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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions:

Surgery Questions:

Boarding Questions:

Free Vaccines For Life Questions:

General Questions:

WARNING SIGNS QUICK REFERENCE

Below are a few common symptoms that our animal companions may show to us to let us know that something’s wrong. If you see any of these signs, please call our office so that our staff can help you determine if your pet should be seen.

BLEEDING…bleeding from any part of the body, in the bowel movement or urine.

VOMITING…please call for any episode of vomiting, repeated episodes are a definite concern.

DIARRHEA…especially with vomiting or lack of appetite.

CONVULSIONS…a violent shaking of the head or body without control.

LETHARGY…lack of normal energy or playing power, "listless," "weak".
PAIN…limping or favoring a leg, crying, whimpering, may simply act quiet or "reserved." Pain in the mouth may cause loss of appetite or unwillingness to chew. Dogs with pain in their neck or back may be reluctant to be picked up or jump up onto furniture.

WEIGHT LOSS…any unexplained weight loss is important. Especially in older cats, weight loss may be your only clue that there is a problem!

LUMPS/BUMPS…any lump or bump should be checked. It is better to check it and know what it is than to wait and see what happens with it!

CHANGES IN EATING…refusing normal food, a decrease or an increase in food consumption may indicate a problem. Some diseases cause an increase in appetite, rather than a decrease as you might expect.

SCRATCHING…uncontrollable scratching, pawing at the face or ears, chewing on the feet, or shaking the head can be a sign of a skin condition or ear infection.

EYE PROBLEM…redness, discharge, squinting or rubbing the eye, cloudiness of the eye or difficulty seeing. Any eye problem is considered to be an emergency due to the danger or loss of vision. Eye problems can deteriorate rapidly. It is important not to put any medication in the eye until the condition has been diagnosed properly by the Doctor.

CHANGES IN DRINKING AND URINATING…Increase in amount of water your pet drinks or urinates, any difficulty with urinating or blood in the urine, urinating frequently or having "accidents" in the house can all be signs of a serious health problem.

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What are vaccines?

Vaccines contain viruses and bacteria, which normally cause disease; however, they have been chemically altered so that they cannot make your dog or cat ill. When your pet is injected with a vaccine, his immune system produces special substances called antibodies.  After vaccination, when your pet is exposed to a live virus or bacteria, his immune system will already have antibodies present to attack and destroy the invaders, and thus prevent disease.  Although the antibodies will defend your pet against disease into the near future, they will eventually decline and as a result, boosters may be needed.  Now, there are blood tests, called titers, which can be run to see if your adult pet really needs a booster shot.  Puppies and kittens need vaccination every 2 to 3 weeks until their immune systems can protect them.  See the sections below for a more detailed explanation of puppy and kitty boosters.  In adulthood, re-vaccination is usually performed at three year intervals for most vaccinations, with some exceptions. Remember that vaccines are preventative- they need to be given before the pet is exposed to a disease.

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Why do puppies and kittens require numerous vaccinations?

Immediately after an animal is born they begin to nurse milk from their mother. During the first 24 hours of a new baby’s life, the mother produces a special kind of milk called colostrum. The colostrum has many of the mother’s own antibodies, which the baby absorbs directly into its blood. These antibodies protect the puppy or kitten from disease until the he can begin to produce his own antibodies. Unfortunately, these antibodies do not last very long and can keep a vaccine from being effective.

These maternal antibodies gradually decrease during the first few months of the puppy’s life. Consequently, puppies and kittens are given a series of vaccinations until they are approximately 16 weeks of age. If you’re not sure how old your pet is, we look for them to get their first adult teeth, which occurs reliably around 16 weeks of age, letting us know that it’s OK to finish the vaccine series. The maternal antibodies may interfere with a pet’s early vaccination. By vaccinating more frequently, later doses will continue to stimulate the pet’s generation of its own disease-fighting antibodies. Remember puppies and kittens are not immune to diseases for which they are vaccinated until two weeks after the last injection in the series!

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What are the most common diseases prevented by vaccinations?

RABIES (DOGS AND CATS) All warm-blooded animals, including humans, can become infected with the rabies virus. The virus attacks the nervous system and causes either "dumb" Rabies, where the animal drools excessively or avoid physical contact, or "furious" Rabies, where the animal becomes unnaturally aggressive. Most Rabies exists in wild animals, especially raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. Dogs and cats acquire the disease from saliva in the bite of an infected animal. There is no cure for Rabies and no test for it that can be performed on a live animal. Proper vaccination is your pets’ only protection. Laws in Florida require vaccination of both dogs and cats for Rabies beginning after about four months of age. A booster is given one year after the first vaccination, and every three years thereafter.

