What is a licensed veterinary technician?
Veterinary technicians are highly skilled medical professionals and indispensable members of the veterinary medical team. They are capable of performing a wide variety of duties, including providing life support and intensive care, anesthesia, surgical assistance, dental cleanings, collection and processing of patient samples for laboratory analysis, physical therapy and nutritional counseling.
In New York State, to obtain their license, veterinary technicians must have completed their associates degree in an accredited veterinary technical college program followed by a rigorous state examination for licensure.
I’ve seen a lot of information about supplements and nutraceuticals. How do I know what my pet needs?
Supplements, and nutraceuticals in particular, are becoming very popular with pet owners. Your veterinarian can help you weed out confusing and conflicting information and advise you on any supplements your pet might benefit from.
Which pet food should I feed my dog/cat?
The answer is different for each pet, although many commercially available foods are fine to feed healthy dogs and cats. You can look for a nutritional adequacy statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), as well as the words “complete and balanced.” Pets’ nutritional needs do change, depending on their life stage and health. Your veterinarian can recommend a pet food, as well as give you advice on deciphering ingredient lists and determining how much to feed your pet.
I recently lost my pet, and I’m having trouble dealing with the loss. Where can I find help?
Losing a pet can be extremely upsetting and hard to move beyond. We have such a close bond with our pets, so letting go is never easy. Many veterinary hospitals offer grief counseling, as do some veterinary colleges and professional organizations. You can contact your veterinary hospital to find out who they recommend to help you through this sad transition.
My pet has the same thing wrong that he/she was just treated for. Can the veterinarian just prescribe the same medication that he/she did the last time?
Even though your pet may be showing the same symptoms as he or she did the last time, the problem may be different. Many diseases have similar symptoms, and your veterinarian needs to examine your pet to ensure that he or she correctly diagnoses the cause.
What toys/accessories are appropriate for my pet?
Many clinics offer veterinary-approved toys and accessories for pets. With all the options out there, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s safe. Your veterinary hospital can also recommend toys based on your pet’s age, breed, needs, and interests.
My pet won’t stop chewing/digging/barking/scratching/spraying. Where can I find help?
Certain behaviors can be extremely frustrating and difficult to overcome. Many veterinary hospitals offer behavior counseling and obedience training. Call your clinic to set up a behavior assessment.
My pet needs to have surgery. Should I be worried about the anesthesia?
Modern anesthesia is generally quite safe. Most veterinary hospitals perform a physical examination and run blood tests before all procedures requiring general anesthesia to make sure your pet doesn’t have any hidden health issues. In addition, a skilled veterinary technician should be monitoring your pet’s vital signs during the procedure, to ensure your pet’s safety or to catch and treat any potential concerns as quickly as possible. Anesthesia and patient monitoring vary greatly from clinic to clinic. Ask your hospital what they do to protect your pet before, during, and after the use of anesthesia.
My pet’s just been diagnosed with a medical condition/disease I’m not familiar with, and I want to find out more about it. Where can I find information I can trust?
You can turn to the Library section of our website, which offers current, trustworthy information on a wide variety of topics. In addition, many veterinary colleges and professional organizations offer excellent resources online. Your veterinarian will also be happy to discuss your pet’s health in more detail.
Will microchipping hurt my pet?
Not any more than a regular vaccine injection. The chip is inserted at the back of the pet’s neck, where the skin is loose. Microchipping is a safe and effective way to identify your pet in case he or she becomes lost.
After I have my pet microchipped, is there anything else I need to do?
You pet’s microchip should continue to function over your pet’s lifetime without any maintenance; however, the system won’t work unless you keep your contact information current. Whenever you move or change your phone number, make sure you update that information with your pet’s microchip manufacturer. Remember to also get your pet new ID tags at the same time.
Are natural remedies for flea/tick/heartworm prevention safe to use on my pet?
Although natural remedies may offer some protection or repellency against parasites, they are not nearly as effective as prescription products. In addition, natural remedies often need to be applied far more frequently than once a month, making them less convenient as well. Some, such as garlic, may actually be harmful to your pet.
Just because a product has “natural” on its label doesn’t mean it’s safe. Consult with your veterinarian before using any over-the-counter preventives on your pet.
Why should I buy flea/tick/heartworm preventives from a veterinary hospital when there are other, cheaper places to get it?
If you purchase preventives from sources other than a veterinary hospital or a website affiliated with a veterinary hospital, you don’t have any guarantee that the product is authentic or that it has been stored and shipped properly. When you order from your veterinarian, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to rely on his or her expertise and knowledge of your pet’s medical history.
My pet doesn’t go outside and I’ve never seen a flea or tick on my pet. Why should I bother putting my pet on preventives?
Fleas and ticks are not just minor nuisances; they can transmit serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases, some of which can be passed to people. Even indoor-only pets are at risk because fleas and ticks can hitch a ride inside on your clothing, shoes, or other pets. Keeping your pet on a monthly preventive is your best bet for protecting your pet—and your family—against these parasites.
I’ve heard that some clinics offer anesthesia-free dentistry. Is this safe for my pet?
Anesthesia-free dentistry, or non-professional dental scaling, can be extremely dangerous for pets, for a number of reasons.
Most pets won’t lie still during a dental cleaning, so there is a strong risk of injuring the pet’s gums and other soft tissue in the mouth. A frightened pet could also bite the clinician.
Even if your pet could be trained to remain completely still for all the scraping and noise of the procedure, his or her teeth need to be cleaned under the gums, where tartar and dental disease can hide. This process is uncomfortable, which is why pets should be anesthetized. Dental, or periodontal, disease begins in the spaces under the gums where the teeth and gums meet. Cleaning just the visible surfaces of the teeth only makes owners feel like their pets’ teeth are clean, when in reality, dental disease is still trapped under the gumline.
