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Caring for a pet can be more involved than you expected — and it's only complicated by the pet's inability to vocalize exactly what's wrong. We know the struggle!

Spaying & Neutering

Female dogs and cats are spayed by removing their reproductive organs, and male dogs and cats are neutered by removing their testicles. In both cases, the operation is performed while the pet is under anesthesia. Depending on your pet’s age, size, and health, they will stay at your veterinarian’s office for a few hours to a day.

Spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, happier lives. It can eliminate or reduce the incidence of a number of health problems that can be very difficult or expensive to treat. Spaying eliminates the possibility of uterine or ovarian cancer and greatly reduces the incidence of breast cancer, particularly when your pet is spayed before her first cycle. Neutering eliminates testicular cancer and decreases the incidence of prostate disease.

Spaying or neutering your pet can improve both their health and happiness. Having your female animals spayed keeps them from going into heat. Spaying and neutering will also reduce the risk of certain health problems, giving you more years with your precious dog or cat companions. It is also important to mention that by reducing the number of homeless pets in your neighborhood, you are limiting the possibility that your pet will encounter a violent animal or one carrying a dangerous disease.

By making sure that your pet can’t have puppies or kittens, you’ll have peace of mind that their offspring won’t be euthanized in an animal shelter. Many people are surprised to learn that nationwide, more than five million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters every year — that's one every 6.5 seconds. It costs U.S. taxpayers an estimated two billion dollars each year to round up, house, euthanize, and dispose of homeless animals. The pet overpopulation epidemic is so staggering that for every animal born in the United States to have a home, each and every human being would have to own 6 dogs and 9 cats.

You might think that these are animals born in the streets or there is something "wrong" with them, but often they are the offspring of cherished family pets, even purebreds. Maybe someone’s dog or cat got out just that one time, or maybe the litter was intentional, but efforts to find enough good homes failed. Still, the result is homeless animals that have to be euthanized because there are more dogs and cats entering shelters than there are people willing to provide them with loving care. Even if you do find homes for your pet’s puppies or kittens, that means there are fewer homes available to take in other pets from shelters.

Spay/neuter is the only permanent, 100-percent effective method of birth control for dogs and cats. Millions of pet deaths each year are a tragedy – but it can be solved. By spaying and neutering your pet, you can be an important part of the solution. Contact SOS of Ohio today and be sure to let your family and friends know that they should do the same.

Pets can become parents sooner than you think! SOS of Ohio will spay or neuter puppies and kittens when they are three months or two pounds, whichever comes first. If you are not sure how much your kitten or puppy weighs, please bring them to our clinic and we will be happy to do a weight check for you. It is a myth that you can’t spay/neuter kittens and puppies when they’re so young – they actually bounce back from spay/neuter surgery very quickly! Pediatric spay/neuter is safer and less stressful on the animal than waiting until they're older.

SOS of Ohio is able to provide services at a low cost in part because of the high-volume of animals we see every day - but high-volume does not mean low-quality.

The animals altered at our clinic receive a high level of care by staff members that truly care about the welfare of your animal. SOS of Ohio uses an anesthetic protocol that is widely accepted in our field. Licensed veterinarians perform the spay or neuter operation while the pet is under full anesthesia. All pets stay at our clinic for the day so we are able to observe them prior to going home.

Pre-Operation

Please make sure that your pet doesn't eat after midnight, but water is okay. Cats must be in a carrier and dogs must be on a leash. All animals should wait in your car while you come inside to fill out paperwork.

If your pet is current on their rabies vaccine, please bring either their rabies certificate or an invoice from your vet. If you don't show proof of rabies vaccination at check-in, we will administer it during surgery at a cost of $10.

If your dog or cat is younger than four months of age, please give it one teaspon of food for breakfast before bringing them in.

Please arrive between 7:30am and 8:30am. If you arrive after 8:30am, you will be charged a $10 late fee per animal. When you arrive, please fill out one form per pet from the bin by the front desk.

Be prepared to show your voucher or proof of rabies vaccine at check-in.

