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Q: My pet is acting sick. Do I need to take her to the vet?
A: Many seemingly minor symptoms can sometimes be indicative of very serious disease. Vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and unwillingness to eat can be signs of life threatening illnesses including bloat, intestinal obstruction, and parvovirus. If your pet is acting sick or abnormal in any way, the safest answer is to take her in for an exam, or at least call to speak to your veterinarian. Abdominal distension, unproductive retching, pale gums, and extreme lethargy should be considered a medical emergency.
Q: Why should I have my pet’s teeth cleaned?
A: Over time, the build-up of tartar on your cat or dog’s teeth will lead to gum disease or gingivitis. Diseased gums allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, which in turn can lead to infection or disease of the heart, lung, brains, kidneys, and other major organ systems. Diseased teeth can abscess and be very painful. Having your pet’s teeth cleaned on a regular basis, in addition to home dental hygiene such as tooth brushing or dental treats, will keep your pet much healthier over its lifetime.
Q: What is included in the price of a dental
A: Our dental price includes pre-anesthetic bloodwork, anesthesia, electronic vital signs monitoring, IV catheter and fluids, injectable antibiotics and pain medication, full mouth x-rays, ultrasonic dental cleaning, polishing, fluoride treatment, assisted recovery from anesthesia, medications to go home, and a home dental care kit.

Q: Can I give my pet human medication?
A: While there are exceptions, the short answer is no. Many human medications are unsafe for pets and can cause liver and kidney damage, tremors, allergic reactions, and other undesirable effects. TYLENOL SHOULD NEVER BE GIVEN TO CATS – EVEN A SINGLE PILL CAN BE FATAL. Do not give any medication to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian.
Q: Do I need to get regular vaccinations for my pet, and are they safe?
A: For most pets, especially puppies and kittens and those that are in regular contact with unvaccinated animals, vaccines are recommended. Puppies and kittens usually undergo a series of at least three distemper/upper respiratory vaccines at 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 16 weeks of age. The first rabies vaccine is typically given at 16 weeks of age. Puppies and kittens that do not receive vaccines are at high risk of developing serious and sometimes fatal illnesses such as parvovirus, feline panleukopenia, and distemper.
Most pets may feel a little tired and reluctant to eat the two days following their vaccines. More serious reactions are rare but still possible, and typically occur within an hour of receiving vaccines – symptoms include facial swelling, hives, difficulty breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea. Any pet that experiences these symptoms should immediately be seen by a veterinarian.
Immune compromised pets typically have their vaccinations suspended. For those pet parents who are concerned about over vaccination, blood tests can be performed that evaluate how many protective antibodies are present in their bloodstream. Pets with adequate antibody levels are considered lower risk for developing disease.
Q: Is heartworm disease a problem in New Mexico? How do I protect my pet?
A: Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, and it is indeed a very serious problem in New Mexico. Espanola has been identified as a “hot spot” for heartworm disease, and thus many dogs and cats in Santa Fe are at greater risk for developing the disease. All dogs and cats in New Mexico should be tested regularly for heartworm disease (at least every other year if on preventative) and be given monthly heartworm preventative year round. In rare instances, mosquitoes can transmit the disease even in winter months, and year round preventative ensures that your pet is also protected against intestinal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms. Preventing intestinal parasites in your pet keeps everyone in your family safer, as intestinal parasites can be transmitted to people. Interceptor is the brand of heartworm preventative that we carry, and it is safe for all breeds of dogs as well as cats.
Q: What other parasites do I need to worry about?
A: In addition to heartworm, hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm, there are other parasites that your dog or cat can become infested with. Fleas and ticks are present in New Mexico and can carry serious, sometimes life threatening diseases such as plague and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If your cat or dog is a hunter, they can potentially contract tapeworms from their prey. Tapeworms are most commonly identified by noting what appear to be dried grains of rice stuck to your pet’s anal region. Tapeworms can easily be treated with a single dose of medication. Fleas and ticks can be prevented by keeping your pet away from rodents, out of high grass, and treating them with flea and tick preventatives.
Q: What is parvo?
