The Importance of Heartworm Prevention & Testing for Dogs and Cats
By Nicole Uranko, DVM
The American Heartworm Association has deemed April as Heartworm Awareness Month in hopes to educate pet owners about the importance of year-round heartworm prevention and annual testing. Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm that lives in the pulmonary artery as well as the right side of the heart. It is a serious and potentially fatal condition that affects dogs, cats and other species of mammals, including wolves, foxes, ferrets, sea lions and even humans. Heartworm disease is caused by a nematode (roundworm) called Dirofilaria immitis. All ages and breeds of dogs AND cats are susceptible to heartworm disease, which is found in all 50 states with the warmer southern states being more endemic. The route of infection is through the bite of a mosquito.
The lifecycle of heartworm is slightly complex but important in understanding heartworm testing and prevention. Adult female heartworms release their larva called microfilaria into the animal’s bloodstream, which is then ingested by a mosquito during a blood meal. The larva then takes about 2-3 weeks to mature inside of the mosquito to the infective state called L3. It can then be transmitted to a dog or cat through the bite wound of a mosquito where it matures in the tissue for about 2 months. Once mature, the adult heartworm migrates to the right side of the heart and pulmonary arteries. In dogs, the adult heartworm can live up to 7 years.
Pet Dental Health — Why do veterinarians recommend dental cleanings?
By Brian K. G'Sullivan, DVM
Tartar is loaded with bacteria, calculus even more so. Inflammation of the gums allows leaky capillaries to send the bacteria into the bloodstream. It’s not just about saving your pet's teeth. The bacteria can seed all over with major effects seen in an animal's kidneys and on its heart valves. The periodontal disease itself is bad enough without the systemic risks. Pets with oral disease issues may not want to eat, putting their body in a negative energy balance, which can affect all body systems.
Inflammation in the mouth will affect the supporting structures of your pet's teeth causing deep gingival pockets, which will be a nice warm home for microbes, some of which aren’t supposed to be there with the normal flora. (Overgrowth of normal flora is also an issue.) I dare say most of us don’t eat dirt, feces and decomposing animals and few of us have the inclination or flexibility to self groom our nether regions. Our mouths may be "dirtier" because we are more likely to have resistant bacteria, but you can’t beat an animal for variety of flora. Eventually the gingival pockets affect even more supporting tissue, then the blood supply and stability of your pet's tooth will be affected.
Tips on Treating Your Pet's Constipation
By Gus Schwabe, DVM
Any pet may experience occasional constipation, usually little or no treatment is necessary but a short-term dietary adjustment may help. Sometimes a nice long walk is all a dog needs. The colon is not only a storage organ; it also serves to absorb and excrete electrolytes and minerals and is an essential organ for water conservation. Intestinal content is dried by the reabsorbtion of water by the colon. The longer stool sits in the colon the drier it becomes.
There are a number of products available over-the–counter to address constipation. Stimulant products such as Ex-Lax and Dulcolax should NEVER be recommended for companion animals. The only laxative we recommend is Laxatone, Catlax or other similar “hairball” preventatives; these can be used in dogs as well as cats.
Dietary additives are basically non-digestible fiber, which increase the bulk of the stool and retain water in the stool. These include canned pumpkin, bran, and other fiber supplements such as Fiber One or All Bran cereals and Metamucil. Bran takes longer to work.
Spay or Neuter Post-Operative Diet Recommendations for Your Pet
By Gus Schwabe, DVM
Many people are reluctant to spay or neuter their dogs for fear that they will become overweight or even obese. Indeed, this may occur. Although there is a relationship between sterilization and weight, it is not a direct cause and effect.