Category: Labwork

Protecting your Pet from Heartworms!

What exactly is Heartworm Disease?kisspng-mosquito-insect-mosquitoes-insects-5a8089cadd8e94.9340606815183733229075

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition in dog. It is transmitted through infected mosquito bites. Dogs of all ages are susceptible to infection. Different signs range from no sign at all to persistent cough, fatigue, fainting, and weight loss.

After a bite from an infected mosquito, heartworm larvae migrate through the tissue. once in the tissue, the heartworm life cycle begins with the presence of infected larvae. Left untreated, larvae can grow into adult worms in just over 6 months. Once larvae arrive in the heart and lungs, they can cause damage as early as 70 days. Heartworm disease is usually detected with a blood test at your Veterinarian office. Treatment is expensive for the owner, and a painful, prolonged ordeal for the dog.

Heartworm prevention is exponentially cheaper than treatment. As we’ve talked about before, cats are also at risk for heartworm disease and there is no treatment available for cats. It is just at important for our feline friends to be a on a monthly heartworm preventative as it is for dogs.

That’s why both the Companion Animal Parasite Council and the American Heartworm Society recommends year-round treatment with a broad-spectrum parasite control product without interruption, regardless of where you live.

hwmap2016
“The severity of heartworm incidence as shown in this map is based on the average number of cases per reporting clinic. Some remote regions of the United States lack veterinary clinics, therefore we have no reported cases from these areas.”

There are several different products available to prevent heartworms on the market. Here at TLC Animal Hospital, we carry ProHeart6, Trifexis, and MilbeGuard for dogs. We carry Revolution Plus for cats. We also offer Heartgard Plus and Revolution through our online pharmacy.

Before starting any preventative, talk with your veterinarian about your pet’s past and current health, including: general health, any issues with vaccines or medications, changes in behavior, allergies, current medications, supplements, or special diets. This information is crucial to picking out the right preventative for your pet.

Don’t forget about flea and tick prevention! Not all heartworm preventatives contain medications for those pesky parasites. Learn more about the importance of Double Defense against mosquitoes here!

Canine Heartworm Preventatives

ph6-product-shotProHeart 6 (moxidectin) is the only preventative that can prevent heartworm disease for a full 6 months with just 1 injection given by your veterinarian. This can be used in dog 6 months of age and older. This is for heartworm prevention only and does not do anything for fleas or ticks.

ProHeart is convenient for owners because it is done just twice a year instead of every month. Worried about forgetting when it’s time to come back in? We call you a month ahead of time as well as two weeks before the due date if you don’t already have an appointment scheduled. If you’re signed up for email reminders, you’ll receive an email as well. No email? No problem – you’ll receive a postcard reminder instead.

When first starting your dog on ProHeart 6, a heartworm test will need to be performed with the first two injections. This is to ensure that there is no underlying heartworm infection that could have happened before using Proheart 6. After that, the heartworm test is performed just once a year like usual.

MilbeGuardWebsite_Homepage_Products_Retina_NoWordsMilbeGuard (milbemycin oxime) is a once-a-month flavored chewable tablet for dogs, puppies, cats and kittens. While this can be given to cats, our doctors would rather have our feline patients on Revolution or Revolution Plus because of the added protection against fleas and other parasites that those products offer for them.

For dogs, MilbeGuard prevents heartworm disease, controls adult hookworm infection, removes and controls both adult roundworms and whipworms. MilbeGuard can be given to dogs and puppies four weeks of age or greater and weighing at least 2 pounds.

10765_001_xxlHeartgard Plus (ivermectin and pyrantel) is a beef chew that kills heartworm larvae and helps to treat and control roundworms and hookworms. It kills the heartworm larvae before they have the chance to mature.

Heartgard Plus can be given to puppies as young as 6 weeks of age. This tasty chew is given once every 30 days. It can be given just as a treat as well. However, if your dog has the MDR1 gene they should not take certain medications, including Ivermectin. (You can learn more about MDR1 and DNA testing here). Because of this, we have decided to only carry MilbeGuard in clinic. Heartgard Plus is still available through our online pharmacy.

triTrifexis (spinosad and milbemycin oxime) is a monthly, beef-flavored chewable tablet that kills fleas and prevents heartworm disease. It also treats and controls adult hookworm, roundworm and whipworm infections. It does not protect against ticks.