A: Parvo, also known as parvoviral enteritis, is a viral disease that most commonly affects young, unvaccinated puppies. Rottweilers, pit bulls, and boxers are especially susceptible to the disease. The parvo virus is very hardy and can persist in the environment for over a year, despite exposure to sun, rain, heat, cold, and other elements. Parvo is an extremely contagious disease. It is important to limit your puppy’s exposure to unfamiliar environments and other dogs until they have received their complete series of puppy vaccinations. Parvo affects the GI tract and bone marrow, resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, unwillingness to eat, anemia, weakness, secondary infections, and often death without treatment. Any puppy, unvaccinated or not, who is lethargic, has a poor appetite, vomiting and/or having diarrhea, should be seen immediately and tested for parvo. Early detection and treatment increases the chance of survival. Treatment typically includes IV fluids, hospitalization, IV antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, and intensive care.
Q: When should I have my pet spayed or neutered?
A: Most dogs and cats can safely be neutered or spayed at about 4 to 6 months of age. Most female animals will come into their first heat cycle around 6 months of age. Being exposed to even one heat cycle can increase the risk of mammary (breast) cancer later in life. Having your pet spayed or neutered will decrease or eliminate their risk of certain cancers and diseases, make them less likely to roam, and decrease aggressive tendencies. It is a myth that most animals tend to gain weight after being spayed or neutered. Recent research suggests a correlation between joint problems and early spay/neuter in large breed dogs, so for those breeds it may be beneficial to wait an extra couple of months before scheduling their surgery.
Q: What is involved in a spay or neuter surgery?
A: Spays and neuters, despite being considered by most practices to be “routine” procedures, are major surgery. For a spay, the ovaries and uterus are removed via a small abdominal incision. For a neuter, the testicles are removed via a small incision either in the scrotal sac (cats) or in the prescrotal region. If your pet’s testicles are not both fully descended, this becomes a more involved surgery. Our spay or neuter patients are admitted to the hospital in the early morning, undergo their procedure mid to late morning, and go home in the afternoon. The prices of our procedures include preanesthetic bloodwork, IV catheter and fluids, injectable pain medication, surgical assistance and electronic vital signs monitoring, anesthesia, surgery, assisted recovery, and medications to go home.
Q: Should I be giving my pet supplements?
A: Many pets can benefit from nutritional supplements. Middle aged to senior pets should be receiving a good quality glucosamine/chondroitin supplement for joint health. Many human or over the counter (OTC) formulas are the wrong molecule size for pets to absorb, and are therefore ineffective. We recommend the Cosequin brand, available at veterinarians, for your cat or dog. Nutramax Laboratories, who makes Cosequin, does extensive clinical research to prove that their products are effective.
Older pets and those will allergies or skin conditions benefit from Omega 3 fatty acid supplementation. Marine fish oils are the best source for Omega 3’s. We carry a liquid formulation for cats and dogs called Welactin (from the makers of Cosequin), as well as capsules.
Probiotics and enzymes can be helpful for digestive issues including vomiting, diarrhea, maldigestion or indigestion, pancreatitis, and acid reflux. We carry a refrigerated paste-like probiotic called ProBios or ProBiocin, and a powdered probiotic that can be sprinkled on food, FortiFlora. ProZyme is our powdered enzyme formula.
Whole food supplements can help boost your pet’s overall health and immune function, as well as be benefit specific medical conditions such as kidney disease, allergies, liver dysfunction, heart disease, and thyroid disease. We carry the entire line of Standard Process Veterinary Formulas. Please ask us which formula is best for your pet’s medical condition.
Q: Which food should I be feeding my pet?
A: If your pet has a specific medical condition, be it diabetes, kidney disease, bladder stones, pancreatitis, food or skin allergies, or obesity, then he or she may benefit from a Royal Canin diet specific for that condition. Royal Canin is the leader in prescription pet food palatability, uses high quality ingredients, performs careful nutritional research, and has a money back guarantee.
For wellness diets, we are proud to partner with Critters & Me, located at 1403 Agua Fria in Santa Fe. Critters & Me carries whole food, raw food, holistic, and natural pet foods and treats.
Q: I like to take my dog when I go hiking. What are the potential dangers?
