Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to frequently asked questions, if your question is not answered here please contact us.
My Pet Questions
The doctors at Anchor Animal Hospital are available to see emergencies during our normal business hours. If there is an emergency we refer patients to either Cape Cod Veterinary Specialists or MA-RI Veterinary emergency. Please visit our emergency page for more information on emergencies and contact information for our emergency partners.
The FDA just released a report showing a possible link between grain free diets and heart disease. We have always recommended Hill's Science Diet or Royal Canin. If you are concerned about your dog's diet please ask us at your next visit and we can help you find the food that is right for your dog. For more information on the current understanding of the link between certain dog foods and heart disease:
We require that pets, which are going to have anesthesia and a surgical procedure, have an exam within no more than 3 months prior to the procedure. Even in young pets there can be health changes in a matter of weeks or months. Our doctors want to be aware of any potential complications to surgery prior to the procedure so that they can plan accordingly. In some cases our doctors may request an exam closer to the surgery date if your pet has an active health problem. Our goal is to make surgical procedures as safe as possible.
We recommend that puppy and kitten vaccines be started at 8-10 weeks of age. In some cases vaccines may be started as early as 6 weeks old. To achieve proper immunity a series of vaccines are given every 3-4 weeks until they are 16 weeks old. There may be some variation from pet to pet. To maintain protection these injections are boostered every 1-3 years depending on the vaccine. Visit our Routine Care section under services for more information on vaccines.
When you bring a new puppy or kitten to Anchor Animal Hospital, we not only vaccinate your pet but also do a complete examination. We also discuss diets/feeding schedules, vaccines, spays/neuters, microchipping, house breaking/litter box training, and breed specific problems. We are here to answer any questions which you may have. Puppies and kittens can be born with parasites or acquire them at an early age. We ask all pet owners to bring a stool (fecal) sample with them to each exam.
Puppies and kittens, like infants, are more fragile than adults and require early intervention if they are not completely healthy. It’s important that we identify any disease and start treatment as soon as possible. At the time of these examinations, we can also advise you if we find any serious problems which may lead to chronic or lifelong illness.
Many people believe that indoor cats and dogs do not need to be vaccinated for rabies. This is not true. Massachusetts law requires that all cats and dogs be vaccinated for rabies. Rabies is a deadly disease which affects all mammals, including humans.
While indoor animals may not seem to be at risk we have seen numerous instances where an animal gets outside and gets into a fight, a bat gets into the house, etc. If your pet is not vaccinated for rabies and it is bitten or kills a wild animal it could be exposed to rabies which is deadly if the pet has not been vaccinated. In some situations the law may require quarantine or even euthanasia of an animal if they are not currently rabies vaccinated. Please, do not let your pet be at risk.
Some intestinal parasites (worms) are contagious to humans. Transmission is usually due to ingestion of the worm eggs. This usually occurs accidentally if feces or contaminated soil gets onto your hands and then is ingested.
This is especially a problem with children playing in contaminated dirt or sandboxes as they may eat the soil or put dirty fingers in their mouths. To prevent exposure, we recommend that sand boxes be kept covered when not being used and that children’s’ hands be thoroughly washed after playing in sand or soil. Likewise, adults should wash their hands after working in the soil or cleaning up after their dog or cat.
Monthly heartworm preventive helps prevent pets from getting parasites. Outdoor cats should be dewormed on a regular basis. We recommend that you bring a fecal sample (stool sample) annually for laboratory parasite examination. If parasites are present we can prescribe the appropriate medications to help eliminate them.
Lyme disease is caused by a bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi which is transmitted through ticks. Deer ticks commonly transmit Lyme disease but it can be transmitted by any tick. Symptoms of Lyme disease vary greatly. The “classic” symptoms are limping, pain, fever, and swollen joints. However, many cases do not have “classic” symptoms. Some dogs may show no signs at all and others can develop a life threatening kidney failure. Dogs with limping, pain, fever, innapetence, or increased thirst and urination should be tested for Lyme disease.
A vaccine for Lyme disease is available. The decision to use the Lyme vaccine is made on a case by case basis. Although some dogs should be vaccinated, we must consider exposure risk, preexisting conditions, and age. Not every dog needs this vaccine. Lyme infection is transmitted only by ticks; therefore we use this vaccine on pets which are likely to have tick exposure. Most commonly these are dogs which go into the high grass, wooded areas or beaches. However we have seen Lyme infections in city dogs, so each dog has to be considered separately. Prior illness will also be considered before making a decision. We may not choose to vaccinate if an illness is present which could be aggravated by the vaccine. If a decision has been made to vaccinate for Lyme disease, a series of 2 vaccines spaced 3-4 weeks apart is given. It is then boostered yearly.
