General Questions

Q: My pet needs to have his teeth cleaned but I prefer not to put him under anesthesia. Do you perform anesthesia free dental cleanings?

A: Although some veterinarians do still offer anesthesia free dentistry, here at CVH, our veterinarians agree with the American Veterinary Dental College in saying that these anesthesia free cleanings can actually do more harm than good. While these cleanings might make your pet’s teeth look healthy on the outside, much of the damage done by periodontal disease actually happens below the gum line. This damage cannot be seen without the use of dental x-rays, which can only be obtained while your pet is under general anesthesia. For more information about the American Veterinary Dental College’s recommendations for oral healthcare and the risks of anesthesia free dental cleaning, click here. Not sure if your pet could benefit from a professional dental cleaning? Call us anytime. We would be happy to discuss further!

Q: What do I do if my pet is having an allergic reaction?

A: Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include swelling of the nose and/or eyes, difficulty breathing, and rapid onset vomiting or diarrhea. If your pet is displaying any of these symptoms, contact our office right away at 617-332-7030, or if it is after hours, contact the closest emergency center. If you live in the Newton area, we recommend BluePearl Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital, which can be reached at 781-684-8387.

Q: How often do I need to bring my pet to the vet?

A: For young, healthy pets, we recommend yearly wellness checkups. Should there be any other issue with your pet you are concerned about in between these visits, it is always good to call and we can advise you as to whether or not an additional visit is necessary for that issue. For some senior pets, we may recommend twice yearly visits, as they help us to keep track your pet’s medical conditions and notice changes before they threaten your pet’s health.

Q: What do I do if I think my pet may have ingested something toxic?

A: Please call us right away if you believe your pet has ingested a toxin. If we are not open, please call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435.  

Q: Should I microchip my pet?

A: It is always a good idea to microchip your pet in case of escape or unexpected disaster. Microchipping takes only a couple of minutes and the registration of the pet also comes with a free first year of access to the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline should your pet ingest a toxic substance (plants, chocolate, rat poison, etc).

Q: Do you accept pet health insurance?

A: Yes, we accept all types of pet health insurance. However, pet insurance differs from human health insurance in that it requires pet owners to be responsible for paying all upfront costs, not just a small copay. Once your claim has been submitted and processed, your health insurance company will reimburse you for any services that are covered in your pet’s individual plan. Need help submitting your pet’s insurance claims? Just ask! We’re happy to help!

Q: Do I need a health certificate to travel within the United States with my pet?

A: Technically, yes. Although many states do not strictly enforce this rule, an interstate health certificate is required to cross state lines with a pet. This type of certificate can be issued after an exam by any veterinarian at CVH. Planning to fly with your pet? It’s a good idea to call your airline prior to travel to make sure you have all the necessary documents in hand, as every airline has different requirements.

Q: Why was I asked to bring a stool sample to my appointment?

A: Many pets become infected with parasites that do not cause clinical illness, but that can be spread to other household pets and even to humans!  We recommend testing for these parasites at least once yearly to keep everyone in your household safe and healthy.

Q: How often do I need to brush my pet’s teeth?

A: Like people, pets develop plaque and tartar on their teeth that can lead to severe periodontal disease later in life, and daily tooth brushing is the best way to reduce the formation of that plaque and tartar. While daily brushing is a great idea, some pets don’t agree! For these pets, we recommend brushing as often as possible and supplementing with products tested and approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, including dental diets, dental treats, and water additives.  Please don’t hesitate to call our office for advice about your pet’s oral healthcare routine, or for suggestions on how to make brushing easier.  

Q: Why was labwork recommended for my healthy pet?

A: We recommend testing for heartworm and tick-borne disease at each annual exam, as illness can be present long before your pet displays any symptoms. In New England, we are especially concerned about undiagnosed cases of Lyme disease that can lead to long-term complications in your pet’s health. We also recommend annual labwork for all senior pets, as early detection of certain diseases can add many quality years to your cat or dog’s life.  

Q: What do I do if I find injured wildlife?

A: If you find injured wildlife, you can contact the New England Wildlife Center at (781) 682-4878,  Tufts at (508) 839-7918, or the Animal Rescue League of Boston at (617)- 426- 9170. Although CVH is not licensed to hospitalize or treat wildlife, you can also call us with any wildlife questions and we will be happy to help to the best of our ability.

Q: What do I need to do prior to traveling overseas with my pet?