DISTEMPER (DOGS) This is one of the most important diseases affecting dogs. It is very widespread and up to 75% of unvaccinated dogs can develop the disease, especially puppies. The most common signs include fever, diarrhea, discharge from the nose and eye, and muscle twitches that can progress to seizures and death.

PARAINFLUENZE VIRUS (DOGS) Canine parainfluenza is a very contagious respiratory disease caused by a virus in the air. In serious cases, pneumonia may develop and it could be fatal.

PARVOVIRUS (DOGS) Most dog owners have heard of Parvo since this disease first appeared in 1978. Parvo is the most dangerous and fatal disease threatening dogs today. This disease is transmitted through feces and vomit from an infected dog. This virus is very contagious and can live in the environment for long periods of time, so that your dog does not have to be in contact with any other puppies or even go out of your own yard to catch it. You can track it on your feet! Mortality (death) rates approach 20%, and puppies that survive are capable of spreading the disease for up to 30 days in their feces. The most common signs are not eating, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea in a young dog. In one form of the disease the heart muscle may be affected. The death rate is very high in unvaccinated puppies under six months of age.

CORONAVIRUS (DOGS) Along with Parvo, these two viruses are very common causes of infectious diarrhea in dogs. This disease is similar to Parvovirus, but is generally less severe.

‘KENNEL COUGH’ (BORDETELLA) (DOGS) Kennel cough is highly contagious and is caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. Dogs are most at risk while at a kennel, pet shop, grooming facility, or anyplace they are exposed to other dogs. We recommend every pet be vaccinated for kennel cough even if they do not routinely have exposure to other dogs, because many dogs have become infected after an unplanned boarding or hospital stay. The disease is characterized by a persistent hacking cough that can last anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. Fortunately, the available vaccines prevent most of the viruses and bacteria that cause kennel cough.

LYME DISEASE (DOGS THAT TRAVEL OUTSIDE OF FLORIDA) Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks and has been mostly associated with fever and joint problems in dogs. The tick that transmits Lyme disease currently does not live in Florida, and cases reported in dogs in Florida have mainly been associated with travel to areas where the tick is found, primarily the Northeastern and Mid Atlantic United States. For that reason, we do not recommend that your dog be routinely vaccinated against Lyme disease. If you anticipate traveling to an endemic area in the next year, please ask our doctors or staff about vaccinating your dog.

FELINE DISTEMPER (CATS) Feline distemper is more similar to Parvo in dogs than it is to distemper in dogs. Cats with this disease run a high fever, lose their appetite, and have vomiting and bloody stool. Mortality (death) rate is fairly high. Usually young cats are affected.

FELINE LEUKEMIA (FELV) (CATS) Feline leukemia is a disease that is somewhat similar to the AIDS virus in people in that it attacks the immune system. Affected cats have higher rates of certain types of cancer, may develop true "leukemia" or cancer of the bone marrow, or may suffer from serious infection due to lack of a functioning immune system. A mother cat with leukemia may pass it on to her unborn kittens. Spread between cats is by direct cat to cat contact in a social setting, such as fighting or mating, sharing water bowls, and grooming each other. All new cats or kittens should be tested for this disease, and cats that are in a high-risk group (cats that go outdoors or live in a household with more than 3 cats) should be vaccinated. The vaccine is considered optional for cats living 100% indoors in a household with less than 3 cats.

FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS (FIV/FELINE AIDS) (CATS) FIV is closely related to HIV in people. It is not the same virus and cannot be transferred to people. Like HIV, FIV destroys the immune system, leaving its victim at risk for serious infections and cancer. This disease is most common in outdoor, unneutered male cats. It is spread like feline leukemia by direct contact, but it is a little harder to catch, requiring exchange of body fluids like fighting, biting, or mating. Although there is a commercial vaccine available for FIV, we do not currently recommend its use. If you have an outdoor cat and have questions about this disease or the vaccine that is available, please ask one of the doctors or staff members.

FELINE INFECTIOUS PERITONITIS (FIP) (CATS) FIP is a complicated disease that is usually seen in young cats, many of which come from large catteries or breeding facilities. It carries a high rate of death but is not generally highly contagious. There is a vaccine available for FIP, but we do not recommend its use at this time due to the very low risk to adult cats.

UPPER RESPIRATORY DISEASE (CATS) There are several viruses capable of causing upper respiratory disease in cats. These diseases look very much like the "common cold" or the "flu" in people. Vaccination for these diseases is included with the vaccination for distemper in cats.

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Heartworms

Heartworms are worms that actually live in the heart and in the arteries that go to the lungs of dogs and cats. They are transmitted from one pet to another by the bite of a mosquito. It takes up to 6 months for adult Heartworms to develop after a dog has been bitten by an infected mosquito. Most dogs and about 15% of cats living in Florida that are not on Heartworm preventative will acquire Heartworms within about a three year period. The treatment to eliminate Heartworms in dogs can be expensive and dangerous, although successful treatment is done routinely now. For cats with Heartworms, there is no effective treatment and mortality (death) rates may be as high as 50%.

The good news is that Heartworm disease in our pets is nearly 100% preventable with medication. The preventative medication is safe and effective, and should be administered monthly to your pet, year round, continuously for the rest of its life. Modern tests allow us to detect infections early and accurately. We currently recommend heartworm testing annually for dogs and cats on preventative.

As an aside, recent reports show that as many as 50% of the cats in Florida infected with Heartworms live 100% indoors! If you have questions about whether or not to place your indoor cat on preventative, please talk to one of our doctors or staff members today!

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Do you have payment plans available, or can I make payments on my bill?

We are pleased to offer a payment plan in the form of the Citihealth card.  Click here for more information.  It is expected that your pet’s care be paid for at the time services are rendered. 

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Surgery Questions

Why do I have to pay a deposit?
High rates of “no shows” and last minutes cancellations were leaving us with empty spaces that could not be filled at the last minute.  We felt that this was not fair to other clients who had been turned away when the schedule was full.  Deposits help ensure that appointments are allocated to clients who intend to keep them.

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When do you have surgeries available?
Schedules are subject to change, but typically we do all spays, neuters and declaws on Tuesdays, Dentals, Growth Removals, and other surgeries on Fridays.  You may fill out the surgery appointment form at the end of this page to request your pet’s surgery.

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How old does my pet have to be for surgery?
Routine spays and neuters are done as soon as your pet finishes their boosters, around 4 months old.  Declaws for kittens are done anytime after the kitten weighs 2 pounds.  Any other surgeries are subject to the doctor’s discretion. 

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Will my pet have to spend the night?
Spays, neuters, and most other elective surgeries are discharged the day of the procedure.  Declaws are the exception, as they are kept overnight and discharged the following day.

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Will my pet need a recheck or suture removal?
Most of the time we use liquid sutures which are dissolvable.  If your pet does have sutures that will need removed, you will be advised of this at pick up.  Spays, neuters, and declaws do not need to come back for a recheck unless you have questions or concerns.  If the doctor would like a recheck you will be advised of that at pick up.

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How do I care for my pet after surgery?
Each pet having surgery here will be sent home with a form about home care.  It is standard that all surgery patients should not go swimming or have baths for about 10 days.  During this time there should be no running, jumping, or climbing.  Exercise should be restricted to leash walks only.  Each day, the incision should be checked for redness and swelling.  As you may expect some of this is normal, but anything significant including bleeding or drainage should be reported to the doctor.  Any recheck for these reasons is free of charge.

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Will my pet be in pain afterwards?
We provide all surgical patients with some form of pain relief while here.  If you would like to take extra home with you please ask and we will be happy to fill a prescription for you.  If you get your pet home and feel as if your pet needs more pain relief you can call our office and we can fill some for you.  Each pet handles pain differently.  Some act as if nothing every happened, and others take it more personally.

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Boarding Questions

How are dogs cared for?
Dogs are fed dry adult dog food and walked 3 times daily on the days of the week that the clinic is opened, and 2 times per day on the days we are closed (Sundays and all major holidays).  Bedding is changed out and laundered as needed (usually once daily).  The cage size needed for your pet will be determined by size and weight at your reservation time.

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Why do puppies cost more?
Puppies typically require extra care since they are full of energy.  This energy also leads to more messes that need cleaned up, especially if they are not potty trained. 

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How are cats cared for?
Cats are fed dry adult cat food and are cleaned twice daily 7 days per week.

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What do you provide?
Your pet will be fully furnished with food and water bowls, our kennel food, water, blankets and bedding that are laundered each day, leashes for walking, cat litter, litter pans, and cleaning supplies. 

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What should I bring?
If your pet needs a special diet, puppy or kitten food, or canned food, please bring your own.  If your pet is on medication please bring all medications in their original containers.  Please make sure to tell us when the next doses are due. 

Anything else you want to bring is ok, but please DO NOT bring anything very important to you as it may get lost or damaged during cleaning and laundering.  We are constantly washing bedding and your items will get mixed in with others.  We have plenty of bedding including towels, blankets, and comforters and your pet will not be without a nice, soft bed.  Toys can become lost during cleaning of kennels, so please don’t bring your pet’s favorite one!  If you would like your pet to get special treats, please bring them.  Anything you do bring, please label with your pets name. 


Will you bathe my pet before he goes home?
If your DOG (we do not bathe cats) stays with us for 2 or more nights we will give him a free bath before he goes home. This free service is for a bath only and does not include nail trim, anal glands, ear cleanings, mat removal, hair cuts, etc. If you would like these services we can arrange for your pet to have an appointment with the groomer before he goes home, additional fees will apply. Since we try to give pets baths the same day they go home, we will call you to let you know once your pet is dry (usually after 2pm). If you pick your dog up before you are called, your pet may not get a bath. If you need to make other arrangements please let us know in advance. Your pet is not required to have a bath & pets not getting baths for any reason do NOT get a discount on boarding prices. Please call for more info, or visit our grooming page.

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Free Vaccines For Life Questions

If I purchase the program from you can I use it at any other veterinarian?

No, the Free Vaccines for Life program is exclusively offered at Wells Road Veterinary Medical Center.

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If I have more then one animal do I get a discount on any other animals?

No, we do not offer any discounts to go along with this program, it is a one time fee per pet, per owner.

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Can I transfer the policy to another pet?

No the policy is for one pet.

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If my pet dies or runs away, shortly after purchasing the policy can I get a refund?

No, we do not give refunds after purchase for any reason.

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If I give away my pet will the new owner be able to use the policy?

No. If you give your pet away then the new owners will have to purchase their own policy.

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What happens if I do not make it in to see the doctor before my year passes?

If you do not come in to see the doctor within the 1 month of its due date then your policy becomes void.  You will have to purchase any vaccines from that point on, or if the plan is still be offered you may re-enroll.

I.E. Your pet is due an exam once yearly and we give a 30 day grace period before your enrollment is void.

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I just saw a TV news story or TV ad that says that heartworms in Jacksonville are resistant to the monthly preventative I use. What do I need to do?

First of all, the television advertisement and news story/stories that you may have seen are part of a large advertising campaign funded by Bayer, the company that makes Advantage Multi. Advantage Multi is a monthly heartworm, intestinal parasite, and flea prevention. Taken at face value, these ads seems to indicate that there is a new resistant strain of heartworms in Jacksonville, known as the MP3 strain, and that their product is the only heartworm preventative (hwp) which is 100% effective against this new and deadly strain.

As your pets' veterinarian, I wanted to make sure that all of my clients have the proper facts, because, as is often the case, truth in advertising appears to be in the eye of the beholder.

Reports of what seems to be increasing resistance of heartworms to many of the monthly preventatives have surfaced, however no resistance has been seen in our area at this time. Confirmed reports seem to be limited to the Mississippi Delta area, and they are being investigated by some of the brightest veterinarians in the world. At this time, there have yet to be any creditable reports of resistant strains of heartworms in Northeast Florida.

The MP3 strain is not the same as the resistant strains that are showing up in the Mississippi Delta. The MP3 strain was isolated from a dog years ago in Athens, Georgia. The reason the Bayer advertising references the MP3 strain is that it is used to test hwp in laboratories, and it does display some resistance to monthly hwp products.

Bayer is making claims that only Advantage Multi is 100% effective against the MP3 strain because of a recent study known as the Blagburn study. What Bayer is not telling you is that, while only Advantage Multi was 100% effective after only one dose, the study showed that ALL of the monthly hwp products they tested were 100% effective after 3 monthly doses. The test included Heartgard, Interceptor (the same hwp that is in Trifexis), and others.

Because we are in Florida and give our pets monthly hwp every single month all year round, all of the monthly heartworm preventatives studied should be expected to be 100% effective.

In conclusion, at this time there is no reason for you to be worried that your dogs may not be protected if they are not on Advantage Multi. I have my personal dogs on Trifexis now, with no reason to change at this time, and my cats are on Advantage Multi (since they won’t eat pills!). The situation with resistance in the Mississippi Delta is concerning for sure, and I will continue to monitor it. If at any time a change in current recommendation is required, I will make sure that we get that information out to you right away. Although Advantage Multi is a fine product and Bayer has done much for animal health over the years, I am disappointed in the choices Bayer has made with the current advertising campaign. I am hopeful that the other companies who make hwp will work hard to correct the misinformation that is out there.

For additional information, you may visit the American Heartworm Society’s website at www.heartwormsociety.org.

Sincerely,

Michal Harris, DVM

Monday, Wednesday and Thursday:
8:30 am - 6 pm

Tuesday and Friday:
7:30 am - 6 pm

Saturday:
8 am - 1 pm

Sunday:
Closed