Frequently Asked Questions
About Our Veterinary Services & Health Care
Relatively speaking, veterinary care is a great value! The cost of veterinary care has risen very little over the last 20 to 30 years, especially when compared to the cost of human health care or almost any other services. Veterinary service fees are a reflection of the costs of maintaining suitable facilities, equipment and support personnel to provide the level of care that is expected in animal medicine today. Remember, too, the original cost of the animal has no bearing on the cost of veterinary services delivered. Annual veterinary care is a cost that should be factored in to the decision to own a pet.
Just like your doctor, dentist, and most other professional offices, our veterinary hospital requires payment in full at the time of service. You can call before routine visits and ask about the hospital’s payment policy, as well as our payment plan through Care Credit. We also accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, cash, and checks.
If you would like help in preparing for pet care expenses, contact our animal hospital. We can advise you on how much you can expect to spend on routine care for your pet, as well as how to prepare for emergency care. In addition, we allow you to spread out preventive health care services over several visits with no additional wellness exam fees.
Legally, once you decide to adopt or “take in” an animal, you become the owner. As the owner, you are responsible for the pet’s care. When you take in a stray, he or she may be injured and require veterinary care. Because the amount you pay for his or her care isn’t related to how you’ve acquired the pet, you need to carefully consider whether adopting a stray pet is a financially advisable decision. If you can’t afford the pet’s care, you have the option to relinquish the animal to a local humane society or shelter (although some shelters cannot guarantee that the pet will not be euthanized).
If you find a stray, you should also ask the veterinarian to check for a microchip to determine whether the animal has an owner.
Anesthesia-free dentistry, or non-professional dental scaling, can be extremely dangerous for pets, for a number of reasons.
Most pets won’t lie still during a dental cleaning, so there is a strong risk of injuring the pet’s gums and other soft tissue in the mouth. A frightened pet could also bite the clinician
Even if your pet could be trained to remain completely still for all the scraping and noise of the procedure, his or her teeth need to be cleaned under the gums, where tartar and dental disease can hide. This process is uncomfortable, which is why pets should be anesthetized. Dental, or periodontal, disease begins in the spaces under the gums where the teeth and gums meet. Cleaning just the visible surfaces of the teeth only makes owners feel like their pets’ teeth are clean, when in reality, dental disease is still trapped under the gumline.
Your pet also needs to be ventilated during the procedure. Ventilation keeps your pet’s airway open and keeps tartar from potentially ending up in his or her lungs, where it can actually kill your pet.
The cosmetic cleaning that a pet would get from a non-professional scaling just isn’t worth your money or your pet’s health.
Fleas and ticks are not just minor nuisances; they can transmit serious and sometimes life-threatening diseases, some of which can be passed to people. Even indoor-only pets are at risk because fleas and ticks can hitch a ride inside on your clothing, shoes, or other pets. Keeping your pet on a monthly preventive is your best bet for protecting your pet—and your family—against these parasites.
If you purchase preventives from sources other than a veterinary hospital or a website affiliated with an animal hospital, you don’t have any guarantee that the product is authentic or that it has been stored and shipped properly. When you order from your veterinarian, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to rely on his or her expertise and knowledge of your pet’s medical history.
Typically, our prices are lower than the online pharmacies and we sell only the most effective products. Some of the less expensive options for flea control that is sold online or over the counter do not work as well. When you purchase products in the animal hospital we usually have manufacturer incentives we can pass along to you.
Although natural remedies may offer some protection or repellency against parasites, they are not nearly as effective as prescription products. In addition, natural remedies often need to be applied far more frequently than once a month, making them less convenient as well. Some, such as garlic, may actually be harmful to your pet.
Just because a product has “natural” on its label doesn’t mean it’s safe. Consult with your veterinarian before using any over-the-counter preventives on your pet.
Your pet’s microchip should continue to function over your pet’s lifetime without any maintenance; however, the system won’t work unless you keep your contact information current. Whenever you move or change your phone number, make sure you update that information with your pet’s microchip manufacturer. Remember to also get your pet new ID tags at the same time.
Not any more than a regular vaccine injection. The chip is inserted at the back of the pet’s neck, where the skin is loose. Microchipping is a safe and effective way to identify your pet in case he or she becomes lost.
