chat with a vet Tag

The recent dog influenza epidemic has dog owners concerned everywhere. A chat with a vet will tell you what signs to look out for and any next steps.

According to recent reports, dog influenza is spreading in the US. Experts have confirmed the flu is real, but there’s no need to panic, not all dogs need a vaccine. We spoke to veterinarian, Dr. Shawna Garner, on signs to look for and how to keep your dog safe. 

Chat with a Vet – Signs to look out for

    • Cough – Coughs from influenza form in the lower areas of the body. Just like bronchitis or whopping cough for children, sick dogs have a dry, hacking cough. Because the cough resides in their tissue, it brings up fluid and you’ll hear your pet make a lot of the gurgling sounds.
    • Fever – Dogs are generally warm, so it may be hard for to realize when your pet is running a fever. By feeling your dog’s ears or the bottom of their paws you may notice that they are warm regardless they are not running a fever. A dog’s normal body temperature is 100.5 F, and if they’re stressed or anxious it can go up to 103 F. Taking a rectal temperature is the best way to know if your dog has a fever. Check out this Ask.Vet video of how to take your pet’s temperature

  • Depression – You may be able to tell if your pet has caught a virus when their behavior changes. They may become more lethargic and seem depressed, not really wanting to do anything. You may notice them seeking your attention more than usual. If it’s not normal for them to be lying around and looking tired, then they might have caught something.
  • Discharge – Sometimes with influenza you may see some nasal discharge. It doesn’t happen all the time because most nasal and or eye discharges are coming from the upper airways, while the flu affects the lower airway in the lungs. Because of this you may see them cough up a little bit of watery discharge. Otherwise, this fluid will just stay in the lungs.
  • Loss of appetite – An indicator that your dog may be sick is a loss of appetite. If he or she is turning their nose from food or specific treats they normally love, it’s a major sign that something is wrong. Dogs love their food and treats. If they’re suddenly not attracted to them it’s definitely cause for alarm.

Chat with a Vet – Precautionary steps you can take

Because influenza is a virus, it can be easily caught from other infected dogs via direct dog-to-dog contact. To keep your pet from getting sick, avoid areas and situations that may be overpopulated with other sick dogs. If you hear that there are recent outbreaks, it’s better to avoid places like dog parks, kennels, shelters, boarding facilities, grooming salons and other populated dog areas.

The influenza virus can also be transmitted by air, particularly via coughing and sneezing. Simply breathing the same exhaled air after an infected dog has barked in your pet’s vicinity can cause the virus to spread. If there is a local outbreak or your dog is sick, avoid parks and keep your dog away from other dogs.

Another way to lessen the chances of the virus spreading to your dog is by keeping the areas they frequent as clean as possible. Infected dogs that are coughing and sneezing may spread the virus via their mucus. If your dog sniffs a surface that may have become exposed or contaminated, they can inhale the virus. Extra attention to cleaning when your dog is sick will decrease the potential for contamination.

If you have questions about dog flu, wonder if your dog is at risk or if the vaccination is needed/appropriate for your dog, have a conversation with a veterinarian. Veterinarians do advocate for this vaccine in areas deemed an “epidemic outbreak”. They will help you decide the best way to protect your best friend!


Dogs diagnosed with Parvo are miserable and their owners devastated. We had a chat with a vet to figure out what to expect when your dog has Parvo and how to prevent it all from happening.

Because it is an incurable disease, options are limited. Having the diagnosis doesn’t mean there aren’t options. Veterinarians will usually sit down with you and have a sobering conversation about your options. You can still treat your sick puppy and help them feel more comfortable.

Dr. Roth, Veterinarian, shares three options for pet owners depending on the condition of the pet when they visit the clinic. They include hospitalization, medication and if all else fails, euthanasia.

Chat with a Vet – Hospitalization

The first option vets offer is hospitalization. This will include giving the dog IV fluids, antibiotics, round-the-clock monitoring, and medications to help with vomiting or diarrhea. Because there is no cure, the sick pet is then put on a very strong medication.

Hospitalization unfortunately is not cheap and if your pet is admitted, which you can expect in a really bad case of Parvo, you’ll end up paying thousands of dollars for treatment.

Chat with a Vet – Medication

Because hospitalization is expensive and not everybody can afford it, pet owners can take medicines home to administer to their pet themselves. You’ll be given a bundle of medications to slow down symptoms of vomiting and to help with diarrhea, and IV fluids to keep your dog hydrated.

Dr. Roth likes to call the home method ‘Parvo-to-go’ – a package she recommends to owners that include an injection of antibiotics and other medications to control symptoms and boost your pet’s immune system.

