FAQ's

Q - Do I need an appointment for the doctor to see my pet?
A - Yes, in order to keep our doctors on schedule and to ensure your pet will be seen by the veterinarian in a timely fashion, you must call our office to set up an appointment. We do take emergencies throughout the day, so please don't hesitate to contact us if you need your pet seen on short notice. Our office hours are from 8:00am - 6:00pm Monday - Friday and from 8:00am - 12:00pm on Saturdays.

If your pet needs to be seen after hours, you may take it to the Animal Emergency Center of Reno, 775.851.3600, 6425 South Virginia, Reno.

Q - Why does my pet need a wellness/physical exam?
A - Before we perform any treatment, surgery, vaccination, or write a prescription, we must by law perform a physical exam; however, this also gives us the opportunity to assess the overall health of your pet and identify possible future problems your pet might have. Wellness exams are the cornerstone of your pet's health care program. We agree with the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) that annual exams are critical to your pet's health and well being. Pets age much faster than people therefore medical problems can develop much quicker. It is proven that the sooner a problem is identified and subsequently addressed, the better the prognosis will be.

Q - I would like to bring my pets to your clinic, but how do I get my records from my previous veterinarian?
A - We can obtain records from most veterinarians with just a simple phone call requesting records be faxed. Some veterinarians require written consent to transfer records; others require payment for each photocopied page and request that the records be picked up. Please call our office and request that your records be transferred and we will assist you. If you have a copy of when your pet's vaccinations are due and your pet has no other health issues, we should not need a copy of your records.

Q - How long is a first time bird exam with Dr. Hess?
A - the average time for a first time visit with your bird is about 90 minutes. Dr. Hess performs a very thorough exam as well as discussing proper avian care which includes feeding, environment, toxins and overall health care. To help expedite this exam, we have an Avian Form for you to fill out prior to your visit which will give us much needed history about your bird.

Q - Why do dogs need to be fasted prior to blood work?
A - Fat in blood after food is digested can affect several test values on common blood work panels and make them harder to interpret or give inaccurate results.

Q - Why does my animal need pre surgical blood work?
A - Many conditions can put your pet at risk under anesthesia or for surgery that will not show up during a physical exam such as mild anemia, early or mild liver problems, early or mild kidney problems, hidden infections, just to name a few.

Q - Why do you need a fecal sample if I can't see any worms?
A - There are certain parasites, such as tapeworms, that are visible to the naked eye, others must be detected under a microscope When we perform a fecal analysis the sample is examined under the microscope. Not all adult worms shed segments that are visible to the naked eye. With the use of the microscope and special laboratory tests we are able to determine if parasites are present by the presence of eggs, thus ensuring your pet is properly treated and protected. We suggest yearly fecals and for dogs in high risk situations every 6 months.

Q - Why is an accurate history so important when I bring my pet in for an illness?
A -Since an animal can't tell us how they feel, that history is often the piece of the puzzle that points us in the right direction in trying to determine what process is really making that pet sick. Many different conditions can present with similar symptoms.

Q - Why can't I get a diagnosis over the phone or based on symptoms alone?
A - Many conditions present with similar symptoms but have vastly different causes. The treatment for one symptom that could make that patient better could be severely detrimental if the cause is something else entirely. Without performing a thorough physical exam on the animal, performing diagnostics (e.g., fecal, bloodworm, or X-rays) and obtaining a complete history, we could not accurately diagnose the problem.

Q - At what age should I begin trimming my pet's nails?
A - Begin trimming your pet's nails when they are very young so it becomes part of a routine and they become used to this type of grooming and handling. Begin by just trimming the very tips of the nails. You want this to be a positive experience, with lots of love, praise and rewards. If necessary, just do one nail or foot at a time. If you are unsure how to do a nail trim, please come in and see us and we will be happy to show you!

Q - Should I wait until my pet's first heat cycle before having her spayed?
A - The ideal age for spaying your pet is between 4-6 months of age. Your pet can come into heat anytime between 6 months and 1.5 years. A dog's heat cycle can last about 21 days. A cat's heat cycle is completely different from a dog. They go in and out of heat all year round until they are either bred or spayed. Spaying your pet before her first heat will reduce the risk of breast cancer by 90% or and neutering your pet will reduce his chances of testicular cancer. It is a myth that you must wait for her first heat cycle or for your pet to have her first litter before spaying her. Breeding a litter is a HUGE responsibility, expense and health risk. Please come see us if you have any questions and to set up a time for your pet to be spayed (females) or neutered (males).

Q - Can my female dog or cat be spayed when she is in heat or if she is pregnant?
A - It is better to wait until your pet has completed through her heat cycle before she is spayed. The blood vessels that lead to the ovaries and uterus are engorged (get much bigger) during her heat and this puts your pet at more of a risk during surgery, because of increased bleeding tendencies. A female may be spayed if she is in the early stages of pregnancy, but it is also more of a risk to the animal and you should discuss this with your veterinarian before making an appointment to have your pet spayed.

Q - Will my cat stop spraying if I have him neutered?
A - Cat's mark territory by spraying urine around his environment. Neutering decreases his male hormones and makes him much less likely to exhibit this very smelly and undesirable trait, but unfortunately is not a 100% guarantee that he will stop spaying.

