Feline Heartworm Disease

cat-confusedWhile cats are not natural hosts for heartworms, they are still at risk for contracting them. Just like with dogs, heartworms are contracted through mosquito bites. As we’ve mentioned before, we’re in prime mosquito territory. In areas that have mosquitoes, an incidence of 2-14% exist in cats.

Feline Heartworm Disease causes severe lung disease, heart failure, along with damage to other organs. Adult heartworms can grow to be 12 inches long. Cats will typically only have 1-3 adult worms, but they can have up to 6. It only takes 1-3 adult heartworms to cause the cat to collapse and die.

mosquito-illustration_2092x1660Cats are not natural hosts for heartworms. Their immune system is very reactive against heartworms and this makes it next to impossible to detect microfilaria in an infected cat. Microfilaria is the off-spring of adult heartworms born in the host body and found in the blood stream. If a mosquito bites a dog that has microfilaria in their blood stream, they become infected. The mosquito can then transfer the microfilaria to any cats or dogs that they bite next.

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The tests currently available detect an antigen that is given off by mature female heartworms. It takes heartworms 6 months to mature. This is why with dogs, we recommend doing a heartworm test once they’re at least 6 months of age and repeating test in 6 months if there was a lapse in prevention. However with cats, due to the limited number of heartworms that grow to maturity, they can be difficult to detect with these tests.

While heartworms can be treated in dogs, the medication used (Immiticide) is toxic to cats. Unfortunately at this time, there are no treatments available for heartworm positive cats.

revHowever, there is good news! The disease is 100% preventable. Our recommendation is Revolution. Revolution prevents fleas, roundworms, hookworms and ear mites as well as heartworms. Revolution is a topical preventative instead of an oral, making it easier to administer.  If you apply once every 30 days, your cat will not only be flea-free, but they’ll also be protected against heartworms!

Twelve common symptoms of Feline Heartworm Disease are:5625pt1

  1. Coughing
  2. Weight Loss
  3. Lethargy
  4. Gagging
  5. Vomiting
  6. Collapsing
  7. Lack of Appetite
  8. Abnormal Rapid Breathing (Tachypnea)
  9. Difficulty Breathing
  10. Blindness
  11. Convulsions
  12. Sudden Death

Remember – Mosquitos are everywhere! Just because your cat is strictly indoors only doesn’t mean that they aren’t at risk. Every pet should be on both flea and heartworm preventatives year round.

By: Candace Ivey

Concerned about your canine companion? Read about Double Defense here to learn more about heartworms in dogs & the best way to prevent your pup from them.

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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!

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By: Alexus Farr

Creepy Crawly Skin Mites

Is your pet loosing hair on their face/around eyes/mouth/ears for no reason? They might be scratching themselves silly or not at all? It is a possibility that your pet has mange. Luckily, this is a treatable disease.

Kinds of Mange

  • Demodectic Mange “Demodex”
  • Sarcoptic Mange “Scabies”

Demodectic Mange “Demodex” is a mite that is normally found in the hair follicles of all cats and dogs, but can become a health problem when found in excessive amounts. The immune system usually keeps the mite numbers in check. Demodex mites can become excessive if the animal has a compromised immune system (ex. puppies, poor nutrition, stressed animals, parasite infestation, or chronic disease). Demodex is commonly found in young animals (3 months-1 year old) and animals that have had a history of demodex earlier in life. Demodex mites in canines are named Demodex canis and demodex mites in felines are named Demodex cati and Demodex gatoi. There are three different forms of demodex: Localized (isolated spots on body), Generalized (entire body is affected), and Demodectic Pododermatitis (paws are just affected).

Clinical SignsUntitled2

  • Alopecia (hair loss) on face, around eyes, mouth, and ears. If severe case, they can have hair loss on forelegs and trunk too.
    • The mites feed on the hair follicle, which is what makes the hair fall out.
  • Erythema (redness) with crusty patches can be seen. When this is seen it is called “Red Mange”.
  • In severe cases (Generalized Demodex) the animal can have a fever, whole body hair loss, and a secondary skin infection.
  • The most important clinical sign is that the animal is NONPURITIC (not itchy). This helps identify Demodex compared to other mange mites.

Diagnosis

  • Skin scraping. After treatment, the animal should be rechecked twice and have two negative scrapings to verify that treatment is working.
  • Culture if secondary skin infection is present.

Treatment Options

  • Oral treatments
  • Topical treatments
  • Injections
  • Shampoos/Dips
  • Oral antibiotics if secondary skin infection present.
  • In the old days there was a myth that dipping the animal in motor oil was a good home remedy. This is FALSE. Motor oil can cause severe rashes and destroy healthy skin. It can also be absorbed through the skin and cause blood pressure issues. PLEASE – do not dip you animal in motor oil.

