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Flea Prevention and Control

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Fleas can cause problems for pets ranging from minor to life-threatening. Not only can these parasites cause severe itching, irritation, and allergies, but they can also transmit tapeworms and diseases. Fleas can infest dogs, cats, ferrets, mice, and rats. And fleas don’t just stay on pets; they can bite people, too. For more information, see our Flea and Tick Prevention Products Page or see the flea article in the Pet Health Library on our site.

You don’t want these blood-sucking parasites on your pet or in your home. We can help keep them away or help you get rid of them if they’ve already found their way inside. Call us to find out how to eliminate and control fleas or to start your pet on a preventive today.

Heartworm Prevention

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When they bite, mosquitoes can transmit heartworm infection. And those heartworms can wreak havoc on your dog or cat. These parasites can severely and sometimes fatally damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Some pets may not show any signs of infection; in those that do, symptoms can vary widely.

In dogs, signs of heartworm disease can range from coughing, fatigue, and weight loss to difficulty breathing and a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure); without prompt surgical intervention, this condition usually causes death.

Although often thought to not be susceptible to heartworm infection, cats can indeed get heartworms. Cats can suffer from a syndrome referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD); the symptoms can be subtle and may mimic those of asthma or allergic bronchitis. Signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing, and panting, are common. Other symptoms include coughing, vomiting (typically unrelated to eating), and loss of appetite or weight. Heartworm infection is more difficult to diagnose in cats than it is in dogs.

Treatment for heartworm infection is far more expensive than prevention—and it can actually kill your dog. There is no approved treatment for cats. Some cats spontaneously rid themselves of the infection; others might not survive it. And even one or two adult heartworms in a cat can cause serious problems.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to keep your dog or cat safe: by administering monthly heartworm preventives. Most heartworm medications also protect your pet against other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, ear mites, fleas, and ticks. We can recommend the best regimen of prevention for your pet.

Tick Prevention

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Ticks are becoming more and more prevalent in North America, and they’re now being found in areas where people and pets didn’t previously encounter ticks. These parasites aren’t just a nuisance; they can cause serious—and sometimes deadly—diseases, including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, babesiosis, ehrlichiosis, and tick paralysis. Contact us immediately if your pet starts coughing or has joint pain, trouble breathing, fever, weakness, or loss of appetite, weight, energy, or coordination.

The best method for keeping ticks off your pet is by keeping your dog or cat on a tick preventive. Even indoor-only pets are at risk because ticks can hitch a ride inside on your clothing or shoes. Tick preventives are safe and highly effective at controlling ticks and the diseases they carry. Call us to get your pet protected today!

Don’t panic if you find a tick on your dog or cat, even if your pet is on a preventive. Some preventives kill ticks after they’ve come in contact with your pet. Ticks can hide easily under your pet’s fur, so as an added measure of protection, we recommend checking your pet for ticks every time your pet comes in from outside. And don’t hesitate to ask us any questions you might have.

Other Exotic Animals

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Although a lot of information regarding exotic animals is widely available on the Internet, it is often difficult to determine what sources to trust. You can rely on our experienced veterinary team’s knowledge of mice, rats, pot-bellied pigs, hedgehogs, and other exotic pets.

Not only can we provide medical assessments and perform surgical procedures, but we can also help you prevent many diseases related to improper nutrition or environment, which are extremely common in these animals. Please schedule an appointment so we can discuss your exotic pet’s nutritional and housing needs.

Rabbits

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Rabbits are susceptible to a variety of diseases and conditions, including overgrown teeth, hairballs, parasites, and cancer. They also tend to hide signs of illness or pain.

Contact us if your rabbit:

  • Has discharge from the eyes or nose, runny stool, or a gurgling stomach
  • Has an elevated or low temperature
  • Begins drooling, scratching at the ears, or sneezing
  • Starts tilting his or her head
  • Develops bald patches in his or her fur
  • Stops eating, appears overly quiet, or shows other abnormal behavior

In addition, your rabbit can benefit from regular dental checkups. We can help make sure problems with your rabbit’s teeth don’t turn into serious, potentially life-threatening conditions. Blue Ridge Veterinary Services has the specialized dental equipment needed for rabbits.

We also strongly suggest that you have your rabbit spayed or neutered. Not only can rabbits potentially give birth once a month, but they can also have up to 14 babies at a time! Even in households with a single rabbit, spaying or neutering has plenty of benefits: It can protect your rabbit from several types of cancer and reduce or eliminate aggression, as well as other undesirable behavior, such as spraying, mounting, destructive chewing, and biting. Spaying or neutering will not change your rabbit’s personality. You can have confidence that we understand the special needs that rabbits have when it comes to anesthesia and surgery.

If you have any questions about how to best care for your rabbit, we’d be happy to discuss proper diet, housing, grooming, and even litterbox training.

Iguanas and Other Lizards

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Nutrition-related disorders and diseases are common in iguanas and other lizards. We can help you avoid these problems. Call us to set up a nutritional consultation so we can discuss how to help keep your lizard healthy.

