Frequently asked questions

Q: Who should I contact for an after hours emergency?

A: For after hours emergency care please contact Acton Road Emergency Clinic at (205) 967-7389 or Alabama Veterinary Specialists at (205) 481-1001 and (205) 428-5256.

Q: My dog is on heartworm prevention. Should my cat also be on heartworm preventatives?

A: All indoor and outdoor cats should be on heartworm preventatives. No animal is completely protected by the carrier of heartworms, mosquitoes. While there is such thing as a 100% indoor pet, there is no such thing as a 100% outdoor mosquito. Please stop in to stock up on heartworm preventatives for your feline companions

Q: Why is it essential to keep my cat’s weight down?

A: Obesity in cats can cause diabetes and various other weight-related health issues. These health problems can be avoided by proper diet and exercise. Let our staff help you understand your cat’s nutritional needs today.

Q: When is the appropriate time to remove dewclaws or dock tails?

A: Dewclaws and tails should be removed at two (2) days of age. For more information please call Vestridge Animal Clinic.

Q: Why is it important to spay/neuter my pet?

A: Every year, thousands of animals are brought into this world due to irresponsible or accidental breeding. Many of these animals end up in shelters because they either were not able to find homes or the owners can no longer take care of them. As a result of overpopulation, many of these animals are euthanized to make room for others. Before purchasing from a breeder, potential pet owners are urged to look in shelters. Spaying and neutering can also improve your pet’s health and life expectancy. Spaying a female eliminates the chance of getting uterine and ovarian cancer and also reduces the chances of breast cancer. Neutering a male reduces the possibility of prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. Spaying and neutering your pet will also make it more affectionate, less likely to get into fights, roam or get lost. These surgeries are the most common surgeries performed and are usually treated as a day surgery and can go home the same day as when the surgery took place.

Q: When can I get my pet spayed or neutered?

A: Generally, puppies and kittens can be spayed or neutered between 4 and 6 months of age. Call Vestridge Animal Clinic to schedule your pet to be spayed or neutered today!

Q: How much will it cost to have my pet spayed or neutered?

A: Spaying and neutering pricing varies from pet to pet. Please call our front desk at (205) 822-0210 for more information.

Q: What are heartworms? How do pets get heartworm disease?

A: Heartworms are parasites that are spread by mosquitoes. All dogs in our area are at risk for developing heartworm disease. Heartworms live in the pulmonary artery of the heart and will eventually cause heart failure. Prevention is easy, and one of the most important things you can do for your dog. If your dog is diagnosed with heartworms, our doctors can discuss treatment options specifically for your pet. This disease can be treated if the infection is diagnosed early.

Q: Why does my dog need a blood test before purchasing heartworm prevention?

A: Heartworm disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of dogs and cats. Year-round heartworm prevention is recommended by the Center for Disease Control, American Heartworm Society, American Animal Hospital Association and this hospital.

Our hospital requires yearly heartworm testing to determine infection status. Heartworm prevention is not always 100% effective. We are also discovering that some heartworms may be becoming resistant to preventative. Yearly testing allows us to determine the efficacy of the heartworm preventative being used and if the test is positive, it allows us to institute treatment early.

The following are our more specific heartworm testing guidelines: All dogs and cats are started on prevention at 7-8 weeks of age. Any dog over 6 months of age with an unknown history of heartworm preventative will be required to be tested before starting heartworm preventative and then again 6 months later. Any dog with lapses in prevention will be required to be retested 6 months after resuming heartworm preventative. If the owner wishes to switch heartworm preventatives, then the dog will need to be tested at the time of the switch and again 6 months later. These guidelines are in place to help determine efficacy of the heartworm preventative that are being used and to comply with heartworm preventative manufacturer’s product guarantee and to treat infections early. Please visit for more information.

Q: What is Canine Influenza Virus and why should I vaccinate my dog for it?

A: Canine influenza is an airborne virus that spreads quickly and is such a new virus that many dogs have little or no immunity. Our hospital has made it standard policy that all boarders must be vaccinated against it. It is highly contagious and in some cases may be fatal. If your dog has never been vaccinated against this virus, they will receive their first vaccine and a booster 3-4 weeks later. After these initial vaccines, your dog will have this vaccine boostered on a yearly basis.

Q: Why is my pet's breath so bad?

A: Bad breath is usually associated with bacteria in the mouth that produce sulphur containing compounds such as hydrogen sulfides and methyl mercapatans. These compounds not only smell bad, but they also are damaging to the oral tissues. Professional cleaning along with home plaque control gives the best results. Bad breath that returns very shortly after a cleaning indicates that there may be some deep-seated problems that may have been overlooked. Bad breath is occasionally seen with medical conditions such as kidney failure and diabetes.

Q: What are the most common dental problems in pets?

A: Over 70% of all dogs and cats over five years of age suffer from periodontal disease, which means that they have loss of the supporting structures of the teeth. In most cases this process is uncomfortable, and it will eventually lead to problems such as loose teeth, bacteria in the blood stream, and damage to the kidneys, heart and liver. The majority of dogs and cats seen at this practice over the age of 5 have one or more painful teeth in their mouth.

Q: The boarding kennel wants my dog to have the "kennel cough" vaccine. What is that?

A: 'Kennel cough' is a bacterial infection involved in infectious tracheobronchitis and is spread by airborne bacteria. A dog may come in contact with this bacteria through contact with other dogs in places such as kennels, dog shows, or veterinary hospitals. It is recommended that dogs that will be in these situations be vaccinated one week prior to exposure.

Q: Do you offer any alternatives to traditional allergy treatments?

A: Vestridge Animal Clinic is proud to offer SLIP (sublingual immunotherapy for pets) therapy. This treatment consists of hypo-sensitization treatments given by mouth rather than injections.

Q: How often should my pet have an exam and blood work?

A: Remember that an average ratio between our furry friends and humans is approximately 7 years. This means that if our pet has not been to the veterinarian in the past year, it is the equivalent of a human not having a checkup in seven years. More frequent physical examinations, blood work and dental examinations can help extend your pet’s life by as much as 25%. We recommend yearly examinations and blood work for all pets and at more frequent intervals as they become older.

Q: Why do you recommend performing blood work on a yearly basis on my pet?

A: In addition to performing a yearly physical exam we recommend performing yearly blood work to check how well your pet’s organs are functioning. These yearly blood tests will check your pet's kidneys, liver, blood sugar, total protein, and electrolytes. These tests also check for anemia and evidence of inflammation or infection. It is very easy to perform these blood tests at the same time we perform the yearly physical exam. In our senior or geriatric pets we may recommend additional and more frequent blood testing. Your pet’s blood work may come back normal and this would be great and allow us to set a normal baseline level of these values for your pet and have a reference for these values if they become sick at a later time. This blood work allows us to detect problems early, initiate treatment early and provide a good quality and longer life for your pet.

Q: How much are annual appointments?

A: Annual appointment pricing varies from pet to pet. Please call the front desk at (205) 822-0210 for more information and pricing estimates.

Q: How can I take weight off my pet?

A: First, visit your veterinarian to be sure the weight gain is not caused by a medical condition. Then, switch to a reduced calorie formula diet (the veterinarian can suggest one) and curb the amount of treats. Adding vegetables to your pet's food will add bulk to a meal without adding calories. Visiting the veterinary hospital for frequent weigh-ins will help keep you and your pet on the right track.

Q: How much are baths?

A: All bath prices vary by pet. Please contact the front desk for more information.