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Sweetspire Veterinary Clinic

Myth Busters

Common Pet Misconceptions

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Will a spay or neuter change my dog’s personality?
  • No! For males, their tendency to roam, mark, and become aggressive will decrease significantly. If neutered late in life, some of these behaviors may become a habit. Your pet will not become less of a “man” because he is neutered. Animals do not have any concept of what testicles are, just how the hormones make them feel. Did you know that most dogs that are hit by cars are intact males who are searching out an intact female? Also, your pet’s metabolism may slow down about three months after surgery, so make sure that your pet doesn’t start getting overweight.
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What are core vaccines for my dog?
  • Core vaccines are considered vital to all pets based on the risk of exposure, the severity of disease, or transmissibility to humans. Non-core vaccines are given depending on your pet’s exposure risk. All 3-year vaccines are given at the veterinarian’s discretion. Bring your pet in for an exam to see if your pet qualifies for a 3-year vaccine.
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  • Dogs:
    • DAPP: This vaccine is given as a series until six months of age. As an adult, 1 or 3-year DAPP vaccines are available.
    • Rabies: Required by law. Typically given at the last puppy vaccine visit. As an adult, 1 or 3-year Rabies vaccines are available.
    • We also strongly recommend :
      • Leptospirosis: We consider this vaccine as a core vaccine due to the presence of this bacteria in the low country. Just like Rabies, Leptospirosis is transmissible to people. Your pet may show many different clinical signs, the worst being liver failure, kidney failure, and potentially death. That means if you come into contact with this bacteria from your pet, you could also suffer from severe kidney failure, liver failure, and potentially meningitis. In August 2022, Charleston County had an outbreak of Leptospirosis.
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        • Bordetella: This vaccine is more commonly known as the Kennel Cough vaccine. We recommend this vaccine every six months – 1 year based on your pet’s risk. High-risk activities include being around other dogs, such as the dog park, grooming, and doggy daycare. This vaccine will not prevent your pet from getting Kennel Cough, but it will lessen the intensity of the illness, just like the flu vaccine in people.
What are core vaccines for my cat?
  • Core vaccines are considered vital to all pets based on the risk of exposure, severity of disease, or transmissibility to humans. Non-core vaccines are given depending on your pet’s exposure risk. All 3-year vaccines are given at the veterinarian’s discretion. Bring your pet in for an exam to see if your pet qualifies for a 3-year vaccine.
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  • Cats:
          • FVRCP: This vaccine is given as a series until six months of age. As an adult, 1 or 3-year FVRCP vaccines are available.
          • FeLV for kittens and at-risk adults: 1-year vaccine after initial booster series.
          • Rabies: Required by law. Typically given at lat kitten vaccine visit. As an adult, 1 or 3-year Rabies vaccines are available.
Does my pet need heart worm prevention?
  • Yes! Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos. In the Low Country, mosquitos are a year-round problem. Even if your pet doesn’t go outside, mosquitos get into the house! This means heartworms are a year-round problem for dogs, cats, ferrets, and the occasional human. The mosquito bites another infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf and then bites your pet. The worm travels from the skin, through the blood, to the heart and lungs. 6-7 months after the mosquito bite, your pet may test positive for heartworms. Some pets might not show any clinical signs of infection, while others may cough or experience sudden death. The treatment for heartworms can be as dangerous as the disease.
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Why does my pet have fleas?
  • Fleas are often found on wildlife and in the environment outside your house. Once a flea has jumped onto your pet, it will begin laying eggs in two days. The lifecycle of a flea, from egg to adult, is 2-3 weeks, but they can lie dormant for as long as a year. When a flea detects motion or body heat, it will jump onto its new host: your dog, your cat, or even you. Fleas in the Low Country tend to be resistant to over-the-counter preventatives. If you see a flea on your pet, we recommend you bring your pet in for an exam immediately to prevent a flea infestation on your pet and in your house.
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Should my pet have at least one litter?

No! This is a false rumor. There is no advantage to letting your pet have one litter. In fact, preventing this is one of the greatest gifts we can give our pets, as well as our over-run animal shelters. There are numerous and significant advantages to having your pet spayed or neutered.

What age should I spay/neuter my pet?

We will not spay or neuter pets until they reach at least 16 weeks of age. We recommend you get your pet spayed or neutered prior to 6 months of age. This recommendation may vary for large or giant breed dogs.

Is anesthesia safe?
  • Today’s modern anesthetic machines and monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past. Though there are always inherent risks to any anesthetic or surgical procedure in both human and animal medicine, we take precautions to reduce those risks and any complications that may occur. We recommend bringing your pet in for an exam to discuss anesthesia details more in-depth.
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If my pet goes to the groomer, does my pet still need a dental cleaning?
  • Yes! Groomers brush teeth, just like we do twice daily. Besides brushing our teeth, we go to the dentist twice a year to have our teeth scaled and polished. Pets typically need their teeth scaled and polished once a year, sometimes twice a year. Pets won’t hold their mouths open for the scary-sounding dental instruments, so scaling and polishing your pet’s teeth requires anesthesia, which can only be done by a veterinarian.
Is raw meat safe for my pet?
  • No! We do not recommend raw meat for pets, just like people are not recommended to eat raw meat. Raw meat can transmit pathogens to your pet that your pet can then excrete, and you can pick up from your pet. That means that if you feed raw meat to your pet, you could get salmonella, e. coli, campylobacter, clostridia, listeria, and toxoplasma.
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Is grain free food safe for my dog?
  • No, but it’s complicated. In 2018, a link between “Grain-free” foods and the development of Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), a heart disease, was identified. Since 2018, research has been started to identify the true cause and effect, which has proven to be difficult. Not every pet eating grain-free food develops this heart problem. Also, there has not been a specific grain (often called “pulses” in dog food) identified that has been linked to the heart problem. There have been many “non-traditional” dog foods that have been linked to the development of this cardiac disease that are not labeled as “Grain-free.” We recommend you feed your dog Royal Canin, Science Diet, Purina Pro Plan, or Purina One to ensure that your dog is able to absorb all the nutrients that your dog needs for a long, healthy life.
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Pet Health Insurance

We offer preventative care packages that spread the cost of wellness care out over the course of a year. We do not offer pet health insurance, but we do recommend you get your pet health insurance. Pet health insurance is similar to human health insurance and helps cover major accidents and illnesses. Pet health emergencies are often unexpected and expensive, and we want you to be as prepared as possible. We recommend you research pet health insurance and pick the best company and plan for you. Our favorite pet health insurance company is Trupanion.