Frequently Asked Dog and Cat Questions

Why is chocolate toxic to pets? Are plants poisonous to pets? What are the health benefits of spay and neuter? Whether you’re a new or experienced pet owner, you may have questions like these or about other topics related to your beloved feline or canine companion. The following list will help answer some of those questions for you. And if you don’t see your question on this page, visit our Pet Library for more pet questions and answers.

Q: What Are the Benefits of Spaying/Neutering My Pet?
A: There are many! Aside from decreasing the pet overpopulation and number of euthanized pets as a result, spaying/neutering can provide certain health benefits for your pet, including:

  • Prevention of uterine infections (pyometra) in females
  • Decreased risk of breast cancer in females
  • Decrease in aggressive behavior in males
  • Reduced risk of testicular cancer or tumors
  • Prevention of prostate enlargement, infections, and cysts

Q: At What Age Should I Spay/Neuter My Pet?
A: For females, before the first heat cycle (at about 6 months) is ideal. For males, between 6 and 9 months is best. We prefer to wait at least until all the baby teeth have left the mouth and adult teeth are in. It is common in some breeds of dogs (especially toy breeds) to have the baby teeth remain in the mouth. This causes crowding and early onset gingivitis. Since extracting the baby teeth requires general anesthesia, we recommend doing the procedure at the same time as the spay or neuter. This age is usually at least 6 months of age.

puppy lying in a person's lap

Q: How Do Pets Get Heartworms, and How Can I Protect My Pet?
A: By being bitten by infected mosquitoes. You can protect your pet by keeping him on a year-round heartworm preventive, which we can discuss with you at your next visit. You can learn more about heartworm disease and protection at the American Heartworm Society.

Q: Do Indoor Pets Need Parasite Prevention, Too?
A: While indoor pets are less likely to come in contact with parasites, certain insects can easily make their way into your home through screens, open doors/windows, and even the soles of your shoes (fleas). Pets can also get fleas from being near another pet that has them, if such a pet comes to your home. Therefore, it’s best to be on the safe side and keep your pet on a year-round preventive.

dog and cat sitting together

Q: What Are Some Common Senior Pet Health Problems?
A: Arthritis, gum disease, dementia, blindness, cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease are some of the common health problems seen in senior pets. There are also species-specific (and breed-specific) problems that can affect pets, which we can discuss with you during your visits to our Lakeside Veterinary Center.

Q: What Household Items Are Dangerous for Pets?
A: While there are some items on this list that are noticeably dangerous for pets because they can also be dangerous for humans, other toxins aren’t as obvious. Examples are chocolate (due to the ingredient theobromine) and lilies (for cats). Even some sugar-free gums can be toxic to pets. Human medications and pesticides are also toxic to pets. For a full list of toxic foods, plants, and household items, visit the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC).

left-quoteWomen and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.right-quote

— Robert A. Heinlein