Cat on a scale
We veterinarians are always happy to talk to you about your pet’s health and answer questions about his care. That’s what we’re here for, after all.

But sometimes there are difficult or awkward issues that need to be discussed. We might be uncomfortable bringing up these topics ourselves, especially if we’re not sure there’s a problem, but we can guarantee you that we are happy to talk about them if you introduce the subjects. We never want you to feel as if you can’t discuss concerns with us, especially if your animal’s welfare is at stake. Keep the lines of communication open, and you, your pet and your veterinarian will all benefit.

We Need to Talk

A second opinion. If your pet has cancer or an unusual disease that requires special knowledge or equipment to treat, your general-practice veterinarian will likely consult with or refer you to a veterinary specialist. However, if this doesn’t happen and you feel as though your pet isn’t making the progress he should be, don’t be shy about asking for a second opinion. A good veterinarian knows that your pet’s care is your first responsibility and will understand your desire to get the best treatment information possible.

Money. We know that money is a concern for pet owners, even when times are good. It’s our goal to give your dog or cat the best care, but we also respect your budget. Hear us out as we make our recommendations and then let us help you prioritize diagnostics or treatments, if necessary, to help you stay within your spending limits. We may also be able to help you apply for a no-interest or low-interest CareCredit card or suggest other options to help you cover your pet’s veterinary care.

Diet. I feed my pets a high-quality commercial diet, and I hope you do as well. If you prefer a home-cooked or raw diet, however, talk to your veterinarian about its components. He or she can help you find a veterinary nutritionist who will work with you to make sure you’re feeding a complete and balanced diet.

Weight. It’s difficult to tell people their pets are on the hefty side. Often, they don’t believe us. If you ask us, though, we’ll be glad to help you assess your dog’s or cat’s body condition and determine whether he needs to shed a few pounds. And it’s always a good idea to check with us before your pet begins an exercise or weight loss plan, to be sure he doesn’t run the risk of injury or illness from working out too hard or not eating enough.
Alcohol and dangerous foods. Especially around the holidays, we see pets who are sick or even die because people gave them foods that are toxic to animals or let them drink wine, beer or other alcoholic beverages. Always check with us to see what foods might be harmful to your pets — and never share your cocktail, wine or beer with a pet, even if he seems to like it.

Behavior issues. It can be frustrating when a pet has a behavior problem, but punishment is not the answer — and it may even make bad behavior worse. Punishing a dog or cat doesn’t teach him what you want him to learn; it often just makes him hide the behavior from you, so it’s even more difficult to correct the problem. Please ask your veterinarian to help you find a veterinary behaviorist or certified applied animal behaviorist who can teach you how to work constructively with your pet to solve behavior problems.

Breeding. Nothing is cuter or more fun than a litter of puppies or kittens, but they’re an awful lot of work and responsibility, and it is important to recognize both the pros and cons of breeding. A mother cat or dog may well give birth on her own without any problems, but it’s not unusual for her to require a C-section, or for pups or kittens to be born with problems that require immediate treatment. Your vet can make sure your pet is healthy and suited to breeding, and that you are prepared for the responsibility of caring for a litter of little ones. And, of course, we can also advise you on the best time to spay or neuter your pet.

Outdoor pets. Our pets wear fur coats, but that doesn’t mean they are immune to winter’s chill. They can lose body parts to frostbite and develop hypothermia, a dangerously low body temperature, if they spend too long in the cold. If it’s too cold for you to be outdoors, it’s too cold for your pet — bring him inside. Your vet can help with suggestions for creating spaces in your house that are both safe and comfortable for pets during the cold winter months.

Smoking. If you or other family members smoke cigarettes, cigars or other tobacco products, we strongly suggest that you avoid doing so in your pet’s presence. Not because you’ll set a bad example for him but because secondhand smoke can be just as hazardous to pets as it is to people — maybe even more so because pets are smaller. Studies have shown that secondhand smoke is related to lung and nasal cancer in dogs, malignant lymphoma in cats, and allergies and respiratory problems in both species. If we’re assessing your pet for a health problem, it’s important to let us know if he is exposed to secondhand smoke so we can take that into account as we work toward a diagnosis.

Abuse. This is one of the more difficult and heartbreaking problems a pet owner and veterinarian can face. If a family member is abusing your pet, please seek help. Abuse of animals often escalates to abuse of children or spouses, and it is important to seek help if this is happening in your home. Your veterinarian may be able to refer you to a counselor or shelter for assistance.

If you have worries related to any of these subjects, please don’t hesitate to ask for our advice. If we can help, we will.

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