Q - When should a newly acquired kitten or puppy have their first visit to the veterinarian?
A - Your puppy or kitten should be examined as soon as possible after bringing her home. We will ask you to bring in a fecal (poop) sample and any records your pet has from the breeder or shelter (worming/vaccines). The veterinarian will perform a physical exam and do a fecal test to make sure your new pet is healthy and recommend a vaccination schedule to protect your new pet against some of the numerous common diseases. They will discuss feeding, parasite control, spaying/neutering, and many other things to help you enjoy your pet for years to come.

Q - Why does my dog lick his feet a lot?
A - A dog that licks his feet, rubs his face, or scratches his neck and behind his elbows may be showing signs of an allergy. Brown staining on white fur is a tell tale sign the dog has been licking a lot. Dogs can be allergic to all sorts of things such as sage brush, grass, weeds or even house dust. Many allergies are connected to your dog's diet. Consult our veterinarians about this.

Q - How would I know if my pet has an ear infection?
A - Ear infections can cause your pet a great deal of pain. The first sign is smell. Look for signs of head shaking, smelly discharge or dark colored ear wax. These are all possible symptoms of an ear problem. If you suspect a problem, please call us for an appointment.

Q - Is it safe to give my pet bones from the table?
A - No, do not give your pet bones! Bones may splinter and cause your pet future health problems, as well as cause an obstruction in their digestive system, which will lead to very expensive surgery.

Q - How many months should my pet be on heartworm prevention medication?
A - Heartworm Disease is a serious disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and if left untreated can be fatal. In accordance with the guidelines of the American Heartworm Society, we recommend all dogs be given year round (12 months) heartworm prevention regardless of lifestyle or geographical location. Your dog will need to be tested with a simple blood test for heartworm disease on an annual basis. Heartworm prevention is administered once a month by pill. Depending on the specific product you and your veterinarian choose for your pet, heartworm prevention medication can prevent other parasite infestations including intestinal parasites (roundworm, hookworms) and external parasites (fleas and ticks).

Q - What is Kennel Cough?
A - Bordetella or kennel cough is a respiratory disease usually contracted in areas where large numbers of dogs are located such as boarding facilities, day care, groomers, the parks or pet stores. The most common symptom is a dry hacking cough, but it can progress to a more serious lung infection. The cough has a distinctive "honking sound" which gets worse with excitement and activity. Dogs that go to "high traffic" dog situations should be vaccinated twice a year to avoid this disease.

Q - Is it okay to feed my pet human foods?
A - This is a good question! The answer is Yes and NO!
NO to bones, chocolate, gravy, bacon drippings, table scraps, onions, avocado, processed foods, grapes, and apples. Yes to raw carrots, raw celery, raw broccoli, raw green beans, yam, pumpkin, boiled chicken, rice, eggs, plain non-fat yogurt; however, everything in moderation, meaning small amounts and not on a regular basis. If you are unsure if a food is safe to feed your pet, please call us and ask!

Q - Why does my dog scoot his behind on grass and my carpet?
A - Scooting is usually an indication that his anal glands are full and need attention by a veterinarian. Anal glands are small glands on either side of the rectum. They contain a very bad smelling liquid that animals use to mark their territory in the wild. Cats will generally lick their rectal area excessively if their anal sacs are full.

Q - We just found a stray animal, what should we do?
A - The first thing you need to do is see if the pet has a tag on its collar with possible phone numbers or identification. Second if there is a rabies tag on its collar, the tag should have the phone number or location of the animal's veterinarian. Please first call the number on the tag. The rabies tag will be registered to the pet and it's owner. Once you have the owner's numbers, you should make contact with the owner to let them know you have their pet. If the owner can't be reached, then you should contact your local Shelter. Petfinder is a popular site where owners can locate or post missing animals. Many shelters and veterinary clinics have microchip scanners which will give you the animal's microchip number, if the pet has one, and then the company can be contacted to reunite pet and owner.

Q - My dog has gained weight over the winter. How do I put them on a diet?
A - Obesity in our pet population is a growing epidemic, unfortunately we are seeing more and more obesity related health issues in our patients. Except for a few medical reasons (Hypothyroidism, Hyperadrenal/Cushings, and genetic predisposition) weight gain is a result of the unbalanced combination of calories (too many) and activity (not enough) . The first step in helping your pet lose weight is a consultation with your veterinarian to rule out underlying health issues and ensure your pet is able to withstand increased physical activity. Like all weight loss programs your pet will need to do (exercise) more than he is eating (calorie consumption). Our veterinarians will help you to understand exactly how many calories he/she is getting each day. By accounting for all calories (dog food treats, table scraps, cat food) your veterinarian can quickly determine what your pet is consuming compared to what it "should"s be consuming. Thus, please bring in a copy of your pet food bag to help the veterinarian calculate what is right for your animal on an individual case basis. Next, you will be given your own exercise program suited to your pet. Remember that dogs with arthritis, older animals, and dogs with previous injuries (hit by car) may have some limitations, which will be considered in your pet's individual weight loss program.