No vaccine is 100% effective, including Lyme vaccines. It is important to make sure that you continue to use a monthly flea and tick preventative (such as Frontline or Advantix) to help minimize the risk of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases.
Feeding people food can cause problems for your dog or cat. Commercially prepared pet foods provide a complete and balanced diet and in many cases it is healthier than our own diets. Feeding human food or adding people food into your pet’s diet can lead to an incomplete or unbalanced diet. We find that there is a much higher level of obesity and health problems in pets fed human food when compared to pets that eat quality commercially prepared diets.
Quality foods whether canned or dry are both nutritionally complete for both dogs and cats. There are advantages to using one or the other in specific circumstances. The advantage in dry food is the chewing action which helps to reduce build up of dental tartar and less mess to clean up. Canned food excels in palatability, and is slightly less calorie dense. However in either case, we must be careful to measure the portions and not over feed. Many quality pet foods include a feeding guide on the bag. Be sure to use a kitchen measuring cup when measuring out their food. If you have questions about how much to feed or you need a food measuring cup our doctors are happy to help.
Some pets will have health problems which require special dietary needs. The doctors at Anchor Animal Hospital have a variety of prescription diets available.
As America has gained weight so have our pets, making this a very good question. It’s not uncommon now for people to see overweight dogs and cats and think that they’re an ideal weight. An ideal weight for both the dog and cat can be judged by your pet’s visual appearance and using your hands to feel the ribs.
As you stand over your pet, you should be able to see a waist, or tuck behind the ribs. When viewed from the side, the abdomen should tuck up towards the rear legs. You should not see the ribs but you should be able to feel the last 1-2 ribs easily under the skin. If you have to push to feel the ribs your pet may be overweight. If you can easily see the ribs your pet may be under weight.
Our doctors are happy to help if you have concerns about your pet’s weight. In some cases, dietary counseling is helpful, in other case there could be a metabolic problem and bloodwork might be needed.
We all love to give our dogs treats, as much as they like to receive them. Dogs respond more to the act of receiving a treat than the actual size of the treat. We recommend that you buy the smallest size treat available, and when possible, break these into smaller pieces. Remember every treat that passes your pet’s lips has calories and can make weight loss more difficult.
Another option is to use pieces of fruit or vegetables as low calorie treats. Bagged baby carrots, available at most supermarkets, are often popular treats with dogs. Most fruits and vegetables are ok unless you notice they upset your dog’s stomach. Please do not feed grapes, they can be toxic for some dogs.
Dogs enjoy chewing on bones. However, we advise that you do not give bones to your dog. Chewing on bones creates two hazards for your pet. First, the bones can splinter. Swallowing the slivers creates a risk of obstruction or perforation of intestines, both costly and potentially life threatening problems. Second, dogs often crack or break teeth while chewing on bones. This can be very painful and can lead to tooth infections and extractions.
Unlike people, our pets can’t tell us that they hurt. However, there are signs which can alert us to their pain. In dogs, the most obvious sign is crying or whimpering, but there are other clues to their pain. Look for attention seeking behavior, being timid, or aggressive, or hiding. Often dogs with chronic arthritis pain have difficulty with stairs, getting up after lying down, or just can’t do the walks or runs that they did when they were young. You may also see limping.
Cats can be more difficult to detect pain in than dogs. They will commonly change their routine, hide or have a decreased appetite. They may hiss or cry when you pick them up.
If you are concerned that your pet is in pain please schedule and exam with one of the doctors at Anchor Animal Hospital. We have the experience needed to diagnose pain and a variety of treatment methods available. We don’t think that any animal should be in pain. Never give medications to your pet without consulting with a veterinarian first, especially human medications!
NEVER GIVE ANY MEDICINE TO YOUR PET UNLESS ADVISED TO BY YOUR VETERINARIAN. Both aspirin and Tylenol can be very dangerous. In certain situations aspirin may be recommended but it should only be used by instruction from your veterinarian. Tylenol is extremely toxic to cats. A single Tylenol can kill a cat.
Anchor Animal Hospital Questions
We are open the following hours:
Mon.-Fri. 8am-8pm; Sat. 8am-5pm
Closed on Sundays and major holidays
We see patients by appointment. Please call to schedule an appointment, appointments may be available only during certain hours of the day.
