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Ask AAHA: Answers from the experts

When you have questions about your pet, you need expert answers quickly. AAHA Answers addresses some of your most common questions below. Your AAHA-accredited veterinary hospital can answer the rest!

Why AAHA?

Unlike human medicine, accreditation in veterinary medicine is voluntary. The AAHA-accredited logo is the only way to know
a veterinary hospital has been successfully evaluated by a third-party accrediting body.

Watch our video to learn more!

  • Can I still take my pet to the vet during COVID-19?

    Because of the important services veterinary hospitals provide in keeping pets healthy and safe as well as protecting public health, most veterinary practices will continue to provide as much of their regular services as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • How can I prevent heatstroke in my pet?

    After a long, cold winter, you’re likely ready to head outdoors for some fun in the sun. But, your adventure may be cut short if your pet develops heatstroke. Know common signs of heatstroke and take preventive measures to keep your pet cool through the dog days of summer.
  • What is veterinary physical rehabilitation?

    Physical therapy or rehabilitation has helped many people recover from injuries and surgery. Now, physical rehabilitation increasingly is being used in animals to help restore function, mobility, and quality of life.
  • Should my pet get a massage?

    The joys of a relaxing massage are no longer just for people. Pets also are reaping the benefits, as veterinary hospitals realize that the positive outcomes from a massage can go beyond calming and stress reduction to relieving pain and promoting optimal body function.
  • How can I fix my pet's behavior problems?

    Nothing is more frustrating than coming home to another pair of gnawed-on shoes, clawed furniture, or urine-soaked bedding. But consider the cause behind the behavior before surrendering your pet to the shelter.
  • What is my pet's poop telling me?

    We really do love our pets—enough that we will pick up their feces and even examine it for signs our furry companion is not feeling well. What seems like an insignificant pile of waste can tell you a lot about your pet’s overall health.
  • Is my pet overweight?

    Unfortunately, yes, it's likely that your pet is overweight. According to the 2018 Association for Pet Obesity Prevention survey, more than half the cats and dogs in the United States are tipping the scales as overweight or obese, with 59% of cats and 55.8% of dogs falling into these categories.
  • How can my pet have stress-free veterinary visits?

    Many of our beloved pets don’t go to the veterinarian for their recommended annual visit, forgoing the benefits of preventive medicine. The reason? Stress. Fortunately for our pet’s physical and mental health—and ours—there is a shift toward low-stress veterinary care.
  • What should I know about my puppy?

    So, you just used the AAHA Canine Life Stage Calculator to determine that your dog is in the puppy stage of life. Congrats! Knowing your dog’s life stage helps you provide a lifetime of optimal care for your pooch.
  • Is my dog at risk for cancer?

    According to the National Cancer Institute , approximately 6 million new cancer diagnoses are made in dogs each year. Since not all pets receive medical care or a definitive cancer diagnosis, this number likely would rise if every pet saw a veterinarian annually.
  • What should I know about my mature adult dog?

    So, you just used the AAHA Canine Life Stage Calculator to determine that your dog is in the mature adult stage of life. Congrats! Knowing your dog’s life stage helps you provide a lifetime of optimal care.
  • Can I take my dog camping?

    Dogs enjoy romping in the great outdoors, and your canine companion would love to be included in your next camping trip. However, before packing your bags and hitting the trails, ensure you and your pooch are prepared for whatever nature has in store.
  • When should I spay or neuter my pet?

    As part of the battle against pet overpopulation, it used to be common practice to spay and neuter young pets as soon as it was safe to do so, and sterilization still is performed on shelter puppies and kittens. When it comes to privately-owned pets in secure homes, here are AAHA’s most recent recommendations.
  • What should I know about my young adult dog?

    So, you just used the  AAHA Canine Life Stage Calculator to determine that your dog is in the young adult stage of life. Congr ats! Knowing your dog’s life stage helps you provide a lifetime of optimal care for your pooch.  
  • Why isn’t my cat using her litter box?

    Housesoiling is one of the most common reasons owners abandon or surrender a cat, which unfortunately often leads to euthanasia. Cats do not urinate and defecate all over their home out of spite, but rather because something is lacking.
  • How can I discourage my dog from running away?

    Pets who run away can get lost, injured, or stolen. Although some dogs have a natural tendency to roam, there are many precautions you can take to prevent your furry friend from running away.
  • Why does my pet shed?

    While the amount of fur your pet sheds cannot be changed, the best way to prevent pet hair from accumulating in your home and on your clothes is to brush your pet daily. Ask your AAHA-accredited veterinarian to recommend a brush or comb that will work best for your pet’s coat, then get your pet used to regular brushing sessions.
  • What is pancreatitis?

