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What symptoms are signs my dog or cat could be sick?             

The following are often signs of serious illness for dogs or cats. As it would be impossible to list all symptoms of illness, if you notice anything unusual in the appearance or attitude of your pet, please call us for advice at 510-529-0777. After hours, we recommend the Pet Emergency Treatment Service in Berkeley at 510-548-6684.

Difficulty breathing - bring your pet to a vet immediately. Cats that appear to be moving their chest more than normal to breathe may be hiding an illness. They may cough too. Also, look for avoidance of exercise.

Vomiting is serious if the pet can not hold down food or water for more than a day.

Diarrhea which goes more than 2-3 days should be checked. If there is vomiting or very watery diarrhea consult a vet immediately as dehydration could occur.

Frequent or excessive urination or thirst can indicate kidney disease, diabetes or another serious illness.

Constipation, especially in older cats, may require a veterinarian. Bring in your pet if you see them straining to go for more than one day.

Frequent urination, blood in urine or straining to urinate are all life threatening. It could indicate a urinary tract infection or an obstruction of the urethra, especially in male cats. Consult a vet immediately.

Loss of Appetite - this includes becoming picky or only eating people food when before they ate their dry food readily.

Weight Loss - Sometimes it’s hard to judge weigh loss with your furry pets. If you suspect weight loss, bring your pet by for a weight check and we can compare it to their previous weight.

Weakness, collapse, or seizures, even if followed by a seeming return of normal behavior should be checked by a veterinarian.

Looking off-color, if your dog or cat loses the sparkle in their eye for more than a day, please bring them in for an exam as this may be the first sign of illness.

Which vaccines does my puppy need and why?

We recommend that puppies receive a series of basic vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks starting at eight weeks of age, until they are 16 to 17 weeks old.  An individualized protocol and schedule will be discussed during your puppy's first visit. 

This usually includes a combination vaccine (several vaccines combined into one injection) called a DHLPP 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 considered old enough to be given a Rabies vaccine, which is protective for one year.   

Find more information here:

Which vaccines does my kitten need and why?

We recommend that kittens receive a series of vaccines every 3 to 4 weeks at eight weeks of age, 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 (several vaccines combined into one injection) called an DRC, which protects against Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Feline Calicivirus, and Feline Panleukopenia. 

Once your kitten is 16 weeks old, it is considered old enough to be given a Rabies vaccine, which is protective for one year.  Once your kitten is older than 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 and the feline aids virus.. 

 If my pet has a cold, should I put off getting the shots?

We give vaccines only to healthy animals and will ask about your pet’s medical history and do a physical exam before administering shots. If a pet is already sick or taking medicine, it’s immune system may not respond to the vaccine and it is better to wait.

 What you need to know before your pets upcoming surgery?

Many people have questions about various aspects of their pet's surgery, and we hope this information will help.  It also explains the decisions you will need to make before your pet's upcoming surgery.

Is the anesthetic safe?

Today's modern anesthetic monitors have made surgery much safer than in the past.  Here at Abbey Pet Hospital, we do a thorough physical exam on your pet before administering anesthetics to ensure that a fever or other illness won't be a problem.  We also adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used depending on the health of your pet. 

Pre-anesthetic blood testing is important before surgery to ensure that the liver and kidneys can handle the anesthetic.  Even apparently healthy animals can have serious organ system problems that cannot be detected without blood testing. During your office visit our veterinarians will make recommendations concerning blood testing. 

In some cases, blood testing may be required if your pet has a pre-existing condition or is older. If there is a problem, it is much better to find it before it causes anesthetic or surgical complications.  Animals that have a minor dysfunction will handle the anesthetic better if they receive IV fluids during surgery.  If serious problems are detected, surgery can be postponed until the problem is corrected.

If we find any problems with the bloodwork, a doctor will call you prior to any anesthetic procedure to discuss the results.  IV catheters are also recommended during surgical procedures. Pre-hydrating animals can reduce the risk of low blood pressure during surgery. It also improves kidney and liver function which is necessary for your animal to process the anesthetic. Anesthetic problems are extremely rare. If they occur, however, an IV catheter becomes an important route for drug administration.

 Can pets eat or drink before surgery?

It is important that surgery be done on an empty stomach to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia.  You will need to withhold food for at least 8 to 10 hours before surgery. For certain breeds such as Pugs or Bulldogs we may recommend you withhold food for up to 24 hours. Pets may drink water until the morning of surgery.

 Will my pet have stitches?

