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Louisville Family Animal Hospital

Dog with red leash and trees in the background


Why does my pet need an examination every year?

Our pets age faster than humans and they often don’t communicate when there is a problem. An annual exam includes a complete physical by one of our veterinarians, where we evaluate the health of your pet’s teeth, ears, eyes, skin, heart, lungs, abdominal organs and musculature. Early identification of problems allows better treatment and outcome for your pet. If your pet is older than 7 years, we recommend exams twice yearly for optimal care.

Why does my pet need an examination to receive a vaccination?

We need to ensure that your pet is in good health prior to vaccination. Giving a sick pet a vaccine can make current illness worse or negate the effects of the vaccine.

Which vaccinations does my dog need?

DA2PP –This vaccine protects from Distemper, Adenovirus 2, Parvovirus, and Parainfluenza. Distemper is a virus that infects the gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract and nervous system and may be fatal. Adenovirus type 2 is a virus that can cause inflammation of the liver, lungs, and kidneys. Parvovirus infects the gastrointestinal tract and can cause severe GI disease, often requiring intensive hospitalization. Parainfluenza is a respiratory virus and one of the components of “kennel cough”. In adult dogs, this vaccine is typically administered once every 3 years.

Rabies – If contracted, rabies is always fatal. This vaccine is boostered in 1 year, then every three years after that. This vaccination is required by law.

Bordetella – This vaccine protects dogs from Bordetella bronchiseptica, one of the components of “kennel cough”, and is required for dogs going to the groomer or when boarding. The bordetella vaccine is also highly recommended if yyour dog will be going to the dog park or has exposure to dogs of unknown vaccination status. This vaccine needs to be boostered every 6 months, depending on your pet’s lifestyle.

Leptospirosis – Protects against Leptospirosis, a disease that is carried in the urine of wildlife. Leptospirosis infects the kidneys and the liver, and is transmissible to people. This vaccination is recommended for dogs who will be hunting, swimming in natural bodies of water, or interacting with wildlife, and should be boostered annually.

What vaccinations does my cat need?

FVRCP – This vaccine protects from Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia. Viral rhinotracheitis (also known as herpes virus) and calcivirus cause upper respiratory infections, which can affect the eyes, nose and mouth. Panleukopenia (also known as feline distemper) is a virus that can affect the gastrointestinal tract, lymph tissue, and bone marrow; which may be fatal. This vaccine is boostered in 1 year, then once every three years.

Rabies – This rabies virus is transmitted from the infected saliva or blood of infected carriers, and if contracted, is always fatal. This vaccine is boostered in 1 year, then annually afterward as Louisville Family Animal Hospital uses a non-adjuvented vaccine. This vaccination is required by law, even for indoor only cats, as rabies is a public health risk.

FeLV – Protects cats from Feline Leukemia Virus, which causes immune suppression, cancer, and anemia. This vaccine is primarily for cats who spend time outdoors and should be boostered annually after the initial series has been completed.

What vaccinations does my ferret need?

Rabies - This virus is transmitted from infected saliva or blood of infected carriers. If contracted, rabies is always fatal. This vaccine is boostered annually.

Distemper – Distemper causes diarrhea along with nasal and ocular discharge, and is often fatal in ferrets. This vaccine is boostered annually.

Does my dog need heartworm preventative?

Heartworm disease is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Heartworm disease often manifests itself as exercise intolerance, shortness of breath, coughing, weight loss, heart failure, and eventual death. Since mosquitoes transmit the disease, even dogs who are homebodies are at risk. In Colorado, we generally have about a 6-8 month mosquito season, so for minimal protection, dogs should be on heartworm prevention during the summer months. However, there are many reasons for keeping your pet on prevention year-round, including intestinal parasite control.

Why does my dog need a heartworm test if they have been on prevention year-round?

We recommend testing to ensure there has been no failure of the heartworm preventative. Even though you are faithful in giving the medication monthly, there is a chance your dog is not so cooperative! Some dogs will spit the pill out or hide it somewhere. Also, no medication is 100% effective. If there is a failure, the manufacturer will provide support for treatment if testing has been done as recommended.

I adopted a puppy/kitten that already has its shots. Should I still come in for an examination?

We recommend bringing in your new puppy or kitten within the first week of adoption, even if they are current on their vaccinations. Physical examinations at this age are looking for normal growth milestones and any potential genetic conditions such as heart murmurs or orthopedic abnormalities. Early detection may lead to improved outcomes for these diseases.