After that it’s the pet owner’s responsibility to give their dog the medication. Pet owners will need to get their pet to eat and hold down food while taking the medications. Price-wise, the medications can run from $400-$500 depending on how sick the pet is.

Chat with a Vet – Euthanasia

If the pet is extremely sick and your veterinarian is not confident that further treatment is in the best interest of the pet, they may recommend euthanasia. It’s a harsh option for pet owners who love their pets, but they have to remember that dogs dying from this disease will die a painful death. Although it is completely preventable, the reality is that it may be fatal.

Many pet owners struggle with the decision to euthanize, and regret not getting their dog vaccinated as a puppy. The fees for euthanasia vary, but generally range $100-$200. If you would like your pet’s ashes, a burial or other memorialization, there will be additional fees.

Chat with a Vet – Vaccination

Vaccinating your puppy properly is very important to avoid this potentially deadly virus. Saving money by not vaccinating your pet will prove more expensive in the long run if they get sick, and may not be enough to save your precious pup. The adage “an ounce of prevention” cannot be more true for your pup and Parvo.



Because Parvo doesn’t have a cure, it’s important to avoid crowded dog areas and to chat with a vet to recognize early signs of the virus.

Here are signs to watch for:

  • Lack of appetite – If your pet has not finished his entire serving of food, that could be the first sign that something is wrong. Most puppies are very excited about food, so if you notice they aren’t eating normally, that should peak your interest. If this continues, contact your vet.
  • Vomiting or diarrhea – These are the most typical signs of your pet being infected by Parvo. One or both of these symptoms can be a sign of Parvo, though it differs for every pet. Your dog may experience just vomiting, just diarrhea, or both.
  • Lethargy – Sometimes puppies carrying Parvo don’t show any signs. They may instead be a little tired or look lethargic. It may be such a subtle difference that it will be difficult to notice something’s wrong. In those cases, the puppy could be sick and spreading the virus even though they’re not showing any symptoms.

Chat with a Vet – Getting a Diagnosis

The next step to diagnosing Parvo is a physical exam by your veterinarian. If your veterinarian suspects Parvo, they will likely rule out other illnesses with a series of tests for Parvo (e.g., antibody, blood, stool) to examine your pet’s cells in their GI tract.

It’s really important to have a veterinarian’s opinion, and not just assume your pet has Parvo. Other common issues may mirror the symptoms of Parvo.

Chat with a Vet – Costs of testing for Parvo

If you are at a veterinary clinic during regular hours you’ll have your exam fee (e.g., $45 – $85). If you are at an emergency clinic you’ll have a more expensive emergency exam fee (e.g., $90 – $150). And at both a regular and emergency clinic you’ll have fees for each diagnostic test (e.g., antibody, blood, stool). Fees vary by clinic but they can be $60- $100 or more per test. If your pet is diagnosed with Parvo, they may need to be hospitalized and that is costly. A 24 hour hospital stay with IV fluids and medication can be $1,000 or more. Your veterinarian may also recommend an in-home course of treatment, similar to what your pet would have in a hospital, if you are able to provide a high level of care for your pet at home.

Navigating puppyhood doesn’t have to be daunting. With Ask.Vet you can live chat with a U.S. licensed veterinarian whenever you want. Get started by texting PET to 67076 and you’ll be connected to a veterinarian within minutes for only $9.99/month.

Chat with a Vet – Vaccinations

Parvo is completely preventable. Because there is no cure, it’s extremely important that new puppies are fully vaccinated. Parvo vaccines are given every 3 weeks, starting at 6-8 weeks of age up until the age of 16 weeks, then once again at one year of age. After that they get annual booster shots.

Vaccinating your puppy properly is very important to avoid this potentially deadly virus. Saving money by not vaccinating your pet will prove more expensive in the long run if they get sick, and may not be enough to save your precious pup. The adage “an ounce of prevention” cannot be more true for your pup and Parvo.



The Super Bowl is tomorrow and the countdown is almost over. For many, the event is more about getting together with friends and family than watching the game itself. Friends and family, of course, means your guests  AND your guests’ pets. They want to join in on the fun, eat and make some noise when your team scores. While all that is fine, as a pet owner you need to be careful about what your pet is eating. Keep the house pet-friendly by avoiding danger foods and having a pet-friendly food tray set out just for them. To help you out, we used one of our chat with a vet sessions to ask a licensed veterinarian about game day party foods for your pet.

Here’s what they said:

“You never know what food can trigger a bad reaction even if your pet has been having table scraps all their life. However, there are specific foods to avoid, making sure the Super Bowl is just as much fun for them as it is for you, and doesn’t end up being an emergency visit to the vet!

