Stress-Free Vet Visits For Your Cat

Do you dread trying to catch your cat for trips to the vet? Are you overlooking subtle signs of concern, or are your cats vaccinations outdated, because you so dread the struggle? Here are a few tips to help make your next visit to the vet less traumatizing for you and your cat:

  • ALWAYS transport your cat in a carrier. This helps them to feel secure and protected, and is safer for both the cat and driver in a moving car. It also protects the cat from other pets that may be in the waiting room.
  •  Introduce your cat to its carrier and traveling in advance, and starting with kittenhood.
  • If you have the space, leave the carrier out and open at home for your cat to explore.
  • Do fun and positive things in, on, or around the carrier, like feeding, playing, and petting.
  • If possible, take your cat for short car trips so she will not associate car rides only with visits to the vet.
  • If your cat is prone to motion sickness when it travels, withhold food the day of travel. This may also help make the cat more receptive to treats at the clinic, and it is best to have a fasted blood sample.
  • Place something familiar in your cat’s carrier before travel. This could be a t-shirt of their favorite person or a blanket or rug they like to lay on at home.
  • Provide a place for your cat to hide either in the carrier or drape a blanket on the carrier during transport.
  • Consider owning a cat carrier that has a removable top. Rather than having to eject your cat from the carrier, the vet will be able to simply remove the top and conduct the majority of the exam with the cat feeling secure in his/her carrier.

Rabies Vaccination Information

State law requires rabies vaccinations (shots) for all cats, dogs, and domesticated ferrets!

Where can I get my pet vaccinated?

Many counties provide free rabies vaccination clinics several times per year. Contact Pima Animal Care Center (Animal Control) for the schedule in your area. Rabies vaccinations are also available from your veterinarian at Rita Ranch Pet Hospital. If you have questions about vaccines developed specifically for cats, read our blog post about non-adjuvented vaccines.

When should my pet receive its first rabies vaccination?

The law requires that your pet’s first rabies vaccination be given no later than four months after its date of birth. Many rabies vaccines are licensed for use at three months, although some may be given at younger ages.

When should my pet receive its second rabies vaccination?

Your pet should receive its second rabies vaccination within one year of the first vaccination. The second rabies shot and all shots thereafter are sometimes called booster shots.  For felines, an annual rabies vaccine is given.  For adult dogs, a three-year rabies vaccine is given.

What proof will I have that my pet received its rabies shot?

Our office will provide you with a certificate as proof that your pet has been vaccinated. We will also keep a copy of your pet’s current vaccination certificate. The law requires the veterinarian to provide the vaccination certificate to any public health official for any case involving your dog, cat, or ferret that may have been exposed to rabies, or in any case of possible exposure of a person or another animal to rabies.

If my pet bites a person, does it have to be euthanized (put to sleep)?

If your pet bites a person and you wish to avoid euthanizing and testing it for rabies, it must be confined and observed for ten days. If your pet is not up to date on its rabies shots, the ten day confinement/observation period must take place at the owner’s expense at an appropriate facility such as an animal shelter, veterinary office, or kennel. If your pet is up to date on its rabies shots, the county health department may allow the ten day confinement/observation period to take place in your home. During the ten day confinement/observation period, the county or a designated party must verify that your pet is under confinement and observation, and has remained healthy during and at end of the ten day period.


If your dog, cat, or domesticated ferret is not vaccinated, is not up to date on its vaccinations, or is not properly confined after biting someone, as the owner you shall be subject to a fine determined by your county animal control.

Pyometra (Infected Uterus) in Dogs

What is pyometra?

Pyometra is defined as an infection in the uterus. The uterus is also known as the womb and is where the developing fetus is located. It is serious and life threatening condition that must be treated promptly and aggressively.

Pyometra is often the result of hormonal changes in the reproductive tract. During estrus (“heat”), white blood cells are removed from the uterus to allow safe passage of the sperm. This lapse in protection often leads to infection. Following estrus (“heat”) in the dog, progesterone levels remain elevated for eight to ten weeks and thicken the lining of the uterus in preparation for pregnancy. If pregnancy does not occur for several estrus cycles, the lining continues to increase in thickness until cysts form within it. The thickened, cystic lining secretes fluids that create an ideal environment in which bacteria can grow. Additionally, high progesterone levels inhibit the ability of the muscles in the wall of the uterus to contract.

