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Fight Back Against Fleas and Ticks This Season

Fleas live outdoors and hitchhike their way inside on pets or people. Fleas live in moist, shady areas, including lawn thatch, mulch, leaf litter, woodpiles, crawl spaces and beneath porches or decks. Squirrels are one of the biggest flea carriers, along with other wildlife (rabbits, groundhogs, opossums, etc.).

When fleas are found on a pet, unfortunately they only represent a small fraction of an Infestation. The immature stages (eggs, larvae and pupae) can usually be found inside the home, especially in carpeting, bedding and furniture. When a recommended product is applied, it begins killing the adult fleas on the pet. As the immature stages of fleas begin to mature, they too will be killed as soon as they jump on to the pet. It may take 3-4 monthly treatments to eliminate an infestation, so it is always best to prevent infestations before they occur.

TICKS
Ticks can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Many of these diseases have symptoms that are vague and/or mild until the disease is very progressed. Many flea and tick preventatives starts killing ticks upon contact and will kill all four North American species of ticks (Deer tick, Brown dog tick, American dog tick and the Lone Star tick)

LYME DISEASE
Lyme disease is a multi-system disorder transmitted by ticks. It’s the most commonly reported tick-bourne disease in the U.S. human population, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Lyme-positive dogs have been found in all 50 states. We carry Lyme vaccinations for dogs and recommend using a flea and tick preventative and the Lyme vaccination if:

• Your dog spends time in wooded or grassy areas
• Your dog is outdoors during peak tick season
• Your dog lives or visits Lyme-endemic areas of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic or upper Midwest.
• We also test for three tick-borne diseases (Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis)

FLEA AND TICK CONTROL RECOMMENDATIONS
The easiest and most effective way to prevent fleas and ticks is by using a monthly preventative that the We recommend from April 1st through the month of November. Because our winter weather is so cold ordinarily infestation is not a problem during the winter months. However, fleas can live in a heated home or lay dormant in your house during the winter waiting for the warmer weather. If a flea infestation has already occurred in your house, preventives would be needed year-round.

To avoid flea infestation have your entire household of dogs and begin the season free of fleas and be on one of the following monthly preventatives purchased at the We no later than May 1st, 2011 and be given the preventative consistently for 6 consecutive months.

• Frontline Plus: is a monthly topical for dogs and cats kills and repels fleas and ticks.
• Bravecto: The only oral chew that controls fleas and ticks for up to 12 weeks. Begins to kill fleas within 2 hours and ticks within 1 day. Convenient 3 month prevention in 1 dose.
• Nexgard: is an FDA approved flea and tick preventative that is a beef-flavored chew given orally. Monthly administration is recommended year-round. Nexgard kills adult fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae and ticks. It is recommended to give Nexgard after a meal.
• Revolution: By following these recommendations should a flea infestation occur on your pet during the 6 months while on one of the preventative purchased at the We, we will provide flea control products at no charge to eliminate the flea problem. Stop in the We for your pet’s flea and tick preventive and have a flea free season.

HEARTWORM
How Heartworm Happens:
The Life Cycle First, adult female heartworms release their young, called microfilaria, into an animal’s bloodstream. Then, mosquitoes become infected with microfilaria while taking blood meal from the infected animal. During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilaria mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito. After that, the mosquito bites another dog, cat or other susceptible animal, and the infective larvae enter through the bite wound. It then takes a little over 6 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms. In dogs, the worms may live for up to 7 years. Microfilaria cannot mature into adult heartworms without first passing through a mosquito.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF HEARTWORM DISEASE?
For both dogs and cats, clinical signs of heartworm disease may not be recognized in the early stages, as the number of heartworms in an animal tends to accumulate gradually over a period of months and sometimes years and after repeated mosquito bites. Recently infected dogs may exhibit no signs of the disease, while heavily infected dogs may eventually show clinical signs, including a mild, persistent cough, reluctance to move or exercise, fatigue after only moderate exercise, reduced appetite and weight loss. Cats may exhibit clinical signs that are very non-specific, mimicking many other feline diseases. Chronic clinical signs include vomiting, gagging, difficulty or rapid breathing, lethargy and weight loss. Signs associated with the first stage of heartworm disease, when the heartworms enter a blood vessel and are carried to the pulmonary arteries, are often mistaken for feline asthma or allergic bronchitis, when in fact they are actually due to a syndrome newly defined as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease.