A: Almost all countries require a health certificate issued by a USDA accredited veterinarian after a thorough physical exam. This certificate must be issued 5-10 days prior to the date you intend to travel in order to allow for processing by the federal office in Albany. In addition to the typical requirements to obtain an international health certificate, some countries have secondary requirements that can be found on the USDA's website for pet travel. Some of these requirements take several months to complete, so it’s best to know your destination country’s regulations and start your planning early. We recommend the use of an animal travel agency if you are moving overseas or traveling to a country with complicated requirements. Need help choosing an animal travel agency? Our front desk can recommend companies that our clients have worked with in the past.

Q: Do I need to be a client at your practice to purchase my pet’s medications there?

A: Yes. For the health and safety of your pets, the American Veterinary Medical Association requires that we have a current client-patient relationship with an animal prior to prescribing or filling any medication. Even with a prescription from another vet, we are not licensed to dispense medication to any animal without this client-patient relationship in place. For more information about the veterinarian-client-patient relationship, click here.

Q: How do I get a copy of my pet’s vaccine certificate?

A: Physical copies of your pet’s certificate of vaccination can be obtained by mail, or can be printed for pickup at the hospital anytime during our office hours. For electronic copies, simply call our front desk with your request, or email our staff at, and we will promptly email one over to you! We can also email or fax vaccine certificates to the business of your choosing if you’d like us to send your certificate directly to your kennel, groomer, petsitter, or trainer. If it’s after hours and you need access to a comprehensive list of your pet’s vaccine due dates, you can also view them through our pet portal.

Q: Can you mail medications to my house?

A: We are not licensed to mail medications to your house directly from our hospital, but we do offer an online pharmacy that sources its products from providers trust to supply quality prescription food, supplements, and medications. You can find our online pharmacy here, or under the “Resources” tab at the top of this page. Simply place your order online, choose your shipping speed, and we’ll approve your order to be sent out to your home!

Q: Do you offer payment plans?

A: Unfortunately, we do not offer payment plans. Payment is required at the time of service, however we do accept Care Credit, which offers 6 months of interest free financing on any charge over $200. Click here for more information about Care Credit, or to apply for a Care Credit card.

Q: Do you offer same day appointments?

A: Yes!  We see same day wellness appointments, as well as urgent appointments. Please call our front desk to schedule, or request an appointment online by clicking the link at the top right hand corner of this page.

Cat Questions

Q: There’s a cat wandering around my neighborhood. How do I know if it has a home?

A:  Unfortunately, there is no easy way to determine if a stray cat has a home or not. If there is a cat who is consistently outdoors in your neighborhood and you’re concerned that it might be someone’s lost cat, the best thing to do is to contact your local animal control officer to have them investigate. Once captured, your local animal control officer will scan the cat for a microchip and try to reunite the cat with its owner. Since cats living outdoors can carry many diseases (including rabies), it is best not to attempt to capture them yourself.

Q: What is the difference between feral cats and domestic cats?

A:  The term “feral” refers to cats that  have been born and raised outside of human contact and are not used to human interaction. At times, cats that are living outdoors are not feral, but simply stray cats that have been socialized to humans at some point in their lives, but were subsequently lost or abandoned. Over time, stray cats can become fearful of humans or even aggressive toward them as their contact with people decreases. Domestic cats, on the other hand, are fully socialized to human contact and depend on humans for adequate nutrition and shelter.

Q: I’m having trouble giving my cat his medication. Is there any way to make it easier?

A: We know it can be difficult to give a cat medication! Luckily, there are several ways to make this easier. Pill pockets are a great way to hide pills in a flavored treat and can be purchased in salmon or chicken flavor at our front desk, or at most pet stores. If your cat is too smart to be fooled by Pill Pockets, we can also have many medications compounded into flavored treats, liquids or even creams that are absorbed through the skin.

Q: Is it necessary to bring my indoor cat to the vet for yearly wellness exams?

A: We highly recommend that you visit your veterinarian once a year for a wellness exam to ensure that your cat lives the longest, healthiest life possible.  The questions that your veterinarian asks during that yearly check-up help them keep track of your cat’s health from year to year, and can lead to testing that might discover underlying issues that are not visibly present. Sometimes even subtle, barely noticeable changes in behavior or weight can be signs of underlying diseases, and early detection of these diseases can significantly increase your cat’s chances of a good outcome with treatment.

Q: Should I use a flea and tick preventative on my cat?