What is the Junior Wellness profile and why is it recommended?

The Junior Wellness profile is a blood chemistry panel which screens for anemia, checks protein levels, liver and kidney enzymes, plus blood sugar and mineral levels. The profile is recommended once yearly for pets 6 years of age and under. The Junior Wellness profile allows us to establish baseline blood values when your pet is healthy, and provides for early detection of metabolic issues, which allows us to be proactive in your pet’s health plan.

What is the Senior Wellness profile and why is it recommended?

The Senior Wellness profile consists of a physical exam, chemistry screen, complete blood count, thyroid evaluation, and urinalysis. In cats, we also check blood pressure. The chemistry screen and complete blood count evaluates red and white blood cell counts, protein levels, liver and kidney enzymes, blood sugar, mineral and thyroid levels. The urinalysis evaluates for hidden urinary tract infections, protein loss, inflammation, and other conditions. By performing these tests proactively, we are able to detect problems early and increase our chance of successful treatment. The Senior Wellness profile is recommended annually for pets 7 years of age and above, and twice a year for older seniors (pets greater than 13 years of age).

I need to have my pet’s urine checked. What should I do to prepare?

To ensure that your pet’s bladder is full and we are able to collect urine, please allow access to plenty of fresh water and do not allow your pet to urinate either at home or on the way into the hospital for their appointment.

Why does my pet need an annual fecal screen?

Fecal screens look for intestinal parasites, which are transmitted through exposure to infected stool or predation of small mammals. Many intestinal parasites are contagious to people as well.

What are FeLV and FIV and why should I have my cat tested?

FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) and FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) are transmissible between cats. Both viruses can cause disease eventually leading to death. We recommend testing your cat if he/she is newly adopted, spends time outside, or gets into fights with other cats.

Why don’t you recommend anesthesia-free dental cleanings?

While tartar and plaque on the crowns of teeth can contribute to bad breath and worsening periodontal disease, it is actually the periodontal disease under the gum line which has the biggest effect on the tooth’s health and the overall health of your pet. A thorough dental cleaning and scaling is also a painful process. It is impossible to do a complete oral health assessment, clean under the gum line and all surfaces of the tooth and treat any disease present in the mouth without anesthesia. Please visit the American Veterinary Dental College here for more information.

What options are available for at-home oral care for my pet?

The best option to keep your pet’s mouth healthy is daily brushing. If you elect to use toothpaste, please only use pet specific toothpaste. If your pet has no dietary restrictions, you can also try a specialty oral care diet (such as Hills T/D prescription diet or Healthy Advantage). Offering dental chews and/or water additives also provide benefit for your pet’s oral health. We offer a full line of dental products and diets; however, if purchasing an over-the-counter product, please look for the VOHC seal.

My cat doesn’t like coming to the vet. How do I make the trip less stressful?

We recommend making the carrier a safe place for cats to help ensure less stressful visits. Start by only using half the crate if using a plastic crate or having all zippers open for a soft carrier. Make the carrier fun by throwing toys or treats into it and letting your cat play fetch. You may even consider feeding your cat in the carrier. When your cat is comfortable with the carrier, replace the top and only have 1 entrance open. When kitty is comfortable with this, place some food or treats in the carrier. When he/she goes in, zip the carrier and take her to another room and let your cat out. When he/she has exited, place more food in the carrier and wait until she goes in again. Repeat above steps. This teaches your cat the being carried in the carrier is no big deal. Consider leaving the carrier out at all times so it is not associated with veterinary visits. If this is not an option, consider bringing the carrier out several days ahead of time to let your cat become reacquainted with it. Also consider using Feliway either in spray or wipe forms. Finally, consider fun trips to the hospital in which your cat comes in and gets love and pets from our staff to help decrease stress in the future.

Do I have to make an appointment or can I just come in.

We request that you make an appointment, which ensures that we are able to properly address your concerns and your pet’s needs. We have flexible appointment times and offer day admission to accommodate your schedule.

Can I give my pet an over-the-counter medication?

Many human medications are toxic to our pets. As such, we do not recommend giving any medications without first consulting a veterinarian.

My pet ate something poisonous – what should I do?

During business hours, please call us directly at 303-661-0702. After hours, you may contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. Many poisons may not show an immediate effect, so it is important to seek help at once, even if your pet appears normal.

What is a microchip and how does it work?

