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Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not find an answer to a question below, please feel free to call us or visit one of the websites listed in “Pet Library and Helpful Links”

Q: Should I be concerned about parasites in or on my pet? (Do I really need to bring in that fecal sample for testing?)

A: There are many preventable parasitic infections that can cause severe illness in your pet. In addition, many parasite infections in pets can be transmitted to people. As a result, we have adopted the recommendations of the Companion Animal Parasite Council which calls for year round parasite prevention medications (products that control fleas, ticks, heartworms and intestinal parasites) and frequent monitoring for the presence of parasites) routine fecal exams and blood tests). For more information, visit

Q: Does my pet really need all of those shots each year?

A: We develop a vaccination schedule for individual pets based on their lifestyle and risk of disease exposure. Core vaccinations, such as rabies and distemper should be given to all pets whereas non-core vaccinations (feline leukemia, Lyme, porphyromonas, leptospirosis and kennel cough) are reserved for pets whose lifestyle puts them at risk for these diseases. Our vaccination program is based on the recommendations of the American Animal Hospital Association ( and the American Association of Feline Practitioners ( Please visit these websites for more information.

Q: Are regular dental exams necessary for my pet?

A: Dogs and cats may express dental pain and disease in many ways. Dental disease is not just suffering from bad breath. Infections of the teeth, gums and mouth can spread via the blood stream to just about any organ system (heart, liver kidneys etc.) causing additional health problems. Diseased teeth and gum scan also cause mouth pain, poor appetite and tooth loss. Signs of dental disease include: drooling with foul smelling saliva, dental plaque or tartar, reluctance to eat or poor appetite, tooth loss (other than normal baby tooth los in young animals), lethargy, discolored teeth, broken teeth, swelling and /or draining wound below the eye. Regular dental examinations and routine brushing of your pet’s teeth will help to maintain optimum dental health.

Q: Can I use over the counter medicines for my pet?

A: There are many over the counter medications as well as prescription human medicines that are used routinely in pets. However some commonly use OTC medications can be toxic to pets (example being Tylenol in cats). Before using any OTC medication in your pet, please ask one of our veterinarians to make sure that the medication is safe and that the dosage used is correct.

Q: What is a spay, what is a neuter and when is it done?

A: Spay (ovariohysterectomy) is a term for removing the ovaries and uterus in a female pet. Neuter (castration) is a term for removal of the testicles in male pets. We advise performing these procedures between 4 and 6 months of age…however the procedure can be performed as early as 8-12 weeks of age. We may recommend performing spay or neuter in an older pet for certain medical reasons.

Q: My pet is scheduled to have anesthesia and I am concerned. What do I need to do to minimize the risk?

A: At Bellport Animal Hospital, we use state of the art anesthetic protocols and use high tech anesthetic monitors similar to what is used in human hospitals. However, anesthesia always carries some in inherent risk to even the healthiest appearing patient. As a result, we advise that every pet that is about to undergo an anesthetic procedure have the following:

  • Complete medical history and physical examination. This is the first step in assessing your pets overall health and ability to handle anesthesia. Sometimes we can pick up an abnormality which may cause us to advise additional testing, change the anesthesia protocol or even delay anesthesia until the problem can be resolved (example: heart murmur). Sometimes we may pick up another problem on routine examination which can be addressed and corrected under the same anesthetic procedure (example: a pet coming in for a lump removal that also may benefit from a dental cleaning).
  • Routine pre-anesthetic laboratory testing.It is advised that all pets undergoing anesthesia receive blood testing and possibly x-ray and electrocardiograph testing. Problems such as early liver or kidney disease may not be apparent on physical exam but may be detected on routine blood work and urinalysis. It is advisable that even young pets undergoing routine spay and neuter receive blood testing prior to anesthesia. We expect that the majority of these young pets will have normal blood test values, however what if the values come back abnormal? The possibility exist that there could be an undetected congenital problem that exists which may need to be addressed prior to anesthesia.
  • Fasting.We advise that food and water be withheld from all dogs and cats prior to anesthesia. The standard is to take away food after 6:00 PM and water by 11:00 PM the evening prior to surgery. If you have an exotic pet 9rabbit, bird, pocket pet) that is about to have anesthesia, please contact the veterinarian for specific fasting instructions.
  • Intravenous catheter placement.Intravenous catheters provide us direct access to your pet’s blood stream. This is important for administration of medicines that may be needed before, during or after your pet’s anesthetic procedure. The catheter also allows us to administer intravenous fluids that help support cardiovascular function during anesthesia and surgery.

Q: What is the best way to identify my pet?

