Should I get my pet neutered/spayed?
In general, spaying and neutering pets helps to reduce pet overpopulation problems. This decreases the number of unwanted pets tragically euthanized at shelters every year in our country. These surgeries also can prevent serious health problems such as uterine infection (pyometra), mammary cancer, testicular cancer, and some prostatic diseases. We generally recommend spay/neuter surgeries be performed at 6 months of age.

Responsible breeding of purebred animals is a very legitimate reason to forego spaying and neutering. If one of the above health-related problems occurs and cannot be managed, then spay/neuter should be performed.

There are good reasons to delay neutering larger-breed males until 12-14 months of age, if temperament and behavior allow it. Withdrawing testosterone influence earlier can delay growth-plate closure in the long bones, perhaps increasing the risk of some bone diseases.

Spay/neuter surgeries on exotic pets should be discussed on an individual basis.

Should I get my pet vaccinated?
Dogs and cats should be kept current on their rabies vaccinations, for their benefit and for the sake of human health. Bat rabies is prevalent in NY State, and people are often unaware that an exposure has taken place. Raccoons, fox, and other wildlife also pose a threat with regard to rabies exposure.

The other core vaccines and non-core vaccines are administered according to AAHA guidelines, with each pet’s individual risk taken into account. We try to keep each of our patients safe from infectious disease, while taking great care to avoid overvaccination.

Click here to go to our section on vaccines.

I think my pet is sick. How long should I wait before seeing the vet?
We ask our clients to call if they notice a significant drop in appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in drinking or urination habits, lethargy, or a persistent cough/respiratory discharge. It is important to call within 1-3 days, depending on severity of these symptoms. Unexplained behavioral changes also should prompt a phone call. Seizures, bleeding problems, eye problems, whelping/queening problems, rapid fluid losses, and trauma are all examples of true emergencies. These types of problems warrant an immediate phone call.

For exotic pets, we ask to be called immediately when any problems are noted, as these animals tend to hide their illnesses for some time. They may be critically ill by the time symptoms are noticeable.

How often should I have my pet examined?
We recommend annual physicals for healthy, young pets. Older patients, or those with health problems, may need to be examined more frequently.

What toys are safe for my pet?
There is no such thing as a “safe” toy. All toys should be given under some degree of supervision. This may mean anything from direct visualization to periodic inspection of the toy for ‘wear and tear,’ depending on the durability of the toy.

Is it safe to leave my pet alone while I’m at work?
All young pets should be with the owner, or confined in some way, preferably to a crate or pen. This is a safety rule. A confined youngster cannot chew electrical cords or otherwise harm him- or herself. He/she also cannot cause extensive damage to the home. Would we leave a toddler unsupervised in a home? Most puppies need to urinate frequently (take their age in months and add 1 to get the number of daytime hours you can expect their bladder to last). Provisions should be made if an owner works, such as an ex-pen with newspaper surrounding the front of an open crate to create a ‘yard.’

Mature pets vary in their comfort level with being alone. Whether to leave them at home alone, and for how long, should be decided on an individual basis.

What’s poisonous to my pet?
For information on toxic materials, see the ASPCA Poison Control Center.