Frequently Asked Questions
Westchester Veterinary Center accommodates emergency appointments during normal business hours. In the event of an after-hours emergency, please contact the following emergency facility:
Animal Specialty & Emergency Center
1535 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025
To allow ample time for all patients and scheduled surgical procedures, we operate primarily by appointment. Emergency cases always receive top priority.
For your protection and that of others, all dogs must be on a leash and properly controlled while in the waiting area or exam rooms. All cats must be secured in an appropriate cat carrier or on a leash.
We require full payment at the time that services are rendered. For your convenience, we accept cash, check, debit card, Visa, MasterCard, CareCredit and ScratchPay.
Prescription Refill Policy
Our in-house pharmacy is fully stocked with a wide variety of prescription medications and therapeutic diets for your pet. Our staff will answer your questions about selecting the best medication, choosing the proper dosage, and provide information on side effects or other drug interactions. If you have any concerns or if your pet experiences an adverse reaction, we urge you to contact us immediately and one of our staff members will assist you.
How do I know if my pet is in pain?
If you suspect that your pet is sick or injured, call our office as soon as possible. Some signs of pain such as limping are clear indicators, but some signs are more subtle and can include: lack of appetite, change in behavior, and lethargy. Of course, these symptoms can also be caused by many problems, so prevention is important.
When is the best time to spay or neuter my pet?
The best time to spay or neuter your pet is approximately 5-6 months of age. However, the procedure can be done at most ages.
Vaccinations are a crucial part of your pet’s wellness care. They keep your pet healthy and prevent serious diseases. Our veterinarians will make sure your pet avoids these serious diseases through a vaccination schedule based on your pet’s lifestyle, health, and individual circumstances.
How often does my pet need a rabies vaccination?
The first rabies shot your pet receives is good for one year. Subsequent canine rabies vaccinations immunize your pet for one to three years depending upon the vaccine your pet receives. For cats, we use feline-exclusive rabies vaccines which are good for one year.
What is heartworm protection and how many months should my pet receive heartworm prevention medication?
Heartworm disease is a serious disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes and, if left untreated can be fatal. Heartworm prevention is administered once a month either by pill or by topical application. Depending on the specific product, heartworm prevention medication can prevent other parasite infestations including internal parasites (worms) and external parasites (fleas and ticks). In accordance with the guidelines of the American Heartworm Society, we recommend all dogs and cats be given year round heartworm prevention regardless of lifestyle.
Why does my dog need a blood test before purchasing heartworm prevention?
Your dog will need to be tested with a simple blood test for heartworm disease on an annual basis. Dogs can become very ill if placed on heartworm prevention when they have heartworm disease. Even if your dog has been on a year-round heartworm medication, there is always the possibility that the product may have failed for various reasons (your pet spit out the pill, did not absorb the pill appropriately, etc.). The earlier we can treat your pet for heartworm disease, the better the prognosis.
My pet never goes outside – do they really need heartworm prevention?
Yes. Heartworm disease is transmitted through mosquito bites. Your pet may still contract heartworm disease from a mosquito that has entered your home.
Doesn’t the fecal sample test for heartworms?
No. Heartworm disease is a blood-borne disease. A simple blood test will confirm whether or not your dog has heartworm disease.
How can I prevent fleas?
Regardless of lifestyle, we recommend that all dogs and cats be given a monthly flea preventive from April through December. Fleas are not only bothersome for your pet, but are also carriers of diseases such as tapeworms. There are many medications for the treatment and prevention of fleas. Some medications are administered in combination with the monthly heartworm medication. Not only is this convenient, but it reduces the cost of two medications!
Why does my pet need a dental cleaning and how often should this be done?
We believe an annual professional dental exam, tooth scaling and polishing are necessary to treat and maintain the good health of your pet’s teeth and gums. As your pet grows older, their health needs may change, requiring advanced dental care. Regular dental exams can prevent potential diseases of the teeth and gums.
Do I need to brush my pet’s teeth at home?
Yes. Proper at-home dental care is necessary to help maintain the oral health of your pet. Home dental care for your pet should start early, even before their adult teeth come in. It’s best if owners brush their dog’s and cat’s teeth frequently. Although tooth brushing is the best method of preventing plaque, calculus, and bacterial build-up, there are many options for dental home care. Other oral home care options such as dental formulated foods, water additives, and dental treats should also be considered based on your lifestyle.
Are there any special at-home care instructions for my pet before their surgery?
Please do not feed your pet after 12:00PM the evening before a scheduled procedure. There is no restriction on drinking water that evening, but the water bowl should be removed first thing the morning on the day of the procedure. Plan to arrive at the office at the appointed time and allow 15-30 minutes for check-in procedures.
Is anesthesia safe for my pet?
We utilize the safest, multi-modal approach that is individually created for each dog or cat. It includes injectable medications for sedation and pain management as well as gas anesthetic agents. The combination of pre-anesthetic assessment of your pet (including blood work), use of modern anesthetic agents, and the latest anesthetic monitoring equipment means that anesthesia is generally considered to be a very low risk for your pet.
Our trained staff will closely monitor your pet during the entire procedure (including recovery) using advanced monitoring equipment. Parameters often monitored include oxygen concentration in the blood stream (pulse oximetry), electrocardiogram (EKG), core body temperature, respiratory rate, and blood pressure and carbon dioxide level.
My pet is older – is anesthesia safe?
Anesthesia in otherwise healthy, older pets is considered safe. It is important to have recommended pre-operative testing performed prior to anesthesia to check major organ function and allow us to tailor the anesthesia to any pre-existing medical conditions.
My pet has kidney and heart disease – is anesthesia safe?
Prior to anesthesia, patients with kidney disease should be fully evaluated with blood tests, urinalysis, and possible ultrasound. Cardiology patients should also be evaluated including blood tests, chest x-rays, and echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart). Our veterinarians will determine based on each individual situation if it is safe for your pet to undergo anesthesia.
What is a multi-modal approach to anesthesia?
A multi-modal approach refers to the layered administration of small amounts of different medications to achieve the desired levels of anesthesia and pain management. We administer lower doses of each individual anesthetic which generally equates to fewer side effects, complete pain relief and faster post-operative recovery.
How will you manage my pet’s pain during surgery?
We believe in performing surgery with advanced pain management techniques because we want to maximize the comfort of your pet during and after his or her procedure. Comfort control improves your dog or cat’s recovery and speeds the healing process. We administer pain medication before beginning the procedure, during and post-operatively as needed by your pet.
My pet is having surgery – when should I expect an update on their condition?
You will receive a call from one of our veterinary assistants when your pet is in recovery from the procedure. If there are any abnormalities on pre-anesthetic exam or blood work, you will receive a call prior to the procedure in case we need to change plans. Remember that no news is good news, and you will be contacted immediately should the need arise. One of our veterinarians will be available at discharge to discuss the procedure and discharge instructions with you in detail, as well as answer any questions.
When will my pet be able to go home after surgery?
Please allow additional time to meet with the doctor when picking up your animal post-surgery. This will allow the doctor to go over discharge instructions tailored specifically to pet and the procedure. Our doctors are more than happy to answer any questions you may have to ensure proper recovery for your pet. Your doctor will provide you with a written set of discharge instructions for you to follow at home.