Most surgeries involve skin sutures which are removed 10-14 days after surgery. For some surgeries (such as dog castrations) there will be dissolvable sutures placed beneath the skin. 
With either type of suture, you will need to keep an eye on the incision for swelling or discharge.  Watch that your dog or cat does not lick excessively or chew at the incision as occasionally this is a problem. Some animals need a plastic collar to keep them away from their incisions. You will also need to limit your pet's activity level for a time and no baths are allowed for the first 10 days after surgery.

 Will my pet be in pain?

Anything that causes pain in people can be expected to cause pain in animals.  However, pets may not show the same symptoms of pain as people do; they usually don't whine or cry, but you can be sure they feel it.  Pain medications needed will depend on the surgery performed.  Major procedures require more pain relief than things like minor lacerations.

For dogs, we may recommend an oral anti-inflamatory the day after surgery and several days after to lessen the risk of discomfort and swelling.  We use newer medications which are less likely to cause stomach upset and can be given even the morning of surgery if the doctor decides it is necessary.

Cats do not tolerate standard pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or Tylenol. Therefore the variety of pain medications for cats is more limited.  Recent advances in pain medications have allowed for better pain control for cats than ever before. After surgery, pain medication is given on a case by case basis.  Any animal that appears to be in pain will receive additional pain medication.

How do I get a city dog license?

When you vaccinate your dog for rabies, part of the fee goes toward a mandatory tax.  At the time of your pet's rabies vaccine, you will receive the current year's rabies vaccination and a proof of vaccination certificate signed by your veterinarian.  A rabies certificate will be issued without a tag. You will be responsible for registering your pet in your own county. 

 What is a Microchip and how do I get one? 

The microchip is about the diameter of pencil lead, and is placed just below your pet's skin between the shoulder blades. It's inserted 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 your current address and phone number!

 When should my pet be neutered/spayed?

We recommend the procedure be done at 4 to 6 months of age, though a spay or neuter (castration) can be performed at any age over 2 months (8 weeks.)  Even if your dog or cat is older, the benefits of spaying or neutering (both health and behavioral) can still be obtained regardless of the age at which spaying/neutering 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

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. Some can go for a year or two without a cleaning at your veterinarian's office, whereas others need a professional cleaning every 6 months! And the more home dental care you utilize, the less often your pet will need its teeth professionally cleaned.

Click here for more info on teeth cleaning and care

 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.  

Overly destructive or aggressive cats, or cats living in homes of elderly or immunocompromised individuals may 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 pet is spayed/neutered, as younger cats heal faster and with less pain than adult cats.

More cat declawing info

 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 how frustrating it can be to get your pet to take medication sometimes; however, this medication is 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.  Don't hesitate to contact us if you are having trouble giving your pet its medication.  

Please review this links for some helpful suggestions for giving your pet medicine

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 will deposit 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.  However, giving your pet this medication if he or she already HAS heartworm disease can be detrimental to your pet's health; therefore we recommend testing once a year to screen for the disease. 

Currently, our recommendation is to keep your pet on a preventative year round, as opposed to only during the mosquito season, as current research has shown it can take multiple doses of the preventative to fully eradicate an infection. Preventatives we recommend and dispense include Heartgard Plus, Interceptor, Sentinel, and Revolution.

For example, if your pet was bitten by an infective mosquito late in the season, such as in November, it will actually take the following doses during December and January to prevent your pet from getting an infection.  Additional benefits include preventing your pet from picking up 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.

 What are anal sacs and why does my pet always 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. However, 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. It's best that the veterinarian see your pet if your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms.

Exclusive Offer



Just like humans, dogs and cats need regular dental care!

Enjoy a 20% discount off your pets dental cleaning.
Offer includes:

Teeth Scaling/Teeth Polishing
IV Catheter/Heart Monitoring

Discount does not apply to extractions, antibiotics, pain medication, or blood work. Offer may not be combined with other services or discount

Dental Discount starts 2/1/15

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Free Initial Pet Health Exam

New Clients Only. Free initial pet health exam. Offer does not include treatment or medications. Limited to one pet per house hold. Pet owners must be 18 years of age or older.  Coupon may not be combined with other offers or discounts.

Sign-up using the form or call us at 510-529-0777 to take advantage of this exclusive offer.

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Client Testimonial

We have three dogs and two cats. Over the years the veterinarians at Abbey Pet Hospital have cast broken legs, stitched up bite wounds, saved a dog who ate rat poison, controlled flea outbreaks, kept our pets' teeth shiny and helped us come to terms with the death of our beloved mutt. The doctors and staff were so caring during that difficult time; they hold a special place in our family’s hearts. A big thank-you!

Sarah B. -
El Cerrito, CA

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Abbey Pet Hospital
11070 San Pablo Ave
El Cerrito, CA 94530
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  • Phone: 510-529-0777
  • Fax: 510-233-4931
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