Untitled1Prognosis

  • Prognosis is good in localized and pododermatitis forms if proper treatment is followed.
  • The generalized form of Demodex can be fatal because of the severity of infection.
  • Demodex canis and Demodex cati are not contagious to humans and other animals.
  • Demodex gatoi is contagious to other animals and all animals in the household should be treated.
  • It is important to know that treatments will never completely remove the mites. It will just help control them to normal numbers so it does not affect the animal’s skin.
  • Relapse is possible because every mite cannot be killed, but it is more likely to happen if no recheck skin scrapes were preformed. Relapse is common 6-12 months after treatment.
  • Breeders should not use previously infected animals because it can be hereditary.

Prevention

  • There is currently no preventative measures against Demodex. There are a few simple things you can do to avoid it. A healthy immune system can help prevent the recurrence of mange. It’s therefore important to keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule, with lots of water and healthy meals, and plenty of exercise.

Sarcoptic Mange “Scabies” is a mite that burrows into the epidermis and lays eggs. This causes severe itching and inflammation within the skin. Scabies can infest almost all species of haired animals. It is very contagious to other animals and humans by direct contact. Scabies can occur in dogs/cats of any age, sex, or breed. Canine scabies mites are named Sarcoptic scabiei and feline scabies mites are named Notoedres cati.

Clinical Signs

  • Red, crusty lesions on ears, elbows, and trunk of animal.
  • Severely puritic (itchy)
    • This distinguishes it from Demodectic Mange
  • Secondary bacterial skin infections due to self trauma from itching.

Diagnosis

  • Skin scraping
  • Skin biopsies

Treatment Options

  • Oral treatments
  • Topical treatments
  • Injections
  • Shampoos/Dips
  • Antibiotics to control secondary bacterial skin infection
  • Anti-itch medications

Prognosis

  • Prognosis is good if proper treatment is followed and the secondary bacterial infection is not extreme.
  • Animals can remain contagious for 2-4 weeks during treatment.
  • If you see red papules on yourself there is a chance you could have scabies. Contact your physician.

Prevention

  • There is currently no preventative measures against Scabies. There are a few simple things you can do to avoid it. A healthy immune system can help prevent the recurrence of mange. It’s therefore important to keep your dog on a regular feeding schedule, with lots of water and healthy meals, and plenty of exercise. Also avoid contact with infected animals.

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Sources
Brooks, Wendy C. “Demodectic Mange in Dogs.” Demodectic Mange in Dogs – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=630.

Brooks, Wendy C. “Notoedric Mange.” Notoedric Mange – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=512.

Brooks, Wendy C. Demodectic Mange in Cats – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=1415.

Brooks, Wendy C. “Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies).” Sarcoptic Mange (Scabies) – VeterinaryPartner.com, http://www.veterinarypartner.com/Content.plx?P=A&S=0&C=0&A=616.

“Mange Mites.” Common Diseases of Companion Animals, by Alleice Summers, Elsevier/Mosby, 2014.

By: Jamie McAfee

Pyo- Oh No!

UntitledWhat is a Pyometra?

“Pyometra” is an infection of the uterus of unspayed cats or dogs after a heat cycle. This condition can happen at any age but is more commonly seen in older pets and can be deadly if left untreated.

After several heat cycles, the uterus changes! The uterus becomes very thick and has excess tissue that would be used to support a potential pregnancy. Without a pregnancy to support, the uterine lining grows in thickness and cysts can form in the tissues, resulting in condition known as “Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia.” This cyst-covered lining secretes a fluid into the uterus, creating an ideal environment for bacteria to grow in. High levels of progesterone (a hormone involved in heat cycles) do not allow the uterus to contract so as to expel fluid, leading to an accumulation of bacteria inside the uterus. While the bacteria inside the vagina is healthy, if it crosses into the cervix it can cause the infection which leads to a pyometra. Not all dogs who develop a pyometra will contract “Cystic Endometrial Hyperplasia.”

Untitled1Bacteria enters into the uterus by way of the cervix. The cervix is normally tightly closed, except during a heat cycle where it remains open and relaxed so sperm can enter freely into the uterus. A healthy vagina contains bacteria which can cross over into the cervix during a heat cycle and develop into a pyometra.

What are the possible signs of a Pyometra?

The signs can be different depending on whether the cervix is open or closed. In an open-cervix pyometra, the pus and/or discharge can drain out through the vagina. A pet may also have a fever, become very tired or lethargic and may not want to eat or drink.