We also offer an initial checkup for new lizard owners to help identify current or potential medical problems and, if necessary, begin treatment. In addition, we can provide you with information on appropriate enclosures, environmental requirements, sanitation, and disease prevention.

Gerbils, Guinea Pigs, and Hamsters

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Just because they’re small doesn’t mean they can’t benefit from veterinary attention. Teeth, which grow continuously in gerbils, guinea pigs, and hamsters, often require trimming. (We can also recommend appropriate chew toys, which may help keep the teeth worn down.) Parasites such as lice, mites, and fleas can infest your pet. In addition, these companion animals can suffer from other health issues.

Call us if your pet stops eating, loses weight, appears quieter than normal, has discharge from the eyes or nose, or develops a lump on its body. We can provide treatment that fits within your budget.

Ferrets

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You can help keep your ferret healthy by bringing him or her in for an exam once a year. That way, we can monitor any changes that occur in your pet and help prevent or catch diseases early, when they’re easier to treat. As ferrets age, they may need additional testing and dental care.

Common problems associated with ferrets include gastrointestinal disease, parasites, and cancer. In addition, ferrets are inquisitive creatures by nature and frequently ingest objects they shouldn’t. Regular blood tests can help determine whether your ferret has any problems with the kidneys, liver, or pancreas.

Ferrets can also benefit from receiving certain vaccinations and monthly preventives, which we’d be happy to discuss with you during your visit. Please bring a stool sample to your ferret’s annual exam so we can test for internal parasites.

Unless you are planning to breed your ferret, we recommend that he or she be spayed or neutered. Female ferrets, or jills, do not need to give birth once to stay healthy. In fact, spaying can save a ferret’s life. Jills that haven’t been spayed will stay in heat until they’re bred. This condition can cause anemia (a decrease in red blood cells), which can be fatal. In male ferrets, neutering can reduce their strong body odor, prevent marking, and reduce aggressive behavior.

Please contact us right away if your ferret develops any unusual symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, lack of appetite, trouble breathing, black ear wax, discharge from the eyes or nose, lumps, swelling, or an increase in aggression or sexual behavior (especially in neutered males).

Microchip Pet Identification

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Imagine if your dog or cat got lost. You’d want to give him or her the best chance of getting home. With microchipping, you can.

Even the most responsible pet owners can’t always guarantee their pet won’t get lost. A leash could break or slip out of your hand, a pet could push through a screen door or window, or a contractor or friend might accidentally leave a door or gate open.

Microchipping is a safe, permanent way to identify your pet in case he or she becomes lost. A microchip, which is a tiny device about the size and shape of a grain of rice, is placed just under the loose skin at the back of the neck. When a lost dog or cat without an ID tag is found, a veterinarian or veterinary technician will use a handheld microchip scanner to check for a chip. If the pet has one, it will transmit its ID number to the scanner via a low-frequency radio wave. The veterinary hospital or shelter then calls the chip manufacturer, retrieves the pet owner’s contact information, and calls the owner.

We recommend that you use a microchip, along with a collar and ID tag, to identify your pet. An ID tag is still a reliable identification method. Pets that have tags with current contact information are more likely to not end up in shelters and tend to get home faster than those without tags. However, collars and ID tags aren’t permanent and can be removed (overnight or for grooming); pets can also lose them. With a microchip, your pet will have a much better chance of being identified and returned to you. Pets without microchips that end up in shelters may be adopted out to another family or even euthanized.

Although we hope your pet never becomes lost, we want you to be prepared. We can also suggest a plan to have in place so if your pet does go missing, you’ll be able to act quickly. With your registration of your microchip you have access to many additional features such a the “lost pet network”, instant access to printable flyers, travel insurance should your pet be found more than 500 miles away, emergency medical insurance and access to the ASPCA poison control hotline (normally a $65 consultation fee) in any emergency. See the HOMEAGAIN site for additional details and found pet success stories.

We can microchip ferrets, rabbits, birds, horses, goats, alpaca, llamas, etc. Almost all species can by microchipped! For large animals, this can prevent theft and misidentification of animals and is often simpler than tattooing or branding. Please contact us to schedule an appointment to microchip your pet.

Medicated Baths

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Medicated baths can help ease many skin conditions in your pet. If he or she suffers from seborrhea (a noncontagious condition that can cause skin to become dry and flaky or oily and scaly), a medicated bath can help alleviate the itching. Pets with allergies, flea infestations, and other skin issues may also find relief with a medicated bath.

We can recommend a bath after we’ve examined your pet and diagnosed the problem. Illnesses unrelated to the skin, such as thyroid disease, can also cause skin problems in pets, so we want to be sure we’re treating the root of the problem, not just a symptom. Call us so we can help your pet feel better.

Emergencies

We have a veterinarian on call for emergencies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call the clinic and if your call is not answered directly you will receive a message instructing you how to reach the on-call doctor.

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