Frequently Asked Questions

Having a Pet is a wonderful experience, but they require a serious commitment to its general health and well being. I feel it is my role as a veterinarian to help guide you in making the best decisions for your pet's overall health.


1. Which vaccines does my puppy need and why?
2. Which vaccines does my kitten need and why?
3. How do I get a city dog license?
4. When should my pet be neutered/spayed?
5. How often does my pet need to have its teeth cleaned? Is there anything I should be doing at home?
6. Does my cat need to be declawed?
7. What is an AVID chip, and how do I get one?
8. My pet just came home from the hospital, and I'm having a hard time getting it to take its medication. What can I do?
9. What is Heartworm disease? Why does my pet need to be tested while on a preventative?
10. What are anal sacs and why does my pet need them expressed?


1. Which vaccines does my puppy need and why?
Puppies under 4 months of age do not have adequate immune systems to combat the more common canine viruses. Therefore it is very important to vaccinate them frequently to ensure protection against dangerous diseases. We recommend that puppies receive a series of basic vaccinations every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 16 to 17 weeks old. An individualized protocol and schedule will be discussed during your puppy's first visit. Typically it will include a combination vaccine called a DAPP which protects against Canine Distemper, Canine Infectious Hepatitis/Adenovirus, Canine Parvovirus, and Canine Parainfluenza. Based on your puppy's breed and lifestyle, vaccination against Kennel Cough (Bordetella), Leptospirosis, and/or Lyme disease may also be included. Once your puppy is 15 to 17 weeks old, he or she is old enough to be given a Rabies vaccine, which is protective for one year. Find more information here.


2. Which vaccines does my kitten need and why?
Kittens under 4 months of old do not have adequate immune systems to combat the common feline viruses. Therefore it is very important to vaccinate them frequently to ensure protection against dangerous diseases. We recommend that kittens receive a series of vaccinations every 3 to 4 weeks until they are 16 to 17 weeks old. An individualized protocol and schedule will also be discussed during your first visit, and will usually include a combination vaccine called a FVRCP, which protects against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calicivirus, and Feline Panleukopenia. Once your kitten is 16 weeks old, it is old enough to be given a Rabies vaccine, which is protective for one year. Once your kitten 12 weeks, he or she should be tested for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. If your cat will spend time outdoors, or could potentially escape and/or be exposed to a stray kitten or other indoor/outdoor cat, we recommend your kitten also be vaccinated for feline leukemia virus, provided it tests negative for the disease.


3. How do I get a city dog license?
When you vaccinate your dog for rabies, part of the fee goes toward a mandatory Cook County tax and also registers your pet in Cook County . Most municipalities require that residents purchase a dog license. At the time of your pet's rabies vaccine, you will receive the current year's rabies vaccination tag and a proof of vaccination certificate signed by your veterinarian. We can provide a city license application for the City of Chicago . Other city license applications can be obtained from your town hall. If you do not reside in Cook County , a rabies certificate will be issued without a tag. You will be responsible for registering your pet in your own county.
Chicago dog license applications can also be filled out online at this link.

Chicago License Fees are as follows (as of 5/05) :
Unneutered Dog= $10.00
Neutered Dog= $5.00
Unneutered Dog, Senior owner (>65) = $5.00
Neutered Dog, Senior owner (>65) = $2.50

Make checks payable to CITY CLERK and mail checks to:
City Hall
James J. Laski, City Clerk
Room 107 - Dog License Division
121 N. LaSalle
Chicago , IL 60602-1295


4. When should my pet be neutered/spayed?

While a spay or neuter (castration) can be performed at any age over 8 weeks, we recommend the procedure be done at 4 to 6 months of age. Even if your pet is an adult, the health and behavioral benefits of spaying or neutering can still be obtained regardless of the age at which spay/neuter is performed.
Find more information about the procedure and its health benefits here:
Canine Neuter FAQ
Canine Spay FAQ
Feline Neuter FAQ
Feline Spay FAQ


5. How often does my pet need to have its teeth cleaned? Is there anything I should be doing at home?
Your veterinarian will examine your pet's teeth during his or her annual or biannual exam to determine the best schedule for your pet. Just like people, individual pets develop tartar and oral disease at different rates. Many large dogs can go for 1-3 without a cleaning at your veterinarian's office (especially if you're brushing at home) whereas most smaller breeds need a professional cleaning every 6 months! The more home dental care you utilize, the less often your pet will need its teeth professionally cleaned.
For more information, please go to this site.
Here are some recommendations for things you can do at home to help keep your pet's teeth as healthy as possible!


