Dakota Veterinary Center
381 Dobbs Ferry Road
White Plains, NY 10607

Phone: (914) 421-0020

Fax: (914) 421-2049



Canine FAQ | Feline FAQ | Rabbit FAQ

Canine FAQ

How often should my dog be examined by a veterinarian?

For most healthy dogs, an annual health exam is recommended. If your pet should have a chronic medical condition, it may be beneficial to have an exam and any necessary tests performed more often than once a year. A specific health plan can be tailored to your pet’s needs depending on their health status and condition.

What types of tests are recommended at my dog’s annual health exam?

We recommend testing your dog annually for intestinal parasites, Heartworm disease, and Lyme disease. Parasites can be detected through analysis of a fresh stool sample usually brought to the clinic the day of your dog’s annual exam. A simple blood test performed in the exam room can determine if your dog has been exposed to the organisms causing Heartworm and Lyme Disease.

Do you recommend any tests for older dogs?

Yes, as your dog reaches the age of approximately 8-10 years old and depending on the breed type, we will recommend collecting a blood sample once a year to run a senior blood screen. It will help determine if there are any underlying or developing health conditions that can be treated or managed before they cause any serious medical conditions in your dog. Sometimes a urinalysis is also recommended depending on your dog’s condition.

Does my pet need daily vitamins or supplements?

Healthy animals eating a balanced canine diet do not necessarily need to take a daily vitamin although it should not harm your dog by offering one each day. There are a variety of supplements available for dog’s as well, usually directed at a specific need. For example, many of our patients take glucosamine and chondroitin, supplements that promote healthy joints. Other supplements include amino acids and fish oils to promote overall health. We recommend consulting with a veterinarian before starting your dog on any type of supplement.

Should I be brushing my dog’s teeth?

Brushing your dog’s teeth can significantly decrease the development of plaque and tartar on the teeth that may eventually cause gingivitis and periodontal disease. Remember to use only canine tooth paste when brushing. Poor dental hygiene is commonly seen in our clinic and can lead to more serious infections and health problems if not controlled. Without brushing, many dog’s will eventually need to have their teeth professionally scaled and cleaned to avoid tooth decay, loss, and systemic illness.

What types of food can be dangerous to my dog?

Some of the more common foods that can cause serious health problems include but are not limited to:
*chocolate (any type) *caffeine
*chewing gum (w/ xylitol) *nuts
*grapes / raisins *mushrooms
*onions *foods high in fat
*garlic *alcohol

How do I know if my dog has allergies?

Allergies in dog’s are becoming a more common and serious problem. Dog’s can develop allergies to many things we are allergic to Including pollens, molds, dust, and grasses. Dogs may also become allergic to the food they eat. Allergies usually manifest as skin problems in your dog. Excessive scratching arid licking various parts of the body, chronic ear infections, and poor skin condition are common clinical signs. Allergies can be tested for if necessary, however most are managed medically with antihistamines, specialized diets and topical therapies. A specific treatment plan is usually tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

Why does my dog sometimes “scoot” along the ground?

This behavior along with possibly licking excessively around the anal area may indicate your dog’s anal sacs are full. Anal sacs are a normal part of your dog’s anatomy, located just inside the an us. They are usually expressed naturally when a dog defecates, however some dogs anal sacs become impacted and may need to be manually expressed by your veterinarian.

Is it a good idea to purchase pet insurance for my dog?

Pet insurance is becoming more popular as the cost of veterinary care continues to increase. There are several companies now offering insurance, therefore we recommend you investigate which company and policy is best for you and your dog. Insurance can significantly decrease the cost of your veterinary bills whether it is for annual exams, diagnostics, treatments, or emergencies.

What kind of food should I be feeding my dog?

There are many types and varieties of food available for your dog. Most dogs do very well on a commercial dog food their entire life. There is little difference between dry and canned food as long as they offer a complete and balanced canine ration. There are also specialized diets such as raw diets, organic diets, and vegetarian diets available far dogs. It is recommended you consult with your veterinarian before starting a new diet for your dog. Our veterinary clinic also carries prescription diets formulated to benefit a dog with a specific medical condition as part of the overall therapeutic plan. Your veterinarian will determine if a prescription diet would benefit your dog.