One key thing to remember about any food is amount. Anything in excess can be bad for your pet.”

Chat With A Vet – Your Pet and Fried food

Fried foods are always bad. Every dog is different but you may find your dog vomiting and moping after eating deep-fried chicken. Play it safe and avoid fried foods, because sometimes their GI tracts overreact to even the simplest of fried foods or spicy food. You don’t want to be cleaning up after your pet while the Super Bowl is on. And you don’t want them to end up with VERY painful pancreatitis.

Chat With A Vet – Your Pet and Bones

Here’s an interesting fact – wild animals don’t eat bones. If you ever go hiking or on a safari you’ll see the bones intact with any animal carcass you come across. They suck out the marrow but they don’t eat the bone.

Animals can’t digest cooked bones. Raw bone can be dissolved with the stomach acid and bile,but that’s not the case with cooked bones. … That’s because the composition of a bone changes when you cook it. While your dog might be salivating for one, don’t cave and give it to them.

Chat With A Vet – Your Dog and Chocolate

Avoid chocolate at all costs. Remind children not to give any to your pet, as it can cause a severe reaction, and in dogs with pre-existing heart disease it can be fatal.

Chat With A Vet – Your Dog and Grapes

Grapes and raisins are extremely toxic to dogs. They have the same toxicity as antifreeze. Grapes and raisins cause crystallization of the kidneys and it can kill them very, very quickly. So, grapes are a huge no-no. They might just sneak into a food tray or salad, so keep an eye out for them.

Chat With A Vet – Your Pet and Alcohol

Super Bowl and beer is synonymous. Undoubtedly, a couple of beer bottles will crack open when the game gets going. If your pet gets the taste of alcohol from the lick of a beer bottle in your hand, that shouldn’t hurt them. But don’t leave alcohol easily accessible to your pet. Their livers don’t process alcohol the same way we do and they can go into liver failure if they consume too much

Chat With A Vet – Your Dog and Onions

Onions in a small amount shouldn’t  cause much harm, but if your dog has eaten a couple onions, that may cause toxicity.  For example, a dog that’s about 25 pounds would have to eat 3-4 medium sized onions to get a reaction. Typically, it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, and could potentially progress to a significant illness requiring hospitalization.

Chat With A Vet – Your Dog and Coffee

Anything high in caffeine is not good for your dog. Like chocolate and candy bars, coffee has high caffeine which isn’t good for your pet. It can cause severe pancreatitis or GI upset. So keep your pet away from coffee beans, flavoring in a cake, protein bars and fancy waters that contain caffeine.

Chat With A Vet – Your Pet and Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts are extremely toxic to animals. When they eat a lot of them it can affect the neurological system. Your dog can have tremors, and if they’ve eaten a lot, become unable to walk and have seizures. One or two nuts may not hurt them, but an excess amount will.

May you and your pet enjoy some super snacks and have a great time watching the Patriots and Eagles! Who are you rooting for?

Very few hotels are pet friendly these days, which is why many pet owners prefer staying with a friend or family member. Taking your pet with you as a houseguest means following certain house rules for pet guests.

Regardless of how welcoming your host may be, it is always nice to be respectful of their house and to keep your pet on their best behavior. Follow some simple house rules for pet guests to make sure you have a great holiday.

House Rules for Pet Guests: Ask first

Even if your friend or relative has pets of their own, it doesn’t always mean that they will be keen on your pet joining the troupe. Their pet may feel threatened by an unfamiliar animal and react badly. Before planning your trip, you should talk to you host and ask if it would be ok to bring your pet with you.

House Rules for Pet Guests: Travel heavy

Make sure to pack everything that your pet normally needs at home or when traveling. Don’t expect your host to have anything ready for your pet. Take your own food, medicines and bedding, as well as, grooming items and toys. You will also want to prepare for accidents. Take some cleaning materials with you just in case your pet gets sick and creates a mess.

House Rules for Pet Guests: Follow the house rules

Your host may warn you what the house no-no’s are, but just to be safe, ask them anything you may be concerned about ahead of time. You may want to ask things like: Is your cat allowed on the sofa? Can your dog sleep with you in the bed? Is there a restricted area in the house? Find out which places in the house are allowed for your pet to enter and which are not.

House Rules for Pet Guests: Introduce your pet

Your pet may get agitated in a new environment. Make sure to introduce them to the inhabitants of the home they’ll be visiting beforehand if possible. You’ll want to do you best to make everyone feel comfortable. Short introductions work best so that you don’t overwhelm your pet. If you feel that your pet is tense, take them to a safe zone like your car or their carrier. This way they can relax and acclimatize to the new inhabitant slowly.