Your pet also needs to be ventilated during the procedure. Ventilation keeps your pet’s airway open and keeps tartar from potentially ending up in his or her lungs, where it can actually kill your pet.
The cosmetic cleaning that a pet would get from a non-professional scaling just isn’t worth your money or your pet’s health.
Why does my pet need dental care?
Dental health is just as important for dogs and cats as it is for people. Bacteria and food debris accumulate around the teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay can result in irreversible periodontal disease, tooth loss, and expensive oral surgery. Bacteria can also cause serious, potentially fatal infections in your pet’s kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart.
Unless your pet just ate something fishy, stinky breath isn’t normal. Having a veterinarian evaluate your pet’s teeth regularly and clean them as needed will help prevent dental disease and any related problems.
How can my puppy/kitten have worms? How was he/she exposed?
Almost all puppies are born with intestinal parasites, which are passed from mother to pup during pregnancy. Although kittens are not infected when they’re born, they can become infected through their mother’s milk. Puppies can also become infected while they’re nursing.
Puppies and kittens should both be dewormed every 2 weeks, starting at about 2 weeks of age for puppies and 3 weeks of age for kittens. After the biweekly series of dewormings is finished, monthly deworming should begin (at about 8 to 9 weeks of age for kittens and 12 weeks of age for puppies).
I’ve been late several times when giving my pet a heartworm preventive. Should I be concerned?
Unfortunately, if you were late or missed a dose even once, your pet could have become infected if he or she was exposed during that time. Call your veterinarian, and explain the situation. Depending on how many doses have been late, they may recommend that you have your pet tested for heartworm infection, then put your pet on a regular preventive schedule. You should also have your pet retested in seven months, as recommended by the American Heartworm Society. (For heartworms to be detected, they need to be five to seven months old.)
Can’t I just give my dog/cat a Tylenol or Advil to help with pain, rather than paying for more costly veterinary pain medication?
Never give your pet medication intended for people unless your veterinarian has prescribed it. Most over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can have serious, potentially fatal consequences if a pet ingests them.
A variety of pain medications are available for dogs and cats. Your veterinarian can help you determine which one will fit your budget and help alleviate your pet’s pain.
What should I expect during my pet’s wellness exam?
During your pet’s wellness exam, your veterinarian will take your pet’s history and perform a thorough physical examination. He or she will also give your pet appropriate vaccinations and perform a diagnostic workup, which may include blood, fecal, and urine tests to check for parasites and underlying diseases. Your veterinarian will prescribe preventives and may recommend dental work or other follow-up care. The specific services provided during the exam will vary depending on your pet’s age. You can help by letting your veterinarian know if you’ve noticed any unusual behavior or physical changes in your pet.
Why should I bring my pet in for regular veterinary visits when he/she is healthy?
When you consider the cost of prevention versus the cost of treating a disease or condition, you’ll find that treatment is often far more expensive. For example, parvovirus treatment can frequently cost 10 times more than a single parvovirus vaccination. When you keep your pet up-to-date on preventive care, you’ll know that your pet won’t have to suffer from a condition that could have been prevented or treated.
What vaccinations does my dog/cat really need?
Your veterinarian will determine which vaccinations are appropriate for your dog or cat, based on individual factors, such as lifestyle and health status. Veterinarians commonly recommend that dogs be vaccinated against rabies, distemper, and parvovirus and that cats be vaccinated against rabies and panleukopenia (feline distemper). Additional vaccines, such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and Bordetella (kennel cough), are recommended based on your cat or dog’s risk.
Many of these diseases can be fatal to your pet. Preventing them is far easier and less expensive than treatment. If you would like more information on vaccines, ask your veterinarian.
Does my pet have to get a rabies vaccination?
Many areas have laws that require dogs and cats (and sometime ferrets) to be vaccinated against rabies. These laws help protect both pets and people from this deadly disease. Check with your veterinarian to learn local requirements and to find out what he or she recommends. Except in certain rare cases, a veterinarian needs to examine a pet before the vaccine is given.
Because of rabies laws, control and prevention programs, and pet owners’ cooperation, domesticated pets in North America rarely become infected with this disease. By keeping your pet up-to-date on his or her rabies vaccination, not only are you protecting your pet, but you’re also helping to eradicate rabies from the pet population in your community.
How hard is it to get into a veterinary program?
Getting into veterinary school is extremely competitive. Because veterinary programs have a limited number of positions to fill, not all students who apply get in. Those who hope to become a veterinarian must have high grades in their pre-veterinary studies. In addition, any real-world experience or additional years of college may be beneficial.
What education does a veterinarian need?
Most veterinary degrees require at least six years of study at the university level, including a minimum of two years of pre-veterinary education and four years in a veterinary medicine program. Veterinary students usually spend 4,000 hours or more in classroom, laboratory, and clinical study.
To stay current with veterinary medicine, techniques, and technology, practicing veterinarians read scientific journals and attend continuing education symposiums, seminars, and courses.
What is a veterinarian?
Put simply, a veterinarian is a doctor who studies animal health; prevents, diagnoses, and treats diseases and health issues in animals; and helps protect the welfare of animals and people. Veterinarians are knowledgeable and well educated on many aspects of animal care and fulfill a range of roles across the private and public sectors. You can find veterinarians working at small animal clinics, emergency and specialty hospitals, universities, research facilities, pet food and drug manufacturing companies, and government organizations.
Why should I have my pet spayed or neutered?
Spaying and neutering can have major benefits for your pet, including lowering or preventing the risk of several diseases and types of cancer. Your veterinarian will be happy to discuss these benefits. In addition, spaying and neutering help control the pet population by reducing the number of unwanted pets.