Frequently Asked Questions



"What are common poisonous plants and how can they affect my pet?"

1. Lilies (Easter lily, Peace lily) - Cause SEVERE kidney failure. DO NOT KEEP THEM ANYWHERE AN ANIMAL CAN ACCESS THEM!
2. Yew - Causes trembling, incoordination, difficulty breathing, GI irritation, AND CARDIAC FAILURE.
3. Azalea/Rhododendron - Causes vomiting and diarrhea, can be very severe, but rarely does an animal eat enough to do serious harm. Be careful in yards.
4. Tulip/Narcissus bulbs - Cause intense GI irritation, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.
5. Cyclamen - Causes GI irritation, intense vomiting and even death.
6. Kalanchoe - Causes GI irritation and arrhythmias.
7. Poinsettia – Commonly causes mild oral irritation and GI upset.
8. Marijuana – Causes central nervous system depression and incoordination, vomiting and diarrhea, seizures and coma.

"What common drugs and substances are toxic to pets?"

1. Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen - toxicity is generally GI, liver and kidney.
2. Chocolate - toxicity depends on the type of chocolate (baking chocolate is the most dangerous and milk chocolate the least) and the amount of sugar and fat as well.
3. Rodenticides - toxicity is generally internal bleeding and can be caused by ingesting the product OR animals that have ingested the product. JUST DON'T USE THEM! Traps really are the most humane solution.
4. Pseudoephedrine - toxicity is generally manifested as hyperactivity and agitation.
5. Gorilla Glue – the glue expands in the GI tract causing and obstruction and can adhere to the stomach or intestinal walls impairing their function.

6. Xylitol – REQUIRES IMMEDIATE VETERINARY ATTENTION! Causes potentially life-threatening hypoglycemia (vomiting, weakness, lethargy, collapse, seizures) and can cause irreversible liver damage (vomiting, black tarry stool, jaundice, coma). Found in sugar-free gum, mints, candy, baked goods, oral rinses, toothpastes and chewable sugar-free vitamins.


"Got worms! Got kids! How can I best protect my kids and our pets?"

Children and animals are a great combination. Puppies and kittens are VERY likely to be infested with intestinal parasites (i.e., worms!) While kids can't "get worms" from their pets, they can ingest worm eggs, which will hatch and try to complete their lifecycle in the human body. In the process, the juvenile worms will get lost. Therefore, the worms end up trying to develop in aberrant organs. A couple of worms in your biceps isn't a problem. A worm in your child's eye is. The risk is slim, but real. So refrain from "kissing" with the puppy and kitten, always wash your hands after handling dogs and cats and allow us to develop a deworming regimen for your pet. More information can be found at the Companion Animal Parasite Council Consumer website: and the Animal Diseases and Zoonoses Worldwide website:


"Can cats be come infested with heartworms?"

Yes, cats really can be infested with heartworms. Granted heartworms have to work harder to live in a cat than in a dog, but they do MUCH more damage in a cat. When juvenile worms arrive in cats' lungs they often don't survive, but the inflammation they cause looks like "asthma" and can be severe. It is theorized that some "asthmatic" cats may actually be cats that are dealing with heartworm infestations. If the worms survive and become adults in the heart and main blood vessels in the lungs, they continue to cause inflammation while they are alive, but can kill the cat when the worms die. It looks like a massive asthmatic attack. It is recommended that all outdoor cats be tested and put on preventative, which kills juvenile worms BEFORE they land in the lungs and damage them.


"What could cause my pet to have diarrhea - again?"

We often see dogs with recurring diarrhea. Some of them prove to have Giardia, a one-celled intestinal parasite. Giardia is carried in the environment by wild animals and other dogs and cats. Dogs are exposed when "sniffing down the sidewalk" or poking around in the yard or woods. Giardia IS zoonotic (i.e., you and/or your children CAN contract it). If your pet has diarrhea for more than a day or two, have a stool sample checked. More information can be found at the Companion Animal Parasite Council Consumer website: and the Animal Diseases and Zoonoses Worldwide website:



"We're moving. How can I best plan for my pet?"

When moving and changing veterinarians, try to provide a copy of your pet's records via fax, email, mail or in person prior to your first appointment. This aids your new veterinarian in establishing a record for your pets and can shorten the time you will need to check in for your first appointment (while your pet is waiting anxiously with you). In addition to any medical concerns, be sure to inform your new veterinarian of any idiosyncrasies and special needs that your pet may have. These are important items to have in your pet's record and can help the staff know how best to deal with your pet - and ensure as comfortable and relaxed a visit as possible.


"My pet and I are very anxious about veterinary visits. What can be done to help us?"

Does your pet have a fear of white coats? Are they more comfortable on the floor or exam table? Are they more relaxed and cooperative with a firm hold or very little restraint? Do they bite or claw when scared? Is your pet more calm with - or without you in the room? Are you anxious about any proceedures? Would you rather not watch injections? We record all of these details in your records to ensure that you and your pet's visits are as stress-free and pleasant as possible.


"My family has travel plans. How should I plan for our pet?"

Traveling with your pets can be fun, but stressful. Keep a firm hold on leashes and be very careful when opening car doors with unrestrained animals inside. Even the most obedient and calm pet can become excited and disoriented. Cats are notorious for "heading for the hills". Have identification and contact numbers on your pets at ALL times. Be sure to carry vaccination information (i.e., proof of rabies vaccination). If your pet is anxious and injures someone, having your rabies information with you can save you a lot of hassle by local health department officials (and hopefully prevent the local animal warden from confiscating your pet for quarantine or until you provide proof of vaccination). Additionally, if you find you must board your pet while out of town you will be able to provide the kennel with needed information (i.e., you won't have to wait until the kennel can call your regular veterinarian for the information). may be helpful if you need to find veterinary care away from home.