Cancer is a word no person wants to hear from their doctor or veterinarian. But unfortunately, it is a common diagnosis in dogs. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF), cancer is detected in one in three dogs and is a leading cause of death in dogs over 10. It’s important that owners are aware of warning signs of cancer in dogs.

It is easy for pet owners to assume the worst when they hear that their pet has cancer. Though the chances of cancer spreading out of control is not high, catching signs early increases their chances of survival. About half of all canine cancers are treatable if signs are spotted early.

If you notice one ore more of the following warning signs, make an appointment with a vet right away. Again, the chances of curing the cancer increases with a quicker diagnosis.

The national canine cancer foundation lists 10 early signs of canine cancer:

Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Abnormal swellings

Lumps are not always a sign of cancer, especially in older dogs, but you should still get them checked out if they look abnormal and are either persistent or growing.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Sores that do not heal

A wound that is not healing could be a sign of abnormal cell growth. If you notice a sore is recurring and not healing naturally, there may be something interfering with your dog’s ability to heal.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Weight loss

If your pet is experiencing significant weight loss, even though they are eating the same amount, they may have a gastrointestinal tumor.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Loss of appetite

A loss of appetite in dogs is a major sign of an illness. A vet should always be consulted if you notice a lack of interest in food.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Discharge

A common symptom of canine cancer is abnormal discharge from an opening in the body. It may be blood from their nose or discharge from the eyes.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Offensive odor

This sign can often go unnoticed especially in senior dogs as they tend to get bad breath with aging. Don’t rule it out as a symptom.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Difficulty in eating or swallowing

A pet having a hard time eating their food may have a tumor or early symptoms of a gastrointestinal disease.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Lethargy

A lethargic dog has low stamina and their enthusiasm to exercise diminishes. Dogs are normally hyper and excited during outside activity, so a lack of interest can be a cause for alarm.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Persistent lameness

Your dog might be walking with a limp or stiffness in their leg. Bone cancer can cause dogs to feel pain when they place weight on their limbs.

Signs of Cancer in Dogs – Difficulty in breathing, urinating, or defecation

Difficulty in breathing, urinating, or defecation are common and alarming symptoms. Pet owners must schedule a visit to the vet as soon as they can.


Cats’ physiology change as they grow older. Like us, they experience changes like grey hair, loss of sight and hearing as they grow older. The growth and evolution of their needs makes them require more hands-on care and a special diet for senior cats.

As a pet owner, it’s important to be aware of your cat’s changing needs and adapt their diet accordingly.

Diet for senior cats: Do not overfeed them

Obesity is a common issue faced by older cats. Although they are natural predators, domesticated cats have become used to living inside and getting their food from a bowl. A sedentary lifestyle coupled with lower energy and activity often leads to weight gain in cats.

Owners should be aware of these changes and not overfeed your cat. Simply keep a consistent amount of their portions based on your veterinarians advice. Obesity in cats can lead to chronic problems in the heart, lungs, skin and joints. Slowly adjust their calorie intake by switching to food with lower energy density.

Diet for senior cats: Supplements

If your cat is eating a balanced meal, they may not need supplements. Although pushed in diets for senior dogs, vets do not encourage the same for cats.

Joseph Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, told WebMD: “Some supplements that have been shown to be just fine in dogs or humans can be detrimental in a cat because their metabolisms are very different.”

Diet for senior cats: Talk to your veterinarian

Senior cats are more susceptible to catching a disease. If your pet has already been diagnosed with an illness, your vet will recommend a diet that doesn’t exacerbate it. Cats with diabetes will be put on a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. Those with kidney disease are recommended a phosphorous-restricted diet. While cats with dental disease are switched to softer, canned food.

Schedule an appointment with your vet to discuss the best food options for your cat and create a diet plan best tailored to their needs.


Traveling with cats in a car can be very difficult, especially if they are not used to being in a moving vehicle. Cats can become frightened and stressed very easily while outside the familiarity of their home. It may be challenging to travel with a cat, but it’s not impossible.

If you can’t get a friend or neighbor to check in on your cat at home, then you need to prepare them for the journey. Using a few of these tips and tricks, you can help keep your cat comfortable and calm.

Traveling with cats in a car – Use a travel crate

A travel crate is both good for you and your cat. You’ll be able to drive without any distractions and won’t have to worry about getting distracted by an agitated pet. Secure the carrier with a seatbelt assuring that your cat stays calm and in one place.