Post-Operation

Please arrive between 4:00pm and 5:00pm for dogs, and 5:00pm to 6:00pm for cats. If you arrive after 6:00pm, you will be charged a $10 late fee per animal. When you arrive, please come to the front desk to tell us you are here and pay. We accept cash, Apple Pay, and all major credit cards. We cannot accept checks or Care Credit.

One of our staff members go over everything we did and go over your go-home instructions.

No playing, running, rough-housing, swimming, or bathing is allowed for 7-10 days. Keep animals clean, dry, and indoors. Keep your pet separated from other animals in the household for 7-10 days to avoid any play that could affect the incision. You will need to leash walk dogs to go to the bathroom over the next 7-10 days, with no long walks for this time period.

When you get your animal home, please feed them half of the amount you would regularly feed them. We ask you to do this so that they do not gorge and then vomit. If they keep this small meal down, you can feed them another small meal before bed. Starting the day after surgery, feed your cat or dog their regular food for 7-10 days – no table scraps, and do not change their diet for this time period.

Check the incision when you get home, and check it twice a day for the next 7-10 days. Make sure any redness and swelling is minimal and that it is getting better each day. Make sure there is no drainage or bleeding from the incision, this is not normal – call us right away. Our after-hours emergency line is located on the yellow post-surgical instruction sheet you receive when you pick your pet up from surgery. Please use this number ONLY if there is a surgical emergency. For general questions, please email us at info@sosohio.org.

If your animal is experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, or is lethargic, call us right away.

Do not allow the animal to lick the incision. The first time you observe this behavior, you need to purchase an Elizabethan collar (e-collar). This is the only way to stop the licking. We have e-collars here at our clinic; pet stores carry them and some veterinary offices. You must take the animal with you to get it fitted properly. If an e-collar is not worn, the licking will continue and your animal will infect the incision, and get sick from ingesting the blood/pus that will inevitably come out of it.

All female and some male animals are given a tattoo – this is a small green mark on their abdomen. This is so that anyone who examines them in the future will know that they have been fixed, and won't have to do an exploratory surgery to check.

All stitches are internal and dissolvable; they do not need to be manually removed.

After your pet’s surgery, if there are any questions, please email us. If you have questions regarding your animal after surgery, and you need an immediate response, you can call the emergency after-hours phone number located on the yellow post-operation instruction sheet. You must speak to our clinic to make arrangements for the animal to be brought here. If you go see your own vet or go to an emergency clinic, we will not be able to reimburse you for any charges that are incurred.

Feral Cats

We do!

SOS of Ohio requires an appointment for feral cats to be brought in for spay/neuter surgery. Feral cats can be scheduled for a Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday, and should be brought in between 7:30am and noon the day of their appointment. They will then be available for pick up the same day between 5:00pm and 6:00pm. We will only accept feral cats who are brought in live humane traps - cat carriers are not safe for you, the cat, or our staff. It is also not safe to try to get more than one cat into each trap. Please line the trap with newspaper so that the cat's toes don't slip through the bars, and cover the trap with a sheet or towel to help them stay calm.

Feral cats that are brought in a trap AND are ear-tipped are $55 for the surgery itself. This is a lower cost than that of owned cats because ferals are not handleable by nature and therefore do not receive a pre-op exam. If you have a friendly outdoor kitty that you would like examined, or do not bring the cat in a humane trap, or do not want the cat ear-tipped, then the surgery will cost the same as it does for owned cats. Any additional services requested will cost the same as they do for owned cats.

If you can handle the cat, then they are NOT feral.

SOS of Ohio requires that feral cats arrive in traps, and that there be only one animal per trap for the safety of our staff, the cats, and for you as well.

Trap the morning of your appointment, and bring them in immediately after. NEVER attempt to pick up or move a feral cat to a carrier. We require the cats to be in live humane traps. Bring them in between 7:30am and noon, and pick them up between 5:00pm and 6:00pm.

Franklin County requries that all animals receive a rabies vaccination. Feral cats can have their ear tipped at no additional charge.

