Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians in Asheville

How often should my pet have an exam?

The Pet Vet on Patton recommends yearly visits for most pets and older pets coming in more frequently – at least every 6 months. Yearly exams include physical examinations by our veterinarians plus annual or booster vaccinations, parasite screening & prevention, and various lab tests performed.

For puppies and kittens, we need to see them on a more frequent schedule during their first year of life. For pets over age 7, we recommend exams and blood work every 6 months to help us detect diseases and issues before they become a problem.

Why does my pet need a dental cleaning?

Many people think that it is normal for a dog to have bad breath, but that is not the case. Bad breath is caused by bacteria in the mouth that create byproducts that contain sulfur. Regular home cleanings accompanied by scheduled professional cleanings will help to prevent bad breath and the bacteria that cause it.

Besides just bad breath, dental disease:

  • Releases bacteria into the bloodstream
  • Increases risk for heart, liver and kidney disease
  • Can cause severe pain and problems for your pet

Pets need regular dental cleanings to increase quality and length of life and:

  • Allows us to chart dental disease over time
  • Means less time under anesthesia
  • Reduces the need for more advanced and expensive treatment in the future such as teeth extractions and oral surgery

Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs. Recent studies show that 85% of cats and 92% of dogs over age 3 have periodontal disease.

What happens during my pet’s dental cleaning?

A thorough dental cleaning can only be accomplished while the pet is under general anesthesia. The anesthesia we use is safe for all animals and your pet is constantly monitored during the dental procedure. Prior to anesthesia, blood tests are performed to help uncover any hidden illnesses.

A professional cleaning (called a dental prophylaxis) removes plaque and tartar from the teeth. Your pet's entire mouth health (teeth, tongue, gums, and lips) will be examined and assessed.

I noticed a change in my pet’s behavior. Should I see a veterinarian?

Pets cannot tell us how they feel and are able to hide their pain from us (especially cats). Changes in behavior such as appetite change, lethargy, energy level, aggressiveness, inappropriate elimination, and vocalization (barking/meowing) can be symptoms of behavior or health issues. Contact our vet hospital for an exam appointment right away.

What should I do if I notice fleas or ticks on my pet?

Isolate your pet from other animals and small children to prevent the spread of the parasite to them. Bring your pet to our vet clinic for thorough testing for parasites. They can usually be easily treated, but parasite preventative measures are best for both your pet and your wallet. Ask about our available safe and effective parasite prevention products.

At what age should I have my pet spayed or neutered?

The Pet Vet on Patton recommends waiting until your pet is at least 6 months of age before seeking a spay or neuter procedure. Contact us to discuss specific details based on species, breed, and size. Spaying / neutering has health and behavioral benefits for your pet and of course, helps prevent over-population.


What are heartworms? How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworms?

One infected mosquito is all it takes to infect your dog with the baby form (larval stage) of the heartworm parasite.

Heartworms are a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets. Twelve-inch-long worms (looks like spaghetti) live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of infected pets, causing lung disease, heart failure, organ damage, and can be fatal if untreated.

How does my pet get heartworms? Heartworms living in an infected dog, cat, or wildlife produce baby worms that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it picks up these worms and when it bites another animal, the worms enter through the bite wound. Heartworms can grow and live for 5 - 7 years in dogs and 3 years in cats.

What can I do to protect my pet? Heartworm disease is preventable! Dogs should be tested annually and before starting prevention. Prevention is the safest and most cost-effective option, but treatment is available for dogs (although costly and lengthy). Cats should be tested before starting prevention and re-tested as the veterinarian deems appropriate. There is NO treatment in cats, so prevention is critical and the only means of protection.

The Pet Vet on Patton has safe, effective products available that cater to your pet's lifestyle and your budget. Heartworm prevention should be provided 12 months of the year.

Is it ok to bring my aggressive pet in to see the doctor?

Yes. No one would want to deny your pet necessary medical care due to its aggression. However, certain precautions would be made. If your pet is aggressive to other animals, we would ask that they wait in the car until the doctor is ready to see them, thus avoiding other animals in the lobby. If there is human aggression, we can utilize a muzzle as needed. The doctor will do what they can, but in certain cases, they may recommend a pet be sedated before they can proceed with medical treatment.

Do you need my pet’s previous medical records?

It is preferable. If your pet has any history of health concerns, a full medical history can make a big difference in how a doctor will recommend proceeding with any treatment or care. The doctor can refer to any previous testing (blood work, x-rays, etc) as well as treatment methods or prescriptions used in the past. Having records of vaccinations is a must. Vaccination information is required for boarding & daycare. Also, the law requires that any pet over 4 months old be current on their Rabies vaccine. If you don’t have complete records showing this information, vaccinations may have to be re-administered.

Is it ok if I’m early or late updating my pet’s vaccinations?

It is almost never a problem to update vaccinations prior to the due date. However, letting the vaccinations lapse can be a big deal. Being overdue on vaccinations can cause your pet to be susceptible to certain harmful diseases. This is of most concern in the case of a Rabies vaccine. If anything should happen during that gap in time it could put you and your pet in a compromised situation. If they were to bite another pet or be bitten by another animal, having an overdue Rabies vaccine could mean up to 6 months of quarantine. You also leave yourself open to being fined by the city. Of course, in the rare case that your pet was to develop Rabies, it is fatal & would put your family at risk as well.

Why do puppies and kittens need a series of vaccines and how many do they need?

When a baby kitten or puppy is born, its immune system is immature, leaving it vulnerable to infection if exposed to diseases. During the first few days of nursing, the puppy or kitten receives mother’s milk called colostrum which is rich in all the antibodies the mother has to offer. How long this maternal antibody lasts in a given pet is very individual and depends on a variety of factors.

What we do know about maternal antibody is that it starts to wane as early as 6 weeks of age, and is completely gone by 16 weeks of age. The puppy or kitten’s body must then depend on its own antibodies for protection. While maternal antibodies are in a puppy or kitten’s body, any vaccine given will be inactivated and will not result in antibody production or protection for the pet.

Because it takes one vaccine and then a booster vaccine 2 – 4 weeks later to provide adequate antibody production in an individual animal, our goal with a series of vaccines is to provide two effective (not inactivated by maternal antibody) vaccines, 2 – 4 weeks apart, during the period of time when the maternal antibody is leaving their body and their own immune system is able to respond. That said, it is not the number of vaccines given in the series that is important (it only takes two), but the period of time over which the vaccine series is given that is important.

Should I let my pet have at least one litter?

There is no advantage to letting your pet have one litter. However, there are plenty of advantages to having your pet spayed or neutered. These advantages include decreasing the chances of breast tumors later in life, decreasing the chance of cystic ovaries and uterine infections later in life, decreasing the desire to roam the neighborhood, decreasing the incidence of prostate disease later in life, helping prevent spraying and marking, and also decreasing the surplus of unwanted puppies and kittens.