On this page we strive to answer some of the questions we hear most often. Click the plus signs to see answers.

What vaccines does my dog need?

There are a number of contagious diseases dogs are susceptible to, and it varies to some degree based on geographic area. In Western Michigan, parvovirus continues to be a persistent and deadly problem.  Leptospirosis infections are on the upswing and have the added risk of infecting Humans. Lyme disease is now a common occurrence in our area; the particularly tragic aspect of Lyme infection is that if it is not diagnosed and treated within one month, it often becomes a disabling disease for life.

Infectious bronchitis (somewhat incorrectly referred to as kennel cough) is a bronchitis disease closely related to whooping cough. A dog can contract this disease anywhere other dogs are, even in your own neighborhood!

What other steps can I take to prevent disease in my dog?

An annual (or more frequent in older or ill pets) physical exam is the absolute best way to catch a health problem early when it is usually treated most successfully.

Heartworm is an actual worm that lives in a dog’s heart. Once established, it’s progress is insidious and relentless. Because it is spread by mosquitoes, all dogs are at risk. We do a simple blood test every year to make sure an infestation has not occurred, then recommend year-round heartworm prevention. Year round prevention is important for a few reasons: first, we often don’t have winters severe enough to fully eradicate mosquitos; and second the medicines we use to prevent heartworm infestation also prevent and control intestinal parasites. In 2018, we diagnosed 22 cases of Heartworm Disease at Dowagiac Animal Hospital. This is down from the previous year, hopefully due to the regular testing and preventatives increasingly in use.

An annual fecal test is where we look under the microsope at a fecal sample after it has been processed for parasite eggs. Rarely are actual worms observed in the dog or cats feces.

Periodic dental cleanings are not just to give your pet nice breath and a white smile! It is a fact that the bacteria involved with plaque and tartar very often travels through the blood stream to different organs, causing a low -grade but damaging infection to those organs.

Periodic blood screenings to assess kidney and liver function, blood sugar and electrolytes are highly valuable in finding subclinical disease. Every disease starts at some point, usually not producing symptoms until it has had time to do significant damage to an affected organ.

Do I have to pay at the time of service?

Veterinary Hospitals have expenses large and small and we would not be able to provide your pet with top notch care if we could not pay our bills. Dowagiac Animal Hospital deliberately keeps our fees well below the industry average to make high-quality veterinary care as accessible as possible.

We are more than happy to give you an estimate of fees if testing, X-rays, ultrasound, hospital or surgical care is recommended.

What forms of payment do you accept?

We gladly accept Discover, Visa and MasterCard, as well as debit cards, cash and checks.

Why does my dog need to be examined to have a medication refilled?

We do dispense medications with automatic refills for conditions such as some heart problems, arthritis, certain eye diseases, or behavioral modification. But there are also many medications that are used to treat a specific problem for a set period of time. Even if it appears the same problem is recurring, we require a re-check for multiple reasons.

At least half the time what appears to be a recurrence turns out to be something else, so to refill the medication would be fruitless at best and catastrophic at worst. For example, simple conjunctivitis is routinely treated with an antibiotic/steroid drop, but if a corneal ulcer or scratch develops from the pet rubbing its eyes and we use those same drops, a severe problem could develop.

We are aware of the inconvenience caused by having to bring your pet in, but the potential for bad results is too high to risk refills for every situation.