Frequently Asked Questions
1. After-Hours or Weekend Emergencies
Guardian Vets is here!
We are pleased to provide after hours emergency consultations from a licensed veterinary professional. These individuals will help to determine whether or not a trip to the Emergency Vet is necessary. To reach one of our on-call professionals:
- Call our main number: (203) 847-7757.
- When prompted, press 1.
- Your call will automatically be connected to a licensed veterinary professional who will triage the emergency. No sitting on hold, no leaving a message with a service.
Many times, our on-call veterinary professional can help prevent unnecessary late night trips to the ER, and will assist you with scheduling an appointment with Norwalk Animal Hospital at your earliest convenience.
If the On-Call veterinary professional suggests you see a vet immediatley. please see the below Emergency Hospitals we recommend.
VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency
123 West Cedar Street
Norwalk, CT 06854
Cornell University Veterinary Specialists
880 Canal Street
Stamford, CT 06902
Appointments are available Monday–Saturday and same day appointments are often available for sick patients and emergencies. Please call us at (203) 847-7757 to set up an appointment that is convenient with your schedule.
3. Prescription Refills
So that we may accurately refill your pet’s medications we request as much notice as possible when refills are needed.
The fees we charge for services are based upon what is needed to maintain the high quality of care we are proud to provide. Payment is required at the time service is rendered. For your convenience, we accept cash, check, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and Care Credit.
5. How do I know if my pet is in pain?
It can sometimes be difficult to tell. If you are not sure but suspect your dog or cat may be hurting, or is just not acting right, call us to have us examine your pet. Some signs of pain are more obvious, such as limping, but some signs are more subtle and can include: not eating, a change in behavior or normal habits, being more tired and having less energy. Of course, these symptoms can also be caused by many problems, so early observation and action is important.
6. Are there any speical at-home care instructions for my dog or cat before undergoing surgery?
Please do not feed your pet after 12 AM Midnight the evening before a scheduled procedure. There is no restriction on drinking water. Plan to arrive at the office between 8-9 AM, and allow 30 minutes for check-in procedures.
7. When is the best time to spay or neuter my pet?
The best time to spay or neuter your dog or cat is 4-6 months of age. However, it can be done at most ages.
Vaccines are an important part of your dog or cat’s health care. Vaccines keep your pet healthy and prevent serious diseases. Our veterinarians will make sure your pet avoids these serious diseases through annual wellness exams, vaccinations and parasite protection.
Description of Vaccines
Rabies Vaccine. Rabies is transmitted through by bites from wild animals, particularly skunks, raccoons, possums, bats, and foxes. This disease can be transmitted to humans through the bite or scratch of an infected pet/animal. Puppies/kittens will first receive this vaccination at 12 weeks of age; then will be revaccinated annually. This vaccine is required by law.
DAPP Vaccine. This is a “4-way” canine vaccine that vaccinates against canine distemper, adenovirus type 2, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. Distemper and parvovirus are often times fatal, especially in puppies and is why it is boostered multiple times. Puppies can be vaccinated as early as 8 weeks and are boostered every 3 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Adult dogs are then revaccinated yearly.
Lyme Vaccine. Lyme disease is caused by a type of bacteria transmitted by ticks. The vaccine is recommended for dogs and puppies depending on exposure risk, including time spent outdoors in wooded or grassy areas, such as dog parks, campgrounds, hunting fields/meadows/ponds, and/or dogs that visit Lyme-endemic areas of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic or upper Midwest.
Bordetella. Also known as “kennel cough”. We recommend the intranasal vaccine when a patient will be boarding, grooming, or in any situation where they will come into contact with other pets (dog care, obedience, park, etc.).
Rabies Vaccine. (See Above)
FVRCP Vaccine. This is a “4-way” feline vaccine that vaccinates against feline distemper (aka panleukopenia), rhinotrachetitis, calici, and chlamydia. Kittens can be vaccinated as early as 6 weeks and are boostered every 3 weeks until 16 weeks of age. Adult cats are then revaccinated yearly.
Feline Leukemia VaccineFeline Leukemia Vaccine is recommended for kittens and cats that are of “high risk,” such as indoor/outdoor cats/kittens.