Feral Cat Trapping Guide

Feral Cat Post-Surgery Care Guide

More resources on trapping feral cats:

Tipped ears on feral cats

Eartipping is a universally accepted method to identify a spayed/neutered and vaccinated community cat. It is a standard part of most Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) programs because it’s the best method to let everyone know at a glance that a cat has gone through a TNR program.

The eartip is performed under anesthesia, where the veterinarian removes the distal quarter of the left ear. There is little or no bleeding, it is relatively painless to the cat, and the eartip does not significantly alter the appearance or beauty of the cat. Eartips are a critical safeguard for outdoor cats. Some outdoor cats prefer to keep their distance, but most eartips can be seen from even several feet away. Plus, no matter who interacts with the cat, they can all tell that they have an outdoor home. That’s a big deal when it comes to animal control agencies and shelters, and it allows a caregiver who is setting traps to know this cat has already been sterilized.

FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)

FeLV is Feline Leukemia Virus. It is a common infection in cats, and causes more cat deaths than any other organism. Unfortunately, it is very widespread in the cat population. FeLV creates abnormal white blood cells that can't fight infections, so most cats with FeLV die within three years of infection. There is no cure, only supportive treatment, like blood transfusions and steroids.

FeLV is transmitted through close, social contact - in slaiva, blood, or any secretion - so just sharing food and water dishes or litterboxes can cause transmission. The leukemia vaccine is the only sure-fire way to prevent the leukemia virus.

If your cat tests positive for FeLV, they can still live a full life. They just have to be housed indoors and kept away from other cats to limit the risk of disease transmission. They should also visit the vet every six months for a check-up. Multi-FeLV-cat households should be closed (no new cats) to prevent the spead of the infection.

FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)

FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, just as HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. These two viruses are closely related, and much information about HIV holds true for FIV. In FIV, there is a long asymptomatic period before AIDS occurs, and the goal of supportive care is to prolong that period. Many FIV-positive cats live long lives, with only periodic illness.

The virus is most often transmitted through bite wounds, but it is sometimes spread sexually. It causes cats to be immunocompromised, so they must be kept indoors to minimize their exposure to infectious diseases. They must also be kept on a strict regement of flea and tick preventatives.

If your cat tests positive for FIV, they can still live a full life. However, there should only be one immuno-suppressed individual per home (including humans), because multiple of them would serve as amplifiers for infectious agents.

Parvovirus

Parvo is a cause of severe illness and death for dogs; fortunately, vaccinations are an effective route of prevention if performed on the proper schedule. Parvovirus is especially hardy in the environment, and is difficult to disinfect away. In any young dog with vomiting and/or diarrhea, parvoviral infection must be considered as as possible diagnosis.

Parvovirus is usually deadly. Diarrhea and vomiting lead to extreme fluid loss and dehydration, leading to shock and often death. Additionally, the virus breaks down the intestinal barrier, allowing bacterial invasion of the entire body. Hospitalization with IV fluids and intensive supportive care greatly increases the chance of survival, but it in no way guarantees it. With proper treatment, there is about an 80% survival rate.

The virus is shed in the stool and vomit of infected dogs; because parvo causes vomiting and diarrhea, it gets shed in extremely large numbers. In a household with a parvo-positive dog, the virus would be everywhere - on every carpet, on every floor, in every yard and park the dog visited. Some dogs are asymptomatic, meaning they are able to spread the virus without anyone knowing they're infected. Because the virus is so hardy, it travels wherever dirt travels, and only a small amount of the virus is needed to cause an infection.

It should not be too surprising that the biggest step in preventing parvovirus is vaccination. The virus exists virtually everywhere, and it is hardy and easily carried. Every dog will likely be exposed during their lifetime. Prevention in puppies is about minimizing exposure to the virus until the vaccination series is completed. The first vaccine can be done as early as 6 weeks of age, and should be repeated every 3-4 weeks until your dog is at least 16 weeks old. After that, the parvo vaccine should be given annually.