In a closed-cervix pyometra, the uterus continues to swell with accumulation of pus and fluid, resulting in the abdomen becoming distended. The bacteria within the uterus can release toxins into the bloodstream, affecting the rest of the body very quickly. These pets seem to fall ill very quickly – they are incredibly lethargic and depressed, refusing water or food and may vomit or have diarrhea.

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How is a pyometra diagnosed?

Dogs seen by a veterinarian early on in the condition may not show all of the above signs. They may just have slight vaginal discharge with not many other signs of illness. Because of the seemingly quick onset of a pyometra, most dogs are not seen until later on in the condition.

If a pyometra is suspected, a veterinarian will perform radiographs to see if the uterine is enlarged. However, if it is a closed-cervix pyometra, radiographs may not show an enlarged uterus. An ultrasound can also be performed to differentiate a pyometra from a normal pregnancy. A veterinarian will also perform bloodwork to see how the organs are functioning within the body. An elevated white blood cell count (a tell-tale sign of infection) and elevation of globulins (a protein associated with the immune system) may be present in a dog with a pyometra.

What is the best way to treat a Pyometra?

Untitled4A pyometra can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. The preferred treatment is surgical removal of the entire uterus, otherwise known as an ovariohysterectomy or “spay”. The spay procedure is very routine, however when a pet develops a pyometra, the procedure becomes more complicated and risky as the patient going under sedation is sick. The surgeon will remove the infected uterus and ovaries and take precaution as to not accidentally puncture the swollen organs. Pets who are diagnosed early on in this condition are an excellent candidate for surgery. Pets that are further along in the infection will require a longer period of hospitalization while running on intravenous fluids to stabilize the pet before and after undergoing surgery. Antibiotics may be added to treatment as well.

The chance of survival without surgery is very low. If treatment is not started promptly, toxins from the infection can spill into the bloodstream, affecting the rest of the body system. In a closed-cervix pyometra, there is an additional risk where the uterus could potentially burst, causing pus and bacteria to spill over into the abdomen.

What is the best way to prevent a pyometra?

Spaying your pet is the best way to prevent a pyometra. Spaying your pets also reduces their risk of developing mammary cancers and completely eliminates unwanted pregnancies. If you have decided to breed your pet and do not want more litters, you should promptly spay your pet. As the amount of heat cycles increase without development of pregnancy, the greater the chance of uterine infection.

Sources:
https://www.texvetpets.org/article/pyometra-in-unspayed-pets/
https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/pyometra-in-dogs
http://veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/canine-pyometra-early-recognition-and-diagnosis?id=&pageID=1&sk=&date

By: Madison Cole

Spring into Easter & Keep Your Pets Safe this Holiday

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Spring has finally sprung! The sun is out, the flowers are blooming, and Peter Cottontail is on his way! Easter is right around the corner and this year is extra special because we get two holidays in one as Easter falls on April 1st this year allowing us to celebrate tricks and treats in one day but wait isn’t that another holiday? Well we get two rounds of it in 2018 which also means we get double the toil & trouble with our pets this year, wait…. Back to Spring, we often get so caught up in our excitement for Easter and warm weather that we forget about the hazards some objects bring to our cats and dogs during these celebrations. So, here’s just a quick reminder of things that could cause potential harm to your beloved fur-family!

The most common thing that people are aware of when it comes to holidays and your pets is chocolate, yes chocolate is toxic not only to dogs but to cats as well. Theobromine is the chemical ingredient in cocoa that animals are toxic to and the toxicity of chocolate is based off of the amount of theobromine in the chocolate and the weight of the animal. Anything over 45mg is considered toxic and possibly lethal to dogs however every situation is different, different chocolates vs different types/weight of canines can result in different outcomes. The best way to keep your pup safe is to be able to access the situation if your dog has consumed chocolate and what signs to recognize if your clever canine hid the evidence of eating that delicious bunny that went missing from the basket.

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First thing to remember is that different chocolates have different percentage of theobromine in them. The easiest way to remember is: the darker the chocolate the higher percentage. White chocolate has very little amount, milk chocolate has about 44-64mg of theobromine per ounce of chocolate, dark chocolate is going to be the most toxic to your animals unsweet Baker’s chocolate has about 450mg per ounce. That’s a big difference from milk chocolate. To give a better visual; an 80lbs Lab would have to consume 3lbs of milk chocolate for it to potentially be lethal to the animal that same Lab would only have to consume 3.5 ounces of Baker’s chocolate to have the same toxic effect as the milk chocolate. Again, every situation and every animal is unique which is why it is important to recognize some important signs that your cat or dogs possibly consumed chocolate. Although many cats often do not bother with chocolate there are a few who might get curious, symptoms for felines are vomiting, diarrhea, rapid breathing, increase heart rate, or seizures. For canines: vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, increase heart rate and body temperature. If your pet is in any way acting sick or lethargic and you believe they may have gotten into chocolate take them to your vet immediately as the most important thing is to get the toxins out of their system as quick as possible.

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Another food hazard that people are not always aware of are sugar-free treats. The sugar substitute in these candies is called xylitol.  It is very toxic to animals and can cause hypoglycemia which can be fatal causing things such as liver failure. Some of these candies you will see around Easter include gum, jelly beans, gummies, licorice, and lollipops. Consumption of sugar-free candies can cause a lot of the same symptoms as chocolate some more severe signs associated with candy consumption are your pet becoming disoriented or collapsing. If this occurs please get your pet to the nearest emergency clinic.

Foods are not the only things that your curious four-legged friends can get into. We all love a good Easter egg hunt and this year someone might find it clever and funny to fill those bright colored eggs with something not so appealing to your kids! Like maybe dog kibble? Grass? Or something else? Some of you may be better masterminds at ways to slightly pick on your kids, it’s all in good fun of course and it never gets old to see those pouty looks on children’s faces but just remember your pupper has a better sniffer than your kid and will more than likely find those delicious eggs before they do and eat the plastic eggs areuse-plastic-easter-eggs33long with the contents inside. The sharp torn pieces of plastic could do serious damage to your dog’s intestines and other vital organs. The eggs could also become a choking hazard, as we know a lot of the time dogs try to swallow things before completely chewing them. These potential hazards don’t mean that you have to keep your dog shut off from all the festivities, they are enjoying the holiday as much as their human counterparts but keeping an eye on their whereabouts, know where the eggs are, or just having your pet on a leash can go along way in having a great holiday.

We have talked a lot about dogs and the hazards surrounding them but cats are not exempt from getting into something on Easter. Although they may not be interested in chocolate or candy (but remember it is toxic to them too!) they have their own fascinations surrounding the holiday. The Easter basket seems to be the most “caution zone” area for your pets, your kitties may not be interested in the sweet stuff but they are very interested in the stuff under all those goodies: yes, your cat will go for the Easter grass in the basket. Most Easter grass is made of small strings of plastic and just like the plastic eggs for your dog are no good the grass for cats is very dangerous.

Easter-grass3

First off the grass comes in a variety of bright colors and cats love bright colors, they will be attracted to it from across the room and to them it just looks like a huge bowl of pretty and delicious spaghetti and because they are kittens and rulers of the household natural this meal was especially prepared for them. The dangers of your cat consuming the Easter grass however is no joke, cats have very small organs and eating something so compact and stringy results in abdominal and intestinal blockage. Removal of Easter grass from a cat’s organs can only be donethrough surgery by a veterinarian. A very important thing to remember if you see a string hanging out of your cats mouth (or backside as well) NEVER pull on the string, this will result in intestinal damage; the best way to think of this is your cats intestines are like a drawstring effect when you try to pull on the string, this is why surgery is the only safe way to remove the string/ grass from your pet. Keeping an eye on your feline around the Easter baskets is essential but there are signs if they find a way to sneak into that appealing treat: abdominal swelling or sensitivity, lack of energy, loss of appetite, and trouble urinating or defecating are all signs that your cat has some type of blockage and should be taken to your local vet.

T263-2BOne last thing to be aware of when it comes to your cats is plants. We all know cats love to nibble on plants and as spring time comes around we start to bring more and more flowers into our homes.  Once again, our regal fur-babies will be happy that the human brought them lovely treats to enjoy but one plant we should be aware of this holiday is Easter lilies.  Many of us bring these into our home in spirit of Easter without realizing they are very toxic to cats.  Anything from nibbling on the plant, to drinking the plant water, even if the pollen gets on your kitty’s paws and they lick it.  However your cat interacts with the plant it can be very dangerous possibly resulting in kidney failure causing symptoms such as vomiting, change in appetite, and increase or decrease in urination.  If you have Easter lilies in your house just make sure you keep an eye on your little acrobats and don’t let them jump up on the counter that’s displaying your beautiful lilies.

Hazards are a part of everyday life when you have pets, it just comes with the territory of owning an animal and during holidays often hazards becoming a little bit bigger problem but this doesn’t mean that we spend the whole time worrying and not enjoying the holiday. Your pets are family and they want to share in the memories of being together with you, so include your pets in the activities and enjoy being together as a family.  Knowledge and awareness are the best defense for your furry family members and hopefully after reading this you are more knowledgeable and aware so every member of your family two-legged and four-legged can be together and enjoy Easter.  Remember: they love being with you and depend on you to be their protectors.

Have an Amazing and Safe Easter!

By: Deanna Smith