A: Collars with identification tags should be kept on your pet at all times. Breakaway type collars should be use in cats. Micro chipping is a new way of providing pet identification. A small chip is implanted via needle and syringe under the skin at the base of the neck. This can be done during a routine office visit. Veterinaries, shelters, many rescue groups and adoption agencies have scanners that can detect chips in pets. A collar based identification tag is provided with every microchip so an animal can be identified even if a chip scanner is not available. Once a microchip number is found on a pet, the pet’s owner can be quickly identified and contacted.

Q: What preventive health care options are available for my older pet?

A: For each year a pet ages, it is equivalent to us aging 5-7 years. As a result it is important to perform a complete physical on pets over 6 years of age every 6 months. Part of the physical exam may include routine blood, urine and fecal testing, x-rays and cardiac assessment. With more frequent exams, we can detect problems earlier that can result in much better treatment options.

Q: What preventive health care options are available for my young pet (< 6 years of age)?

A: The annual physical exam in younger pet involves a lot more than just giving vaccinations. We perform a complete physical examination to look for problems that may be developing in any body system. In addition, we recommend routine laboratory testing (blood work, fecal testing, and urinalysis) in younger pets to screen for congenital problems as well as for internal diseases that may be developing yet not clinically obvious on the outside. In many cases, problems detected early on in a pet’s life can be managed such that signs of illness can be minimized, delayed or even avoided later on.

Q: I heard that stem cells are being used to treat diseases in pets…is this true?

A: Regenerative Veterinary Medicine is an exciting new field where a pet’s adult stem cells are harvested and used to treat disease in that same pet. Most people are aware of the ethical concerns and resulting controversy surrounding the use of embryo derived (embryonic) stem cells in research to find possible cures for diseases in people. Embryonic stem cells (those that come from a 16 day old embryo) are not used in Regenerative Veterinary Stem Cell Therapy thus eliminating any ethical concerns with this treatment option. Regenerative Veterinary Stem Cell Therapy uses adult stem cells to treat disease. Adult stem cells are found in almost every tissue in the body (fat is a rich source of adult stem cells). When adult stem cells are concentrated and injected into an injury site, they product many factors that can dramatically improve the healing process. Currently the main use of stem cell therapy in veterinary medicine is for the treatment of severe arthritis and tendon/ligament injuries. However, current studies are underway to evaluate the use of stem cells in the treatment of many other diseases. At this time, adult stem cell therapy is not an option for the treatment of cancer. For more information, or to see if your pet could benefit from adult stem cell therapy, please contact our office of visit

Q: I find it nearly impossible to give medicines to my pet. Do I have any other options?

A: There are many new forms of medicines that make administration simple. Please contact our office for more information

  • Medications can be compounded by a veterinary compounding pharmacist into many flavors (tuna, beef, chicken etc.) and many forms (liquids, chewable treats and gels for absorption across the skin).
  • Many medications now come directly from the drug company in a flavor tablet form or in a form to be absorbed across the skin (typical of flea and tick medicines)
  • Long lasting injections. The broad-spectrum antibiotic, Convenia, is now available for use in dogs and cats for treatment of a number of infections including difficult to treat skin infections. It consists of a single injection that provides continuous antibiotic treatment for 2 weeks without the need for any oral antibiotic dosing. This provides convenience for the owner and eliminates the problem of infection treatment failures due to missed oral doses of antibiotic.

Q: Why do I need to come in for a recheck exam(s)? My pet is on a medication(s) and got better or my pet got better with that medicines last time so I just to get another refill.

A: It is obvious that we would want to recheck a pet with an illness that was not responding to a prescribed course of treatment, but why recheck pet’s that are feeling better?

  • To monitor for long term medication side effects. Some conditions (hyperthyroid cats, heart disease, chronic arthritis, etc.) require long-term medications that may have side effects that develop over time. It is very important to monitor for these side effects with recheck exams and possible laboratory work.
  • To monitor for disease progression. Some diseases (kidney diseases, liver disease, heart disease, tumors etc.) may slowly get worse over time, requiring adjustments in the course of treatment. It is important to recheck these pets as directed
  • To make sure the disease is completely cured. Some pets may feel better yet not be completely cured of the underlying disease. Pets are very good at hiding their medical problems from their owners. It is important that we recheck to make sure that the condition is completely resolved.
  • To evaluate for hidden causes that can lead to disease recurrence. Some conditions have hidden underlying causes that may only be seen after medications clear the superficial problem (example: ear infection due to a polyp deep in the ear canal) or are suspected when symptoms recur after medications are finished (example: urinary infection due to bladder stones).  In such cases, early identification and treatment of such conditions may lead to a cure that will prevent more serious symptoms.