How often can I give my dog a bath?

Dogs are usually bathed only when necessary. There is no specific restriction to bathing your dog. However, bathing too much may lead to dry skin causing irritation and scratching. We recommend using a gentle canine shampoo or a medicated shampoo should your dog have a specific skin condition.

What types of treats are healthy for my dog?

Regardless of the type of treat they should be given in moderation to avoid excess calories and weight gain. Some healthier treats include carrot sticks and Cheerios cereal. You may also use pieces of your dogs dry kibble food as a treat or reward.

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Feline FAQ

My cat does not like dry food. Is it okay if my cat just eats canned or semi-moist food?

Yes. The nutritional content of each of these presentations is very similar. The difference is mostly in the water content of the food.

What brand of cat food should I choose?

You can find a variety of well balanced cat food in the market. If you decide to change brands, please do it gradually to avoid gastrointestinal upset.

Is it okay if my cat eats my dog’s food?

No, your cat should not be eating your dog’s food. Commercial foods designed for dogs do not have the level of protein and other nutrients that cats require for their growth or maintenance. Also, dog food does not produce the level of acidity in the urine that cat’s should have to help prevent the formation of bladder or kidney stones.

My 8 year-old cat seems active and healthy. Why does my vet recommend annual bloodwork?

Annual bloodwork will help screen for preventable and/or treatable conditions before they become problematic. As your cat ages, he or she is more likely to have heart, kidney and thyroid problems. A quick blood sample can determine if these and other organs are working properly.

My cat has a fever, can I give my cat baby tylenol?

No. Cats are extremely sensitive to acetaminophen (Tylenol®) toxicity. Very low doses of Tylenol can be lethal for your cat. Please, never give any medication to your cat without consulting your veterinarian

What common food items should I avoid feeding my cat?

Some common foods that are toxic to cats are onion, garlic, grapes, raisins, chocolate, macadamia nuts, mushrooms, green tomatoes and green raw potatoes.

At what age should I spay or neuter may cat?

The best time to spay or neuter your cat is around six months of age. Studies suggest that when a cat is sterilized at this age, many reproductive organ related health problems such as uterine, ovarian, and mammary infections and cancers, testicular disease, prostatic disease and cancer can be prevented. Another advantage is that by spaying and neutering your cat, you will decrease his or her tendency to roam and look for a mate or get into fights, thus reducing the risks of contracting contagious diseases, like feline leukemia and feline inmunodeficiency virus, as well as cat fights or other traumatic injuries.

Which plants can be poisonous for my cat?

There is a long list of plants that are toxic for cats. Please refer to the ASPCA poisonous plants list at (www.aspca.org/) a rid identify if any of your indoor plants are on the list. Cats are especially sensitive to lily poisoning and present clinical signs of renal failure.

How long is a normal gestation period?

Around 63 - 66 days or about 9 weeks.

Why should I vaccinate my cat if he is indoors?

Many people believe that strictly indoor cats will never be exposed to infectious diseases. Although it is true that indoors cats, when compared to cats that are roaming outside, have a reduced risk of being exposed to viruses, bacteria, fungi or parasites, they still can be exposed to these organisms. Some microorganisms are transmitted by direct contact with infected animals; others are transmitted through vectors, such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. Also, we can bring home disease through our clothes and shoes, The best way to keep your cat protected is by annual examinations and keeping your cat up to date with vaccines and year round ectoparasite prevention.

What vaccines should my cat get?

All cats should be vaccinated against rabies, Feline Rhinotracheitis, panleukopenia and calicivirus. If your cat roams outside, your veterinarian might also recommend a vaccine to prevent Feline Leukemia.

Why does my cat groom himself contantly?

Cats, by nature, love to be clean. A cat will spend almost 30% of its life grooming itself. If you see excessive grooming, especially in one spot, or development of hair loss, we recommend having your cat in for a medical consult.

Can I give my cat a bath?

