Answers to Some Common Pet Questions

What should I have in my Pet First Aid Kit?

We recommend keeping at least these few items in a waterproof container, such as a Rubbermaid tub, coffee can with lid, or a tackle box, in an easily accessible location at home. This is an important item to bring when you are traveling with your pet, as well-keep one at home and one in your car, camper, or RV!

  • Sterile gauze pads (3" x 3" and 2" x 2") and gauze bandage rolls (1" and 2")
  • First-aid adhesive tape, 1" roll
  • Cotton swabs (Q-tips®)
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Plastic freezer/sandwich bags
  • Small bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • Styptic pencil or cornstarch (stems blood flow from minor cuts)
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Antiseptic cleansing wipes
  • Kaopectate® or Pepto-Bismol®
  • A current pet first-aid book
  • Eyewash
  • Eyedropper
  • Mineral oil (a lubricant and laxative when given by mouth)
  • Digital or rectal pet thermometer in a plastic case
  • Leather work gloves (to protect you from being bitten)
  • Latex gloves
  • Leash
  • Thin rope
  • Splint materials (tongue depressor, 12-inch wooden ruler, or thick magazine)

Pre-made pet first-aid kits are available for purchase at pet supply stores, pharmacies, retail and discount stores, and online.


What are normal vital signs in a dog or cat?

Normal Heart and Pulse Rate
Small breed dogs (30 lbs or less.): 100–220 beats per minute
Medium to large breed dogs (30+ lbs.): 60–180 beats per minute
Puppy (until 1 year old): 60–220 beats per minute
Cats: 140–220 beats per minute

Normal Breathing Rates
Dogs: 10–30 breaths per minute and up to 200 pants per minute
Cats: 24–42 breaths per minute

Normal Temperatures:
Dogs: 99.5°–102.5°F
Cats: 100.5°–102.5° F

Source: Clinical Textbook for Veterinary Technicians, 6th ed., Dennis M. McCurnin & Joanna M. Bassert

How do I find my dog or cat's pulse?

"The heartbeat of a dog or cat can be felt at about the point where the left elbow touches the chest (in between the third and fourth rib). Place your hand or stethoscope over this area and count the heartbeats. You can conclude your pet's heart rate by the number of beats per 6 seconds and then times ten. This will be your pet's heart rate."

"Pulses can also be felt with a light touch on the inner thigh approximately half way from the hip to the knee, stifle, known as the femoral vein just above the ankle on the outer side of the rear limb known as the tarsal vein or just below the wrist, carpus, and above the large tarsal pad on the inner front limb known as the carpal vein."

Source From:

What do I do if I have a veterinary emergency?

For after-hours veterinary emergencies, call Knoxville Veterinary Clinic at 641-842-3316 to receive instructions.

  • External Parasites

    How does my pet get fleas and ticks?

    Pets get fleas from other animals–pets, strays, or local wildlife. The flea eggs get spread by these animals and they are dropped into your yard or environment. As the eggs mature, the fleas jump onto your pet.

    Ticks are usually picked up in the woods or high grasses, typically where they wait patiently for a host. They linger until a human or animal "vehicle" walks by, and then hitch a ride on the animal fur, human clothes, or skin.

    While keeping a pet clean helps prevent some infestations, even indoor pets can pick up parasites. A good preventive is your best insurance against these annoying and unhealthy pests.

    Is a flea collar a good choice for my pet?

    Sadly, fleas have become resistant to the class of insecticides, called pyrethroids, contained in many over-the-counter preventives such as flea collars. We recommend you discuss the proper preventive for your pet–varying by type of animal, age, and size–with your veterinarian at your annual wellness visit.

  • Behavior

    When should I start a training program for my pet?

    Training any animal begins as soon as you bring your new pet home. Even a young puppy or kitten will respond to repeated rewards for good behavior.

    We recommend enrolling in obedience training classes. These classes will give you"the pet owner"the most basic information. This equips you with tools for fundamental training, such as house-training, and gives both demonstration and hands-on experience.

    Behavioral problems should be brought up at your annual wellness visit, where we can discuss the issues and give you expert advice or guidance.

    My senior pet is getting irritable–is this normal?

    Senior pets should be observed carefully for behavior changes, which may indicate illness, injury, or cognitive impairment. Contact your veterinarian at once if you see a dramatic change in your pet's demeanor! This is never "normal" in any pet, although behavioral changes are seen more often in older animals.

  • Diet & Nutrition

    Is it true that dry pet food can never meet the nutritional needs of pets?

    Debates over cat food abound and the issue often becomes one of moisture content: Many cats require a higher moisture content than dry foods provide to avoid urinary issues and problems with digestion.

    Most canned foods for both dogs and cats have a higher meat content; dry food often contains more protein from plant sources. In any case, canned foods for both cats and dogs tend to be higher in protein and fats, and contain fewer carbohydrates such as sugar and starch. They are more expensive, however.

    Begin discussing the best foods for your pet at your wellness visits. Your veterinarian is able to advise you on the most current research in this area, as well as the newest pet food products.

    How do I know how much to feed my pet?

    In reference to the amount of food, many owners feed their pets too much, including sugary treats and table food. Obesity is just as deadly as other diseases in pets and is an indication that either the food intake or exercise plan–or both!–need to be adjusted.

    Pet food labels can be used as a general guideline for portions, but may overestimate how much your pet needs. And food needs vary depending upon stage of life, general health, and exercise.

    Your annual wellness visit allows for a weigh-in of your pet, as well as a hands-on evaluation by the veterinarian. In this way, you will have professional guidance regarding dietary plans for your pets.

    A lean, well-muscled, active pet with a shiny coat and clear eyes is a good indicator that your animal is receiving appropriate nutrition.