Ask a Vet 2016

Local vets answer some important questions about your pets.




Roberto Gonzalez


Every time I return from being out of the house, I come home to shredded carpet, destroyed possessions, or urination/defecation in the house. What can I do to stop my dog from seeking revenge on me when I’m out?

The above description is a fairly common presentation of separation anxiety. It is important to remember that your dog is not, in fact, “punishing you” or “getting revenge” for you leaving; this destruction is actually him telling you that he’s terrified every time you are gone. The answer lies not in punishing your pet, which can make the behavior worse, but in utilizing a combination of anti-anxiety medications and behavioral therapy to teach him coping skills for being alone. Your veterinarian is the best resource to evaluate your pet’s condition and recommend methods to help him improve.

Dr. Michelle Fusting
Winter Garden Animal Hospital 


What does my pet see?

The field of view is determined by the position of the eyes within the head. Dog eyes are placed further from the midline than in people. This results in a 240-degree field of view for a dog, compared to a human field of 200 degrees. While the dog and cat eye has evolved primarily for dim light vision used during nighttime hunting, they do have some of the cells that specialize in bright light vision, which are also responsible for color vision.  Studies of dogs suggest they can differentiate red from blue, but confuse red and green. The visible color spectrum in dogs is believed to be shades of blue and yellow. Cats’ color vision is closer to the colors that humans can see. In normal dogs, visual acuity is approximately 20-40 percent of humans. This means that at 20 feet, a dog can distinguish an object that a human can see at 90 feet. Caring for your pet’s eye health will help maintain its vision for life.

Dr. Daniel Priehs
Animal Eye Associates


Why is my cat not using its litter box appropriately?

This is a common question from cat owners. It can be a complex problem, but we try to offer a diagnosis with solutions. The problem can be put into two categories. The cause can be from urinary infection or urinary stones and crystals. The other cause can be behavioral. It may be as simple as dissatisfaction with the litterbox or the litter itself. Using a different type of litter or removing the lid may solve the problem. Other behavioral problems occur from a change in the household or a difficult interaction with another pet. There are several solutions once the cause has been determined.

Dr. James Califf
Downtown Pet Hospital


My pet was diagnosed with epilepsy. What does this mean and how is it treated?

Epilepsy means repeated seizures due to any cause. “Idiopathic epilepsy’’ denotes seizures where there is no obvious underlying cause; epilepsy is inherited in some dogs. Before a diagnosis of epilepsy is made, causes such as abnormalities of body chemistry or toxicities should be ruled out by performing blood work and obtaining a good history from you. An MRI scan of the brain and analysis of spinal fluid help exclude causes such as brain tumors, inflammation of the brain, and malformations of the brain. If an underlying cause is found, that problem should be treated directly. Whatever the cause of epilepsy, anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs, anticonvulsants) are used to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures; complete elimination of seizures is rarely possible, but many dogs and cats can have good quality of life despite epilepsy.

Dr. Mary Smith
Affiliated Veterinary Specialists


What is cold laser therapy and how does it work?

Cold laser therapy uses specific wavelengths of light to treat painful and debilitating conditions. Light energy enters the damaged cells and stimulates intercellular activity. This reduces pain and inflammation in the area and speeds recovery of the damaged cells. Additionally there will be an improvement in the local circulation allowing medication, as well as healing cells, to enter the area more readily. Once the cells recover, the healing process is complete. Our cold laser therapy is a painless treatment that lasts an average of 3 minutes. Because we are using cold laser there is no pain, heat or burning caused by the device. Most patients see positive results in one to three treatments. Acute conditions, such as sprains, can subside with as few as one set of treatments. Chronic conditions, such as arthritis, can be managed with regular visits every 2-4 weeks depending on the severity of the condition.

Dr. Bruce Bogoslavsky
Animal Veterinary Hospital of Orlando


Why is my dog so itchy?

Time to play detective! Itchiness in dogs is usually caused by allergies or infections (sometimes secondary to a hormonal disease). Florida has a variety of seasonal allergies (think pollen) and permanent allergies (think grass, mites and fleas). Food allergies can also cause itchy symptoms. You as the owner need to help your veterinarian by observing patterns and disclosing the habits of your dog. Do your dog’s symptoms occur during any certain time of the year or during a certain activity? Another key element in preventing itchiness is to keep your dog on a veterinary-recommended flea control. This is one of the best ways to avoid allergies, as many dogs are allergic to flea saliva. Fleas in Florida are formidable and need consistent protection through advanced products that work systemically, not topically. The more information you can provide, the better we can care for your beloved family member.

Dr. Caitrine Hellenga
Winter Park Veterinary Hospital


Why does my dog have bad breath?

Bad breath is most often caused by the bacteria that forms plaque. A professional dental cleaning removes the tartar from the surface of the teeth above and below the gingival margin (gum line), followed by dental polishing. Unfortunately, “anesthesia free” dental cleanings do not allow for adequate examination of the oral cavity and therefore are not recommended. Anesthesia is necessary to allow us as veterinarians to both diagnose and treat any disease found in the oral cavity. Following a cleaning, home oral hygiene is recommended. This can be done by brushing (once a day is best), using oral rinses or gels with chlorohexidine, or dental diets and chews with the VOHC Seal of Acceptance.

Dr. Kristin Wolfenden
Underhill Animal Hospital


What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Stem Cell Therapy (SCT) is a process in which adult stem cells are extracted from various tissues in the pet’s body, usually fat, and later injected into a target area on the pet. The goal of SCT is to regenerate, or stimulate, repair cells in targeted areas that have undergone degeneration.
SCT can be a natural alternative to chronic use of medication and surgery. For example, for pets suffering with arthritis, SCT may be a viable treatment, over surgery.
SCT research is currently analyzing the use of SCT to treat other conditions such as kidney disease, immune mediated diseases, skin conditions, and many others. For more information about SCT, ask your veterinarian.

Dr. Janis Fullenwider
Tuscawilla Oaks Animal Hospital


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 pet’s condition.

Dr. Holly Brown-Tabbenor
Animal Emergency Center


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


How do I choose the right veterinarian for my pet?

Cats dogs, puppies, kittens, ferrets, pocket pets—all require proper care, nutrition, and guidance. This could be overwhelming as a pet owner. It is very important when choosing a vet to make sure he/she will be able to provide services for your pet. When searching for a clinic review their website; here is where you will find good information and get a tour before visiting. Also check out their social media pages for a personal side of the facility. When visiting the facility pay attention to cleanliness. You should feel welcomed by all staff members. They should introduce themselves to you and your pet. Your pet should have a complete physical from nose to tail evaluating ears, eyes, heart, skin, and palpation all over. You should be informed of findings and given a treatment plan. At end of your visit you should feel comfortable and have a clear understanding for continual care.

Dr. Giovanni Vergel
Crystal Creek 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

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