Heartworm Prevention Heartworm disease is a serious disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and if left untreated can be fatal. We recommend your dog and cat be on year round heartworm prevention starting at your pet’s first visit. Your pet will need to be tested with a simple blood test for heartworm disease on an annual basis.
Flea and Tick Control. We recommend using flea/tick prevention all year for your pet.
9. When does my pet need blood work?
Yearly blood work should be performed to detect infections and diseases, helping us to detect disease early. In many situations early detection is essential for more effective treatment. The type of blood work will be determined specifically for each pet depending on his or her individual needs. This annual blood test is convenient to do at the time of your pet’s annual heartworm test but can be done at any time of year.
10. How many months should my pet be on heartworm prevention medication?
It is recommended that your dog and cat be put on heartworm prevention for the entire year. It is administered once a month either by pill or by topical application. Depending on the specific product you and your veterinarian choose for your pet, heartworm prevention medication can prevent other parasite infestations including internal parasites (intestinal parasites) and external parasites (fleas and ticks). A simple blood test will get your pet started.
11. Why does my dog need a blood test before purchasing heartworm prevention?
Dogs could get sick (vomiting, diarrhea, and/or death) if placed on heartworm prevention when they have heartworm disease. Even if they have been on heartworm prevention year round there is always the possibility that the product may have failed for various reasons (your pet spit out the pill, did not absorb the pill appropriately, topical medicine was not applied properly, forgot to administer medication on time, etc.) and the earlier we can treat your pet for heartworm disease the better the prognosis. ALL companies will guarantee their product providing you use the heartworm prevention year round and are obtaining yearly heartworm tests. When starting heartworm prevention, or if your pet has not been on heartworm prevention year round, it is important that you perform a heartworm test six months after starting the prevention to rule out the pre-patent period. The pre-patent period refers to the time in which a dog has early developmental larvae which cannot be detected on a heartworm test, even though your dog is already harboring heartworm infection. If you do not do this it is possible the manufacturer of the products may not cover your pet’s treatment should they test positive for heartworm disease in the future.
12. My pet never goes outside so does it really need heartworm prevention?
Yes. Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito and all mosquitoes get into houses.
13. Doesn’t the fecal sample test for heartworms?
No. Heartworm disease is a blood-borne disease that is transmitted through mosquitoes. A simple blood test will confirm whether or not your dog has heartworm disease.
14. How can I prevent fleas?
It is important to prevent fleas. Not only are they uncomfortable for your pet, fleas are also carriers of disease. There are many medications for the treatment and prevention of fleas. Some medications are in a combined form with the monthly heartworm medication. Not only is this convenient, but it reduces the cost of two medications! Although fleas are more prevalent in summer months, fleas can be seen year round.
15. Why does my pet need a dental cleaning and how often should this be done?
We believe an annual professional dental exam, tooth scaling and polishing are necessary to treat and maintain your dog and cat’s healthy teeth and gums. As your pet ages or his or her health needs change, advanced dental care may be required. Your pet’s teeth and mouth should be examined by us on a regular basis.
16. Do I need to brush my pet’s teeth at home?
Yes. Proper dental care at home is highly recommended to help maintain the oral health of your dog and cat. Home dental care for companion animals should start early, even before the adult teeth erupt. It is best if owners brush their dogs and cats teeth twice daily. Dental sealants can easily be placed while your pet is being spayed or neutered. Although tooth brushing is the best method of preventing plaque, calculus, and bacterial build-up, there are many options for dental home care. Other oral home care options such as dental formulated foods, water additives, and dental treats should be considered.
17. What is kennel cough?
Canine Bordetella is a respiratory disease called Infectious Tracheobronchitis (kennel cough). It is easily transmitted through the air. It is a viral infection complicated by bacteria. Both intranasal and injectable vaccines are available.
18. What is Lepto?
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease. It is spread by wildlife (raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, rats) and domestic animals. It can be passed to people. Canine Lepto has risen dramatically in recent years. Infected animals shed Lepto bacteria in the urine. To prevent Lepto in your dog, discourage your pet from drinking standing water and vaccinate yearly.
