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.

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“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.

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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

There’s a Fungus Among Us!

Ringworm is a fairly common and highly contagious skin, nail, and hair or fur infection that despite its name does not always manifest as a ring and is NOT caused by a worm! Ringworm is actually caused by a fungus! There are several different types of fungi that are responsible for ringworm infections and many of them are zoonotic, meaning the infection can be transmitted to and from both humans and pets. The infection is easily spread by skin to skin contact and from objects or surfaces that have been touched by an infected person or pet such as clothing, towels or bedding, and brushes or combs. The fungi also occur in soil.

So what does a ringworm infection look like?

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Symptoms of Ringworm in Pets

Ringworm is not a life-threatening disease, but it is very contagious and does require the intervention of a veterinarian. Knowing the symptoms of ringworm can help you catch the disease before it passes to humans or other pets.

ringworm3aRingworm usually presents as circular areas of hair loss throughout the body. These lesions may start to heal in the center as they enlarge, creating a patchy appearance, and may become inflamed or scabbed.

Ringworm usually does not itch. The affected hair follicles are brittle and break easily, which helps spread the disease throughout your home. In some cases the fungus infects the claws, making them brittle and rough.

Contact your veterinarian if your dog or cat experiences any or all of these symptoms:ringworm3

  • Circular areas of hair loss
  • Dry, brittle hair
  • Scabby, inflamed skin
  • Rough, brittle claws

How is Ringworm diagnosed?

Often your veterinarian can determine from the symptoms your pets has that it is a ringworm infection. There is also a special type of ultraviolet lamp called a Woods Lamp that can be used. Some types of ringworm fungi will fluoresce when exposed to this light.

Unfortunately, not all ringworm infections will fluoresce. Your veterinarian may need to set up a culture to determine the best course of treatment.

How is ringworm treated?

Your veterinarian will determine the best course of treatment. The most common way to treat ringworm is to use a combination of topical therapy (application of creams, ointments or shampoos) and systemic oral therapy (administration of anti-fungal drugs by mouth). In order for treatment to be successful, all environmental contamination must be eliminated.  All surfaces must be cleaned and all bedding should be washed. Humans should be diligent about washing hands frequently and thoroughly. If you suspect you have ringworm you should see your doctor. The earlier the infection can be diagnosed the more the chance of spreading the infection decreases.

By: Kathy Berrier

Hyperadrenocorticism? Is that even a real word?

What is it?

Hyperadrenocorticism (more commonly known as Cushing’s disease) is an overproduction of cortisol hormone. At normal levels, cortisol helps in response to stress and regulate the immune system. Cushing’s disease is one of the most common endocrine diseases in dogs.

Some common symptoms include:

  • Increased thirstcushings2
  • Increased urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased panting
  • Distended abdomen
  • Obesity
  • Loss of hair
  • Muscle weakness and loss
  • Darkening of skin
  • Lack of energy
  • Increased Urine Cortisol:Creatinine Ratios

Not all symptoms are present in every patient and some of these symptoms can also be seen with other diseases. Only your veterinarian can diagnose if your pet has Cushing’s.

There are multiple causes:cushings1

  • Excessive administration of corticosteroid medications.
  • Benign pituitary tumor (rarely can be malignant).
  • Adrenal gland tumor (adrenal-dependent hyperadrenocorticism/ADH).
  • Pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism (PDH) – the body naturally produces too much hormone.

Diagnosis

Your pet’s veterinarian will first take a detailed history and do a complete physical exam. Next step is to perform a full blood chemistry, complete blood count, and urinalysis. These diagnostics will help the veterinarian get a bigger picture of what is happening in the body. Further testing that can help diagnose specific causes include: urine cortisol/creatinine ratio then ACTH stimulation test or Dexamethasone suppression test. The stimulation and suppression tests help determine specifically how much cortisol is being produced and how best it should be treated.

Treatment

  • Excessive administration of corticosteroid medications: Treatment is to slowly wean off the medications according to your veterinarian’s instructions.
  • Benign pituitary tumor and Adrenal gland tumor: First, a metastases check is performed to make sure the tumor has not spread to other organs. Then, a medication is given called trilostane (Vetoryl) to shrink the tumor. Once the tumor has decreased in size, it is removed.
  • Pituitary-dependent hyperadrenocorticism: The pet is put on trilostane for life. This controls the production of cortisol.

Living with Cushing’s Disease

This is a serious disease, but it can be managed if pet owners and veterinarians work together. This is a lifelong diagnosis and does require medications to be given long term. Periodic monitoring will be required to make sure the treatment is going as it should and to help the veterinarians know if an adjustment needs to be made.

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Sources:
Common Diseases of Companion Animals By Alleice Summers
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By: Jamie McAfee

Help Your Dog’s Old Joints Feel New Again!

adequan1Osteoarthritis is common as our pups move into their senior years and it’s the number one cause of chronic pain in canines.  This condition is the result of wear and tear on a joint, either from overuse, repetitive activity, an injury, or from the natural development of a poorly formed joint. When a dog has arthritis the cartilage starts to break down and the fluid in the capsule dries up. This in turn causes inflammation, pain and deterioration of the joint.

Symptoms of Arthritis

Difficulty Moving – Trouble climbing stairs, sitting, or standing.

Showing Signs of Pain – Limping or favoring one leg, especially in the morning or after lying down for a while.

Decreased Activity – Sleeping more and not wanting to play. Some dogs will also distance themselves from their family.

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If your pet is suffering from arthritis, it’s important to give them the best possible care. Arthritis is incurable and can worsen over time. In this case, the best thing you can do for your pet is to speak with their doctor and start treatment plan that slows the progression of the disease and improves their quality of life by relieving painful symptoms. Lets be honest its sad to think about our fur baby not being able to join usual activities but thanks to Adequan, it’s changing that for many.

So first things first, what is Adequan?

adequancanine_prodboxAdequan is an injection-based prescription medication that helps prevent the cartilage in your dog’s joints from wearing away. It is a water-based polysulfated glycosaminoglycan. Okay, that probably just sound like gibberish so here what that actually means: It helps to lubricate the joints and relieve pain. Although it helps protect all of your dog’s joints, because arthritic joints have more circulation, more of the drug makes its way to the affected joints. Most importantly. it’s the only arthritis drug available that can actually slow down the loss of cartilage because it treats the underlying cause of arthritis instead of just treating the symptoms of arthritis pain. Adequan can also be used with daily pain medications if necessary.

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How is Adequan administered?

Adequan is an intramuscular or subcutaneous injection that is administered in a series. So here is the jist: You would start with one injection twice weekly for four weeks, then monthly injections thereafter. It’s important to note that this is a lifelong medication and it may take up to 4 injections before any improvement is noticed. We understand that giving your dog injections at home can sound scary. We’re more than happy to teach you how to do this when starting your pup on Adequan, so there’s no need to worry!

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At the end of the day we all want our pets to live their best life. So think about trying Adequan to ensure “Fido” gets to continue going on those long summer walks and playing fetch well into his senior years!

By: Shelly Crosson

Where’s Fido?

raising-a-happy-dog-7Searching games may be fun in books looking for a happy stripe shirt guy with glasses, but when it comes to your pet it’s no longer a game but a full on panic attack. Our furry family members are naturally curious and can be excellent escape artists. That’s why it is so important to make sure your pet can find its way back to you. Even if you have indoor pets that don’t wander outside, we never know what life will throw at us. Things like natural disasters and house fires, are just a few unfortunate events that might land our precious fur babies outside. Collars and tags are great but often times they can come off during our pets’ unexpected adventure. It’s time for a more permanent solution.

Microchips may sound scary or like something out of a sci-fi movie, but in reality think of it more as food. That’s right – I said food your, pet loves food! The microchip looks like a microchip-ricegrain of rice (but it does not go in your pets’ mouth – that would be a less permanent solution!) and is inserted into the muscle between your pets’ shoulder blades. By inserting it into the muscle instead of just under the skin, the chip stays in that location. Placing chips under the skin is perfectly fine, but then it migrate to different places all over the body. It can still be read, but it may take more time for a vet clinic or shelter to find it. I know inserting something into the muscle sounds painful but not to worry – we have that covered! Though the injection should only sting a little, we want to make sure your fur babies are 100% comfortable so we administer a light sedative to make sure they don’t feel anything.

Are microchips really helpful?
Yes! The Humane Society of the United States did a study and found that the number of lost dogs reunited with their families increased 250% with microchips & cat reunions increased to 20%! Doesn’t that just make you feel all warm and furry to think of how many families got a second chance when they may have lost hope on finding their missing pet? We all want to hope for the best, but we should always prepare for the worse by making sure our much loved four legged friends can always find their way home.

So you got your pet micro-chipped, what’s next?
A peace of mind for one, but don’t forget the register those chips! Every chip has a unique number that you need to register to you with your information so vet clinics or shelters know how to find you. We cannot stress enough the importance of keeping this information updated. We’ve had countless animals brought to us with out-of-date contact information and while the chips can be traced back to the clinic or shelter that purchased it, out-of-date information makes it incredibly difficult to get pets back home.

a-gray-kitten-asleep-in-a-bedThere are numerous brands of microchips available, such as AVID, 24PetWatch, and HomeAgain (just to name a few). At TLC Animal Hospital, we use PetLink microchips. The great thing about PetLink is that they offer a lifetime registration with no monthly fees. Other benefits that are included with PetLink chips are access by web or phone 24/7 365 days a year, free tips, and free posters that include your pet’s photo if they do wonder off.

Your pets are family and life is unpredictable. Give yourself the peace of mind that no matter the situation, your pet has the best tools to find their way back home.

For more information check out petlink.net