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What types of pets do you see at your location?
We are happy to offer services for dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, chinchillas, hedgehogs and sugar gliders. We also do wing and nail trims for birds. We refer sick birds to a specialist.

I just started going to Horton Animal Hospital—does this mean all three of the locations have my information?
No, each of the three Horton Animal Hospitals in Columbia is independently owned and operated, although we can transfer your records if the need arises.

I see little black specks on my pet’s skin – what could these be?
Most likely, these poppy seed-sized specks are flea feces, composed of digested blood. If it’s hard to tell whether you’re seeing flea “dirt” or actual dirt, place the specks in a damp paper towel. If they truly are flea feces, a small red spot will show up as the blood re-hydrates and diffuses in the paper towel. If this is the case, it’s time to bring your pet to the vet for flea treatment. Without treatment, the fleas will breed, and your pet may experience fleabite dermitis, a syndrome that causes itching, inflamed skin and discomfort. 

I have recently found some full-grown fleas on my pet. Have I found them in time, and how do I make sure no one else in the house contracts them?
By the time you see fleas on your pet, they most likely already have a 6-to-12-week head start on any flea-control treatment. On average, a flea’s lifespan is 2-3 months; however, flea eggs (those not yet living on a pet) can survive undistributed and without a blood meal for about a full year.

We offer several flea-treatment options, including both topical and oral tablet medications. Our staff will be glad to help you find the right flea product to protect your pet against these pests.

So you’ve treated your pet for fleas, but what about your house? It needs treatment, too. Treat your yard using Sevin dust, which includes flea and tick chemicals (just follow the instructions on the bag). You can also use an insecticidal bomb or premise spray to clean your house. All pets in the family should be treated with flea preventative measures regularly.

Be sure to clean your animal’s bedding, as well as your own, with hot water and detergent at least three times per week. Vacuum at least three times a week, too. Make sure to get the dark areas under your furniture, as this is where fleas thrive. You can also place a flea collar in your vacuum bag if you like—just remove the bag and place it in an outdoor trash can afterward.

What plants are toxic to my pets?
Dogs: Some of the most common plants that are toxic to dogs include carnations, chinaberry tree, baby’s breath, aloe, apples, iris, Jack-in-the-pulpit, avocados, coleus, daisies, foxglove, garlic, leeks, limes, mums, peonies, St. John’s Wort, geraniums, gardenias and tulip plants. For a complete list, including pictures, visit the ASPCA website.

Cats: Some of the most common plants that are toxic to cats include aloe, fig, garlic, apples, gardenias, apricots, avocados, azaleas, baby’s breath, peonies, carnations, periwinkle, daisies, hydrangeas, dahlias, holly, Jack-in-the-pulpit, oranges, lilies, onions and mums. For a complete list, including pictures, visit the ASPCA website.

If you suspect your pet is ill or may have ingested a poisonous or harmful substance, contact us right away. If you have a pet emergency after our office is closed, please call the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine at (573) 882-4589. You can also call the ASPCA 24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at (888) 426-4435 in the case of an after-hour, poisonous-substance related emergency.

How can I tell if my pet has a dental problem?
It’s easy: just lift the lip and sniff. It’s normal for your pet to have slightly less-than-fresh breath, but a horrible odor is an early indicator that the mouth is harboring bacteria. You can also easily visually identify dental calculus: while normal teeth are white and shiny all the way to the gum line, yellow or brown deposits near the gums indicate a problem. Finally, look at your pet’s gums. They should be pale rose in color and taper down to a knife’s edge where they meet the tooth. If you see a bright red line where the teeth meet the gums, your pet is developing gum disease.

How can I make sure my pet’s teeth stay healthy? What is the best way to manage gum disease?
The key to managing gum disease in your pets is to prevent it in the first place. As long as you clean the surfaces of your pet’s teeth frequently, the gums will stay healthy. We recommend daily brushing and chewing activities to maintain your pet’s oral health. Many pets, especially middle-aged and older cats and dogs, also require periodic professional scaling in addition to on-going plaque control, which we offer at our location.

I have missed two months of heartworm prevention for my dog. What should I do?
You need to consult your veterinarian right away and start your dog back on monthly preventative treatments as soon as possible. If your dog is infected, heartworm disease will progress and damage the heart and lungs, which leads to life-threatening, serious problems. Retest your dog six months after resuming treatment. (Heartworms must be approximately six months old before the infection can be diagnosed.)

I have a cat. Should I still worry about heartworms?
Yes. Heartworm infection in cats is on the rise, and it’s harder to detect than heartworms in dogs. The preferred method for screening cats includes the use of both an antigen and antibody test. Your vet may also use x-rays or an ultrasound to look for heartworm infection. Since there is no approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats, prevention is absolutely critical.

What if my cat stays indoors? Does she still need a heartworm preventive?
Cats can be exposed to mosquitoes carrying heartworm disease whether they live indoors or outdoors. While the outdoor cat is more likely to be bitten, multiple studies have reported a significant number of heartworm infections in cats living exclusively indoors. If dogs in your area are found to have heartworm disease, your cats are also at risk and should be placed on preventative medication immediately. Even a single heartworm can cause severe consequences and possibly death.

When is a good age to spay or neuter a new puppy or kitten?
We recommend spaying or neutering all dogs and cats by the age of six months. The minimum weight for surgery is 3 pounds and we recommend completing the puppy or kitten vaccine series prior to surgery. Our staff will help you determine the best time to schedule this important procedure for your individual pet.

Why is spaying or neutering my pet recommended?
Read all about the benefits of spaying and neutering here >

I see “worms” in my pet’s feces. What should I do? Can all worms be seen easily?
Check out this article about the common intestinal parasites we see in pets >