It is best to give Trifexis after your dog has had a full meal. This helps prevent any stomach upset as well as helps the medication to be better absorbed. This can be used in dogs and puppies 8 weeks and older and weighing at least 5 pounds.

Feline Heartworm Preventatives

The majority of cats are described as “indoor-only”, yet 2 out of 5 indoor cats are NOT getting the protection that they need. Parasites are NOT “outdoor-only”! Fleas, ticks, ear mites, intestinal worms, and mosquitoes can get into any home. Parasites hitchhike indoors on other pets or creatures, on shoes and clothes, or get inside through doors and windows.

RevPlus_feature

Revolution Plus (selamectin and sarolaner) is the only 6-in-1 preventative with broad-spectrum action against parasites. It is a simple-to-apply, quick-drying, monthly topical solution that protects against fleas, ticks, ear mites, roundworms, hookworms, and heartworms. It can be used on cats and kittens as young as eight weeks of age and weighing 2.8 pounds or greater.

revRevolution (selamectin) is just like Revolution Plus, but it does not protect against ticks. Because of this, we’ve decided to carry only Revolution Plus in clinic. But don’t worry – Revolution is still available through our online pharmacy! Regardless of which one you choose to use for your cat, they are still going to be protected against heartworms.

In conclusion, heartworm disease is everywhere and it is extremely important to keep your pet on a year-round preventive.

By: Mi’a Smith

You had one job Thyroid, one job!

1What is Hypothyroid Disease?

Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is not functioning properly and there is a deficiency of the thyroid hormone. It is considered one of the most common hormone imbalances in dogs.

What causes Hypothyroid Disease?

Thyroid deficiency can be caused by immune-mediated destruction of the thyroid gland, by natural atrophy of the gland, by dietary iodine deficiency, or as a congenital problem. Some breeds that can be predisposed to this disease are:
Golden Retrievers, Dobermans, Irish Setters, Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels, and Dachshunds. This does not mean that only those breeds can get it, it is possible for any breed to develop hypothyroidism.

What are the signs of Hypothyroid Disease?

Some signs you could see are: weight gain with no diet change, “rat tail” (loss of hair on tail), dry hair/skin, cold intolerant, recurrent skin infections, lethargy, and reproduction problems. The pet could have all or maybe just one symptom. Annual labwork is important for early detection.

How do we diagnose Hypothyroid Disease?

To check thyroid levels, we have to send blood from the pet to the lab. This test is called a Total T4, which is usually included in all well health screening labwork. If the Total T4 comes back low, then it could indicate hypothyroidism. If the thyroid levels come back low we do more investigating before diagnosing hypothyroidism, because some other factors could cause low Total T4. For example, some other disease or medications can cause low Total T4. If no other factors could cause it, we add on a different blood thyroid testing at the lab to confirm low levels. This test is called a Free T4. The Total T4 testing can be falsely lowered because of other non-thyroidal disease and drugs, and Free T4 levels are less subject to be falsely lowered. Thyroid ultasonography and biopsy can also be performed for diagnosing, but owner’s rarely do these diagnostics for the pet.

How do you treat Hypothyroid Disease?

Once the pet has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, then they will need to large_thyrotabssbe on a LIFE LONG supplement to replace the hormone. The pet will need to take a medication twice daily for the first 4-8 weeks, then more blood will need to be taken to check the T4 levels again. We do this so that we know the pet is on the right dose for them. If the levels come back too low or even too high we can easily change the dose so that it is perfect for them. Any symptoms should start to resolve with the correct dosing, and the pet should become their happy self again. Once the pet is regulated we check labwork every year to be safe (or earlier if the pet starts having issues).

We have to check the levels frequently because of two main reasons. The first is that we are not giving enough of the supplement, which causes all the symptoms to still be present and ongoing low thyroid levels can start to disrupt other organ functions. The second is that we can start to cause the opposite of hypothyroid disease, hyperthyroid disease. Hyperthyroid disease is increased thyroid hormone.4

Prognosis

Once a pet has been diagnosed with Hypothyroid Disease and is regulated properly with a daily supplement, they can live happy healthy lives.

 

By: Jamie McAfee

Sources
https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&sterm=hypothyroid%20disease&species=All

Common Diseases of Companion Animals, By Alleice Summers

http://for-dogs-sake.org/hypothyroidism/

Ew! What is that in my dog’s stool?!

Oh no! It looks like your pet may have some kind of intestinal parasite!

parasites2Intestinal parasites are parasites that live inside a host’s gastrointestinal tract. Some feed off of the nutrients that the host ingests while others ingest the host’s blood. Whatever their food of choice may be, they can cause numerous issues for the host.

Examples of common intestinal parasites:
-Roundworms
-Whipworms
-Hookworms
-Tapeworms
Giardia
-Coccidia

While some parasites are large enough to see with the naked eye, this is not the case for all of them. For example, tape worms break apart and are usually passed as segments which can look like small grains of rice in your pet’s stool. Round worms resemble noodles or string. Others are much, much smaller and you may not physically see them in your pet’s stool. These parasites can cause all sorts of issues for your pet.

Symptoms include:
-Vomiting
-Weight loss
-Diarrhea
-Distended abdomen
-Scooting
-Occasionally coughing
-Anemia

How do cats and dogs get intestinal parasites?
Parasites are usually transmitted when an animal inadvertently ingests parasite eggs or spores in contaminated soil, water, feces or food. In the case of tapeworms, they can also be transmitted when a dog eats an infected flea. Puppies and kittens, on the other hand, usually get intestinal parasites from their mother. Transmission can occur in uterus or from nursing.
parasites
Many intestinal parasites are zoonotic, meaning that they can also infect humans. Simply practicing good hygiene is usually enough to prevent this from happening. You should always remove your pet’s stool from the yard and be sure to thoroughly wash your hands afterwards. The same goes for your cat’s litter box. Wearing shoes while outside can help protect you against hookworms.

Diagnosing and Treatment:
But don’t worry – these pesky parasites are easily treated! There are many types of dewormers available. Some parasites can be seen in the stool, such as tapeworm segments or roundworms. Others are much, much smaller and harder to detect. Here at TLC Animal Hospital, we send your pet’s stool to an outside lab for thorough testing to identify which parasites are present to ensure that the correct dewormer is used to treat any and all parasites that your pet may have. Some dewormers require a second dose that is given a few weeks later to ensure that all of the parasites are gone. Depending on the parasite, repeat testing of your pet’s stool may be needed as well once treatment is done.

tapeworm-cycle3-cat-rf1

Prevention:
10765_001_xxlWhile there is, unfortunately, no way to 100% prevent against intestinal parasites, there are steps that you can take that will drastically reduce the chance of your pet becoming infected. Most monthly heartworm preventatives also contain a broad spectrum dewormer. This helps get rid of any eggs or larvae that your pet may have picked up during the previous month. Picking up after your pet helps reduce the chance of any eggs or larvae from getting into the soil.

The best way to prevent against tapeworms is to use a monthly flea preventative. Having your yard treated by an exterminator for fleas will also help. The less fleas there are in the environment, the less of a chance your pet has of eating an infected flea. As we’ve written about before, every pet should be on a monthly flea preventative, even if they are strictly indoors. Read more about the flea preventatives that we offer in our previous post to help you decide which preventative is the best for your pet’s lifestyle.

puppy_kitten_careIf your pet is not already on monthly parasite preventatives, take them to your veterinarian to discuss how you can protect your pets and family from intestinal parasites.

Remember that the best way to protect your pets against parasites is to keep them on parasite preventatives and have their stool checked at least once a year. If you have any questions or concerns, you should always contact your veterinarian. They are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

By: Pigeon Tyler and Ashley Elliott

TLC – Where Dentals are More than just a Cleaning!

UntitledWhen you drop you beloved pet at TLC for a dental cleaning, they receive the best personal care possible. We only schedule 2 dentals on a surgery day so that we can focus on each individual pet and give then the time we need to make sure they leave with a nice, clean, healthy mouth. We pride ourselves on quality not quantity.

When they arrive at the clinic for their cleaning, they are given a premed that helps them relax. Once that takes effect, we put in their catheters and draw blood. Normally, the blood work is done prior to the dental cleaning, but we are able to do it the same day if needed. The blood work tells us that all organ systems are functioning properly and you pet is in good shape to be placed under anesthesia.

UntitledsWe then give them an induction medication and place them under gas anesthetic. We then use an ultrasonic tool that uses vibrations and water to scale the tarter from the tooth and then a different probe is used to get under the gum line. We use a stain on the teeth to make sure we are getting all the tartar off, even the small pieces that are hard to see.

We have dental radiography to help give us a complete picture of your pet’s mouth. This allows us to see what is going on inside the teeth and aids in telling us if the teeth should be removed. If extractions are needed, you pet receives a pain injection and sometimes a nerve block. Dr. Richardson will then remove the infected, diseased teeth with precision and care. We have a synthetic bone graft particulate that helps fill the hole the tooth left. She will then suture the area with dissolvable suture.

PerioDisease1AThroughout this whole procedure, the surgery technician is monitoring heart rate, oxygen level, temperature, blood pressure, ECG and gum color. Your pet is kept on a heating pad and we have warm towels close by. The technician monitors the whole time as well as staying with your pet until they are extubated and awake. Their recovery is in a nice warm cage with blankets and warm towels. When they are awake and able to walk, then we release them.

Patients will go home with pain medications when they have extractions. The surgery technician will go over all aftercare instructions with you when you pick up your pet. You’ll be given a copy of these instructions to take home as well. These instructions also have the contact information for the local VCA Animal Emergency Clinics, just in case something happens and we are closed. Our staff will follow up with you the next day as well to check on your pet.

Each pet receives the individual attention they deserve. When you schedule 10 or more dentals in a day, it becomes more like an assembly line and your pet is one of many instead of an individual with specific needs. At TLC, we know your pet and we love and care for them like they were our own.

By: Candace Ivey

I Gave the Medications – Now What?

cat_at_vet_examWhile annual exams are crucial to your pet’s health, medical progress exams are also an important part of your furry pal’s health plan. In fact, they are just as important as their annual exams!

Medical Progress exams can help us with keeping track of any changes in your pet’s individual values. Bringing your pets in for regular exams also allows us establish a baseline of what is considered “normal” and “abnormal” for your animal. This leads to better health care because of the consistency, allows us to diagnose conditions sooner, and allows us to better assess and address chronic issues.

Ear Exam Dog 5For example, let’s say your pet comes in for an examination. Her ears are all red, inflamed, have an odor and are painful to your pet. The doctor looks sets up an ear cytology and looks at it carefully under the microscope. She confirms that there is an abundance of yeast and bacteria on the slide. To treat the ear infection, the doctor prescribed ear cleaner/antibiotics, with instructions to see your pet back in 2 weeks for a medical progress exam.

In about a week, you notice that your pet’s ears appear to be better. No more itching or shaking their head, and you’re pleased. The medications must have cleared up the infection! You figure that there’s no need to come back in for that medical progress exam because the ears are better and there’s no need to spend more money.

615473-dog-and-sadA few weeks later, however, you discover her ears have doubled in inflammation, redness, soreness, and she’s in a lot of pain. Not only is the infection back, but it’s worse than before! That’s because the infection was never completely gone before and has flared up with a vengeance.

Now you have to return to the clinic and the veterinarian must repeat the cytology and other necessary tests, which in turn costs you more. Odds are that the infection won’t even respond to the same treatment this time because it is now resistant to the previous course of medications. Your girl is going to need different medications now as well. Animals’ bodies are changing all the time, so it’s important that tests are redone, especially if a medical progress exam was not followed through the first time.

Now your pet’s ears are having double the trouble, and so is your wallet!

moneyHere’s the catch! Your dog or cat could be free of symptoms and still have an underlying infection or other disease that your veterinarian will be able to monitor best with medical progress exams.

This doesn’t just apply to only ear infections. Skin infections, urinary tract infections, eye injuries, wounds, upper respiratory infections…all of these (just to name a few!) are common issues that require following up with your veterinarian. In some cases, especially for reoccurring issues, further diagnostics (such as cultures or blood work) are needed to pinpoint the exact treatment needed for your pet.

It is important to follow through with medical progress exams so that we can ensure that all infections and diseases are being properly controlled and treated. After your pet’s initial visit for whatever issue is causing them discomfort, you’ll be asked to schedule their medical progress exam before you’re invoiced out. That way you don’t have to worry about remembering to schedule something later on, it’s already been taken care of!

All of us at TLC know that your pets are family to you. We want to do everything we can to make sure that they stay healthy and happy!

happy dog

By: Alexus Farr