The Top 5 Questions Our Vets Get About Pets

Every pet is unique in terms of personality and needs, but our vets regularly hear the same questions time and time again from pet owners. Every dog or cat parent wants the best for their furry family members, so we are happy to answer these questions!

To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 questions our vets get about pets. Read to the very end for the one question that we wish pet owners would ask more often.

1. Does my pet really need a yearly exam?
Yes – at a minimum! Regular wellness checkups are an important part of pet ownership. Bringing your pet in for a checkup may feel like a chore, but studies show that preventative care is essential to disease prevention and early detection of potential problems.

Dogs and cats age much more rapidly than humans, so a lot can change in just a few months. We actually recommend general physical exams every 6 months, especially for pets older than 5 years of age. For puppies and kittens, we recommend having exams performed at 8, 12 and 16 weeks of age.

2. What type of food is healthiest for my pet?
Our veterinarian recommendations for feeding your pet are based on the science of nutrition. The reality is that dogs and cats are carnivores by nature, and their diet would consist of nutrient-dense, protein-rich foods such as organ tissue in the wild.

We recommend pet foods with proteins such as chicken, beef, fish, and eggs listed among the first ingredients. Foods containing more meat and better quality ingredients have higher nutrient value and greater digestibility.

3. What vaccinations does my pet need?
Core vaccines are those immunizations recommended for all dogs and cats regardless of life stage or lifestyle.

Core Vaccines for Puppies and Dogs

  • DA2PPV: Recommend starting at the 8-week puppy visit with boosters at the 12-week and 16-week puppy visits. Another booster should be given 1 year after completing the initial puppy vaccines, and every 3 years thereafter.
  • Bordetella – Recommend starting at the 8-week or 12-week puppy visits with a booster 3-5 weeks after the initial vaccine. Recommended every 6 months for dogs regularly exposed to high-risk situations such as grooming, boarding, day play, and dog parks.

Core Vaccines for Kittens and Cats

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Panleukopenia, Calicivirus (FVRCP)
  • Recommend starting at the 8-week kitten visit with boosters at the 12-week and 16-week visits. Another booster should be given 1 year after completing initial kitten vaccines, and every 3 years thereafter.

The Rabies vaccination is another core vaccine that is required by law for all dogs and cats. Non-core vaccines that may still be recommended include Canine Influenza and Leptospirosis for dogs and Feline Leukemia for cats.

4. Does heartworm / flea / tick prevention need to be given year-round?
Absolutely, yes! Prevention is the key to avoiding parasite infections and infestations, which are damaging to your pet’s health and expensive to treat. There are many different ways for your dog or cat to contract parasites. Indoor pets can even be infected when their humans bring fleas in on their clothing or shoes!

Fleas and ticks can be found at any time of year in the United States, so year-round prevention medication is essential. Dogs and cats can be exposed to heartworms in almost any location where mosquitoes can be found. Feline heartworm disease is especially dangerous; infected cats may die from the development of just one heartworm.

Learn more about preventing parasites in pets.

5. How often should I groom my pet?
Keeping your pet clean and well-groomed is an important part of complete pet care, so we are glad to see so many pet owners asking this question. But the truth is, the answer depends entirely on the breed and coat of your pet.

For example, some dogs (such as poodles) will need to be professionally groomed every 4-6 weeks in order to keep their coats free of painful mats and tangles. On the other hand, short-haired dogs may be able to go 8-12 weeks between professional groomings, although they will still require regular upkeep at home.

Long-haired and medium-haired dogs and cats usually need to be brushed daily or every other day, while short-haired pets only require brushing once or twice a week. You should also keep your pet’s teeth, ears and nails clean and tidy with regular maintenance.

Bonus: One Questions Vets Wish Pet Owners Would Ask
Our vets regularly field a long list of questions from loving pet parents, but one question we would like to hear more often is this: “Is my pet at a healthy weight? If not, what should I do differently?”

Vets know weight management can be a sensitive topic, and many pet owners don’t want to hear that their dog or cat is severely overweight. But the truth is, it’s an essential component of complete pet care.

According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, a whopping 59% of cats and 54% of dogs in the U.S. are classified as either overweight or obese. They define “obese” pets as weighing more than 30% above their ideal weight.

Data shows that the pet obesity epidemic is on the rise, and this is a growing concern for veterinarians. Excessive fat in pets can significantly increase the risk of chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, liver and kidney disease, diabetes, and asthma. Ultimately, pet obesity can even lead to a shortened lifespan and heart failure.

By starting this conversation, we can work towards helpful habits like establishing an exercise or play routine, changing the quality or quantity of your pet’s food, and replacing food treats with other activities.

Still, have questions about your pet’s health? Schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian!