You probably have plenty of questions about your pup or your kitty.
However, what would your veterinarian want you to ask?
Two Grand Valley veterinarians shared with us some questions they wish the owners of dogs and cats would pose.
Those veterinarians are Thad Respet with Sky Canyon Veterinary Hospital, 2387 River Road, No. 140, and Megan Riveros with Veterinary Emergency at Monument View and Healthy Paws Mobile Veterinary Services, 1673 U.S. Highway 50, Unit A.
Here are their pet questions and answers.
Q: Is it OK if my pet licks their surgical incision?
A: “Pets licking their incisions is without a doubt the No. 1 cause of complications,” Respet said.
By complications, he is referring primarily to surgical site infections.
“Animals lick their backsides and then lick their surgical incisions,” Respet said. “The two are not compatible.”
Of course, the cone of shame is partly to blame. “The cone of shame is a complete nuisance to everybody,” he said.
That goes for dogs, cats and pet owners, of which he is one.
But the cone of shame is necessary, and those infections are Respet’s nightmares.
About one pet out of every 10 he performs surgery on comes back with surgical site infection that could have been prevented if licking had been not been permitted, he said.
For orthopaedic surgeries, it’s probably one pet out of every seven, he said.
So while the cone of shame is a pain, keep it on!
Q: Do pets need need vaccinations past their puppy/kitten stage?
A: Yes, pets need annual vaccinations, Riveros said.
There are several diseases, including leptospirosis and rabies, that are not just bad news for your pet, they are a public health risk for people, she said.
Some pet owners see annual vaccinations as putting something foreign or harmful into their pet.
“They want to live all natural,” Riveros said.
Unfortunately, that naturally could result in life-threatening consequences if your pet is exposed to those diseases.
Q: Is it safe to let my dog ride in the back of a pickup?
“Eventually, even the most steadfast dog will have a moment of distraction and stumble,” Respet said.
If the dog stumbles out and over the side of a truck, the situation can be awful.
It is why people don’t ride in the back of trucks, he said.
Q: Is marijuana toxic for my pet?
Dogs can get a contact high if exposed to marijuana smoke, Riveros said.
They may become wobbly, sleepy or just act out of it, she said.
Edibles with more concentrated THC or cannabis itself can be quite dangerous if eaten, Riveros said.
These situations are the same for cats; however, cats seem less likely to eat marijuana, she said.
If your pet has eaten cannabis in any form or has a contact high, don’t wait to see how they do, Riveros said. Call or go to a veterinary emergency or care center.
A pet can be given care to help address how the exposure is impacting them and that is much better for them “than letting them ride it out,” she said.
Q: What is going to send my kids to college?
A: “Foxtails,” said Respet, who has no idea about your kids and college, but really wanted to get your attention.
Please! Check your pets for foxtails, he said.
Foxtails, also known as cheatgrass, have seed heads that are pointy on one end and barbed on the other. If you’ve ever had one caught in a sock, you know how they poke, relentlessly wiggling point forward while the barbs prevent them from going backward.
They do the same thing when caught in the fur of a dog or cat.
This time of year, Respet sees two to six pets a day for foxtails that have persistently moved into paws, ears, noses, mouths and occasionally the eyes of pets.
It’s not pretty. Keep your pets away from foxtails, and best of luck to your kids regarding college, he said.
Q: Is a raw diet necessary for my pet?
A: With raw diets you need to be very careful about pathogens that may be in or on the food, Riveros said.
Pathogens such as E.coli and salmonella can make pets as well as their owners sick.
Symptoms of exposure include gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and diarrhea.
The risk is not only with the food, it is also with a pet’s feces, she said.
A pet can eat and then “goes and licks your kids’ mouth. That’s a way to spread it,” Riveros said.
When it comes to diet, your pet needs to eat a well-balanced diet for its growth stage, she said.
If you want to try a homemade diet, your best bet is to consult with a veterinary nutritionist to make sure you are meeting your pet’s needs, Riveros said.
Q: Why does it cost so much more to clean my pet’s teeth than my own teeth?
A: “Pets require anesthesia to do a proper cleaning,” Respet said.
After anesthesia is administered, a pet teeth cleaning is virtually the same as what a person goes through at the dentist, except a person politely stares at the ceiling during the whole thing, he said.
Teeth brushing can make a big difference for dogs, but “there is a learning curve,” he said
It’s somewhat similar to when you start brushing the teeth of a toddler. Set your expectations low, stick with it and work your way up to it just being a normal part of things.
“Bribery helps,” Respet said.
That said, there are a number of variables that come into play in how short or long a time a dog will develop plaque and tartar and will need a cleaning. Genetics is one of those variables, he said.
For example, German shepherds generally have beautiful teeth. Yorkies, on the other hand, “didn’t win the teeth lottery,” he said.
For information about pet dental care, as well as a section of peer-reviewed pet dental products, he recommends going to vohc.org (Veterinary Oral Health Council).
As for cats, “they live life on their own terms,” Respet said. It’s a very rare cat that will let you brush its teeth.