Frequently Asked Questions
WE ARE CONSIDERING THE PURCHASE OF A NEW KITTEN OR PUPPY, WHAT SHOULD WE CONSISDER?
Prior to even stepping foot in a shelter or a breeder's facility, some things need to be discussed by you and/or with one of our doctors. To name a few; is the breed an appropriate breed to match your family's lifestyle, food cost, veterinary care, etc. Also, no matter what pet you decide upon, make sure to do proper training regardless of size to enforce a happy pet and family.
New puppies and kittens. We strongly recommend that all new puppies and kittens be examined prior to purchase. Delaying this examination may result in disappointment and emotional distress, and unexpected expense for the new owner if the pet should have any serious medical problems. Any reputable seller will agree to a pre-purchase exam with refund of your FULL payment (NOT A PET STORE CREDIT) if any serious health defects are found. (Three days is a customary period).
WHAT ABOUT PETS FROM LOCAL SHELTERS?
There are numerous fine shelters in the Denver area. These animals need a home and most will make wonderful lifetime companions; a few may have minor health issues. Usually these pets have been sterilized, may have had some or all of their annual vaccinations, and have a fair adoption fee. Arrowhead Animal Hospital will give a FREE examination to all shelter pets within the first 10 days. We are happy to discuss all obvious medical needs with you. Most of these shelters allow a return of these pets if there are health issues you deem not acceptable. Again, we recommend this examination be done promptly before emotions become too large a factor. No shelter will cover veterinary bills; a few shelters might take a pet back for short-term treatment.
WHAT ABOUT PET STORES?
Many wonderful pets come from pet stores. The truthful origin of the pets is often difficult to ascertain. Some do come from "puppy mills". There are many problems associated with puppy mills; and there is a plethora of information on the web and other sources. To name a few problems: these animals are often raised in crowded and unsanitary conditions, there is little attention given to selection of genetically desirable parents, "in-breeding" is common, genetic defects (behavioral, orthopedic and skin problems) are frequent, these pets are improperly socialized, they are seldom "show quality", they are usually over-priced, they tend to have more parasites, and "Purebred Registration" Certificates mean very little and are impossible to verify. A prompt, pre-purchase exam is strongly recommended with full refund (NOT CREDIT!) if pet is returned. Pet stores will not cover any veterinary bills.
WHAT ABOUT PRIVATE BREEDERS?
This is the best source to obtain a specific desired breed. Local breeder associations, word-of-mouth, and careful internet searches are useful ways to get started. If possible, we suggest an on-site visit of the facility where the animals are bred and raised. Third party deliveries and truck-stop meetings are a warning sign of a "puppy mill". Ask to see both parents and inspect the facility for cleanliness. Referrals from other owners and an interview with the breeder's veterinarian are always valuable. Written health records are a good indication of a caring breeder. Some breeders may try to restrict the use of a pet for breeding—this should be thoroughly discussed. A prompt, pre-purchase veterinary examination is strongly recommended with full refund (not CREDIT!) if pet is returned. Most reputable breeders encourage a pre-purchase examination. A few breeders may agree to a long-term animal replacement guarantee if chronic problems
(Orthopedic, ophthalmic, etc.) should occur during development—this should be discussed at length with seller.
WHAT WILL MY NEW KITTEN NEED IN THE WAY OF VETERINARY CARE?
At the minimum, a new kitten will need a health examination, a fecal lab test for parasites, vaccinations, a good diet, and a loving family. Vaccinations are given for feline distemper and the upper respiratory diseases at about 8, 11, and 14 weeks of age. A rabies vaccination is required at 3-4 months of age.
Other medical issues to consider are surgical sterilization at 4-6 months of age, leukemia testing and vaccinations, declawing (consult with us for an in depth discussion of this procedure).
WHAT WILL MY NEW PUPPY NEED IN THE WAY OF VETERINARY CARE?
At the minimum, a new puppy will need a health examination, a fecal lab test, vaccinations, a good diet, and a loving family. Vaccinations are given for canine distemper, parvo and corona viruses, hepatitis, and leptospirosis at about 8, 11, 14 and 17 weeks of age. A rabies vaccination is required at 3-4 months of age.
Other medical issues to consider are puppy training, surgical sterilization (spay for females, neuter for males), optional vaccines for Bordetella (kennel cough), canine influenza, and Rattlesnake bite protection.
I AM CONSIDERING ADOPTING AN ADULT PET, WHAT SHOULD I KNOW?
The biggest amount of information that should be gathered when adopting an adult pet would be its previous history. Why, if known, is the pet up for adoption? Does it have any medical, behavioral, or abandonment issues? Or was it just lost and needed a new home. What type of pet, dog or cat, etc. and how that pet will fit into your family activity levels. Does the pet require specific exercise needs; are they prone to temperament issues? What is the plan for your new pet? A couch potato or an arctic explorer.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD MY PET SEE A VETERINARIAN?
For young, healthy pets, an annual wellness exam with vaccines and parasite control as needed is the minimum recommended interval. If, however, your pet is older or has any health issues, twice-yearly wellness exams, and specific monitoring as necessary, will provide the best care for your pet.
HOW LONG DO VACCINES LAST?
The short answer is that we do not know exactly how long vaccines or the immunity stimulated by them lasts. Each individual animal has their own immune system that responds differently to vaccines. Certain stresses such as concurrent disease, over exertion, giving birth, heat cycle (estrous) and environmental stressors can weaken the immune system and its response to vaccines. Very young individuals may have immune systems that require time to mature and are then able to respond to a vaccine. Young individuals also may have immunity left over from their mother that can interfere with their response to a vaccine. Older individuals can have immune systems that are starting to wear out. Without measuring each individual’s immunity or their response to exposure of a potentially fatal virus or bacteria it is impossible to know the status of their immune system. We assume that immunity lasts at least one year for adult animals. We should consider the individuals age, life style and risk factors when deciding how often to vaccinate.
MY PET IS ON LONG-TERM PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION. HOW SHOULD THIS BE MONITORED?
Most of these conditions require regular (every 6-12 months, or more) monitoring of liver and/or kidney enzymes. Some may require blood counts (CBC's), electrolytes, blood glucose levels, and actual circulating drug levels within the patient. We have in-house analysis equipment to perform most of these tests within an hour; others are sent out to a certified regional veterinary lab in Broomfield. A veterinary consultation and medical progress physical examination of the pet as well as an accurate history is essential to coordinate these lab results with the pet's progress and make adjustments in the medication given.