HOW DO YOU DETECT HEARTWORM DISEASE?
Heartworm infection in apparently healthy animals is usually detected with blood tests for a heartworm substance called an “antigen” or microfilaria, although neither test is consistently positive until about seven months after infection has occurred. Heartworm infection may also occasionally be detected through ultrasound and/or x-ray images of the heart and lungs, although these tests are usually used in animals already known to be infected.

HEARTWORM PREVENTION
Because heartworm disease is preventable, the AHS recommends that pet owners take steps now to talk to their veterinarian about how to best protect their pets from this dangerous disease. Heartworm prevention is safe, easy and inexpensive. While treatment for heartworm disease in dogs is possible, it is a complicated and expensive process, taking weeks for infected animals to recover. There is no effective treatment for heartworm disease in cats, so it is imperative that disease prevention measures be taken for cats. There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in both dogs and cats, including daily and monthly tablets and chewables, monthly topicals and a six-month injectable product available only for dogs. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented. These medications interrupt heartworm development before adult worms reach the lungs and cause disease. It is your responsibility to faithfully maintain the prevention program you have selected in consultation with your veterinarian.

HEARTWORM TREATMENT
Usually, all but the most advanced cases of heartworm disease can be successfully treated in dogs. Currently, there are no products in the United States approved for the treatment of heartworm infection in cats. Cats have proven to be more resistant hosts to heartworm than dogs, and often appear to be able to rid themselves of infection spontaneously. Unfortunately, many cats tend to react severely to the dead worms as they are being cleared by the body, and this can result in a shock reaction, a life-threatening situation. Veterinarians will often attempt to treat an infected cat with supportive therapy measures to minimize this reaction; however it is always best to prevent the disease. Adult heartworms in dogs are killed using a drug called an adulticide that is injected into the muscle through a series of treatments.

Treatment may be administered on an outpatient basis, but hospitalization is usually recommended. When the dog is sent home, exercise should be limited to leash walking for the duration of the recovery period, which can last from one to two months. This decreases the risk of partial or complete blockage of blood flow through the lungs by dead worms. Re-infection during treatment is prevented by administration of a heartworm preventive. These preventives may also eliminate microfilaria if they are present. Dogs in heart failure and those with caval syndrome require special attention. This is intended as a short summary.

When does my pet need blood work?
Yearly blood work should be performed to detect infections and diseases. This helps veterinarians detect disease early. In many situations early detection is essential for more effective treatment. The type of blood work will be determined specifically for each pet depending on his or her individual needs. This is convenient to do at the time of the annual heartworm test, but can be done at any time of year.

How many months should my pet be on Heartworm prevention medication?
It is recommended your pet be on heartworm prevention for the entire year. It is administered one time per month either by pill or by topical application. Depending on the specific product you and your veterinarian choose for your pet, heartworm prevention medication can prevent other parasite infestations including internal parasites (intestinal parasites) and external parasites (fleas and ticks). Some of these parasites can be communicated to people! A simple blood test will get your pet started.

Why does my dog need a blood test before purchasing heartworm prevention?
Dogs could get sick (vomiting, diarrhea, and/or death) if placed on heartworm prevention when they have heartworm disease. Even if they have been on heartworm prevention year round there is always the possibility that the product may have failed for various reasons (your pet spit out the pill, did not absorb the pill appropriately, topical medicine was not applied properly, forgot to administer medication on time, etc.) and the earlier we can treat you pet for heartworm disease the better the prognosis. ALL companies will guarantee their product providing you use the heartworm prevention year round and are performing yearly heartworm test. When starting heartworm prevention, or if your pet has not been on heartworm prevention year round, it is important that you perform a heartworm test 6 months after starting the prevention to rule out the pre-patent period. The pre-patent period refers to the time in which a dog has early developmental larvae which cannot be detected on a heartworm test, even though your dog is already harboring heartworm infection. If you do not do this it is possible the manufacturer of the products may not cover your pet’s treatment should they test positive for heartworm disease in the future.