19. Why does my pet need to be admitted several hours before a surgical procedure?
In preparation for the procedure, your pet will receive:
- Pre-anesthetic exam
- Pre-anesthetic bloodwork
- Premedication to easy anxiety and to smooth induction of anesthesia
- Placement of an intravenous catheter to deliver medications and fluids that support blood pressure and organ function during anesthesia
- In addition to the above it gives your pet a chance to acclimate to the hospital environment to make the situation less stressful.
This all needs to be complete BEFORE your pet’s scheduled procedure time.
20. What should I bring for my pet’s hospital stay?
You should bring special food or medications your pet is currently on. We also recommend bringing your own food if your pet has a sensitive stomach as a change in food can upset their system. You may also bring a toy or special item for your pet. We will do our best to make sure belongings stay with your pet; however these items occasionally go missing in the laundry, so we cannot guarantee their return.
21. Is anesthesia safe for my pet?
At Norwalk Animal Hospital, we take all anesthetic cases very seriously. We utilize the safest, multi-modal approach that is individually created for each dog or cat. It includes injectables for sedation and pain management as well as gas anesthetic agents. The combination of pre-anesthetic assessment of your pet (including blood work), use of modern anesthetic agents plus the latest anesthetic monitoring equipment means that anesthesia is generally considered to be a very low risk for your pet.
We closely monitor your pet during the procedure and the recovery process using advanced monitoring equipment. Parameters often monitored include oxygen concentration in the blood stream (pulse oximetry), electrocardiogram (EKG), core body temperature, respiratory rate, blood pressure and carbon dioxide level. The monitoring findings allow us to perform safe anesthesia.
22. What is a multi-modal approach to anesthesia?
A multi-modal approach refers to the layered administration of small amounts of different medications to achieve the desired levels of anesthesia and pain management. We administer lower doses of each individual anesthetic which generally equates to, fewer side effects, complete pain relief and faster post-operative recovery.
23. How will you manage my pet’s pain during surgery?
We believe in performing surgery with advanced pain management techniques because we want to maximize the comfort of your pet during and after his/her procedure. Comfort control improves your dog or cat’s recovery and speeds the healing process. We administer pain medication before beginning the procedure, during and post-operatively as required by your pet.
24. My pet is older, is anesthesia safe?
Anesthesia in otherwise healthy, older pets is considered safe. It is important to have recommended pre-operative testing performed prior to anesthesia to check major organ function and allow us to tailor the anesthesia to any pre-existing medical conditions.
25. My pet has kidney and heart disease, is anesthesia safe?
Prior to anesthesia, patients with kidney disease should be fully evaluated with blood tests, urinalysis, and possible ultrasound. Cardiology patients should also be evaluated including blood tests and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart).
26. When my pet is having surgery, when should I expect an update on my pet?
You will receive a call when your pet is in recovery from the procedure. If there are any abnormalities on pre-anesthetic exam or blood work, you will receive a call prior to the procedure in case we need to change plans. Remember that no news is good news, and you will be contacted immediately should the need arise.
27. After surgery, when will my pet be able to go home?
Pets undergoing outpatient procedures will be ready to go by close of business the same day unless noted otherwise during the post-operative phone update.
28. Answers to common questions after your pet returns home following surgery:
Decreased appetite is very common during illness, or after surgery. There are several things you can try:
- offer favorite foods or treats
- warm the food slightly above room temperature to increase the odor/taste
- some dogs may be willing to eat cat food because most cat food is highly palatable
- some pets like low-sodium chicken/beef broth or chicken baby food. These can be fed alone or in addition to regular pet food
Bandage, cast or splint is wet, soiled or off
If the bandage becomes soiled, damp, chewed, or chewed off, please do not re-bandage at home. Duct tape and other items can trap moisture within the cast/bandage causing inflammation of the skin and tissues. In some cases, bandages inappropriately applied at home can even cut off the circulation to the foot. Call us immediately if you have concerns about your pet’s bandage. Confine your pet to a single room or similar small area until you can call us and we can advise you to whether the bandage needs to be replaced. After a cast or splint is first removed, it may take 1-2 weeks for your pet to become accustomed to using the leg without the splint.