Yes. Cats are very good at grooming themselves; therefore, bathing them will rarely be necessary. However, if your cat is very dirty you can give them a bath with warm water and a mild shampoo designed for use in cats.

Why did my cat stop using the litter box?

There are many reasons why a cat will avoid using the litter box. First, cats will not use a dirty litter box, so make sure the box is cleaned and the litter sifted everyday. Clean the box weekly with mild soap and water. Also, many cats will avoid using scented litter because these smells are generally unpleasant to a cat’s sensitive nose. Additionally, some cats might not like the feeling of litter on their paws. You can try other substrates (sands, clumpable litters, etc). Generally cats don’t like to share the box, so if you have multiple cats in your house, you should have multiple litter boxes. If you are keeping up with good litter box maintenance and your cat is still voiding in other places, please make an appointment with one of our veterinarians to have a complete evaluation. Your cat might be suffering from an urinary infection.

It’s impossible for me to give oral medication to my cat. What can I do?

If you are not able to pill or give liquid medication to your cat you can try other options. One alternative is to hide the pill in pill pockets. Another trick is to crush the pill and mix it with nutrical or hair ball paste and apply it to the forelegs. Generally your cat will lick it off as it grooms itself. If none of the above work out, you can ask if the medication can be given transdermally, which means, that the medication will be absorbed through the skin, typically it will be applied on the skin in the inner ear.

Fun Facts About Cats

  • White cats with blue eyes are generally deaf.

  • Studies suggest that cats can differentiate colors such as blue and green. It is not known if they can also see red.

  • A cat sees about 6 times better than a human at night.

  • It is very uncommon for a cat to meow at another cat. This sound is usually just reserved for humans.

  • In relation to their body size, cats have the largest eyes of any mammals.

  • The brain of a cat is more similar to a man’s brain compared to that of a dog.

  • Cats have around 60-80 million olfactory cells (a human has between 5 and 20 million).

  • Cats have a special scent organ, called the Jacobson’s organ, located in the roof of their mouth. It analyzes smells - and is the reason why you will sometimes see your cat “sneer’ (called the flehmen response or flehming) when they encounter a strong odor.

  • A cat has a total of 24 whiskers which they use to measure distances.

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Rabbits FAQ

Rabbits are friendly, intelligent, affectionate animals, who can live 7-10+ years with good care. Like cats, rabbits are self- grooming, immaculately clean animals that have no body odor. They appreciate clean litter boxes and living quarters. Their personality most closely resembles a dog’s and they require similar socialization. They greatly enjoy human companionship and are best suited for adult households. Rabbits have a very light skeleton in proportion to their body mass and are prone to orthopedic injury, therefore, careful handling is essential. To maintain your rabbit’s physical and mental well being, plenty of daily exercise is required.

It is recommended that your rabbit live indoors where he will become an integrated member of the family. Following are several reasons they should not be housed outdoors:

  • Exposure to extreme weather conditions is very dangerous; heat is of particular concern.

  • “Hutch” rabbits do not get the required exercise. Allowing a rabbit loose in a yard can result in him becoming lost or injured. Their main threats are from other animals, cars and humans.

  • Outdoor rabbits are in danger of predator attack even if housed in a cage.

  • Rabbits axe prey animals and are fearful of unfamiliar sounds, smells and perceived threats.

  • Outdoor rabbits are often neglected; which results in their food, water and living quarters becoming quickly soiled.

  • It is difficult to observe illness or injury to a rabbit living outdoors.

  • There is a high risk of chemical poisoning {pesticides, fertilizers, etc.) and contacting diseases carried by other animals such as raccoons.

  • Outdoor rabbits are prone to infestation by insects. Of particular concern is flystrike, which is very painful and often fatal.

  • It is difficult to interact with and form a relationship with an outdoor rabbit, which is unfair to both you and him.

  • You should never “release” your rabbit outdoors. Not only is it cruel, but it is illegal in the state of New York. The wild rabbit species, such as cottontails are instrinctually adapted to survive outside, our domestic rabbits are not.

Spay and Neuter

  • It is recommended that your rabbit be spayed or neutered.