When does it occur?

Pyometra may occur in young to middle-aged dogs; however, it is most common in older dogs. After many years of estrus cycles without pregnancy, the uterine wall undergoes the changes that promote this disease.

The typical time for pyometra to occur is about two to eight weeks after estrus (“heat cycle”).

What are the clinical signs of a dog with pyometra?

The clinical signs depend on whether or not the cervix is open. If it is open, pus will drain from the uterus through the vagina to the outside. It is often noted on the skin or hair under the tail or on bedding and furniture where the dog has laid. Fever, lethargy, anorexia, and depression may or may not be present.

If the cervix is closed, pus that forms is not able to drain to the outside. It collects in the uterus causing distention of the abdomen. The bacteria release toxins that are absorbed into circulation. These dogs often become severely ill very rapidly. They are anorectic, very listless, and very depressed. Vomiting or diarrhea may be present.

Toxins from the bacteria affect the kidney’s ability to retain fluid. Increased urine production occurs, and the dog drinks an excess of water. This occurs in both open- and closed-cervix pyometra.

How is it diagnosed?

Dogs that are seen early in the disease may have a slight vaginal discharge and show no other signs of illness. However, most dogs with pyometra are not seen until later in the illness. A very ill female dog that is drinking an increased amount of water and has not been spayed is always suspected of having pyometra. This is especially true if there is a vaginal discharge or painful, enlarged abdomen.

Dogs with pyometra have a marked elevation of the white blood cell count and often have an elevation of globulins (a type of protein produced by the immune system) in the blood. The specific gravity of the urine is very low due to the toxic effects of the bacteria on the kidneys. However, all of these abnormalities may be present in any dog with a major bacterial infection.

If the cervix is closed, radiographs (x-rays) of the abdomen will often identify the enlarged uterus. If the cervix is open, there will often be such minimal uterine enlargement that the radiograph will not be conclusive. An ultrasound examination can also be helpful in identifying an enlarged uterus and differentiating that from a normal pregnancy.

How is it treated?

The preferred treatment is to surgically remove the uterus and ovaries. This is called an ovariohysterectomy (“spay”). Dogs diagnosed in the early stage of the disease are very good surgical candidates. The surgery is only slightly more complicated than a routine spay. However, most dogs are diagnosed when they are quite ill so the surgery is not as routine as the same surgery in a healthy dog. Intravenous fluids are often needed before and after surgery. Antibiotics are usually given for two weeks after surgery.

Pyometra is preventable by spaying your female dog prior to their first heat cycle.  Call Rita Ranch Pet Hospital and speak with a knowledgable veterinary technician to get more information about scheduling a spay for your dog.

© Copyright 2005 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. January 5, 2016

Importance of Physical Exams

Comprehensive physical examinations are an important tool in providing a
long, quality life for your pet. Pets age 5-7 times faster than humans, can’t
talk, and often hide early signs of disease. One year represents 5-10% of the
pet’s life span, whereas one year only represents a very small percentage
of the average life of a human. Getting a comprehensive annual physical
examination for your pet is like one every 5-7 years for humans.
Since pets can’t talk to us, they often are unable to communicate problems
before they become a major concern and threat to the pet’s well being. Any
hint of abnormalities may bring recommendations for additional laboratory
testing to confirm suspicions.
Skin and Hair Coat:  Dull, dry, brittle hair or hair loss can indicate an underlying illness such as allergies, thyroid or immune conditions.
Eyes, Ears and Nose:  Such things as severe conjunctivitis, cataracts, and glaucoma can sometimes be prevented if detected early enough. Thorough examination of the ear canals can prevent painful ear infections and loss of hearing. The ear canal of pets
is anatomically different from humans with the majority of the canal hidden
from view with the naked eye. Tumors, grass seeds, excessive wax, and ear
infections and mites are commonly found in the lower part of the ear canals.
Weight and Other Body Vital Signs: Significant weight gain or loss can be an
early warning of disease. Obesity is the most common nutritional problem
in pets. Your pet’s overall body condition will be evaluated and appropriate
recommendations of diet and other nutritional needs will be made.
Temperature, pulse and respiratory rate and effort are also assessed. Elevation in any of these can be a sign of infection, inflammation, illness or pain.