Flea, Tick, and Worm Preventatives

Flea preventatives matter year-round, whether or not your pet goes outside. Humans can track in fleas from the ground, mosquitos can fly through open doors, rodents can transmit worms. Fleas can quickly infect your entire home, and a heavy flea burden is lethal, especially to young or small pets. Heartworms are almost always fatal, and treatment is exponentially more painful and expensive than prevention.

Heartworms live in the bloodsteam of the host. As they mature and multiply, they clog the heart, causing damage and eventual death. Heartworm treatment involves a medication that kills the worms, allowing the body to clear out the parasite. This treatment is very high-risk, as the bodies of the parasites can potentially clog the pathways within the heart. It is also incredibly painful, as the treatment is toxic, with the goal of killing the parasite without causing too much damage to the host. Heartworms are generally transmitted by mosquitos, and it only takes one bite to transmit the parasite. Preventatives are cheap and easy to take, and should be given year-round.

For dogs, we offer Revolution, Bravecto, and Tri-Heart. Revolution is a $15 liquid that we apply ($25 for dogs 85-130 lbs), and it covers fleas, ticks, mites, and worms. Bravecto is a $50 meat-flavored pill that we can send home, and it covers fleas and ticks. Tri-Heart is $25-40 for a six-month supply (depending on weight) and it prevents heartworms.

We offer two types of preventative medicine for cats - Revolution and Bravecto Plus. Revolution is a liquid that goes down their back, and it protects from fleas, mites, and worms. We buy it in bulk and dose it out per patient, so it's only $5 per cat. However, that means that we can't send it home with you. The other option is Bravecto Plus. It's also a liquid, but it's packaged individually so you can take it home. It covers fleas, ticks, and heartworms for two months and costs $50.

Cat Declawing

Declawing

If there is no medical reason for the procedure, we will not do it. Many vets will not do this procedure due to the ethical, behavioral, and physical issues associated with it. The cat's claw isn't just a nail like it is on humans - it's part of the last bone in the cat's foot.

Declawing is equivalent to cutting off a person's finger at the first knuckle. This may seem like a convenience for cat owners, however it can cause chronic behavioral and medical problems for the cat. Some of these problems include chronic pain, lameness, infection, and necrosis. It often causes cats to stop using the litterbox due to the pain caused by stepping on the litter.

Scratching and the use of their claws is part of a cat's lifestyle and is not a habit of any sort. The best way to control your cat's scratching would be to provide multiple acceptable places to scratch, such as scratching posts or cardboard boxes. There are also plastic nail covers that can be put over the nails, which can be found at many chain pet stores or for cheap online. Weekly or monthly nail trimming at a groomer or at home can also alleviate the problem.

First-Time Dog Owner's Guide

You have a dog! Congratulations! Take a moment and breathe in the smell of their fur, give a solid butt pat, and get licked on the mouth. Now it's time to consider their veterinary care.

Dogs should get vaccines once a year, around the same time every year. The rabies vaccine is universally required; the distemper, parvo, bordetella (kennel cough), and leptospira vaccines are strongly recommended. It's also important to keep your dog on preventatives for fleas/ticks and heartworms year-round. Most veterinarians require a yearly negative heartworm test in order to prescribe heartworm prevention. As far as flea prevention, there are OTC options, but a prescription from your vet will be much more effective.

Puppies should eat three times a day, and adults twice. Look for a food with protein as the first ingredient, and avoid grain-free foods as they often contain other fillers that are not good for your dog. Follow the directions on the bag to make sure you're feeding the right amount for their weight and activity level.

You also get the privilege of taking your dog for walks! Bare-minimum once a day, you should go out for 10-15 minutes. Of course, younger dogs need longer - if you're walking a puppy, you should be out of breath by the time you get home. If at all possible, go out in the morning and in the evening, as well as a couple quick bathroom breaks throughout the day. Try to vary the route you take, as dogs love to get new smells!

For any dog with an unknown history, be careful taking them around other dogs. Especially if your dog came from a shelter, they will need a few months to decompress. Once you feel like you understand them, you know their tics and triggers, then you can start working on their doggy skills. Start by walking them across the park from another dog, and then slowly come closer, watching for any changes in your dog's behavior.