If your pet stays home while you are away, make sure your pet sitter or kennel has contact information for you. You may want to consider “preauthorizing” veterinary care should it be needed. We encourage our clients to have a “Authorization to Provide Medical Care Form” on file with us when they travel. (See our “Forms” section.)


"What can I do to help my pets in case disaster strikes?"

"Disasters" can come in many shapes and sizes - snow, fire, power outage, tornado, train derailment/toxic spill. Be prepared for emergencies.

  1. Plan for a safe place to go - friends/relatives, boarding facility, hotel/motel, local animal shelter. Socialize your pets so they will handle transitions as well as possible.
    2. Keep identification on your pet - collar, tag, and microchip are recommended. Address and phone number of your evacuation site should be on your pet's collar. Photos will help in the event that you become separated.
    3. Vaccination records, long-term medication and a first-aid kit should be kept together in a convenient place.
    4. Keep some extra food and water on hand. Experts recommend a two-week supply (rotate your supply to ensure freshness). Water requirements are roughly one quart per day, per ten pounds.
    5. Be sure you have some means of restraining your pet - leash, harness, carrier, crate, etc.
    6. Be aware of waste. Take waste bags and kitty litter with you.
    7. Bring as many "creature comforts" as is reasonable - pet beds, blankets, toys, treats.

More information can be found on the Humane Society of the United States website:


"Why should we consider a microchip?"

Theoretically, all shelters, rescue organizations and veterinary clinics scan all "stray" or "found" animals for the presence of a microchip. Stonewall Veterinary Clinic scans every animal brought in as a stray or "found" pet. We implant Home Again microchips and have a "universal" scanner that can detect the presence of most microchips currently available. However, for microchips to be completely effective (i.e., for the lost pet to find it's way home), each chip must be registered with the respective company - and updated when the pet moves to a new address. Collars and tags can come off or be removed, but microchips are permanent identification that have proven to be safe and effective.




"What should I do if I spot an animal at the side of the road?"

"A neighbor's pet is loose and harassing my kids, who should I call?

Do you try to call it to you, or yell and wave your arms? Each situation and each animal is different. Proceed carefully and with as much common sense as possible. Remember, animals that are lost are usually scared and therefore more likely to bite - especially if grabbed suddenly. Also remember that not every animal you encounter is tame or enjoys human contact. A cat that looks friendly at first, may become a tiger when cornered. If a situation is beyond your ability, don't hesitate to call for help (Prince William Animal Control 703-792-6465). Keep in mind that rabies does exist and can be carried by stray animals. If an animal bites and runs away, seek medical attention immediately, regardless of how minor the injury may seem. Rabies post-exposure treatment will likely be recommended!


"Is he going to bite me? What does that wagging tail mean?"

Don't always assume that a wagging tail is a friendly one, many dogs wag their tail when agitated. What is the face doing when the tail is wagging? If the dog is staring at you and snarling, believe the face!! It could be that the dog is confused, and sometimes a confused dog is MUCH more likely to bite. (Just like people and our "nervous laugh", we may be laughing but we are surely not happy and relaxed!)
And if that wagging tail is on a cat, especially if it is staring intently at you or your hand, DO NOT reach for it!! Cats wag their tails only when angry or agitated!


"What about those cute 'grinning' dogs?"

Sorry, but those dogs are confused too, however cute they are. Respond to them happily, but give them their space - they aren't sure whether they should be defensive or friendly. Dogs really don't "smile" unless they have been taught to and in "dog-speak" lifted lips and a glimpse of teeth means, "I'm uncomfortable with how close you are to me and I need space," regardless of how much the tail may be wagging and how much the dog is bounding around you. Be careful, you could do something that convinces the dog that you really are a threat and not just an equally happy/excited playmate. If your dog exhibits these or other "confused" behaviors please discuss them with us. Our goal is to help everyone to send and receive clear messages.


"What are some considerations for my pet's golden years?"

Pets are living longer, just as people are. One of the reasons for this is better health care and preventative medicine. Regular screening of older pets is recommended to diagnose developing conditions (i.e., heart or kidney failure, osteoarthritis) before your pet becomes seriously ill or uncomfortable. When detected early, many conditions can be successfully managed, adding many happy/healthy years to a beloved pet's life. Screening typically includes a good physical exam, baseline bloodwork (CBC, chemistry, thyroid level, urinalysis) and may include x-rays, glaucoma testing, blood pressure measurement or other diagnostic, depending on your pet's breed and history. We are always available to discuss your pets "golden years".


“Why is my old dog staring at the door hinges?”

Ever heard of "Alzheimer's" in dogs? Just like people, some dogs develop cognitive dysfunction as they age. Typical signs are disorientation, altered interaction with family members, disrupted sleep patterns, loss of house-breaking, and altered activity. Free-radical damage is implicated as a cause and antioxidants (i.e., a diet high in antioxidants) can be helpful. There are commercial diets and supplements available (L-carnitine, lipoic acid, vitamins C and E, carotenoids, flavonoids and fatty acids) to support our "golden oldies".


"Why doesn't my cat sit on top of the refrigerator anymore?"

It could be that the cat learned this when he was younger and may be starting to feel his age, maybe he has arthritis and is in pain. Many older cats have osteoarthritis and try deal with their aches and pains by not running and jumping as much as they once did when they were "young". Granted, we may be thankful that the old guy doesn't jump up on the counter like he used to, but we don't want him hanging out in the closet because his joints hurt. Cats are notorious for "suffering in silence" and hiding their maladies. There are many pain medications, glucosamine products and treatments available for these quiet creatures.