You can turn to the Pet Health Section of our website, which offers current, trustworthy information on a wide variety of topics. In addition, many veterinary colleges and professional organizations offer excellent resources online. Your veterinarian will also be happy to discuss your pet’s health in more detail.
Modern anesthesia is generally quite safe. We perform a physical examination and run blood tests before all procedures requiring general anesthesia to make sure your pet doesn’t have any hidden health issues. In addition, a skilled veterinary technician will be monitoring your pet’s vital signs during the procedure, to ensure your pet’s safety or to catch and treat any potential concerns as quickly as possible.
Certain behaviors can be extremely frustrating and difficult to overcome. Pets can have a wide variety of behavioral issues, from simple housetraining problems to severe anxiety and aggression issues. At our animal clinic we are well qualified and experienced in diagnosing and addressing behavior problems. Our approach combines skills from veterinary clinical medicine, behavioral medicine, and pet training. We can evaluate your pet for medical problems that mimic behavioral problems and help you with medical treatments and behavioral training for your pet. We can also recommend professionals to assist you with training in your home.
With all the options out there, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what’s safe. We recommend toys based on your pet’s age, breed, needs, and interests.
It is illegal and unethical for a veterinarian to prescribe medication for your pet over the phone. Without a physical examination, the veterinarian cannot diagnose and treat your pet properly.
Veterinarians appreciate observant owners and want to hear their description of the pet’s symptoms. However, many diseases have the same symptoms but require different treatment. To determine the cause of the symptoms and ensure the best outcome, veterinarians need to examine the pet in person and sometimes perform diagnostic testing. Treating a pet for the wrong disease will cost more in the end and could be harmful or even deadly to your pet.
Puppies and kittens generally have the same health requirements: an initial veterinary visit that includes a physical exam, vaccinations, and tests for parasites. Follow-up visits include the rest of the puppy/kitten series of vaccinations, as well as treatment and preventives for parasites. We will be happy to give you a schedule of needed veterinary services and an estimate of costs at your first visit.
Even though your pet may be showing the same symptoms as he or she did the last time, the problem may be different. Many diseases have similar symptoms, and your veterinarian needs to examine your pet to ensure that he or she correctly diagnoses the cause.
Losing a pet can be extremely upsetting and hard to move beyond. We have such a close bond with our pets, so letting go is never easy. We recommend a local pet grief support group - the website www.petgriefsupportgroupnc.com has more information.
The answer is different for each pet, although many commercially available foods are fine to feed healthy dogs and cats. You can look for a nutritional adequacy statement from the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), as well as the words “complete and balanced.” Pets’ nutritional needs do change, depending on their life stage and health. Your veterinarian can recommend a pet food, as well as give you advice on deciphering ingredient lists and determining how much to feed your pet.
Supplements, and nutraceuticals in particular, are becoming very popular with pet owners. Your veterinarian can help you weed out confusing and conflicting information and advise you on any supplements your pet might benefit from.
A veterinary technician is trained to assist veterinarians in caring for pets. These professionals perform many of the same tasks that a nurse would for a doctor. Veterinary technicians have received extensive training, either in accredited programs or on the job. Responsibilities vary among clinics, but the basic duties remain the same. For instance, technicians are responsible for patient care, they collect patient samples, perform lab tests, assist during patient exams and dental cleanings, and take x-rays. Senior techs also train and mentor other staff members. Some technicians work in research facilities or for manufacturers.
Dental health is just as important for dogs and cats as it is for people. Bacteria and food debris accumulate around the teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay can result in irreversible periodontal disease, tooth loss, and expensive oral surgery. Bacteria can also cause serious, potentially fatal infections in your pet’s kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart.
Unless your pet just ate something fishy, stinky breath isn’t normal. Having a veterinarian evaluate your pet’s teeth regularly and clean them as needed will help prevent dental disease and any related problems.
Almost all puppies are born with intestinal parasites, which are passed from mother to pup during pregnancy. Although kittens are not infected when they’re born, they can become infected through their mother’s milk. Puppies can also become infected while they’re nursing.
Puppies and kittens should both be given a series of dewormings. We can give you a schedule of dewormings and vaccines needed and an estimate of the cost based on your puppy’s or kitten’s age.
For the safety and protection of all clients, patients, and veterinary team members, we ask that all pets be on a leash or in a carrier when they arrive at our animal hospital. They must continue to be restrained while they are in the reception area and while traveling to and from the exam rooms. Your veterinarian or veterinary technician will let you know when it’s OK to let your pet off leash or out of his or her carrier.
