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Frequently Asked Question

Here are some questions/answers that we are frequently asked. If you have additional questions that aren't covered here, please feel free to give us a call at Alta View Animal Hospital.

Can I bring my pet in without an appointment?

We strongly suggest that you make an appointment. We accomodate walk-in patients as best we can, though emergencies are seen immediately.
All elective surgeries must be scheduled in advance.

Can I schedule my pet's appointment via email?

Yes. You will get appointment confirmation email within 24 hrs.

What is the procedure for handling emergencies nights/weekends/holidays?

Call our hospital to receive a recorded message for the emergency hospitals we refer to. South Peninsula Veterinary Emergency Clinic located at 3045 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94306. The phone number there is 650-494-1461. (5 Blocks South of the Oregon Expressway or 1.5 miles North of San Antonio Road.)

My pet has a surgery scheduled, how do I prepare them?

All surgery patients need to come in to the hospital on an empty stomach, so they may eat dinner the night before, but no food after Midnight. Dropoff for procedures is between 8:30AM to 9:00AM

Can I get prices on procedures via email?

We can offer an estimate on what your pet's procedure will cost, keep in mind that it is only an estimate and the amount can change once your pet is seen at our hospital.

I have many questions about my new puppy or kitten, can I get answers via email?

You can get some answers to your questions but we recommend coming in for the first puppy or kitten visit and receive a packet full of information!

Do you have a grooming facility?

Yes, we are able to do full shave downs and de-matting on cats, sometimes requiring sedation.

My pet had blood work done today, when can I expect the results?

If your pets blood work was done “in house,” the results are generally ready within ½ hour. If we sent your pets blood work to an outside laboratory, the turnaround time is generally 24 hours with the exception of cultures and biopsies which can take up to 3-5 days to complete. Please call us for the results when they become available to us; please make sure you have a member of our staff enter the phone number in which you would like to be called in our computer.

What forms of payment do you accept?

Cash, Check, Amex, Mastercard and Visa

Can I make payments?

Payment is required at the time of service.

At what age can I have my pet spayed or neutered?

Spaying or neutering can be done at approximately 6 months of age. Your pet is given an exam prior to surgery to help determine whether your pet is healthy enough to undergo the surgical procedure. Current vaccinations are required at the time of surgery. Also a pre-anesthetic blood screen is recommended prior to undergoing anesthesia and surgery.

What is the pre-anesthetic blood screening?

This is a blood test that is run here in the clinic prior to surgery. It tests the organ functions, blood counts and clotting function of your pet. The pre-anesthetic blood screening is done to assure safety during surgery and the ability to heal following surgery.

How long do the sutures stay in after my pet's surgery?

Procedures involving sutures require them to be removed in 10 to 14 days following the surgery.

What is Heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease (dirofilariasis) is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs. It is caused by a worm called Dirofilaria immitis.
Heartworms are found in the heart and large adjacent vessels of infected dogs. The female worm is 6 to 14 inches (2.3 to 5.5 cm) long and 1/8 inch (5 mm) wide; the male is about half the size of the female. One dog may have as many as 300 worms.

How do pets get Heartworms?

Adult heartworms live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of infected dogs. They have been found in other areas of the body, but this is unusual. They survive up to 5 years and, during this time, the female produces millions of young (microfilaria). These microfilaria live in the bloodstream, mainly in the small blood vessels. The immature heartworms cannot complete the entire life cycle in the dog; the mosquito is required for some stages of the heartworm life cycle. The microfilaria are therefore not infective (cannot grow to adulthood) in the dog, although they do cause problems.

As many as 30 species of mosquitoes can transmit heartworms. The female mosquito bites the infected dog and ingests the microfilariae during a blood meal. The microfilariae develop further for 10 to 30 days in the mosquito and then enter the mouth parts of the mosquito. The microfilariae are now called infective larvae because at this stage of development, they will grow to adulthood when they enter a dog. The mosquito bites the dog where the haircoat is thinnest. However, having long hair does not prevent a dog from getting heartworms.
When fully developed, the infective larvae enter the bloodstream and move to the heart and adjacent vessels, where they grow to maturity in 2 to 3 months and start reproducing, thereby completing the full life cycle.

What do veterinarians recommend for prevention?

There are several products to choose from that our veterinarians recommend. Since heartworms are transmitted by mosquito, all pets can get them…including cats. Heartgard/Interceptor/Sentinel/Revolution

When can I get my pet tested for Heartworms?