My pet never goes outside so does it really need heartworm prevention?
Yes. Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito and all mosquitoes get into houses.

Doesn’t the fecal sample test for heartworms?
No. Heartworm disease is a blood-borne disease that is transmitted through mosquitoes. A simple blood test will confirm whether or not you dog has heartworm disease.

How can I prevent fleas?
It is important to prevent fleas. Not only are they uncomfortable for your pet, fleas are also carriers of disease. There are many medications for the treatment and prevention of fleas. Many medications are in a combined form with the monthly heartworm medication. Not only is this convenient, but it reduces the cost of two medications! Although fleas are more prevalent in summer months, they can survive year round in a home.

Holiday Safety Tips for Pets

Now that summer has come and gone, it’s time to curl up and enjoy these colder months with friends and family. The holidays are the perfect time for delicious food, gift giving, and of course – lots of snuggling! But before we get to all the fun stuff, it’s important to go over a few tips to have a safe holiday season.

Food Safety

Small portions of lean meats such as chicken, turkey, and beef make an ideal treat for cats. Make sure the meat is cooked to the proper temperature, and be sure to check for bones. It’s best to remove the excess skin and fat, and avoid meats that have spices, seasonings, and oils. Steamed or baked vegetables such as carrots, green beans, or asparagus also make a great snack for your pet.

Foods that were prepared with rich ingredients like mayonnaise can lead to an upset stomach. Other ingredients like garlic and chives cause digestion problems, especially if a large quantity is consumed. Onions cause damage to the red blood cells, and are extremely poisonous to cats. Onion poisoning can have serious effects such as sluggishness, weight loss, and anemia.
Remember – it’s important to let everyone in your family know which foods are safe and which ones can cause a tummy ache. With a little caution, you can eliminate the risk of illness and still give your pet delicious treats!

Holiday Decorations

Common holiday decorations can be a source of danger for cats. Plants like lilies and daffodils are highly toxic to cats; symptoms include digestive upset, heart arrhythmia, kidney failure, convulsions, or even death. Holly and mistletoe are also toxic plants that can cause vomiting and diarrhea, although serious side effects typically occur only if large quantities are ingested. Despite their reputation, American poinsettias are not deadly to pets and only cause mild stomach irritability.

If your family has a fir, pine, or spruce Christmas tree, be sure to cover the water. Pesticides and fertilizer that keep the water fresh can make your cat very ill. Even if you have an artificial tree, pets may still chew or eat the needles, so it’s important to watch for any changes in their behavior such as a difference in activity, appetite, and water consumption as well as vomiting or diarrhea.

The holiday season also means lots of gifts wrapped with shiny ribbon and sparkly decorations hanging on the tree. Not surprisingly, these flashy adornments are extremely appealing for curious cats who think they’ve found the perfect new toy! String, ribbon, and other thin objects (also known as linear foreign bodies) can pose a serious threat to cats and kittens if swallowed accidentally. Linear foreign bodies can become wrapped around the intestines which could cause severe health problems, or even death. Like young children, kittens should never have toys with detachable parts or toys that are small enough to swallow. And remember – never let your kitten or cat play with string or ribbon, especially unsupervised.

Halloween Safety Tips

Fall is finally here, and that means a couple of things—Halloween and candy!

As you can probably tell, the shopping malls and pet stores are stocking up with Halloween costumes. And along with the costumes comes the candy.  It is important to keep your pet safe from the dangers of the Halloween festivities. Here are some tips to make sure everyone, including your pet, has a happy Halloween!