Constipation, bowel movements
Difficulty having bowel movements can be expected after illness, anesthesia, or surgery. It may take a few days for the gastrointestinal system to return to normal function. Fortunately, it is not vital for your pet to pass a stool on a regular daily basis. Please call if your pet has not passed a stool within 72 hours of discharge from the hospital or appears to be straining to defecate.
Although vocalizing can indicate discomfort, it is usually not a sign of pain (instinctively most pets will not vocalize because in the wild, this would attract predators!). Often, pets vocalize due to the excitement or agitation that they feel upon leaving the hospital and returning to their familiar home environment. If crying or whining is mild and intermittent, you may simply monitor the situation. If vocalization persists, please call us for advice. In some cases, a sedative may be prescribed or pain medication may be adjusted.
Diarrhea may be seen after hospitalization. This can be caused by change in diet but is more commonly caused by the stress of being away from home. Certain medications prescribed to your pet may also cause diarrhea. If no blood is noted in the diarrhea, feed your pet a bland diet for 2-3 days to help the digestive tract get back to normal. If the diarrhea is bloody, lasts longer than 12-24 hours or if your pet becomes lethargic or vomits, please contact us immediately. You can purchase a nutritionally complete bland food from us available in cans or kibble. Alternatively, you may feed cooked/steamed rice mixed with an equal volume of low-sodium chicken broth, boiled chicken, chicken baby food or cooked turkey. Very lean, boiled hamburger meat can be substituted as well. Feed small meals every 4-6 hours. We do NOT recommend using any over-the-counter medication to treat the diarrhea. Please call us if there are any questions or problems.
We rely on you to keep the E-collar on your pet. While they may not enjoy it initially, they will enjoy even less having to come back to our office for a recheck visit to repair an incision that has been chewed open. They will need to leave the collar on for an even longer period if this happens! Most pets become accustomed to the collar within one or two days and they can eat, sleep, and drink with it on. We are counting on you: please keep the E-collar on your pet.
Implant or hardware is visible/exposed
Immediately confine your pet to a single room or a cage, call us, and come in so the doctor can recheck the surgery site.
Injury to surgical site
If for any reason you suspect that your pet has reinjured the surgical site, confine your pet and call us immediately for advice.
If you have given your pet all the pain medication prescribed and you feel your pet still has discomfort, please call and we will be happy to discuss refilling the pain medication.
Despite the medications we have prescribed, some pets will still show signs of pain at home, such as restlessness/inability to sleep, poor appetite, lameness or tenderness at the site of surgery. Please confine your pet to limit their activity. Then call us immediately so we can dispense or prescribe additional medication or therapies as necessary to keep your pet comfortable.
This is commonly seen after surgery. It may indicate soreness but is often due to anxiety. Please call and we can help determine whether additional pain medication is advised. We will be happy to recheck your pet for your peace of mind.
Seroma (fluid pocket)
In any healing surgical area, fluid produced during the healing process may accumulate and form a seroma (fluid pocket). Fortunately, this is not painful and does not impair the healing process. Eventually, the body will reabsorb the fluid so if the seroma is small, we typically will leave it alone. If it is large, we may remove the fluid with a needle and syringe or even place a drain. If you notice a seroma developing, please call. We may wish to recheck the area to ensure there is no infection.
This is a very common response to physiologic stress after surgery, injury, or any other health abnormality. The amount of shaking or trembling may be dramatic, but it does not imply severe pain, cold, or distress. It may involve the entire body, or just the area of surgery. It is most noticeable in the first 5 to 7 days post-operatively, and typically subsides in 1-2 weeks. If there are signs of pain such as restlessness, lack of appetite, or crying out, please call.
Some pets may urinate less after surgery or may seem to be unable to control urination. This is usually temporary and may be a side effect of medication, anesthesia drugs, or difficulty assuming “the position” to urinate. Please call if your pet has not produced urine for more than 12-24 hours. Many pets initially drink less after returning home, so expect less urination at first.
An episode or two of vomiting is occasionally seen after surgery or anesthesia. If the vomiting continues, blood is noted in the vomitus, or if your pet is not holding down any food or water, call to schedule a recheck of your pet by a veterinarian.