A: Any cat who goes outside, or interacts with another animal that goes outside, should be on year round flea and tick preventative.  

Q: Is canned food healthier for my cat than dry food?

A: Most cats benefit from a mix of canned and dry food. Canned food is higher in protein and helps support kidney function, and certain forms of dry food can help maintain good dental health.

Q: How much should I feed my cat?

A: Every cat has a different calorie requirement depending on their age, health, and activity level. We recommend that all cats be fed measured amounts during the day instead of being allowed to free feed at a full bowl. Your veterinarian will evaluate your cat’s weight each year as part of his or her annual exam, but if you are concerned about your cat’s weight between appointments, we are always happy to see your cat for an appointment to assess his or her weight and make dietary recommendations.

Q: Does my indoor cat really need a rabies booster every year?

A: Massachusetts state law requires that all dogs, cats and ferrets over 6 months of age be vaccinated for rabies. In addition to being the law, rabies vaccination is important for the protection of everyone in your household. Even indoor cats are at risk of contracting rabies since they are natural predators and may attempt to catch any wildlife that accidentally wanders into your home.  

Q: How do I know if my cat is overweight?

A: Cats are naturally lean and muscular animals. You should be able to feel your cat’s ribs, spine and hips, but you shouldn’t be able to see them.

Q: Why is my cat peeing outside the litterbox?

A: We understand how frustrating it can be when a cat doesn’t use the litterbox! This can be a tricky problem to fix, but there are a few easy things you can do to begin troubleshooting. First, make sure you have one litterbox per cat in your house, plus one additional box. In addition, make sure boxes are in private, quiet areas and are cleaned daily. Finally, try offering more than one type of litter to see if your cat is avoiding the litterbox due to the litter being used. If your cat is still urinating outside of the box, it could be the sign of a medical problem like an infection or bladder stone. It’s a good idea to call your vet for an appointment if your cat is frequently urinating outside of the box, or if you ever notice your cat straining to urinate, which can indicate a painful and dangerous blockage!

Q: Are hairballs making my cat sick?

A: Healthy cats rarely vomit from hairballs. If your cat is vomiting more than three times per month, even if the vomit contains hair, they should be examined by a veterinarian. If your cat is vomiting infrequently and the vomit contains large amounts of hair, they may be suffering from hairballs. The best way to treat your cat for hairballs is to help them with grooming by brushing their fur weekly.

Q: How can I make my cat less stressed at the vet?

A:  Although very few cats love to travel, there are a few things you can do to make trips to the vet less stressful. First, because the noise and smells of a veterinary hospital can make cats nervous, try to minimize these stimulants by bringing your pet in an enclosed carrier. In general, soft-sided carriers are less noisy and more comfortable for cats to travel in. It can also be helpful to leave your cat carrier out in a space that your cat enjoys to be in, rather than storing it away in a hidden place and only bringing it out immediately before a trip to the vet. This can help your cat become accustomed to the sight of the carrier, and even to sleeping or playing inside the carrier. The more your cat is used to seeing his or her carrier, the less stress inducing it will be to travel in that same carrier. If your cat still doesn’t like his or her carrier, even after prolonged exposure to its presence, spraying your carrier with a calming cat scent like Feliway or Sentry can also help.  

Dogs Questions

Q: How much should I feed my dog?

A:  A dog’s calorie requirement depends on his or her age, health, and activity level. Most commercial dog foods come with a feeding guide on their labels, but these guides are often intended for very active dogs and can overestimate the amount you should be feeding your dog each day. If your dog prefers to avoid the gym, you should usually feed slightly less than is recommended on the bag in order to maintain a steady weight. If your dog is growing, very active, or has an illness, please call us to discuss his or her daily calorie and feeding requirements. You can also stop by anytime for a weight check at no charge to determine if your dog needs to be fed more or less.  

Q: What does it mean if my dog scoots or drags his back end on the ground?

A: Scooting is your dog’s way of saying “I’m itchy!”. This is most commonly caused by allergies or problems with the anal glands, but in rare cases, scooting can also be caused by parasites. If your dog is scooting frequently, please have them seen by our veterinary staff for an exam and bring in a stool sample to assess for parasites.  

Q: What over-the-counter medications are safe for my dog?

A: There are a small number of human medicines that are safe to give your pet at an appropriate dose, but the vast majority of human medicines are either dangerous or ineffective in pets at the doses recommended for human use. Many medications, including Ibuprofen and Asprin, can be extremely harmful to your pet’s health, even at very low doses. Please call our staff if you have a concern and want to give your pet human medication.