  • In females, there is a high incidence of uterine cancer that can exceed 50% as the rabbit ages. Intact males are at risk for testicular cancer and tend to spray urine.

  • Driven by hormonal behavior to breed, unaltered rabbits can be aggressive {lunging, biting and mounting} and are generally miserable.

  • Spaying and neutering improves their litter box habits.

  • Male rabbits can be neutered as soon as their testicles are visible, generally after 3 months of age.

  • Female rabbits should not be spayed until they are at least 6 months of age.

  • Unaltered rabbits should never be housed together. Hormonal aggression can cause serious, even life threatening injuries.

  • Female rabbits have a short gestation period of just 30 days. They can get pregnant minutes after giving birth and every 30 days thereafter.

  • "Baby" male rabbits can impregnate a female as soon as his testicles descend; even his mother or sibling.

  • "Baby" female rabbits can become pregnant as young as 4 months of age, even by her father or sibling.

  • If the age of your rabbit is unknown, a general health exam prior to spay/neuter surgery is a good idea. Be sure to have an experienced rabbit veterinarian perform the procedure.

Health Issues

Because they are prey animals, rabbits are adept at hiding illness. Therefore, it is extremely important to become very familiar with your rabbit’s routines, eating habits and general behaviors. Observe him for any changes and be sure to see your veterinarian to avert a medical emergency. Following is a list of health concerns that require a visit to your rabbit savvy veterinarian:

  • One or more of the following: your rabbit has not eaten for 12 hours, refuses food including his favorite treat, has a bloated belly, is reluctant to move, is posturing like he is uncomfortable! is pushing his belly to the floor, or has decreased quantity or size of fecal droppings.

  • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or pawing at his mouth.

  • Inability to harvest cecal pellets.

  • His hind quarters are soiled with urine or feces and he cannot clean it off.

  • He is lame or lacks balance.

  • Labored breathing.

  • Heat stroke

  • He is attempting to eat but drops the food from his mouth.

  • Spikes a sudden fever.

  • Is sneezing with discharge or has thick nasal discharge without sneezing.

  • Has eye discharge/is squinting/eye(s) is red or bulging.

  • Excessive ear scratching, head shaking or excessive body scratching/baldness.

  • Presence of lumps, bumps or swelling.

  • Is incontinent, straining to urinate, has thick sand-like urine, or is urinating inappropriately.

  • Has a bite wound or laceration.

  • Head tilt

  • His top or bottom incisors (front teeth) are protruding from his mouth. Diarrhea

  • Your rabbit has come in contact with a predator, even if you don’t see an obvious injury.

  • Sudden behavior change.

  • Diet

    • The most important component of your rabbits diet is hay. An abundance of high quality grass (not legume hay like alfalfa) such as timothy hay should be offered daily. Other hays can be fed such as oat mix, barley, rye, orchard grass, Bermuda grass, brome, and meadow hay. Buying in large quantities (25 lbs) can cost as little as $2/00 per lb. (see websites below for sources).

    • Hay should be kept in a cool well-ventilated area to prevent mold from forming. High quality plain pellets. (no seeds, corn, or colored bits). Look for the highest fiber, lowest protein pellets available. They should not be kept in the freezer. Pellets should be fed in limited quantities; smaller rabbits can have ¼ cup per day and larger rabbits approximately 1/3 cup depending on size.

    • A good variety of fresh dark green leafy vegetables daily. Add new vegetables slowly, one at a time. Treats should be exclusively fruit (which includes carrots) given only in small quantities.

    • Do not feed: corn, potatoes, legumes, seeds, nuts, cereal, garlic, onion, shallots, scallion, dairy products, cookies, cakes, candy, crackers, chocolate or any other "human" snacks, or packaged treats marketed for rabbits.


    For his safety, you should keep your bunny in an enclosed space when you are away from home. "Puppy" exercise pens {which come in various heights} are recommended. Typical “rabbit cages” are way too small, have wire bottoms and are difficult to get your rabbit in and out of. They will likely refuse to go back into a cage when exercise time is over. If you must use a cage, dog crates work best; get the largest one you can accommodate.

