Small Animal

Small Animal FAQs

We prefer to see patients by appointment to allow ample time for all patients and scheduled surgical procedures. Emergency cases may take precedence over regularly scheduled appointments, so an occasional appointment delay is inevitable. Please call us or use the email appointment form on our website to schedule your pet’s appointment. We set aside at least 30 minutes in the doctor’s schedule for each pet’s appointment. For new clients, please note we need your pet’s prior medical records at least 24 hours prior to their appointment.

If you need to change or cancel your appointment, please call us at 410-822-8505 or e-mail us at inquiries@vmceaston.com. We request the courtesy of at least 48 hours’ notice for cancellations so that we may schedule another patient in your place.

For your pet’s protection and the protection of other pets, all dogs must be on a leash and properly controlled while in the waiting area or exam rooms. All cats must be presented in an appropriate cat carrier.

We require full payment at the time that services are rendered. For your convenience, we accept cash, check, all major credit cards, debit, and Care Credit. Our credit card merchant requires an original signature by the cardholder on all credit transactions. If your pet needs to be brought in by a friend or family member, please make sure that you have established a method of payment.

Products that have left our facility cannot be returned. However, according to manufacturer guarantee, opened bags of dog and cat food may be returned or exchanged.

• Prescription Refills – Please give us at least 24 hours notice when refills are needed.
• We do not recommend purchasing your pet’s medications from unknown online pharmacies. Please talk with us first before purchasing your pet’s medications from another source. You will find our in-house pharmacy prices are very competitive with online pharmacies. Please be aware that you pet is required by law to be examined at least once in the past year to continue to refill medications.

We recommend spaying or neutering every pet, and we recommend spaying or neutering your non-breeding pet around 6 months. This recommendation may vary based on each individual pet. Please schedule an appointment to discuss spaying or neutering your pet with one of our veterinarians.

Vaccines are an important part of your pet’s health care. Vaccines keep your pet healthy by preventing serious diseases. Vaccines protect your pet against these serious diseases. We will develop a vaccination schedule for your pet based on your pet’s lifestyle, health and individual circumstances.

The first Rabies vaccine your pet receives is good for 1 year. Subsequent  canine Rabies vaccinations immunize your pet for 1- 3 years depending upon the vaccine your pet receives. Dogs, cats and ferrets are required by Maryland State Law to be vaccinated against Rabies. For cats, we use feline-exclusive rabies vaccines which are good for 1 year.

Your dog will need to be tested with a simple blood test for heartworm disease on an annual basis. Dogs could get sick (vomiting, diarrhea, and/or death) if placed on heartworm prevention when they have heartworm disease. Even if they have been on heartworm prevention year round there is always the possibility that the product may have failed for various reasons (your pet spit out the pill, did not absorb the pill appropriately, topical medicine was not applied properly, forgot to administer medication on time, etc.) and the earlier we can treat your pet for heartworm disease the better the prognosis. Some companies will guarantee their product providing you use the heartworm prevention year round and are performing yearly heartworm tests. When starting heartworm prevention it is important that you perform an initial heartworm test.

Yes. Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito and all mosquitoes can get into houses.

No. Heartworm disease is a blood-borne disease that is transmitted through mosquitoes. A simple blood test will confirm whether or not your dog has heartworm disease.

It is important to prevent fleas. We recommend all dogs and cats be given a monthly flea preventive regardless of lifestyle from April through December. Not only are they uncomfortable for your pet, fleas are also carriers of disease, such as tapeworms. There are many medications for the treatment and prevention of fleas. Some medications are in a combined form with the monthly heartworm medication. Not only is this convenient, but it reduces the cost of two medications!

Many of the pets that visit us on a regular basis need professional teeth cleaning. When bacteria irritate the gum line, the gums become inflamed in the early stages of dental disease causing gingivitis. Left untreated, this leads to periodontal disease which causes the loss of the bone and gingival support structure of the tooth and subsequent tooth loss. In addition, the bacteria are consistently released into the blood stream allowing for systemic infections, which can cause damage to internal organs, such as the kidneys, liver and heart. A dental exam is a part of any physical exam at Veterinary Medical Center.