If you are unsure of your pet’s heartworm preventative history, we recommend that you get your pet tested immediately.  Once your pet is six months old, they can be tested for heartworms. If they are tested before six months of age, the test could possibly come back negative but the pet could still have heartworms due to the life cyle time line of the worms.

When do I start my puppy on Heartworm prevention?

Puppies can be put on heartworm preventative as soon as they come in for their first set of vaccinations at 6 weeks. The heartworm preventatives that we recommend also prevent against intestinal parasites as well as heartworms. Since heartworms are very prevalent in this region of the country, it is imperative that you give your pets heartworm preventative.

What products do veterinarians recommend for flea and tick prevention?

There are several products to choose from that are recommended by our veterinarians. Flea and tick products only kill the parasite once they have taken a blood meal from your pet. You have to remember that these products are intended to be used on a monthly basis for best results.Frontline/Advantage/Revolution

My pet has a flea infestation, is there anything to get rid of the fleas immediately?

More than likely, if your pet has an infestation, it is due to a flea problem in your pets immediate environment. Once a flea population has been established in your house hold there is no quick fix to the problem. First things first, get rid of the fleas ON your pet. The veterinarians here can prescribe a one time medication (Capstar) that will kill most of the fleas that are on your pet, but it only lasts 4-6 hours.  After administering the medication, have your pet bathed with a flea shampoo to get rid of any remaining fleas. While your pet is away being bathed, wash everything that your pet uses (bedding, pillows, blankets, stuffed toys, etc. ) The fleas lay eggs not only on your pet, but on their surroundings as well. Vacuum A LOT, the vibrations from the vacuum stimulate the pupae to come out of their sacs which are impermeable to most flea sprays.  Also have an exterminator come to your home and SPECIFICALLY spray for fleas (only use an exterminator that guarantees their service, this way they will come out and spray again if the fleas return).

What are general signs of arthritis?

The signs may be hard to spot at first: your gray-in-the-muzzle Labrador retriever takes a little longer to get up in the morning, or your fuzzy Persian doesn't jump as high as she used to. As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that your pet is having a hard time moving, and soon you realize that she is in pain whenever she walks, jumps, or even sits up. It can be a hard moment for a pet owner—learning that the animal you love has arthritis. Arthritis is a condition in which an animal's joints become inflamed. It is accompanied by pain, heat, and swelling in the joints, and it usually results in increasing stiffness and immobility. It doesn't have to mean a poor quality of life for your pet, however. There are medications, therapies, and ways you can accommodate your home to help your pet be more comfortable and enjoy her life with you.

Step One—Your Veterinarian

The first step in caring for your pet with arthritis is making sure the disease is diagnosed correctly. The symptoms of arthritis can be hard to distinguish—animals can't complain about their aching joints, so all that pet "parents" see is a response to pain. Animals with arthritis might avoid the activities they used to enjoy, stop jumping onto the furniture, or they might nip or seem upset when touched. Some animals may become depressed or change their eating habits; others may simply seem grumpier than usual. These symptoms can also indicate very serious problems, however, such as hypokalemia (low blood potassium) in cats, cognitive dysfunction, or certain cancers. To be sure your pet is healthy, it's important that you take you pet to the veterinarian if you suspect she has arthritis.
Your veterinarian can also help your pet by finding out what kind of arthritis she has, using a combination of a medical history, physical exams, X rays, blood tests, and occasionally tests on the fluid inside the joint or MRI imaging. Though it is relatively uncommon, sometimes arthritis can be caused by a bacterial infection inside a joint or an autoimmune disorder. These are treated with different medications than the more common osteoarthritis. Arthritis caused by hip or elbow dysplasia can sometimes be treated surgically. Your veterinarian needs to rule out these options before you move on to treating your pet's arthritis.
Osteoarthritis, also called degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis in animals as well as in humans. Most elderly dogs and cats suffer from osteoarthritis to some degree. Over time, the cartilage that cushions joints wears down and bones start rubbing against each other. As the condition progresses, the friction can wear down and damage the bones themselves. This kind of arthritis can occur anywhere there is a joint, though it is most common and causes the most pain in the weight-bearing joints like the shoulders, hips, elbows, knees, and ankles. It can be easily seen in large-breed dogs, because their frames have to carry the most weight, but cats and smaller dogs are affected as well. Though there is no cure for osteoarthritis, it can be managed well through medical treatment, environmental adaptation, and diet and exercise.

