Ask a Vet 2015

Local vets answer some important questions about your pets.




Roberto Gonzalez


What are signs of diabetes in my pet and how is it treated?

Diabetes mellitus occurs commonly in dogs and cats. Pets with diabetes drink and urinate more than usual, and often have weight loss in the face of a ravenous appetite. Some dogs also rapidly develop cataracts.  Undiagnosed, sick diabetics may have vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or a reduced appetite as well.  If these signs are noted, contact your family veterinarian. They will evaluate blood work and a urine sample to diagnose diabetes. Sick diabetics may need to be hospitalized and treated with insulin and intravenous fluids.  Newly diagnosed diabetics that feel well will be treated with injectable insulin and a strict diabetic specific diet. Some diabetic cats can experience remission, especially if treated appropriately early in the disease.

Pamela N. Smyth, D.V.M.
Diplomate, A.C.V.I.M.
Affiliated Veterinary Specialists


When do you take your pet to the ER?

If you, as an owner, feel there is something wrong with your pet, please call your veterinarian or take your pet in to see your veterinarian. “Dr. Google” may offer free advice but it is not always accurate and can delay life saving treatment or even complicate or worsen your pets condition.

Dr. Holly Brown-Tabbenor
Animal Emergency Center


What is a cataract and can you do surgery to restore vision?

A cataract is a cloudy change to the lens in the eye. Cataracts in dogs are similar to those in humans; however, in dogs they progress more rapidly, can cause inflammation and commonly lead to complete loss of vision. It is very important to have a complete ophthalmic exam once any cloudiness in the eye is noticed. Once it is determined that the cataract is suitable for surgery, the method of choice for removal is the same procedure used to remove cataracts in the human eye. Once removed, the cataract will not come back. The board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists at Animal Eye Associates use the most advanced equipment to perform cataract surgery. Please feel free to call us to discuss any questions you may have about cataracts or the surgical procedure to remove them.   

Daniel R. Priehs, D.V.M
Animal Eye Associates


Are vitamins or supplements necessary for pets? 

Most research reveals that if your pet is on a high-quality commercial diet there is no need for additional supplementation. Trust your veterinarian to recommend such a diet. However, there are certain instances such as kidney or cardiac disease, or orthopedic conditions that require specific dietary restrictions. Your vet can discuss these and make recommendations for your pet’s specific needs. 

Dr. Taj O’Sullivan
Animal Medical Clinic of Orlando


What should I expect my pet to experience during an ultrasound?

Ultrasound examination is an imaging technique that allows veterinarians to get an internal look at body structures by recording ultrasonic echoes. A narrow beam of high-frequency sound waves is directed into the area of interest and converted into an image of a two-dimensional structure. Typically, after the fur on the belly is shaved to ensure direct contact with the skin, your pet is placed on a padded table in a dimly lit room. The ultrasound transducer is gently maneuvered over the skin using ultrasound gel. Occasionally, your pet may experience a ticklish spot or gentle pushing against his or her skin so a technician will be available to hold and distract your pet with ear rubs and massage. Ultrasound is a safe and painless test that can provide invaluable information about the body without invasive surgery, information that other diagnostics may not reveal.

Dr. Brooke Minton
Chickasaw Trail Animal Hospital


Can my pet make me sick?

In general, most viruses and even bacteria are species specific and thus are not transmitted from pets to people.  However, there are some important diseases that are zoonotic—meaning that they can be transferred to us from our pets. These include some intestinal parasites and certain bacteria and viruses, as well as vector-borne (flea and tick) infections. Intestinal parasites are a common zoonotic disease and are often transmitted from puppies to children. Prevention measures include practicing good hygiene around animals, including picking up after our pets, wearing shoes (especially children) when walking outside, deworming puppies and administering monthly heartworm preventatives. In other cases, zoonotic infections can be prevented via the use of vaccinations (such as rabies), and control measures for vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks. 

Dr. Christine McCully
Downtown Pet Hospital


Should I take my dog for a jog/long walk in the middle of a hot summer day? 

Think again next time you’re out on the hot sidewalks and street surfaces. Heatstroke is a very common syndrome that occurs too often when dogs are exercised during hot, humid parts of the day, causing their core body temperature to elevate to unsafe levels that they cannot self-regulate. Unfortunately, too many dogs have experienced heatstroke. It is a common emergency that occurs every day in Central Florida. Some dogs are lucky to survive; unfortunately, many do not. The warning signs often come too late, after your dog has developed irreversible, life-threatening changes. Early behaviors such as excessive panting, elevated heart rates, weakness and vomiting are warnings.Obese dogs, brachiocephalic breeds and older canines are examples of dogs that may be more susceptible. 

Dr. Jim Martin
Loch Haven Veterinary Hospital


Are vaccinations for my pet really necessary?

Rabies vaccinations are for the protection of both pets and their owners, therefore are required by law. Other vaccinations should be given based on the individual pets risk level and the safety of the vaccines available. The best way to decide which vaccines are best for your pet is to speak with your veterinarian.

Dr. John Burton
Piedmont Animal Hospital


My pet has a lump. What do I do?

Lumps and bumps can easily be overlooked, especially in older or long-haired pets. It is a good idea to check your pet monthly for lumps and bumps. It is easiest to do a monthly check when it is time to administer their monthly heartworm and flea prevention. If you find an area of concern, have your pet examined as soon as possible. Many lumps and bumps can be benign or of no concern, but it is always best to have a veterinarian examine the area for additional diagnostics, such as a fine needle aspirate or possibly even a biopsy to obtain a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis has been made, additional treatment recommendations can then be made. 

Dr. Kristin Wolfenden
Underhill Animal Hospital 


Why is my cat suddenly going to the bathroom outside of her litter box and how can I fix this problem?

Start by having your cat thoroughly evaluated by her vet to determine if there are any health or anxiety issues that could be the culprit. If your cat is determined to be healthy, it may be more of a behavioral problem.  Cats are very clean animals by nature, and many will stop using their litter box if it is not fresh and appealing to them.  Large, uncovered litter boxes and unscented clumping litter are preferred by most cats. Scoop the box at least daily and clean the box and replace the litter ideally once a week.  Make sure to have at least one box per cat, and place the boxes in areas of the house that are quiet and away from heavy foot traffic by human and dog family members.

Dr. Lindsay Kuester
Winter Garden Animal Hospital


I work all day and my dog is home alone. What can I do make sure he is healthy and happy?

Make sure to feed your dog a well-balanced diet appropriate to his/her life stage. Secondly, exercise and socialization are key to keeping your dog healthy and mentally stimulated. Doggie day care facilities exist all over Orlando. Winter Park Veterinary Hospital just opened our PlayCamp Center in 2014. 
Here’s what to look for when evaluating a doggie day care facility:
1) What is the staff to pet ratio? One person to 8 to 10 dogs for play groups is ideal. 2) Do the dogs get to take breaks? Dogs need time to relax and recharge to prevent fights and injuries. 3) What are the qualifications and training of the staff? 4) What is the protocol for animal incidents? Doggie day care has inherent risk. Make sure the provider has a clear incident plan for veterinary care. 

Dr. Robert E. Hess
Winter Park Veterinary Hospital

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