Yes. Proper dental care at home is highly recommended to help maintain the oral health of your dog and cat. Home dental care for companion animals should start early, even before the adult teeth erupt. It is best if owners brush their dogs and cats teeth frequently. Although tooth brushing is the best method of preventing plaque, calculus, and bacterial build-up, there are many options for dental home care. Other oral home care options such as dental formulated foods, water additives, and dental treats can be considered and discussed with one of our veterinarians.

 In preparation for the procedure, your pet will receive:

• Pre-anesthetic exam
• Pre-medication to easy anxiety and to smooth induction of anesthesia
• Placement of an intravenous catheter to deliver medications and fluids that support blood pressure and organ function during anesthesia
• In addition to the above it gives your pet a chance to acclimate to the hospital environment to make the situation less stressful.

If your pet is on a special diet or on any medications, you should bring these with you to the hospital.

Please do not feed your pet after 10:00 p.m. the evening before a scheduled procedure. There is no restriction on drinking water that evening, but the water bowl should be removed first thing the morning (6:00 a.m.) on the day of the procedure. Plan to arrive at the office at the appointed time and allow 15-30 minutes for check-in procedures.

Veterinary Medical Center takes all anesthetic cases very seriously. We utilize the safest, multi-modal approach that is individually created for each dog or cat. It includes injectable medications for sedation and pain management as well as gas anesthetic agents. The combination of pre-anesthetic assessment of your pet (including blood work), use of modern anesthetic agents, and the latest anesthetic monitoring equipment means that anesthesia is generally considered to be a very low risk for your pet.

When we place your dog or cat safely under general anesthesia, a breathing tube is inserted into the trachea (windpipe) to administer oxygen mixed with the anesthetic gas. As with people, an intravenous catheter is placed into your pet’s leg to infuse with fluids during the procedure. Once the procedure is completed and the anesthetic is turned off, oxygen is continued to be delivered to your pet until your pet wakes up and the tube is removed.

We closely monitor your pet during the procedure and the recovery process using advanced monitoring equipment. Parameters often monitored include oxygen concentration in the blood stream (pulse oximetry), electrocardiogram (EKG), core body temperature, respiratory rate, heart rate, blood pressure and carbon dioxide level. The monitoring findings allow us to perform safe anesthesia.

 A multi-modal approach refers to the layered administration of small amounts of different medications to achieve the desired levels of anesthesia and pain management. We administer lower doses of each individual anesthetic which generally equates to fewer side effects, complete pain relief and faster post-operative recovery.

We believe in performing surgery with advanced pain management techniques because we want to maximize the comfort of your pet during and after his or her procedure. Comfort control improves your dog or cat’s recovery and speeds the healing process. We administer pain medication before beginning the procedure, during and post-operatively as needed by your pet.

Anesthesia in otherwise healthy, older pets is considered safe. It is important to have recommended pre-operative testing performed prior to anesthesia to check major organ function and allow us to tailor the anesthesia to any pre-existing medical conditions.

Prior to anesthesia, patients with kidney disease should be fully evaluated with blood tests, urinalysis, and possible ultrasound. Cardiology patients should also be evaluated including blood tests, chest x-rays, and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). Our veterinarians will determine based on each individual situation if it is safe for your pet to undergo anesthesia.

You will receive a call from one of our veterinary assistants when your pet is in recovery from the procedure. If there are any abnormalities on pre-anesthetic exam or blood work, you will receive a call prior to the procedure in case we need to change plans. Remember that no news is good news, and you will be contacted immediately should the need arise. One of our veterinarians will be available at discharge to discuss the procedure and discharge instructions with you in detail, as well as answer any questions.

Pets undergoing outpatient procedures will be ready to go by close of business the same day unless noted otherwise during the post-operative phone update.

It can sometimes be difficult to tell. If you are not sure but suspect your dog or cat may be hurting, or is just not acting right, call us to have us examine your pet. Some signs of pain are more obvious, such as limping, but some signs are more subtle and can include: not eating, a change in behavior or normal habits, being more tired and having less energy. Of course, these symptoms can also be caused by many problems, so early observation and action is important.

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