If your cat isn’t used to a carrier, then do little exercises at home where you encourage them to get inside one with sweet talk and treats. Practice this as much as you can so that by the time you’re ready to go, stepping into the crate will be second-nature for your cat.

For trips longer than 6 hours, take a break and let your cat out for a short while to stretch their legs, drink water and use the litter box.

Traveling with cats in a car – Mini car rides

Before embarking on a road trip, you can try acclimatizing your cat in a moving vehicle with a few short rides around the block. Figure out what makes them comfortable and least stressed. For example, if the carrier moves too much, place some extra padding at the bottom of it so your cat doesn’t experience all the jerky movements. At the end of the drive give them a treat as a reward for good behavior.

Traveling with cats in a car – Get anti-motion sickness medication

If your cat has vomited in a past ride and or seems depressed in a moving car, they may be experiencing motion sickness. You can ask your vet for motion sickness medication to give your to your cat before hitting the road. To be on the safe side, take a towel and some cleaning wipes with you just in case your cat throws up on the way.


Does my dog have fleas? How do I get rid of them? Are fleas in dogs dangerous?

These are questions that are being Googled daily by pet owners everywhere. Everybody’s sick of fleas in dogs, and nobody understands them.

Fleas are a problem throughout the year, but they are more aggressive when the weather gets warmer. The time to act in regards to prevention is in the spring before, it gets too warm. Keeping your pet and their environment squeaky clean is really one of the best form of prevention.

When the moment does come that you see your dog itching and you notice a few bites on his skin, he probably already have fleas.

Diagnosing flea bites

The most common sign that your dog has fleas is itching. If your dog is agitated and is constantly scratching themselves, it could be flea bites. They look like small red bumps and are usually in a straight line of 3 or 4. Flea bites can be treated with over-the-counter anti-itch creams and anti-allergy medications.

Finding fleas in dogs

The biggest indicator your furry friend has fleas is “flea dirt”. Flea dirt looks like black specks on your dog’s bed or fur. Purchase a flea comb from the pet store and run it over your pet. Make sure you go deep and the tip of the comb reaches the skin. If there is black dirt on the comb or a flea itself, your pet has a problem.

Another way to find out if your pet has fleas is to place a white paper towel under your pet and shake its fur. If black specks fall on the towel, it could also be flea dirt.

Getting rid of fleas in dogs

If your pet indeed has fleas, don’t panic. There are a ton of options to get rid of them. Chemical treatments are the most effective and fastest ways to treat a flea infestation. Ask your veterinarian for a medication that will kill both fleas, their eggs and larvae.

You can also treat your pet with non-chemical shampoos that kill the fleas. After you’ve finished shampooing, comb your pet’s fur to find and remove all the dead fleas. It can be a long and difficult task especially, if your pet is active. You may need to elicit help from somebody to help distract and soothe your pet while you comb through their hair.

Killing fleas doesn’t end with your pet. You also need to clean your home of any eggs and or larvae hiding out of sight. Frequently wash your own bedding while also vacuuming carpets and sofas. Continue to vacuum for a couple of weeks even after your pet has been treated. Pupae can live in an uninvested environment for several months before hatching.


Pets on and off planes have been in the news a lot lately. Whether or not you have a pet for medical reasons, most airlines will allow your friend to travel with you. You just need to follow the specific airline pet requirements set by the airline you’re flying on.

Each airline varies in its restrictions, but those set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) are generally followed by all international airlines. Depending on the size, breed and type of animal, your pet is allowed to travel in-cabin, or with checked baggage and cargo.

Airline Pet Requirements – Checking your pet in

Depending on the airline, you can check your pet in the cabin, with your baggage or in the cargo hold. If you want to take your pet with you inside the cabin, you will be asked to carry your pet in an airline compliant carrier which can fit under the seat. You can find the carriers in all shapes and sizes at your local pet store.

There are airlines that don’t allow pets inside the cabin, but instead have a special area to hold pets with the cargo. Availability in cargo is limited, so you need to contact the airline’s customer support at least 48 hours before travel to reserve a spot. Airlines may also tell you of specific requirements like cargo crate guidelines and health certificates that they may require before you bring your pet aboard.

Airline Pet Requirements – International regulations

Each country has their own set of restrictions and rules that apply in regards to pets flying with you. Here in the Continental U.S., dogs must be up fully vaccinated and older than 4 months before entering. You must show proof of a rabies vaccination if you are traveling from a country where rabies exists. Dogs which haven’t been vaccinated before must do so at least 30 days before travel. In case your dog has been vaccinated in the past and it has expired, simply get them a booster vaccination so that you don’t have to wait the 30 days.