    Rabbits are instinctual chewers; all dangerous or valuable items should be kept out of their reach. Exercise pens also make great "fences" to block off or rap around prohibited areas. Rabbits do not have traction pads on the bottom of their feet like cats and dogs do. Because of this, walking on slick surfaces (tile, hardwood, and linoleum} is difficult, uncomfortable and dangerous. It also hinders the rabbit’s ability to run without risking injury. Carpeting provides excellent traction and will facilitate running and other dance-like play. The lower the pile, the better. Be sure your rabbit is not eating the carpeting.

    You mast keep your rabbit away from all electrical cords. They cannot distinguish wires from tree roots and electrocution is a real hazard. Wires should be covered with heavy-duty cord covers or PVC tubing. Using a puppy pen to block access works well.

    Your rabbit should have a litter box large enough for him to Lie down in. Although you can use products such as Carefresh or Yesterdays News; thick-sections of newspaper in a box filled with hay works best. This set up will cause him to eat more hay and will keep your rabbit’s feet and hindquarters clean and dry.

    Your rabbit should have plenty of bunny-friendly toys (see websites at the end of this document). Clean cardboard is safe and appreciated for chewing, tearing, and digging on. Hard plastic {non-ehewable} objects work well for flinging and tossing as do paper bags and paper towel rolls. Phonebooks are great for digging and shredding.

    Fresh water is best offered in a bowl; because it is easier to use, your rabbit will drink more. Many plants are toxic to rabbits. To be on the safe side, do not allow your rabbit access to any houseplants.

    Rabbits require plenty of exercise for their physical health, mental well being and enjoyment. Be sure to bunny-proof his exercise area as well and be present to supervise so you can adjust any problem areas. A long carpeted hallway is a great place for a rabbit to kick up his heels.

    Do Not...

    • Pick your rabbit up by his ears, or legs.

    • Ever "scruff" your rabbit.

    • Use a collar or leash, severe injury can result.

    • "Trance" or hold him on his back.

    • Allow children to handle or pick up your rabbit.

    • House your rabbit in an area where he cannot escape the sun.

    • Bathe your rabbit.

    • Ever punish or discipline your rabbit. Because their behavior is instinctual, they will not understand your attempts to punish or train them. This will only serve to frighten your rabbit causing him to defend himself (biting and lunging} and he will fear you.

    • Allow your rabbit to ingest anything other than the food items mentioned above.

    • Allow access to items you do not want damaged from chewing.

    • Ever use cat litter.

    • Use pine or cedar wood chip products.

    • Leave your rabbit alone for days at a time.

    • Allow a veterinarian to administer amoxicillin or any other ORAL penicillin drugs.

    • Chase your rabbit.

    • Use harsh cleaning products in his area, white vinegar works well to clean urine.

    • Allow him to climb onto high surfaces.

    • Ever leave your rabbit alone with a cat or dog. Although some dogs. and cats are gentle and trustworthy enough to interact with your rabbit, you must proceed with extreme caution.


    • Only introduce spayed and neutered rabbits under controlled conditions.

    • Monitor your rabbits eating habits and behavior each day. Get to know his personality so you can detect any changes that could be a sign of illness.

    • Use a sturdy pet carrier for all travel {with a thick towel to prevent sliding}.

    • Make sure your rabbit’s quarters are well ventilated.

    • Brush your rabbit often to lessen the amount of fur he will ingest.

    • Give him soft things to lie on. Cat beds work well, as long as your rabbit does not eat them. Even a soft folded towel provides comfort.

    • Use food or treats to get him from point A to point B or into his travel carrier. If you cannot handle your rabbit, don’t. Contact one of your local rabbit rescue groups or ask your veterinarian for help.

    Rabbit Friendly Websites:

    For hay, pellets, and toys: Bunnyluv.com, Bunnybytes.com, Busybunny.com, Forotherlivingthings.com, Americanpetdiner.com, Oxbowhay.com, Farmerdave.biz

    For information: Rabbit.org

    Informative Yahoo groups: Etherbun, NYCbuns, Bunbond.

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