Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians in Fuquay Varina

How often should my pet have an exam?

Hilltop Animal Hospital recommends yearly visits for most pets and older pets coming in more frequently – at least every 6 months. Yearly exams include physical examinations by our veterinarians plus annual or booster vaccinations, parasite screening & prevention, and various lab tests performed.

For puppies and kittens, we need to see them on a more frequent schedule during their first year of life. For pets over age 7, we recommend exams and blood work every 6 months to help us detect diseases and issues before they become a problem.

Why does my pet need a dental cleaning?

Many people think that it is normal for a dog to have bad breath, but that is not the case. Bad breath is caused by bacteria in the mouth that create byproducts that contain sulfur. Regular home cleanings accompanied by scheduled professional cleanings will help to prevent bad breath and the bacteria that cause it.

Besides just bad breath, dental disease:

  • Releases bacteria into the bloodstream
  • Increases risk for heart, liver and kidney disease
  • Can cause severe pain and problems for your pet

Pets need regular dental cleanings to increase quality and length of life and:

  • Allows us to chart dental disease over time
  • Means less time under anesthesia
  • Reduces the need for more advanced and expensive treatment in the future such as teeth extractions and oral surgery

Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs. Recent studies show that 85% of cats and 92% of dogs over age 3 have periodontal disease.

What happens during my pet’s dental cleaning?

A thorough dental cleaning can only be accomplished while the pet is under general anesthesia. The anesthesia we use is safe for all animals and your pet is constantly monitored during the dental procedure. Prior to anesthesia, blood tests are performed to help uncover any hidden illnesses.

A professional cleaning (called a dental prophylaxis) removes plaque and tartar from the teeth. Your pet's entire mouth health (teeth, tongue, gums, and lips) will be examined and assessed.

I noticed a change in my pet’s behavior. Should I see a veterinarian?

Pets cannot tell us how they feel and are able to hide their pain from us (especially cats). Changes in behavior such as appetite change, lethargy, energy level, aggressiveness, inappropriate elimination, and vocalization (barking/meowing) can be symptoms of behavior or health issues. Contact our vet hospital for an exam appointment right away.

What should I do if I notice fleas or ticks on my pet?

Isolate your pet from other animals and small children to prevent the spread of the parasite to them. Bring your pet to our vet clinic for thorough testing for parasites. They can usually be easily treated, but parasite preventative measures are best for both your pet and your wallet. Ask about our available safe and effective parasite prevention products.

At what age should I have my pet spayed or neutered?

Hilltop Animal Hospital recommends waiting until your pet is at least 6 months of age before seeking a spay or neuter procedure. Contact us to discuss specific details based on species, breed, and size. Spaying / neutering has health and behavioral benefits for your pet and of course, helps prevent over-population.


What are heartworms? How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworms?

One infected mosquito is all it takes to infect your dog with the baby form (larval stage) of the heartworm parasite.

Heartworms are a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets. Twelve-inch-long worms (looks like spaghetti) live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of infected pets, causing lung disease, heart failure, organ damage, and can be fatal if untreated.

How does my pet get heartworms? Heartworms living in an infected dog, cat, or wildlife produce baby worms that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it picks up these worms and when it bites another animal, the worms enter through the bite wound. Heartworms can grow and live for 5 - 7 years in dogs and 3 years in cats.

What can I do to protect my pet? Heartworm disease is preventable! Dogs should be tested annually and before starting prevention. Prevention is the safest and most cost-effective option, but treatment is available for dogs (although costly and lengthy). Cats should be tested before starting prevention and re-tested as the veterinarian deems appropriate. There is NO treatment in cats, so prevention is critical and the only means of protection.

Hilltop Animal Hospital has safe, effective products available that cater to your pet's lifestyle and your budget. Heartworm prevention should be provided 12 months of the year.

What do I need to know about Covid-19 and pets?

Animals have not been known to spread Covid to people, but that doesn’t mean that the Covid-19 virus can’t spread to them. From apes in zoos to dogs and cats in homes, many animals can test positive for Covid infections, showing increased antibodies for the presence of the virus. That’s why our team at Hilltop Animal Hospital in Fuquay-Varina understands that you are concerned about your pet. Our veterinary team can help you stay up-to-date on all issues relating to Covid-19 and your pet.

Infection-Prone House Pets

Cats and dogs spend the most time in proximity to humans, making them more likely to become infected if those humans are infected. However, the two species of animals handle respiratory infections very differently. For example, anyone who has had to deal with a dog suffering from kennel cough knows it’s like dealing with a human suffering from whooping cough. However, cats don’t like to socialize when they are sick. Instead, they tend to steer away from people and seek shelter alone.

Fortunately, few house pets have actually come down with real Covid symptoms. In every case, the animal caught the infection from humans, not other animals. Larger animals also tend to do worse with Covid-19. Dogs and cats seem to get over the infection, but larger animals have a more challenging time recovering. Third, the number of pets that have actually caught the infection is few, maybe close to 100 as of November 2020. Humans, on the other hand, are far more vulnerable.

Infection Response Tips

In many cases, a dog or cat infected in Fuquay Varina may start to show signs, typically with respiratory problems. These animals tend to resolve the issue themselves. However, if your pet is suffering from Covid-19, it is likely due to another human in their household passing it along. Therefore, expect everyone in the house will need to be tested, not just your pet. In serious cases, your animal may need help relaxing and improving his or her breathing. That why our veterinary team is here to help. We can offer a thorough assessment of your pet’s symptoms and create a treatment plan for his or her condition. In addition, our veterinarians help pet owners find the treatment options their pets need for proper respiratory functionality.

Contact Our Animal Hospital for Veterinary Care for Covid-19 in Fuquay Varina

If you think your pet needs help and may be showing signs of a Covid-19 infection, our vet team at the Hilltop Animal Hospital can help. We regularly deal with cats and dogs suffering from respiratory problems. While Covid-19 is a new issue no veterinarian has dealt with before 2020, we have a significant amount of experience helping dogs and cats get through bacterial and viral infections. Give us a call to schedule an appointment at our Animal Hospital today. We are committed to providing the quality health care your pet needs. 

Should I let my pet have at least one litter?

There is no advantage to letting your pet have one litter. However, there are plenty of advantages to having your pet spayed or neutered. These advantages include decreasing the chances of breast tumors later in life, decreasing the chance of cystic ovaries and uterine infections later in life, decreasing the desire to roam the neighborhood, decreasing the incidence of prostate disease later in life, helping prevent spraying and marking, and also decreasing the surplus of unwanted puppies and kittens.