30 Sep Ask a Vet: Pet Health Advice with Dr. Sam Meisler
Pet owners have endless questions about their pet’s health and behavior. At PetWellClinic, your pet’s health isn’t the only thing that’s a top priority for us. Your peace of mind is just as important.
With so many sources of information on the internet these days, it can be difficult to determine what’s good pet health advice and what isn’t. That’s why we’ve taken the time to ask our CEO and founder, Sam Meisler, DVM, your top questions.
- Does My Indoor Cat Need Vaccines?
A common question pet owners ask is about the health needs between outdoor and indoor cats. After all, if your cat stays inside and isn’t venturing outdoors, are annual vaccines and regular exams really necessary? According to Dr. Sam Meisler, routine vet care is still important for cats who live most of their lives indoors:
“I would recommend getting all of the recommended vaccinations when you first get your cat, even the ones commonly given to outdoor cats. You never know when your cat may need to be boarded or visit a vet where they could pick something up from a different cat. After those initial vaccinations, you can consult with your veterinarian about what your cat needs on a regular basis. Many vaccines for felines aren’t necessary every year, but your vet will understand your cat’s individual needs best.”Sam Meisler, DVM
Vaccines aren’t the only thing important for our feline friends, though. Physical exams are a crucial part of your cat’s preventative pet care. “[Cats] can be very stoic and not show signs of chronic conditions until they’re pretty dire,” says Meisler. “They may be fooling us into thinking that they’re doing fine when they’re not. Coming into the clinic can be upsetting for cats, but the advantages of coming and catching things early far outweigh the stress your cat experiences coming into the vet.”
Physical exams of your cat can pick up dental disease, ear problems, eye issues, complications in their lungs, and even heart irregularities. Your vet can also notice any masses that could signify larger underlying issues. In addition, routine blood work can catch the possibility of kidney disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. Even though it may feel like a battle, it’s very important to bring your cat to the vet for their routine exams.
- Why Should You Spay or Neuter Your Pet?
There are a long list of reasons why pet owners should spay or neuter their pet. The health benefits, in particular, are one of the main reasons to consider this. If you’ve adopted a pet from a shelter or rescue, your pet has most likely already had the procedure done. But if your pet is still intact, here are some things you should consider:
- For female dogs and cats, if you spay them before their first heat cycle, it is almost 100% certain that they won’t get mammary cancer. This is especially true for female dogs. If you get it done by their second heat cycle, it’s an 80% chance they won’t get mammary cancer.
- For male dogs and cats, neutering can prevent their desire to mark their territory, which includes your home. Since male pets don’t have heat cycles, there’s no timeline to get them neutered.
“If it’s your own pet that you’ve gotten as a puppy, you can wait until a year or two of age to neuter them. Small breeds should be neutered between 6-10 months. But keep in mind that health benefits are more long term. Chances of testicular cancer and prostate diseases are decreased, perineal hernia risks go down, and aggressiveness and behavioral issues can decrease.”Sam Meisler, DVM
PetWellClinic does not have the ability to perform spay and neuter procedures. However, you can talk to your PetWellClinic veterinarian for their local recommendations. There are also many resources for low-cost or free spay and neuter surgeries around the country that are a part of non-profit initiatives and grant programs.
- How Do I Deal with Stress & Anxiety in My Pet?
Visits to the vet can be stressful for any dog or cat, no matter how well-behaved and social they are on a regular basis. But don’t worry! There are a lot of ways you can combat stress and anxiety in your pet.
Natural Ways to Calm Your Pet
- When you know a trip to the vet is coming up, be open to the idea that you may not get everything done in one visit. If your dog or cat has a difficult time getting through everything your vet recommends when you visit, talk to your PetWellClinic veterinarian about breaking their services up over a couple of visits.
- There are also synthetic pheromones that can help dogs and cats with environmental stressors. These pheromones are formulated to mimic the same natural pheromones released by a mama cat or dog. “It may sound crazy, but it’s very helpful… You can even bring some with you to your vet exam,” says Meisler. The pheromones are odorless and come in multiple forms, including sprays, wipes, and collars. You can purchase these online or at any pet supply store. While pheromones won’t cure your pet of fear or aggression, they can help calm a stressed pet.
- Cats can get most anxious when it’s time for them to get inside of their carriers. Practice showing your cat that the carrier is a safe and calming place when you aren’t taking them to the vet. Encourage them with treats and their favorite toys while they’re inside of their carrier.
If your pet is anxious, it’s important to reinforce good behavior with positivity, and not negative behavior. This can be difficult in practice, but it pays off long term:
“If you comfort your dog when it’s behaving in an anxious manner, the pet may glean from that interaction that the comfort is praise and it’s on the right track with its anxious behavior. The best thing to do when your pet is being anxious is not responding at all. Remain neutral. Your pet will continue to shake, hide, and whine, and you’ll really have to resist, but staying as calm as possible will communicate to your pet that it’s in a safe place.”Sam Meisler, DVM
Anxiety Medication for Pets
If your dog or cat has known issues of going to the vet and experiencing high amounts of stress, and it’s very difficult to calm them down, you can discuss medication options that reduce anxiety with your vet. Anxiety medication can be prescribed for pets even just to use when you come to the vet. Your pet won’t have to take this medication every day if they don’t need it.
- How Do I Get My Cat to Stop Jumping Onto the Kitchen Table?
Recently, Dr. Sam Meisler was featured in the pet advice blog on POPSUGAR, “Here is Exactly How to Get Your Cat to Stop Jumping Onto the Kitchen Table.” This is a common problem most cat owners can identify with, but it isn’t impossible to curb this behavior.
“Place different substrate on your counters when you are not there, such as plastic sheets, foil, [or] a wet towel,” explains Meisler in the article. “Of course, also avoid scaring your cat or yelling at it—it just damages your relationship. As most family therapists say, relationship over task.”
Interested in more tips about cat behavior? Read our recent article about why cats like to lay on our chests!
- Why Do Cats Bring Dead Animals Inside?
Cats and why they do some of the things they do is one of nature’s oldest mysteries. No doubt you’ve noticed cats observing the world around them and doing things that seem very intentional. Dr. Sam Meisler recently talked to Reader’s Digest about decoding your cat’s behavior.
This article answers questions, such as:
- Why do cats knead soft blankets?
- Why does my cat like to knock things off of surfaces?
- Why do cats scratch the furniture?
- Why does my cat bring me dead animals or toys?
- Why do cats show their bellies sometimes?
Read the entire article for a comprehensive guide to your cat’s strange (and endearing) behavior.
At PetWellClinic, our goal is to provide high-quality veterinary care that’s also convenient for pet owners. This goal includes being your partner in your pet’s health. If you have unanswered questions concerning veterinary medicine and how to keep your pet healthy, keep a list of questions to bring with you to your next PetWellClinic visit! Our team is happy to answer your questions, and give you and your pet the healthiest path forward.
PetWellClinic provides convenient, affordable veterinary care for pet owners. PetWellClinic has locations and services built with convenience in mind. Stop by with your pet any time! No appointment necessary.