Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians in Dallas

How often should my pet have an exam?

Holt Veterinary Clinic recommends yearly visits for most pets and older pets coming in more frequently – at least every 6 months. Yearly exams include physical examinations by our veterinarians plus annual or booster vaccinations, parasite screening & prevention, and various lab tests performed.

For puppies and kittens, we need to see them on a more frequent schedule during their first year of life. For pets over age 7, we recommend exams and blood work every 6 months to help us detect diseases and issues before they become a problem.

Why does my pet need a dental cleaning?

Many people think that it is normal for a dog to have bad breath, but that is not the case. Bad breath is caused by bacteria in the mouth that create byproducts that contain sulfur. Regular home cleanings accompanied by scheduled professional cleanings will help to prevent bad breath and the bacteria that cause it.

Besides just bad breath, dental disease:

  • Releases bacteria into the bloodstream
  • Increases risk for heart, liver and kidney disease
  • Can cause severe pain and problems for your pet

Pets need regular dental cleanings to increase quality and length of life and:

  • Allows us to chart dental disease over time
  • Means less time under anesthesia
  • Reduces the need for more advanced and expensive treatment in the future such as teeth extractions and oral surgery

Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs. Recent studies show that 85% of cats and 92% of dogs over age 3 have periodontal disease.

What happens during my pet’s dental cleaning?

A thorough dental cleaning can only be accomplished while the pet is under general anesthesia. The anesthesia we use is safe for all animals and your pet is constantly monitored during the dental procedure. Prior to anesthesia, blood tests are performed to help uncover any hidden illnesses.

A professional cleaning (called a dental prophylaxis) removes plaque and tartar from the teeth. Your pet's entire mouth health (teeth, tongue, gums, and lips) will be examined and assessed.

I noticed a change in my pet’s behavior. Should I see a veterinarian?

Pets cannot tell us how they feel and are able to hide their pain from us (especially cats). Changes in behavior such as appetite change, lethargy, energy level, aggressiveness, inappropriate elimination, and vocalization (barking/meowing) can be symptoms of behavior or health issues. Contact our vet hospital for an exam appointment right away.

What should I do if I notice fleas or ticks on my pet?

Isolate your pet from other animals and small children to prevent the spread of the parasite to them. Bring your pet to our vet clinic for thorough testing for parasites. They can usually be easily treated, but parasite preventative measures are best for both your pet and your wallet. Ask about our available safe and effective parasite prevention products.

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

Holt Veterinary Clinic recommends waiting until your pet is at least 6 months of age before seeking a spay or neuter procedure. Contact us to discuss specific details based on species, breed, and size. Spaying / neutering has health and behavioral benefits for your pet and of course, helps prevent over-population.


What are heartworms? How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworms?

One infected mosquito is all it takes to infect your dog with the baby form (larval stage) of the heartworm parasite.

Heartworms are a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets. Twelve-inch-long worms (looks like spaghetti) live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of infected pets, causing lung disease, heart failure, organ damage, and can be fatal if untreated.

How does my pet get heartworms? Heartworms living in an infected dog, cat, or wildlife produce baby worms that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it picks up these worms and when it bites another animal, the worms enter through the bite wound. Heartworms can grow and live for 5 - 7 years in dogs and 3 years in cats.

What can I do to protect my pet? Heartworm disease is preventable! Dogs should be tested annually and before starting prevention. Prevention is the safest and most cost-effective option, but treatment is available for dogs (although costly and lengthy). Cats should be tested before starting prevention and re-tested as the veterinarian deems appropriate. There is NO treatment in cats, so prevention is critical and the only means of protection.

Holt Veterinary Clinic has safe, effective products available that cater to your pet's lifestyle and your budget. Heartworm prevention should be provided 12 months of the year.

Do I need to have my pet fixed?

There are many behavioral and health reasons to spay (female) or neuter (male) your pet dog or cat. If you have no plans to breed your pet, it is highly recommended you fix him/her.

Aside from the obvious contributions it makes in controlling the pet population, all animals that are fixed have less inclination to explore the world (i.e. run away), as well as decreased aggression and dominance issues. This means fewer dog fights and cat spraying for all of us.

Intact animals have a significantly higher risk of many forms of cancer than spayed/neutered animals. In addition, intact females are at risk of uterine infections (pyometra) that are life-threatening and sometimes fatal.

Both procedures are relatively simple and most animals recover quickly from them. You and your pet can only gain from spaying and neutering.

Is it a good idea to let my pet have at least one litter?

No, there is no advantage to letting your pet have one litter. However, there are plenty of advantages to having your pet spayed or neutered. These advantages include decreasing the chances of breast tumors later in life, decreasing the chance of cystic ovaries and uterine infections later in life, decreasing the desire to roam the neighborhood, decreasing the incidence of prostate disease later in life, helping prevent spraying and marking, and also decreases the surplus of unwanted puppies and kittens.

Does my dog really need to be on heartworm prevention?

Yes! Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes. As all Texans know, mosquitoes are unfortunately a year-round menace.

All dogs, even those that live primarily indoors should be kept on heartworm prevention year-round.

What vaccinations are required for my pet?

All pets are required by law to have a current rabies vaccine.

We recommend that all dogs be given the DHLPP (Distemper virus, Parvovirus, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis, and Parainfluenza) vaccine annually, and any dogs that may be boarding, groomed, or taken to dog parks given the Bordatella (Kennel Cough) vaccine.

All cats should be given the FVRCP (Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia) vaccine annually. Any cats that spend time outdoors should also be vaccinated for Feline Leukemia (FeLV).

Can I use over-the-counter pain medications on my pet?

Human pain medications are never safe to use in animals, and should NEVER be used in cats. Animals’ systems are not able to process these over-the-counter medications in the same way that humans do. The use of these medications, even in small doses, can cause serious gastrointestinal and liver damage.

Cats are especially sensitive to ANY dose of Tylenol, or any acetaminophen-containing product.

There are multiple pain medications available through your veterinarian that are safe for animals. Please always use these instead of human medications.

Can I use Benadryl on my pet?

Benadryl (diphenhydramine) is a common human antihistamine that may also be used in dogs. It is not recommended for use in cats except in extreme cases.

If your pet has allergies or is suffering from an insect bite, Benadryl is often enough to help alleviate the symptoms. Just like in people, some animals are hypersensitive to it and may become very drowsy.

Please call your vet for directions and dosages so you may safely use the medication.

What are the small white rice-like specks in my pet’s feces?

These are most likely tapeworms (Diplydium caninum). These are worms that live in your pet’s intestinal tract.

Your dog became infected with these by eating a flea, so you should also closely check your pet for fleas. If possible, a fecal sample should be brought into the vet clinic to confirm the infection.

Your veterinarian can also help you rid your pet of both the fleas and the tapeworms!

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