Frequently Asked Questions for Veterinarians in Columbia

How often should my pet have an exam?

Hickory Ridge 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?

Hickory Ridge 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.

Hickory Ridge 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.

Can you recommend some good and safe dental treats and chews for my pet?

Here are the products we have available at our clinic.

  • Veggie Dents for dogs
  • Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Chews for dogs
  • C.E.T Enzymatic Toothpaste for dogs and cats
  • Oravet Dog Chews

Other recommended brands not carried by our clinic:

  • Purina DentaLife for dogs and cats
  • Bright Bites
  • Greenies

Contact us with any questions about these products & our veterinarian's recommendations for your pet.

My pet has anxiety, can you recommend anything?

Hickory Ridge Animal Hospital offers several products intended to help relieve pet anxiety.

Solliquin (available at our clinic - for both cats and dogs)

We are excited to introduce Solliquin to our line-up of anti-anxiety medications! After years of collaborative research, Nutramax has developed a highly successful all natural supplement to help relieve common anxiety issues with pets designed to replace many traditionally used medications that can have severe side-effects. Solliquin is available in easy to give chews, and capsules for dogs and cats. While it is considered a supplement it does still require a prescription from a veterinarian - if you are interested in getting your pet started please contact us to discuss scheduling an appointment to get your prescription today! 

NurtureCALM Pheromone Collars (available at our clinic - for both cats and dogs)

NurtureCALM Pheromone Collars mimic the pheromones that the mother cat/dog produces to calm and reassure her kittens/puppies. Cats and dogs recognize these pheromones throughout life. Pheromone behavior collars mimic the natural way to help cats and dogs cope with new and fearful situations.

Composure Chews (available at our clinic - for both cats and dogs)

Composure chews help to alleviate stress-related behavioral issues without affecting your pet's energy levels or personality. It contains three main ingredients to support calming in dogs and cats: C3™ colostrum calming complex, L-theanine, and thiamine. Colostrum calming complex is isolated from colostrum proteins (colostrum is the form of milk produced in the last days of pregnancy and a few days after giving birth) and has been found to support cognitive function and stress reduction. L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that supports calming, relaxation, reduced irritability, and low mood states. Thiamine (vitamin B1) helps manage stress and reduce irritability, calming nervous and anxious pets.

Thunder Shirts

Thunder shirts provide gentle pressure, shown to induce a calming effect in both dogs and cats. Thunder shirts can be used in a variety of situations to relieve anxiety, fear and/or overexcitement.

Rescue Remedy

Rescue Remedy is a natural stress-relieving formula containing a blend of flower remedies. This natural formula can be used in many situations to help ease anxiety, fear, and behavioral issues.

Please ask your veterinarian if your pet may be helped by one of these anxiety solutions.

Can you recommend anything for dog itching problems?

We use the medication Apoquel in our comprehensive dermatology treatment plans.

This is a revolutionary medication that has proven extremely effective in treating the symptoms of canine itch. It works differently than traditional medications by targeting the source of the itch response. It works quickly to relieve the itch which brings you and your pet much-needed relief and allows skin damage due to excessive scratching to heal.

We also offer cytopoint. To learn more and see if either of these is right for your pet, please contact our hospital to speak with one of our veterinarians.

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.

Do you have any prescription diet recommendations?

Below is a list of prescription diets that are available through our clinic. Please call ahead to purchase as some items may need to be special ordered. These diets are prescribed for pets requiring very specialized nutritional help or control. Contact our office to schedule an appointment with a veterinarian to discuss how a prescribed diet can help your pet.

  • Hills Prescription Diets
  • Royal Canin Prescription Diets
  • Purina Prescription Diets

Do you have any pet mobility product recommendations?

We have a number of products we can recommend to aid in every stage of your pet's mobility. Listed below are some products we recommend.

Available at our clinic:

Dasuquin Advanced for dogs and cats - Dasuquin Advanced is a safe supplement with a proven formulation to help slow the degeneration of joints due to arthritis by protecting cartilage against breakdown. It is therefore recommended as a preventative measure to help protect joints against the effects of arthritic changes. It is also used to help support and treat joints affected by arthritis to increase mobility and relieve minor discomfort over time.

Available Elsewhere:

Help 'Em Up Harness - The help 'em up harness is a dog-lifting mobility harness that provides extra support for aging or disabled dogs with limited mobility. The harness has also been shown to be extremely helpful in post-orthopedic surgery recovery and rehabilitation.

Please contact our office with any questions or to schedule an appointment to discuss these options with your veterinarian.