How to treat arthritis?

After diagnosing your pet's arthritis and determining the severity of the disease, your veterinarian will decide which treatment will be most effective in treating her. In recent years, many new medications have made the treatment of arthritis much more promising. Your veterinarian might prescribe steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs to decrease the swelling in joints and make movement easier. Some veterinarians also recommend dietary supplements, which fortify the cartilage in damaged joints. It is very important that you not try to medicate your pet's arthritis on your own, however, as human anti-inflammatories and supplements can be dangerous for animals. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is toxic to cats, for example, and cats metabolize aspirin extremely slowly and are easy to overdose.
Surgery is also an option for some animals with arthritis, particularly younger animals. Veterinary surgeons can try to reconstruct joints to give them more stability, or they may perform an arthroscopy to remove chips of damaged bone. In some large and medium breed dogs, veterinarians will chose to replace the entire hip joint. In cats and smaller breeds, they may recommend removing the top of the femoral (upper leg) bone—the leg muscles are able to compensate for the loss. In some extreme cases, where joints are very painful, unstable, and immobile, a veterinarian may perform arthrodesis—"fusing" the joint together. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you how viable surgery is for your animal—depending on your pet's age and general health and the progression of the arthritis, surgery may or may not be an option.

The pet population problem

Every year, millions of unwanted dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, are needlessly destroyed. The good news is that every pet owner can make a difference. By having your dog or cat surgically sterilized, you will do your part to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens and you will enhance your pet's health and quality of life.

Pet behavior and pet reproduction

Contrary to what some people believe, getting pregnant — even once — does not improve the behavior of female dogs and cats. In fact, the mating instinct may lead to undesirable behaviors and result in undue stress on both the owner and the animal. Also, while some pet-owners may have good intentions, few are prepared for the work involved in monitoring their pet's pregnancy, caring for the newborns and locating good homes for all the offspring.

What is surgical altering?

During surgical altering, a veterinarian removes certain reproductive organs. If your cat or dog is a female, the veterinarian will usually remove her ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. The medical name for this operation is an ovariohysterectomy, although it is commonly called "spaying." If your pet is a male, the testicles are removed and the operation is called an orchiectomy, commonly referred to as castration or simply "neutering."
While both spaying and neutering are major surgical procedures, they are also the most common surgeries performed by veterinarians on cats and dogs. Before the operation, your pet will be given a thorough physical examination to ensure that your pet is in good health. General anesthesia will be administered before the surgery making the procedure non-painful. You will be asked to keep your pet calm and quiet for a few days afterwards until the incision begins to heal.

What are the benefits of spaying and neutering?

Both operations lead to improved long-term health, prevent unwanted litters, and eliminate many behavior problems associated with the mating instinct.

Benefits to your female pet

Female dogs experience a "heat" cycle approximately every six months, depending upon the breed. A female dog's heat cycle can last as long as 21 days, during which your dog will leave blood stains in the house and may become anxious, short-tempered and actively seek a mate.
Female cats can come into heat every two weeks during breeding season until they become pregnant. During this time they may engage in behaviors such as frequent yowling and urination in unacceptable places.
Both female dogs and cats benefit from spaying, which eliminates their heat cycles and generally reduces the negative behaviors that may lead to owner frustration and, ultimately, a decision to relinquish the pet to a shelter. Most importantly, early spaying of female dogs and cats helps protect them from serious health problems later in life such as uterine infections and breast cancer.

Benefits to your male pet

At maturity (on average, 6-9 months of age), male dogs and cats are capable of breeding. Both male dogs and cats are likely to begin "marking" their territories by spraying strong-smelling urine on your furniture, curtains, and in virtually any part of the house. Also, given the slightest chance, males may attempt to escape from home in search of a mate. Dogs seeking a female in heat can become aggressive and may injure themselves and people by engaging in fights.
Neutering male dogs and cats reduces the need to breed and can have a calming effect that makes them less inclined to roam and more content to stay at home. Neutering your male pet also improves his health by reducing the risk of prostate disease, testicular cancer and infections.

What is the best age to spay or neuter my pet?

A dog or cat can be surgically altered at almost any age. Your veterinarian can advise you on the most appropriate time for your particular pet based upon its breed, age and physical condition.