Many factors affect the cost associated with treating heartworm infection, including diagnostic testing, hospitalization, medication, and office visits. Preventing heartworm disease is much less expensive, which is why most veterinarians recommend that you keep your pet on heartworm prevention year-round. For most dogs, you can buy 8 to 10 years of prevention for the cost of treating your dog once for heartworms.
Most veterinary degrees require eight years of study at the university level, including a four year pre-veterinary undergraduate education and four years in a veterinary medicine program. Veterinary students usually spend 4,000 hours or more in classroom, laboratory, and clinical study.
To stay current with veterinary medicine, techniques, and technology, practicing veterinarians are required to attend continuing education symposiums, seminars, and courses every year.
Put simply, a veterinarian is a doctor who studies animal health; prevents, diagnoses, and treats diseases and health issues in animals; and helps protect the welfare of animals and people. Veterinarians are knowledgeable and well educated on many aspects of animal care and fulfill a range of roles across the private and public sectors. You can find veterinarians working at small animal clinics, emergency and specialty hospitals, universities, research facilities, pet food and drug manufacturing companies, and government organizations.
Several companies offer health insurance for dogs and cats (and other pets). These plans have premiums and deductibles, just like human health insurance plans. The premiums and deductibles vary based on the level of coverage you select. Many routine veterinary services, such as office visits and diagnostic testing, are covered, as well as prescriptions, procedures, and surgeries for a wide variety of diseases and conditions. However, there are restrictions and limits, as well as certain guidelines to follow; including making sure your pet receives regular preventive care.
Unlike human insurance, these plans require you to pay for veterinary services at the time they are delivered and then you file a claim to be reimbursed. Our animal hospital will try to help you with the forms but we are unable to hold charges until the insurance pays or file the insurance for you.
Getting into veterinary school is extremely competitive. Because veterinary programs have a limited number of positions to fill, not all students who apply get in. Those who hope to become a veterinarian must have high grades in their pre-veterinary studies. In addition, any real-world experience or additional years of college may be beneficial.
Relatively speaking, veterinary care is a great value! The cost of veterinary care has risen very little over the last 20 to 30 years, especially when compared to the cost of human health care or almost any other services.
Veterinary service fees are a reflection of the costs of maintaining suitable facilities, equipment and support personnel to provide the level of care that is expected in animal medicine today. Remember, too, the original cost of the animal has no bearing on the cost of services delivered. Annual veterinary service care is a cost that should be factored in to the decision to own a pet.
Unfortunately, if you were late or missed a dose even once, your pet could have become infected if he or she was exposed during that time. Call your veterinarian, and explain the situation. Depending on how many doses have been late, they may recommend that you have your pet tested for heartworm infection, then put your pet on a regular preventive schedule. You should also have your pet retested in seven months, as recommended by the American Heartworm Society. (For heartworms to be detected, they need to be five to seven months old.)
Our hospital accepts Care Credit so that you may pay your bill over 6 to 12 months' interest-free. The application may be filled out at our office or you can do it at home before you come. The link is on our website. Unfortunately, we are not able to provide care unless we receive payment. We try to keep our prices as low as possible, however, our costs are very high for medical supplies, the facility, and the staff to provide care for our patients, therefore we cannot afford to provide free services.
North Carolina requires all dogs and cats 12 weeks and older to have a current rabies vaccination. The first time a pet is vaccinated for rabies, the vaccine is good for 1 year. All rabies vaccines after that are good for 3 years. You will receive a tag for your pet’s collar and a certificate as proof of vaccination when your pet gets the rabies vaccine. In Charlotte, each pet must be licensed These laws help protect both pets and people from this deadly disease. Because of rabies laws, control and prevention programs, and pet owners’ cooperation, domesticated pets in North America rarely become infected with this disease. By keeping your pet up-to-date on his or her rabies vaccination, not only are you protecting your pet, but you’re also helping to eradicate rabies from the pet population in your community.