A microchip is a about the size of a grain of rice and is implanted under the skin between the shoulder blades, providing a permanent form of identification. Each microchip has a unique number which can be scanned if your pet is ever lost, allowing them to be reunited with them quickly.

My pet is lost, what should I do?

If your pet has been microchipped, call your microchip company and alert them immediately. We also recommend contacting local veterinary hospitals and shelters to see if any lost pets have been received. Post flyers in your neighborhood, at your veterinary hospital and on any social media outlets you are comfortable using.

What are Care Credit and the CitiBank Health Card programs and how do I apply?

Care Credit and CitiBank Health Card programs are payment options to exercise when there is an unexpected health expense. Both of these programs offer 6 month, no interest payment plans, and may be used for human and veterinary services. You can apply to Care Credit online at or to the CitiBank Health Card at

Is pet insurance right for me?

Pet insurance plans vary from providing benefits for emergency or sick coverage only to comprehensive wellness plans which cover services such as vaccinations and heartworm tests. To help you evaluate benefits plans, visit, where you can compare policies, covered services, and premium costs. Not unlike human health insurance programs, some conditions may be considered pre-existing or may not be covered (due to breed tendencies), so be sure to ask the insurance carrier if your pet has a specific condition which may impact their coverage.

I just adopted a new dog. How do I introduce it to my other dog(s)?

The first step should be introducing scents – keep pets on opposite sides of a closed door to allow them to become familiar with each others scent. This is followed by visualization – a baby gate is ideal to allow them to see each other before interaction. When first introducing a new dog to your resident dog, do so on neutral territory. Make first introductions short and positive. Pay attention to the dogs’ body language and separate them if you see that either dog is starting to respond aggressively. Be sure to reward positive interaction with lots of praise and/or a treat. If you are introducing a puppy into a household with an adult resident dog, do not leave them unattended until you are certain that the adult dog is not going to injure the puppy. Puppies will continuously torment and try to play with the other dog and may not realize when the other dog has “had enough”. Be sure to give your resident dog individual attention as well so he/she does not feel neglected or left out.

I just adopted a new dog. How do I introduce it to my cat(s)?

The first step, again, should be introducing scents – keep pets on opposite sides of a closed door to allow them to become familiar with each others scent. This is followed by visualization – a baby gate is ideal to allow them to see each other before interaction. You may need to provide a separate room for the cat for a while. Let the cat have run of the house only while the dog is in his/her crate until you are sure that they will be safe when loose in the house together.

I just adopted a new cat. How do I introduce it to my other pets?

Keep your new cat in his/her own room at first so they can establish a place where they feel safe, and be sure to give your resident pet the majority of the attention so they do not feel left out. The first step is to swap beds and bowls so that the cat and your resident pet can get to know each other’s smells. When they are comfortable with this, allow visual contact between the animals, but do not allow physical interaction at first. When allowing interaction, make first introductions short and supervised and realize it may take several days to several weeks for animals to become fully integrated. When introducing your cat to a dog, do not leave them unsupervised until you are sure that your dog will tolerate the cat and he/she will be safe when alone.

What anesthetic monitoring does my pet receive and why is this important?

We monitor your pet’s ECG (electrical rate and rhythm of the heart), pulse oxygenation (how well your pet is oxygenating), blood pressure, end tidal CO2 (how well your pet is breathing) and body temperature. This allows us to ensure that we detect any problem with anesthesia early and can take appropriate steps to ensure your pet remains healthy and safe.

Will my pet be in pain after surgery?

We here at Louisville Family Animal Hospital believe in comprehensive pain management that is individualized to your pet. Depending on the procedure and your pet’s health status, he/she may receive an opiate in the pre-medication, an injection of a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, a local nerve block, and/or oral pain medication to go home. Our goal is to prevent pain, but if you feel your pet is showing signs of discomfort, please call us to re-evaluate your pet’s pain management protocol.

What is preanesthetic blood work and why does my pet need it before surgery?

Preanesthetic lab work is a blood screen to check internal organ function and health status of your pet. This allows us to proactively manage any special needs under anesthesia and ensures the safest anesthesia possible. In some cases, it may indicate that we need to postpone a procedure until we get a specific health problem controlled.

My pet is having surgery - what should I do to prepare?

We ask that dogs and cats not be fed after 10 p.m. the night before surgery. Please continue to allow your pet access to fresh water. If you are bringing in a small mammal, such as a ferret or rabbit, please contact us for pre-operative instructions first. Also plan on having a quiet area for your pet to come home to so he/she can rest comfortably after their procedure.