Will the surgery affect my pet's disposition or metabolism?

The procedure has no effect on a pet's intelligence or ability to learn, play, work or hunt. Most pets tend to be better behaved following the operation, making them more desirable companions. Contrary to popular belief, the surgery will not make your pet fat. A balanced diet and exercise will keep your pet from experiencing the health risks associated with obesity. Ask your veterinarian to advise you on the best diet and exercise plan for your pet for each stage of its life.

Is the expense for the surgery really worth it?

Yes! This is a one-time expense that can dramatically improve your pet's quality of life. If you are still uncertain whether or not to proceed with the surgery, consider the expense to society of collecting and caring for all the unwanted, abused, or abandoned animals being housed in shelters — most with little chance of finding permanent homes.
Having your pet spayed or neutered is a part of responsible pet ownership and an important investment in your pet's long-term good health.

Why Dental Care?

Dental care of dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care. In fact, a recent AAHA study showed that approximately two-thirds of pet owners do not provide the dental care that is recommended as essential by veterinarians. What’s more, the American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three.

Dental disease doesn’t affect just the mouth. It can lead to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease, which makes it all the more important that you provide your pets with proper dental care from the start.

Periodontal Disease

Your dog breath and cat’s tuna breath aren’t something to be ignored – they could be indicative of an oral problem, and the sooner you have it treated by your veterinarian (and learn to care for it yourself), the sooner you and your pet can smile proudly.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth that takes hold in progressive stages. It starts out as a bacterial film called plaque. The bacteria attach to the teeth. When the bacteria die they can be calcified by calcium in saliva. This forms a hard, rough substance called tartar or calculus which allows more plaque to accumulate. Initially, plaque is soft and brushing or chewing hard food and toys can dislodge it. If left to spread, plaque can lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, causing them to become red and swollen and to bleed easily.

As plaque and calculus develop below the gum line, professional cleaning will be needed to help manage it. If the plaque and tartar buildup continues unchecked, infection can form around the root of the tooth.

In the final stages of periodontal disease, the tissues surrounding the tooth are destroyed, the bony socket holding the tooth in erodes and the tooth becomes loose. This is a very painful process for your four-legged friend, but these problems can be averted before they even start.

What will be done when my pet has a dental cleaning?

It is recommended that regular oral examinations and dental cleanings, under general anesthesia, for all adult dogs and cats. We recommend these procedures at least annually starting at one year of age for cats and small-breed dogs, and at two years of age for large-breed dogs.

Pre-anesthetic exam — Whenever anesthesia is needed, special considerations are taken to help ensure the safety of your pet. Your veterinarian will thoroughly examine your pet to make sure she’s healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. Depending on your pet’s age and general physical condition, your veterinarian may also run blood, urine, and x-ray tests to check for any dangerous heart, kidney, or other conditions. Though there is some risk associated with any medical procedure, modern anesthesia is usually safe, even for older pets.

Anesthesia monitoring — During anesthesia, the monitoring and recording of your pet’s vital signs (such as body temperature, heart rate, and respiration, as well as other important factors) is important. This helps ensure the safety of your pet while undergoing anesthesia.

Scaling & Polishing — Veterinarians are advised to use similar instruments as human dentists to remove plaque and calculus from your pet’s teeth. To smooth out any scratches in the tooth enamel, polishing with a special paste is also recommended.

Fluoride/sealants — The application of an anti-plaque substance, such as a fluoride treatment and/or a barrier sealant is also advised. This can help strengthen and desensitize teeth as well as decrease future plaque.

Home Dental Care

Your pet’s dental care doesn’t rest with your veterinarian alone. As a pet owner, you play a pivotal role in helping ensure your pet’s dental health through regular teeth brushing. For more information on getting started, read our

Remember… pets can live longer, healthier lives if oral health care is managed and maintained throughout their lives. In fact, proper dental care can add as much as five years to your pet's life! Talk to your veterinarian about developing a dental care plan for your furry friend.

How should I go about brushing my pet's teeth?