Your veterinarian will determine which vaccinations are appropriate for your dog or cat, based on individual factors, such as lifestyle and health status. Veterinarians commonly recommend the core vaccines for dogs including rabies, distemper, parvovirus, and Bordetella (infectious bronchitis). Additional vaccines such as Lyme Disease and Corona Virus are recommended based on your dog’s lifestyle and health status. For cats the core recommendation is to vaccinate against rabies and panleukopenia (feline distemper). Additional vaccines for cats, such as feline leukemia virus (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV),and Feline corona virus (FIP) are recommended based on lifestyle and health status.
Many of these diseases can be fatal to your pet. Preventing them is far easier and less expensive than treatment. If you would like more information on vaccines, feel free to ask us.
During your pet’s wellness exam, the veterinarian will take your pet’s history and perform a thorough physical examination. He will also give your pet appropriate vaccinations and perform a diagnostic workup, which may include blood, fecal, and urine tests to check for parasites and underlying diseases. He will prescribe preventives and may recommend dental work or other follow-up care. The specific services provided during the exam will vary depending on your pet’s age. You can help by letting us know if you’ve noticed any unusual behavior or physical changes in your pet.
You will receive a write up of your pet’s exam findings and any further recommendations.
When you consider the cost of prevention versus the cost of treating a disease or condition, you’ll find that treatment is often far more expensive. For example, parvovirus treatment can frequently cost 10 times more than a single parvovirus vaccination. When you keep your pet up-to-date on preventive care, you’ll know that your pet won’t have to suffer from a condition that could have been prevented or treated.
Never give your pet medication intended for people unless your veterinarian has prescribed it. Most over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can have serious, potentially fatal consequences if a pet ingests them.
A variety of pain medications are available for dogs and cats. We can help you determine which one will fit your budget and help alleviate your pet’s pain.
Just because your cat doesn’t venture outdoors doesn’t mean outdoor parasites can’t get inside. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease, and as you probably know, mosquitoes always seem to find a way to get inside your home. Plus, fleas and ticks can both hitch a ride on clothing, so every time you come back into the house, you could potentially be bringing these parasites in with you.
Although you can’t always protect your pet from coming in contact with these bloodsucking insects, you can help protect him or her from the diseases they can transmit. We are happy to discuss the benefits of preventives with you.
Your pet should be tested for heartworm infection before he or she is placed on a preventive to avoid any harmful or possibly fatal complications. For instance, if a heartworm-infected dog is started on a monthly preventive, immature heartworms (called microfilariae) can die suddenly, causing a serious, shock-type reaction. In addition, preventives won’t kill adult heartworms, so an infected dog needs to be started on a treatment plan.
Each veterinary hospital sets its own fees. These fees are largely based on expenses, such as salaries, utilities, and rent, that all vary from one area to another. However, the services that are covered under the same procedure or treatment may also differ from clinic to clinic. Medications, medical techniques and products, anesthetics, and equipment can all affect the cost of services.
The fees you pay for veterinary services take into consideration a number of factors, including the expenses involved in maintaining the hospital and equipment and the costs to compensate your veterinarian and veterinary team for their professional services. When someone decides to adopt a pet, he or she needs to be prepared to include annual veterinary care in the overall cost of owning the pet.
Thanks to advances in veterinary medicine, pets are living longer, which means you may be spending more over the lifetime of your pet. However, in general, the annual cost of caring for a pet hasn’t increased much over the past several decades. (Consider how much the costs of many professional services, such as human healthcare, have risen over that same period!) Certain advanced procedures may come at a higher cost, but as the owner, you decide what care you want to provide your pet. Overall, veterinary care is a terrific value for pet owners.
It may seem like you’re paying more for your pet’s care than for your own, but that perception may stem from the fact that for veterinary care you’re paying the entire cost of a service or procedure, rather than a percentage or set fee determined by an insurance company in the human healthcare system. If you want to save money on your pet’s care, there are several pet insurance plans available. These plans may cover or help keep costs down for many routine veterinary services, prescriptions, medical conditions, and diseases. Most veterinary plans require you to pay the costs at the time of service and file a claim for reimbursement.
Our hospital also accepts Care Credit to help finance veterinary costs so pets may receive the care they need and clients may spread the cost over 6 to 12 months without interest. We also will help you schedule wellness care over several months without charging a wellness exam at each visit. You pay one wellness exam a year and may break up your heartworm test, fecal test, and vaccinations into several visits to spread out the cost. Through our online store, you may have one dose of your monthly heartworm and flea preventative automatically delivered to your home and charged to your credit card monthly without shipping charges.