also provide some intestinal parasite prevention as well ( the Sentinal is better at that than Proheart).
- Heartworm disease does affect cats and can cause death. We CANNOT treat infected cats, and even indoor- only cats can be infected. Prevention is safe, easy and affordable. We recommend use of a prescription topical treatment called Advantage Multi every 30 days to prevent heartworm disease. It also prevents fleas, ear mites and roundworms, so it is an excellent product for outdoor cats as well. There is also an oral monthly pill available, which prevents heartworm disease only.
- If your cat goes outdoors and has issues with ticks, Seresto collar for cats and the new topical BRAVECTO are the ONLY safe tick preventatives available for cats. They repel or kill fleas and ticks for up to 8 months ( collar) or 12 weeks ( topical bravecto). You should still use a heartworm preventative with them. ( either Advantage Multi, Revolution or Heartgard for Cats given monthly).
8. When should I return for the next checkup?
Puppies and kittens are generally seen every 3-4 weeks until they finish with their vaccinations . After that, annual exams are recommended until 8 years of age ( canine) and 10 years of age ( feline). At that time, they are considered seniors and should be seen every 6 months to catch problems early.