A: Taking your dog on regular hikes is great exercise. However, there are some potential dangers in the great outdoors. Bees, wasps, and ants can sting or bite and leave a nasty welt or even cause a full blown allergic reaction, leading to facial swelling, hives, and trouble breathing. Rattlesnakes are a danger in the warmer months. Keeping your dog from running into the brush and sniffing in holes or under rocks will decrease the risk. If your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake, he or she needs to be taken immediately to a veterinarian, preferably a 24 hour emergency facility that will have anti-venom available. Treatment for rattlesnake bites typically include multiple-day hospitalization, anti-venom, IV fluids, and supportive care. Anti-venom is not a cure, but a medication derived from snake venom that aids in recovery.
Injuries from slips, falls, and fights with other animals can also occur on the trail. Be prepared and pack a first aid kit – include bandage material, antiseptic solution, triple antibiotic ointment, tweezers, and Benadryl tablets or capsules.
Avoid letting your dog drink from stagnant ponds or puddles. Dogs can contract giardia, a protozoan that causes vomiting and diarrhea, from not only stagnant bodies of water but from mountain streams and lakes as well. Giardia is also transmissible to humans. Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that dogs can contract by coming into contact with the urine of wild animals or rodents. Symptoms can be vague and can include vomiting, unwillingness to eat, and lethargy. Serious cases can lead to kidney failure and death. A vaccine for leptospirosis is available as a preventative. Any dog that becomes injured or ill following an outdoor excursion should be examined by a veterinarian.
Q: What plants are toxic to my pet?
A: All members of the lily family, including Easter lilies, onions, and garlic are extremely toxic to cats. Other common plants that can be toxic to pets include azaleas, daffodils, ferns, foxglove, honeysuckle, hydrangeas, iris, morning glory, oleander, and tulips. Many “non-toxic” plants can cause stomach or intestinal upset when ingested, even though they are not truly toxic. It is best to keep all house plants away from pets to avoid ingestion.
Q: Does my pet need health insurance?
A: Pet health insurance is a good idea for any pet. Most insurance plans require the pet owner to pay a small monthly fee depending on what plan they have chosen for their pet. This fee covers at least a portion of wellness (vaccines, heartworm testing/medication, wellness labwork) visits. Should your pet require major surgery or an extended hospital stay, most plans will cover about 80% of the cost. A pet escaping from the yard and getting hit by a car, or a puppy contracting parvo virus and requiring a week’s stay in the hospital can easily result in a vet bill in the thousands of dollars. Having pet health insurance helps to prepare for the unexpected.
Q: Why does my pet need to come in for an exam or bloodwork to refill medication?
A: State veterinary law requires a valid client-patient relationship in order to refill medications. This means that your pet needs to be examined by your veterinarian at least once a year in order to legally refill medications. State pharmacy law prohibits the dispensing of medication by a veterinarian without first examining the pet in question. This means that if your pet was examined by a veterinarian at another practice and you wish to get your pet’s prescription filled at our hospital, we must have examined that pet within the last year in order to do so.
Many chronic medications such as NSAIDs (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs – Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Metacam, Previcox) or steroids (prednisone) can adversely affect liver and kidney function and also alter blood cell counts. It is important to check liver and kidney function and potentially a CBC twice yearly if your pet takes these medications chronically.
Other medications need to be at certain levels in the blood. These medications include thyroid medication, adrenal gland medication, Phenobarbital, and potassium bromide. Blood levels of these drugs need to be assessed at least one to two times a year to ensure that your pet is not being over or under medicated.
Q: My cat seems fine. Do I really need to bring him in for annual check-ups?
A: Cats are often better at masking signs of disease than dogs. The top three diseases in cats are kidney disease/failure, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism. Cancer, especially lymphoma, is common in cats. Having your veterinarian perform regular physical exams and wellness bloodwork will help to screen for the above diseases. Early detection is key in the success of managing these diseases.
Q: My pet is slowing down. Is he just getting old?
A: Age is not necessarily a disease, however senior pets can be stricken with arthritis, muscle loss or weakness, urinary or fecal incontinence, decreasing appetite, weight loss, and vision or hearing problems, just to name a few. Nutritional supplements can help. Other pets may require stronger medications such as Adequan or NSAIDs (see above) for arthritis. Urinary incontinence due to sphincter weakness can also be controlled with medication.
Sangre de Cristo
Animal Hospital
3015 Cielo Ct,
Santa Fe, NM 87507
(505) 471-6594
Business Hours
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 6:00 pm
8:00 am - 4:00 pm

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