Congratulations to all those participating in the Olympics (yeah women’s hockey!). Here at Pleasant Valley Animal Hospital, we go for the gold all the time. I remember one of my teachers in vet school, Craig Greene, always said "you have to go for the gold". No work-up was complete without it.

pet care feline lab testsQuite often he would refer to “Ludowici Logic”. It was his way of comparing what we would do in private practice in a small town to the ivory tower of veterinary school. (Ludowici is a small town toward the Georgia coast.) Getting the urine was his standard no matter where in the sticks one could practice, though. Too much potential information was being wasted without a standard urinalysis being performed.

Granted, he was an internist with a special interest in the kidneys, especially since his internist wife was also focused on the kidneys, but he was right. The urine may sometimes tell us more than the blood work we run.

Why would we pass up a good simple screen?

You may have felt him even around Labor Day: a little breeze with just a little more sting, the uncontrollable need to put on a sweater and sip cocoa, the light getting just a bit shorter. You looked around and said, “You, already?” Old Man Winter comes down for a few recon missions before he settles in for the seemingly endless expanse of grey bleakness. It’s just his way of saying, “Prepare my room and board because I am coming for an extended stay. I don’t give up, just because climatologists say I’ve changed. I still have the power to make you miserable.”

Bulldog in the snowIn the pre-season, if you will, here are some things to think about for our pets. The fleas know the old guy is coming, so keep up with the preventatives. They are doing everything to hop on something with blood so they can get into a warm place and sit out the cold.

The fox population is out and about all the time, but for whatever reason, there is more contact with them and their lairs in the fall. (We guess that they roam more to get more food for the winter, since the mice are on the move, too.) This means scabies: that wonderful mite that makes the dogs scratch like crazy right around the autumnal allergy season, and insists on not being diagnosed since it is more of an allergic reaction to the mites then the sheer numbers of them.

You can get it too, but not as bad as the dog would, since the critters are host adapted. Look for non-stop itching especially on the elbows knees and ear tips. If you’ve got a local fox looking like a chupacabra, you have transient rashes, and your dog is itching, you may have a scabies patient. Nice that they show up to confuse the diagnosis of inhalant allergies at this time of year, isn’t it?

Dog and cat eating

Many of us struggle to find the right food for our dog or cat. Do we believe everything we hear? Do we go with the latest pet food trends or stick to traditional food? The questions are endless. 

Who oversees pet food production?

The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) are the people in charge of regulating production, labeling, distribution and sale of pet food. They are also the people who establish canine and feline nutrient profiles. One these profiles is one of the most important pieces of information called the Nutritional Adequacy Statement that reads as follows:

Feline Food: "[This food] is formulated to meet the AAFCO Cat Food Nutrient Profiles for all stages of a cat's life."

Canine Food: "Animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures substantiate that [this food] provides complete and balanced nutrition for maintenance of adult dogs."

How to pick a food manufacturer

It's important to pick a food manufacturer with nutritionists, research & development, their own manufacturing plants, and those who have internal quality control standards. This helps to ensure that your pet is getting the best and safest diet possible. You also want a well-known, reputable company Purina, Hill’s, Royal Canin, Nutro, Blue Buffalo, Merrick, Wellness, or Canidae.

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.

MosquitoHeartworm 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.

The 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.

Lifecycle of Heartworm

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.