We are available for emergencies during the hours we are open. No appointment is necessary for an emergency.
Animals Seen – Please call to make an appointment
• Guinea Pigs
Animals NOT Seen at Anchor Animal Hospital
• Venomous snakes
• Monitor lizards
• Fowl/ Water fowl
• Birds of Prey
The Doctors at Anchor Animal Hospital care deeply for the environment and the local wildlife. Due to the special care that the indigenous wildlife need we refer all wildlife to licensed wildlife rehabilitators, who are specially equipped to care for these animals.
View Wildlife Rehabilitators [19Kb PDF]
There are no boarded specialists at Anchor Animal Hospital. However, our doctors all work hard to provide the best care possible and are proficient in a number of areas and have attended advanced continuing education classes to continually build up their strengths. We offer a number of services that can be difficult to find outside of specialty hospitals. These services include skilled abdominal and cardiac ultrasound, exotics service, and advanced dentistry.
We have close relationships with a number of specialists including internal medicine, surgery, and oncology and can consult with these specialists or make referrals when necessary.
Yes, Anchor Animal Hospital has all of these capabilities. Our in-house laboratory equipment lets us perform blood chemistries and complete blood counts rapidly. We have a digital x-ray machine with technicians trained to take quality images. In addition, we have an advanced ultrasound machine which provides quality images of both the heart and internal organs.
Payment is required at the time of service. We accept cash, checks, Master Card, Visa, and Discover cards. We recognize that veterinary care can be expensive, particularly if there is an emergency. We offer CareCredit as a payment plan. You can apply for CareCredit at the hospital, online, or by calling (800) 677-0718.
We recommend spaying or neutering both dogs and cats at 6 months of age. By this age they are large enough that anesthesia isn’t a problem, but they haven’t reached sexual maturity which can make the surgeries more complicated. If female dogs are spayed before their first heat cycle their risk of mammary cancer is decreased. Both dogs and cats can be neutered or spayed when they are older as well.
Microchips (passive integrated transponders) are used to identify pets if they are lost or stolen. They are a small chip, about the size of a grain of rice, which is placed under the skin using a needle and syringe. It’s a simple procedure and does not sting and is no more painful than a vaccination. Microchips create a permanent identification for your pet. Almost all veterinary hospitals, shelters, and animal control officers are equipped with the equipment to read microchips and reconnect your pet with you.
We routinely review flea and tick products. We carry a variety of products to meet the needs of our patient's lifestyle and research the safety and efficacy of each product. We recommend always reading the label and never using a product labeled for the wrong species (i.e. don't use a dog product on a cat) or the wrong weight. It is also important to never apply a product that is not safely labeled for young kittens or puppies, lactating, or pregnant animals.
We do not recommend over the counter flea and tick products sold at the supermarket or pet stores. We find that these are not as effective as the products we recommend. They also have significant safety issues, when over the counter flea and tick medications are placed on cats they can have severe and potentially life-threatening reactions.
Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and primarily infects dogs, but can infect cats as well. The adult heartworm lives in the blood vessels of the heart and lungs and can cause severe disease or even death. Fortunately, there are effective preventive medications. We recommend that all dogs be on a monthly heartworm preventative year-round. Even indoor dogs can be exposed to mosquitoes and we do occasionally see mosquitoes in the winter when the weather gets warm. An added advantage of heartworm preventatives is their ability to control some of the intestinal parasites.
Although heartworm preventatives are very effective, no medication protects 100%. For this reason, we follow the American Heartworm Society’s recommendation to test dogs for heartworm disease each year. In most cases infections can be treated successfully when caught early. If an infection has been present for a long time, treatment may be more difficult. Our heartworm test also checks for several tick-borne diseases including Lyme, Ehrlichia, and Anaplasma.
Yes, while less commonly than in dogs, cats can get heartworm disease. Feline heartworm disease is more difficult to diagnose than dogs and is most likely under recognized. The two most common symptoms of feline heartworm disease are cough/asthma like symptoms and sudden death. Unlike dogs, there is no treatment for a cat infected with heartworm disease. Fortunately there are monthly heartworm preventatives available for cats as well as dogs.
We do not suggest declawing. The procedure can be painful and there is a risk of developing chronic pain. Anchor Animal Hospital does not offer this procedure.
Yes, we recommend that older pets have routine senior screening bloodwork. Like us, as pets get older they start to have more medical problems. Many of these problems are treatable and treatment can result in reduction of pain, better quality of life or extended longevity. Testing helps us diagnose these problems, allowing us to more effectively treat your pet.