FAQ River Road Veterinary Hospital

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Frequently Asked Questions

Our River Road Veterinarians Answer Your Questions

When your pet needs to be cared for by a professional, you want to have all the information possible about not only the veterinary hospital and veterinarian staff but about the services and procedures themselves. At River Road Veterinary Hospital, we believe that an informed pet parent is a better pet parent. That’s why our knowledgeable veterinarians and staff go above and beyond to always answer any questions you may have.

Many of our pet parents have a lot of the same questions, so to make things easier and save you some time, we’ve compiled the most frequently asked questions below. Browse through them, and if you still have some lingering questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We provide care to pets in Andover, Lawrence, and Methuen.

General Questions & Answers

Do you take walk-in appointments?

It’s important for us to allow enough time for all of our patients and scheduled surgical procedures, so for that reason, we primarily operate by appointment only. However, emergencies will take priority. This is why an occasion appointments may be delayed. We make every effort to always stay on schedule and see our patients on time.

Do you take emergencies?

We do! We are here for all of your pet needs during business hours. If your pet is experiencing an emergency while we are open, please call ahead to let us know you are on your way. If you are dealing with an emergency after hours, we recommend taking him or her to the nearest emergency hospital. You can find a list of these facilities on our resources page.

Do you see exotic pets?

We sure do! Whether they have fur, feathers, or scales, our veterinarians are here to provide medical and surgical care. This includes birds, reptiles, rabbits, and pocket pets.

Do you have overnight care?

We provide overnight kenneling for pets that are stable and need to rest and recuperate. For those in need of emergency care, we recommend an emergency hospital, where they will have a team of veterinarians and nurses. Visit our resources page for local options.

Do you offer financing options?

River Road Veterinary Hospital cannot offer financing options, as we are privately owned and don’t receive any support from other agencies. For this reason, we cannot extend credit or accept partial payments. We also require that all of our patients pay for their services in full upfront prior to leaving. This policy is what allows us to continue to provide the best quality care for pets in Andover, Lawrence and Methuen.

As for payment options, we accept cash, credit cards, and checks. We also provide information about pet insurance plans for your convenience.

Do you offer grooming?

Unfortunately, we do not offer grooming at this time. Our boutique, Gustopher’s, offers a wide range of shampoos and conditioners, as well as other grooming supplies, for those pet owners who want to do it themselves.

Do you offer boarding?

We do not provide boarding services at this time. We believe that it’s important that our environment is as quiet and stress-free for all of our pet patients. Typical boarding facilities often have noisy atmospheres that would be distracting for our pets recovering from illness or surgery or simply visiting for a checkup. In some cases, we’ll allow some patients to spend the night at our hospital. However, if your pet requires close attention and monitoring, we recommend you bring them somewhere that offers round-the-clock care from veterinarians and nurses.

Can I drop my pet off for an exam?

At River Road Veterinary Hospital, we understand you lead a busy life and it can be hard to schedule an appointment at a convenient time. We are happy to offer “drop-off” appointments and will take your pets for a few hours, or even the day, while focusing on your other tasks. Our doctors and staff will take great care of them. The veterinarian will examine him or her and then give you a call to discuss their health or get your permission to perform additional tests or services. We’ll also provide you with discharge instructions.

We will most likely ask that you leave your pet with us in the morning so that our highly-skilled veterinarians can examine them in between other appointments or at a time reserved for an appointment.

Common Vaccination Questions & Answers

Why do puppies and kittens need so many vaccinations?

Newborn cats and dogs have very weak and vulnerable immune systems, which leaves them very susceptible to illnesses and infections. In their early days of life, when they are nursing, their mother’s milk provides antibodies that offer protection from many diseases until their own immune systems can take over. However, these maternal antibodies only last for so long and vary from one pet to the next.

By 16 to 20-weeks of age, this protection is gone, and the pet will be at risk of infection. This is why it is important to bring them into our veterinary hospital at an early age, prior to the expiration of that immunity. We will provide a series of vaccinations for your kitten or puppy that will hold them over until their own immune system can protect them. If you wait until they are old enough for their immune systems to respond, like with the rabies vaccination, there will be a window of vulnerability if their mother’s immunity wears off sooner rather than later. We care for puppies and kittens in the Andover, Lawrence, and Methuen area.

Which vaccinations does my pet need?

Many pet parents ask us which vaccines we recommend for their dogs and cats prior to seeing them. We believe that each pet should be vaccinated for what they are likely to come in contact with, meaning each pet may have different needs. There are several factors to consider when deciding on a vaccination schedule:

  • Does your pet go to puppy classes?
  • Do they go to the groomer?
  • Is your cat strictly an indoor cat or do they venture outside?

We’ll do a risk assessment for each of our pet patients in order to decide on the best course of action.

Are vaccines harmless?