6. Does my cat need to be declawed?

We always recommend that new cat owners train their kittens to use a scratching post or pads as early as possible. It is a natural part of the cat's behavior and personality to stretch their legs, deposit their scent and shed the outer casings of their nails by scratching. However, overly destructive or aggressive cats, or cats living in homes of elderly or immunocompromised individuals may need to be declawed. We recommend declawing only the front paws, as the hind paws are rarely used for scratching. If you decide to declaw your cat, we recommend you schedule the procedure at the same time as your cat’s spay or neuter, as younger cats heal faster and with less pain than adult cats. We do not recommend declaws for any cats older than 2 years.
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7. What is an AVID chip, and how do I get one?

AVID stands for American Veterinary Identification Device and is one of the most common veterinary microchips used. This chip is about the diameter of pencil lead, and is placed just below your pet's skin between the shoulder blades, using a syringe, similar to giving a vaccine injection. Your pet can be fully conscious when the microchip is placed; however, we prefer to place the microchip while your pet is being spayed or neutered. If your pet is lost or stolen and picked up by animal control or brought to a shelter or clinic, your pet will be scanned with a universal scanner, and, if chipped, a number will come up that links your pet back to you.
Please read more information about AVID microchips here.


8. My pet just came home from the hospital, and I'm having a hard time getting it to take its medication. What can I do?

We understand that sometimes it is very frustrating to get your pet to take medications; however, this medicine is very important to the health and comfort of your pet. Your compliance to the medication protocol your veterinarian prescribes is essential to promote healing. Sometimes we can prescribe or order a different form of the medication, such as a liquid, flavored chewable tablet or transdermal gel, which will make life easier for you and your pet. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are having trouble giving your pet its medication. Please also review this link for some helpful suggestions.


9. What is Heartworm disease? Why does my pet need to be tested while on a preventative?

Heartworm is a parasite that is carried in its larval form by mosquitoes. If your dog or cat is bitten by an infected mosquito, it deposits the larvae into your pet's bloodstream, where they will grow into multiple adult-sized worms in your pet's heart. This infestation does irreversible and often deadly damage to your pet's heart and lungs. You can prevent your pet from becoming infected by keeping a low level of an anti-parasitic medication in your pet's bloodstream. We do not recommend giving your pet this medication if he or she already HAS heartworm disease as they can get very ill. Therefore we recommend testing once a year to screen for the disease. Heartworm is endemic in the Midwest and common in our area, therefore, it is ESSENTIAL that your pet be on a preventative. Preventatives we recommend and dispense include Heartgard Plus, Interceptor, Sentinel, and Revolution. Current recommendations are to keep your pet on a preventative year round, as opposed to only during the mosquito season. Research has shown it can take multiple doses of the preventative to fully eradicate an infection. For example, if an infective mosquito bites your pet late in the season, such as in November, it will take the following doses during December and January to prevent your pet from getting an infection. Additional benefits include treatment of most intestinal parasites, such as hookworms and roundworms, which can be passed on to us. If there is a lapse in preventative, such as skipping a month, and the pet is not tested, the disease could progress to heart failure before detection.
Find more information about heartworm disease here:
Heartworm disease
Heartworm prevention
*Note: We do not routinely test cats for heartworm disease, as most are indoors and exposure is minimal. However, if your cat does go outside, even for short periods of time, we recommend discussing proper heartworm testing and prevention for your cat.


10. What are anal sacs and why does my pet need them expressed?
Anal sacs or anal glands are two small glands just inside your pet's anus. The material that collects in these glands normally acts as a marking scent and lubricant during defecation. Some pets have difficulty expressing that material and it accumulates in the glands until they feel uncomfortable. At this point you will notice your pet dragging its rear on the ground ("scooting") or licking that area. If the glands are not emptied, complications can occur. Some dogs and cats never need them expressed while others require treatment every 6 – 8 weeks.
Please discuss any symptoms with your veterinarian during your office visit. Additionally, our technicians are trained to empty the glands for you during office hours with no appointment necessary. Read more information by following this link. However, if at any time you have difficulty emptying the glands or the secretion looks abnormal, it is best to set up an appointment to have your pet seen by a veterinarian.
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