Q: What is a reverse sneeze?

A: A reverse sneeze sounds like a snort or loud intake of air through the nose. They can be distressing to your pet, but they are rarely dangerous. Reverse sneezing is usually caused by a temporary irritation in the back of the throat, but can sometimes be due to foreign material.  If your pet has frequent episodes of reverse sneezing, they should be seen by our veterinary staff to rule out allergies or foreign material in their throat.

Q: What do I do if I find a tick on my dog?

A: A commercial “tick remover” is the most effective tool to remove ticks. Individual, reusable tick removers can be purchased at any time from our front desk. You can also make your own tick remover by cutting a narrow “V” in an old credit card. Slide the card under the tick so the body is tightly fitted in the “V” and gently scrape forward until the tick disengages from your pet. If this is not successful, you can try to remove the tick with a pair of tweezers, but it is important to ensure that you remove the entire body and head of the tick, as these areas hold the majority of potential disease. In most cases, it is not a problem if the small mouth parts are left behind, as they will eventually fall out of the skin. If you have trouble removing ticks at home, our veterinary technicians are happy to see your pet for tick removal.   

Q: How can I make my dog enjoy going to the vet?

A: We have found that the fastest way to a dog’s heart is with treats, though a little extra love never hurts! If you find that your dog isn’t eager to come through the front door or into an exam room, we ask that you stop by often so we can do these activities with lots of positive reinforcement. We love your pets and want them to feel the same way about us. There is never any charge for a quick meet and treat with the front desk staff. Stop in anytime!   

Q: Do I need to give my dog her flea and tick preventative year round?

A: Ideally, yes. Deer ticks are particularly hardy and do not go dormant until the temperature is consistently below 40 degrees (even a single warm winter day can wake them up to feed if there is not deep snow!). In addition, fleas are present in many indoor spaces year-round, so it is especially important to keep your pets on year-round flea preventative if you live in an apartment, rental home or visit hotels with your pet, as fleas will travel within a building to find a meal.  

Q: Do I need to give my dog her heartworm preventative year round?

A: Yes. Even in New England, mosquitoes can live year-round in the eves of houses and in underground drains. In addition, many heartworm preventatives also protect against intestinal parasites that are found in the soil year-round.

Q: How do I know if my dog is overweight?

A: Like humans, dogs come with a variety of body types. In general, you should be able to feel, but not see, your dog’s spine, ribs, and hip bones. Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet’s weight each year at his or her annual wellness exam, but if you’re ever concerned in between appointments, our veterinary technicians are happy to assess your dog’s weight at no charge.

Q: How can I keep my dog happy while I’m at work all day?

A: It’s no secret that most young dogs need lots of exercise! If you are leaving your puppy or young adult dog home alone all day, a visit from a dog walker mid-day is a great idea. Older dogs can often be happy at home for several hours as long as they get plenty of stimulation before and after work. You can also help keep your dog entertained with dog-safe toys like a Kong (add a small amount of canned dog food and freeze it overnight for longer activity), or any durable food puzzle toy.  

Q: What do I do if my dog hates the car?

A: While many dogs love going for car rides, some dogs just don’t like the car. This is often because they are anxious due to the noise and motion of the car, or because they are experiencing nausea (“car sickness”). Both of these conditions are treatable, but early intervention and treatment is important so that your pet can learn to enjoy car rides. The first step in treatment is to determine if your dog dislikes the car because she is anxious, or because she is suffering from motion sickness.


Dogs who are anxious in the car will often hide, shake, whine, or refuse to get into the car. These dogs may benefit from riding in a familiar dog crate, or from short car rides with lots of positive reinforcement. The best way to start the training process is with short car rides to places your dog loves, giving plenty of treats and verbal positive reinforcement for getting into and out of the car, and for riding quietly. If your dog is still very anxious in the car, please call our staff to discuss other training methods and medication that may help.  

Much like dogs with car anxiety, those who suffer from motion sickness will often hide, shake and whine when it comes time to get in the car. They may also drool or vomit during car rides, even on short trips. These dogs usually need motion sickness or anti-nausea medication for relief. Puppies will sometimes outgrow their motion sickness, but can develop generalized car anxiety as a result of their early experiences feeling sick in the car, so call us if you suspect your dog is feeling nauseous in the car and we can prescribe an anti-nausea medication to try on future car trips.