In short, no, vaccines are not completely harmless. When a vaccine is administered, it activates the immune system, which leads to an inflammatory response that is similar to an allergic reaction. However, a pet that is not vaccinated risks a greater chance of developing a preventable disease that can pose a much greater risk than vaccines themselves.

The length of time that vaccines are licensed depends on each vaccine. They are licensed based on the minimum duration they are expected to provide protection. In some cases, they are labeled for one year, and others can be labeled for three years. Studies are being conducted to determine their duration and we will always adjust your pet’s vaccination schedule if we get new information that recommends that we do so.

Will my pet have an allergic reaction?

In some cases, your pet can have a mild allergic reaction. Many vaccine reactions can be immediately observed while others can take up to 48 hours to present themselves.

Some common reactions include:

  • Muscle soreness
  • Lethargy
  • Mild fever lasting for a day or two

More serious, yet rare, side effects can include:

  • Facial swelling
  • Hives
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea

We must emphasize that these reactions are quite rare and are a result of an pet’s individual immune system response. If you notice any of these side effects, make sure to let your veterinarian know. They are a sign that special care should be taken with future vaccinations. Allergic reactions can become worse with each episode, so it’s very important that you don’t ignore them. Certain breeds of pets are more likely than others to have reactions to vaccines.

Common Surgery Questions & Answers

Is anesthetic safe?

We provide surgical care to the Andover, Lawrence and Methuen areas. Surgery today is much safer as a result of modern anesthetic monitors, and at River Road Veterinary Hospital, we’ll conduct a thorough physical prior to administering any anesthetics to your pet to make sure that any current illnesses won’t be a problem. Depending on the age and health of your pet, we’ll adjust the amount and type of anesthetic used.

Prior to surgery, we’ll do some blood testing to make sure your pet’s kidneys and liver can handle the anesthetic, as even healthy pets can have serious organ system problems that can't be detected without it. We’ll be sure to find any problems prior to administering any anesthesia.

If we find serious problems, we may have to postpone your pet’s procedure until we can correct the problem. For older or sick pets, we’ll conduct additional blood tests, electrocardiograms, or x-rays prior to surgery.

Lastly, it is very important that surgery is performed on an empty stomach in order to reduce the risk of vomiting during and after anesthesia. We ask that you hold off on feeding your pet for 8 to 10 hours prior to surgery. Water is okay up until the morning of the surgery.

Will my pet have stitches?

At River Road Veterinary Hospital, we use absorbable sutures for many of our surgeries. These sutures do not need to be removed, as they go underneath the skin and will dissolve on their own. Some surgeries, like tumor removals, will require traditional skin stitches. Regardless of the type of suture we use, we’ll be sure to pay close attention to the incision to monitor for discharge or swelling.

In some cases, dogs and cats will try to lick or chew around the incision area, so you’ll need to keep an eye on them. For skin sutures, we will remove them approximately 12 to 14 days after the surgery. It’s also important to limit your pet’s activity level for a period of time and do not bathe them for the first 14 days following surgery.

Will my pet be in pain?

The general rule for pets is that anything that can cause pain in people can also cause pain in pets. One distinct difference is that pets often will not show the same symptoms of pain as their human parents would. Just because they don’t whine or cry does not mean they are not feeling pain. Our veterinarians will prescribe pain meds accordingly, and major procedures will require more pain relief than minor surgeries.

For dogs, we often recommend you give them an oral anti-inflammatory the day of the surgery in addition to a few days following the surgery to minimize any swelling or discomfort. Our hospital is happy to use newer medications that are less likely to lead to upset stomachs and are safe to administer the day of surgery.

Since cats don’t tolerate anti-inflammatories all that well, we have fewer options when it comes to pain management. However, there have been recent advancements in pain medication that have allowed for better pain control in cats. Thirty minutes prior to their surgery, we’ll administer a pain injection. Following the surgery, we’ll give them pain medication again. If they show signs of being in pain, we’ll give them an additional dose. Keeping your pet as comfortable as possible is very important to our team.

What other decisions will I need to make?

Our veterinarians find it a good idea to perform additional minor procedures while your pet is under anesthesia. Some of these include ear cleaning, nail trimming, and microchip implantation. Please check with us beforehand for pricing on each of these options, especially if the person dropping the pet off is not the primary caregiver.

Please arrive early for your surgery appointment, as you will have to fill out paperwork that will take about 10 minutes. Following your pet’s surgery, we’ll take about 10 minutes or so to review your pet’s home care needs.

Our hospital will contact you the night before your pet’s surgery to double-check that you are prepared and to answer any questions you may have. If you have questions prior to this, we are always here for you.

If you have a question that was not answered above, please reach out to our veterinary hospital. We want you to have all the information you need about our facility and procedures. We care for pets in Andover, Lawrence, and Methuen.

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