Tail wagging and alert eyes are signs of positive interest, but be careful of going too quickly - an overexcited dog can turn playtime into a fight. Flattened ears and stiff posture are signs of fear, and you should remove your dog from the situation. Eventually, with repetition, they will feel more comfortable around other dogs. Once they've mastered leash-walking around other dogs, they're ready to try a well-supervised visit to the park!

There are loads of books and videos out there, so you have your pick. Whichever one you choose, give it a few weeks trial, and then if it works, stick with it. The act of training is itself a learned behavior - if you train your dog the same way for every word, they will start to learn faster.

Positive reinforcement is key. If your dog knows they get rewarded for doing what you want, they will gladly do it; that's how dogs were domesticated to think. They're not called "man's best friend" for nothing! If you use punishment, your dog will only listen out of fear; that's the opposite of love. As soon as you turn your back, your dog will do whatever they want, because they haven't learned what they are supposed to do, only what they're not supposed to do.

Think of it like this: if you were trying to teach a toddler the alphabet, you wouldn't just have them scribble on a piece of paper and keep yelling 'No!' until they make a letter; you would show them how to write the letter and then make gentle corrections, rewarding them every time them make progress. There are whole dissertations on dog training, websites and series and channels you can read and watch through, but the SparkNotes are these: work together, with love and patience, and you can't go wrong.

First-Time Cat Owner's Guide

You just brought home a cat - what now?

When picking a cat, remember that personality is more important than color - some cats are very vocal, some are very sweet, some will play every moment of the day. Make sure you get a cat whose personality matches your own. If your lifestyle doesn't allow you spend a lot of time with the cat at home, just get a second cat. Seriously! They teach each other how to play, how to recognize feline body language, and how to use the litterbox. A sure-fire way to teach your cat not to commit Murderous Scratching is to have their new brother teach them for you.

Believe it or not, the best thing you can do with a new cat is to just leave them alone. Sometimes, cats just need to be in a small, dark room for a few days, so they can adjust to their new home. Bathrooms are a great option, because the spot behind the toilet is surprisingly comfortable for cats. There's the added bonus of the short bits of human contact that they get, letting them get used to you. Cats relate on their own terms; like toddlers, if you push them, they will throw a fit.

Once your new cat(s) are starting to come up to you when you come in, you can let them explore the rest of their new home. Make sure to create plenty of hiding places for them - cats love a good Sideways-Box, or a blanket over a chair. Every room that you spend time in should have a safe place for your cat to quietly observe you. Unlike dogs, cats display affection by existing in the same area as you. Their mere presence is a sign of trust.

If you're getting cats, you probably have plants. Make sure the plants aren't poisonous to cats, because your cat is both willing and able to eat them. Lilies, aloe, cacti, and many other plants will make your cat seriously ill; spider plants and too-much-catnip will just give them an upset stomach.

The total number of litter boxes in your home should be one more than the number of cats you have (eg, 2 cats = 3 litter boxes). You should scoop their litter every day, because they can get very ill from stepping in their own waste and then licking their paws. Ideally, you should completely empty, bleach, wash, and refill the litter boxes with new litter every week.

If your cat wakes you up at five in the morning by stepping on your face, don't give in. They will never forget. If you're able, get an automatic food dispenser - your cat will think that the machine feeds them, so they're more likely to leave you alone when they get hungry. It also solves the "each roommate feeds the cat twice a day and now it weighs 20 pounds" problem.

Just like humans, cats have Terrible Twos, during which they become moody and difficult. A two-year-old cat, biologically, is like a teenage human - they're full of hormones, and they will yell at you. They may start to be aggressive or territorial towards others in the home, or cause destruction and devastation in their wake. The best way to curb these behaviors is to get your cat spayed (girls) / neutered (boys). We schedule several months out, so if you recently brought a cat into your life and would like to get them fixed at SOS, it is never too soon to get them on the schedule.

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