    Pancreatitis is a painful inflammation of the pancreas that can make pets extremely ill. The pancreas is an abdominal organ located just below the stomach that produces digestive enzymes to break down dietary fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. The pancreas also produces insulin, which helps move glucose from the blood into cells for energy production. Pancreatitis can lead to dehydration, organ damage, diabetes, and insufficient enzyme production, and, in severe cases, can cause death.
  • Can my pet have a "telehealth" appointment with the veterinarian?

    Telehealth includes any use of technology to remotely receive healthcare information or services for your pet. It might involve texts, emails, video chats, mobile apps, or even wearable devices.
  • Is my cat's kneading normal?

    Cats are mysterious creatures who often do strange things. Kneading may seem strange, but it is an entirely normal activity for our feline friends. Some cats enjoy “making biscuits” more than others, and they will drool and glaze over while kneading your lap or a plush blanket.
  • How can my pet have stress-free veterinary visits?

    Many of our beloved pets don’t go to the veterinarian for their recommended annual visit, forgoing the benefits of preventive medicine. The reason? Stress. Fortunately for our pet’s physical and mental health—and ours—there is a shift toward low-stress veterinary care.
  • Is a kidney transplant right for my pet?

    Kidney failure is a leading cause of death in pet cats, with at least 30% of cats developing this devastating health condition as they age. Many treatment options exist, but they only manage clinical signs and slow disease progression, and are not a cure.
  • Is a pocket pet right for me?

    A furry little pet who loves to snuggle in your shirt pocket can be a great family addition. But, although rodents such as rats, mice, gerbils, and hamsters, as well as slightly larger guinea pigs, chinchillas, hedgehogs, and sugar gliders, may require less time and effort than a dog who expects daily walks, you should do your homework first.
  • Why are regular veterinary visits important?

    Routine veterinary visits help your pet live a long, healthy, and happy life. Annual or biannual exams nip emerging health problems in the bud and are key to extending your pet’s time by your side.
  • How can I safely walk my reactive dog?

    You can walk your leash-reactive dog safely around your neighborhood, but she will need dedicated training and management. Many canines are sweet and happy pets at home, but when they step into unfamiliar territory with strange people and dogs, they bark, growl, snap, or quiver in fear, making a simple walk around the block into a scary, stressful situation.
  • What is a veterinary technician?

    Veterinary technicians are animal nurses (and much more). In addition to their nursing duties, they act as patient advocates, phlebotomists, radiology technicians, laboratory technicians, anesthesia technicians, and surgery technicians.
  • What is veterinary laser therapy?

    What is veterinary laser therapy? Veterinary laser therapy is an innovative treatment that has gained popularity in recent years as veterinarians discover its benefits for pets. Used similarly to acupuncture, massage therapy, and other alternative therapies, laser treatment can be used in conjunction with, or instead of, medication to manage pain, inflammation, and wound healing.
  • What should I know about my senior dog?

    So, you just used the AAHA Canine Life Stage Calculator to determine that your dog is in the senior stage of life. Knowing your dog’s life stage helps you provide a lifetime of optimal care.  
  • What are the most common household toxins for pets?

    As a pet owner, you want to keep your furry friend safe and healthy, but your pet’s curious nature can sometimes get him into trouble. Animals investigate the world with their mouths and can accidentally ingest poisonous substances.
  • Should my pet be anesthetized for dental care?

    Your pet must be anesthetized to allow thorough evaluation of his mouth, clean his teeth above and below the gumline, and treat painful dental conditions.
  • What is limber tail in dogs?

    If you notice that your dog has a limp tail and is not wagging happily when you walk through the door, she may have a condition known as limber tail. This sad state of tail has many names, including cold-water tail, broken wag, swimmer’s tail, frozen tail, and sprung tail. 
  • Should my pet be vaccinated?

    The recent debates about human vaccine safety have left many pet owners wondering whether their dogs and cats should be vaccinated. The short answer is: Yes, definitely! Pets should receive core vaccines—those medically necessary for all pets—and may need others depending on their lifestyle.
  • Can I volunteer with my pet?

    Volunteering with your pet is a wonderful way to share the love and joy that animals bring people. Our canine and feline friends have talents and gifts to share, and nothing bonds people more closely than a furry companion.
  • How can I tell if my pet has had a stroke?

    Pet owners often don’t notice signs of a mild stroke in their companions since animals can’t say that they feel dizzy, can only see out of one eye, or are having memory problems. Unfortunately, pets usually experience strokes on a grander scale than people, and require immediate veterinary attention.
  • How can I make my pet’s last day special?

    Losing a loved one is never easy. Knowing your pet is nearing the end is bittersweet, because the grieving process often begins with a poor prognosis, but that also gives you time to create a special goodbye for your beloved companion. Celebrate a lifetime of love by treasuring your pet’s final moments and filling them with comfort and peace.