Use the following process to clean the inside surfaces of your pet's teeth:

  •     Place your hand over your pet's muzzle from the top
  •     Gently squeeze and push his lips on one side between the back teeth (to keep his mouth  open)
  •     Pull his head back gently so his mouth opens
  •     Brush his teeth on the opposite side
  •     Repeat this process for the other side

The entire process should only take a minute or two. If your dog or cat continues to resist, try gently wrapping him in a large bath towel with only his head sticking out. Above all, avoid overstraining and keep sessions short and positive. With plenty of praise and reassurance, your dental sessions can bring the two of you closer---a closeness that won't be marred by the perils of dog breath.
Home care can be improved by feeding your pet an unmoistened dry pet food and offering him hard biscuits after each meal. Both dry food and hard biscuits produce abrasion to help keep plaque to a minimum on the crown of each tooth.

We encourage pet owners to regularly examine their pet's teeth for signs of periodontal disease, such as brownish colored teeth; swollen, red, or bleeding gums; persistent bad breath; loose teeth or loss of teeth; pus between the gums and teeth; broken teeth and any unusual growth in the mouth. Reluctance to eat, play with chew toys, or drink cold water are warning signs of periodontal or gum disease. Consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs in your pet.

Why is it a good idea to microchip pets?

Having a microchip ID implanted is one of the safest forms of pet identification! One in three pets will get lost during their lifetime. Without ID, 90% of pets are not returned to their owners. Collars and tags are a great way to identify lost pets, but they can easily come off or be removed. Microchipping is permanent, completely unalterable and does not change or harm the appearance of the animal in any way. The procedure is safe, inexpensive, fast and virtually painless for your pet. Microchips are not electric and cannot shock or harm your pet. Around the United States there are about 20,000 microchip scanners currently in use by shelters and veterinary clinics, so if your pet is ever lost, it can be scanned and identified.

What are the costs involved with microchipping?

To have your pet microchipped here at Altaview Animal Hospital with the Home Again Microchip is $39.00.  The procedure will only take a few minutes. Once implanted your pet, the chip can instantly be scanned by the Microchip reader. There is also a lifetime registration fee of $17.50 that is mailed directly to Home Again Pet Recovery Service along with the registration form you will receive when your pet has been microchipped.

What should pet owners know about vaccinations?

Vaccines have saved the lives of millions of cats and dogs. The benefits of vaccinations greatly outweigh the risks. Vaccines are inactivated or altered live disease agents that cause the immune system to produce a protective response specific to that disease. Vaccination is the best way to prepare your Pet's immune system stop infections when the "real" disease strikes.

What are today's most common disease threats for dogs?

  • Parvovirus/Corona virus
  • Distemper/Adenovirus
  • Para influenza
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme disease
  • Giardia
  • Kennel Cough
  • Rabies

What are today's most common disease threats for cats?

Feline Leukemia Virus
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Panleukopenia Virus
Feline Calicivirus
Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Kennel Cough

Are vaccines safe?

Yes, the great majority of pets respond well to vaccines, but as with human vaccines, there are some risks. Fortunately, serious side effects are rare. The most common side effects of vaccinations are low-grade fever, depression or decreased appetite.

How often should you vaccinate?

Follow your vet's recommended schedule for vaccinations. Vet's base this schedule on the area you live, climate, and several other factors.

What are five easy steps to keep your cat healthy?

    Schedule a physical examination. During that time your vet will check a variety of things, such as ears, eyes, teeth and body condition. The heart and lungs will be examined along with checking for parasites and fleas. Your vet will also ensure your cat is eating properly.
    Have your cat tested for feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia.
    Protect your cat from parasites and infectious diseases such as ear mites, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and fecal parasites.
    Vaccinate and take preventive measures to guard against disease. Your vet will help you with those vaccinations and a time schedule.
    Spay/neuter your cat.

What are five easy steps to keep your dog healthy?

    Schedule a physical examination. During that time your vet will check a variety of things, such as ears, eyes, teeth and body condition. The heart and lungs will be examined along with checking for parasites and fleas. Your vet will also ensure your dog is eating properly.
    Watch the waistline. Make sure your dog is on a proper diet, his caloric needs will change as he goes from and active puppy to an adult dog. Too much weight on joints can lead to problems as your pet gets older. Your vet can determine if your pet is overweight and can help you with dietary requirements.
    Vaccinate and take preventive measures to guard against disease. Your vet will help you with those vaccinations and a time schedule.
    Spend quality time with your dog; this goes a long way in keeping him alert and active as he progresses through life. Keep a watchful eye on him and make sure that you tell your vet if you see changes in his behavior or habits, it could be indicative of a problem brewing.
    Spay/neuter your dog, if you are not planning on breeding.

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