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FAQs – Medical Concerns

Below is a list of common questions about common medical concerns. If you have additional questions please use our contact us form.

Common Medical Concerns

What are the benefits of Spay/Neuter?

Benefits of Spaying (females):

  • No heat cycles, therefore males will not be attracted
  • Less desire to roam
  • Risk of mammary gland tumors, ovarian and/or uterine cancer is reduced or eliminated, especially if done before the first heat cycle
  • Reduces number of unwanted cats/kittens/dogs/puppies
  • Helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives

Benefits of Neutering (males):

  • Reduces or eliminates risk of spraying and marking
  • Less desire to roam, therefore less likely to be injured in fights or auto accidents
  • Risk of testicular cancer is eliminated, and decreases incidence of prostate disease
  • Reduces number of unwanted cats/kittens/dogs/puppies
  • Decreases aggressive behavior, including dog bites
  • Helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives

Top 3 Reasons to Spay and Neuter:

  1. It helps to reduce companion animal overpopulation. Most countries have a surplus of companion animals and are forced to euthanize or disregard their great suffering. The surplus is in the millions in the United States. Cats are 45 times as prolific, and dogs 15 times as prolific, as humans. They do not need our help to expand their numbers; they need our help to reduce their numbers until there are good homes for them all.
  2. Sterilization of your cat or dog will increase his/her chance of a longer and healthier life. Altering your canine friend will increase his life an average of 1 to 3 years, felines, 3 to 5 years. Altered animals have a very low to no risk of mammary gland tumors/cancer, prostate cancer, perianal tumors, pyometria, and uterine, ovarian and testicular cancers.
  3. Sterilizing your cat/dog makes him/her a better pet, reducing his/her urge to roam and decreasing the risk of contracting diseases or getting hurt as they roam. Surveys indicate that as many as 85% of dogs hit by cars are unaltered. Intact male cats living outside have been shown to live on average less than two years. Feline Immunodeficiency Syndrome is spread by bites and intact cats fight a great deal more than altered cats.

Additional Benefits:

  • Your community will also benefit. Unwanted animals are becoming a very real concern in many places. Stray animals can easily become a public nuisance, soiling parks and streets, ruining shrubbery, frightening children and elderly people, creating noise and other disturbances, causing automobile accidents, and sometimes even killing livestock or other pets. – The American Veterinary Medical Association
  • The capture, impoundment and eventual destruction of unwanted animals costs taxpayers and private humanitarian agencies over a billion dollars each year. As a potential source of rabies and other less serious diseases, they can be a public health hazard. – The American Veterinary Medical Association

Can heartworms be treated? 


Yes, but treatment is very expensive and hard on a dog. A dog receives a series of injections into the muscles of their back. The regular treatment consists of two injections for two consecutive days. The split treatment consists of one (1) injection one month prior to the regular treatment. The prevention pill is then started one month after the two consecutive injections and is continued for the dog’s life. Heartworms will not return if the prevention pill is given monthly for the life of your dog. If the prevention pill is discontinued at any point, the dog is then at risk of re-infection.

If you adopt a dog that has been treated for heartworms, TSDR or your vet will go over the “do’s and dont’s” in detail before you take the dog home. Most important is to keep your dog calm for six (6) weeks after the last injection. Exercise restriction is very important because as the drugs are killing the worms in the arteries, the worms can break off and travel to block parts of the blood vessels. This is known as pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE). PTE results in obstruction of the blood flow to parts of the lung, is very serious, and can be fatal. Keeping the dog quiet allows the body time to slowly break down and absorb the dying worms. Ideally, a dog should remain crated to ensure a calm environment.

How do I know if my dog has heartworms?

A veterinarian  will able to run a test and tell you whether or not your dog has been infected. It is recommended that this test be done yearly, even for dogs on monthly prevention. Symptoms don’t usually develop until significant damage has already occurred to the heart. Dogs can have a wide range of symptoms, with some having no symptoms at all. Symptoms usually occur because of heart failure and include: coughing or coughing up blood, heavy or difficult breathing, unwillingness or intolerance to exercise, and signs of congestive heart failure, including fluid distention of the belly and pulsation of the jugular veins in the neck.

Can I prevent my dog from getting heartworms?

Yes! Heartworm infection is an easily preventable disease in dogs. There is a monthly prevention pill that will protect your dog from getting the disease. This prevention pill is available only through your vet.

What is heartworm disease? 


Heartworm disease is a common condition in dogs in Texas. It is recommended that dogs be on monthly heartworm prevention year round which can only be purchased in your veterinarian’s office.

Transmission occurs when a mosquito bites an infected dog and ingests baby heartworms, which live in the bloodstream. When the insect bites another dog, some of the baby heartworms are injected under the skin. They grow for 3 to 4 months and eventually make their way into the heart. Once in the heart, the worms become adults and the cycle continues. The “load” of worms in the heart can be mild to severe, with the more severe cases causing more strain on the heart. If left untreated, heartworm disease can be fatal.

Can kennel cough be prevented? 


Yes, a vet administered bordetella vaccination will prevent your dog from contracting kennel cough, but because there are multiple strains of kennel cough, the vaccination does not protect against every strain.

How do you treat kennel cough? 


The disease is usually self-limiting (like a cold) and, if a viral infection is suspected, antibiotics can’t kill the virus. If the case is mild and uncomplicated, treatment is not necessary and the virus will run its course. A mild to moderate cough without other symptoms is usually self-limiting. Occasional cases become lingering and can cause chronic bronchitis, which is why it’s important to seek advice from your vet. If it is a more severe case, then a cough suppressant and antibiotics (to prevent secondary infections) are given under the supervision of a vet. The time the dog first contracts the infections to when the symptoms develop is between 3 and 10 days. These symptoms can last for several days to several weeks. If your dog does present symptoms of kennel cough please contact TSDR and we can recommend the next steps to take.

What is kennel cough? 


Kennel cough is a cold that dogs typically get from shelters or kennels. Most of the dogs rescued from a shelter will develop an upper respiratory infection. It is not life threatening and can be easily treated with medication. Please make sure that any dogs already in your home are current on the bordatella vaccination before you adopt a dog. Please contact TSDR if your adopted dog begins coughing, sneezing, or has clear yellow or green discharge coming from its nose.