  • Cats and Dogs should NEVER eat chocolate or candy. Chocolate and candy contain harmful chemical compounds that make cats and dogs very ill. The plastic components of lollipop sticks and other candy can also be dangerous to pets, potentially causing intestinal blockage or intestinal ruptures if ingested.
  • Strangers in costumes can distress and provoke even the friendliest of animals to become aggressive. If your cat or dog shows signs of stress, keep your pet in a quiet place during the trick-or-treating hours.
  • Candles and Jack O’ Lanterns within a pet’s range are a fire hazard. Wagging tails or frightened cats dashing through the house can easily topple over a candle or carved pumpkin, causing burns or a fire.
  • The constant sounds of door knocking and door bell ringing can be stressful for many pets. Sometimes, cats and dogs will experience stress-related diarrhea or appear visibly scared and anxious. Have a safe and quiet area ready for your pet if they appear distressed.

By taking these few precautions, you can ensure that everyone will have a happy Halloween—even your pet! If your pet is experiencing an emergency, please call our office as soon as possible.

Protect Your Pet During Flea and Tick Season

As the warmer months are approaching, it’s important to start protecting your pet and home from fleas and ticks. Fleas live in moist, shady areas, including lawn thatch, mulch, leaf litter, woodpiles, crawl spaces, and under porches or decks. Fleas also prefer to live on wildlife such as squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, and opossums that can be transmitted to your pet.

The most effective way to prevent your pet from fleas and ticks is by using a monthly flea and tick preventative. Fleas thrive in warm environments, and are capable of surviving in your home; fleas and their eggs are commonly found in carpeting, bedding, and furniture. If a flea infestation has already occurred in your house, preventives would be needed year-round.

To avoid a flea infestation, your pet must be on flea preventatives and be given the preventative consistently for six consecutive months. Many medications can be combined with the monthly heartworm medication. Not only is this convenient, but it reduces the cost of two medications! Although fleas are more prevalent during the summer months, they are capable of surviving in a home year-round.
Ticks are another danger to pets and can transmit serious diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Many of these diseases have symptoms that are difficult to notice until the disease has progressed. Many flea and tick preventatives begin killing ticks upon contact, and will eliminate all four North American species of ticks (Deer tick, Brown dog tick, American dog tick and the Lone Star tick).

Heartworm disease is another dangerous condition to dogs and cats; although heartworm disease is preventable, it can be potentially fatal. With this disease, parasites attach themselves to the pulmonary artery and heart, and can cause symptoms such as persistent cough, fatigue, reduced appetite, and weight loss. Cats may show signs that mimic other feline-specific diseases, but chronic clinical signs of heartworm in cats include vomiting, difficulty breathing, lethargy, and weight loss.

We can help you protect your pet from heartworm disease with daily or monthly preventatives. There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection in both dogs and cats, including tablets and chewables and topicals. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented. These medications interrupt heartworm development before adult worms reach the heart and cause disease.

Give us a call today to learn more about monthly preventatives, and how to protect your pet from fleas, ticks, and heartworm.

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Cold Weather Tips for Your Pet

Winters in the Midwest can be downright brutal – with the freezing temps and biting winds, it’s important to make sure that your dog or cat stays safe and warm during the cold weather months. Happy Tails Pet Hospital has some helpful tips to keep your pets safe this winter.

  • Smaller dogs and dogs with short coats often feel more comfortable wearing sweaters or jackets to keep them warm. Although dogs with long or thick coats do better in colder weather, precautions should still be taken while out for walks or during exercise.
  • Never leave dogs or cats outdoors for a prolonged amount of time when there is a drop in temperature. Windchills can also drastically affect the temperature and pose a serious threat to pets that are outside for an extended amount of time.
  • Many cats will seek refuge from the cold by crawling under the hood of a car. Cats and other small animals are drawn to the warm hoods of cars that have been recently parked. It’s advisable to double check to see if any animals are hiding underneath your vehicle.
  • Salt used to melt ice and snow can be irritating to the pads of your dog’s feet. Make sure to wipe your pet’s feet before they have a chance to lick the salt, which can cause irritation to the mouth.
  • Always supervise your pet while near driveways, garages, or roads where they could come in contact with harmful chemicals such as antifreeze. Many companies have added bittering agents to deter pets from consuming it, but even products without bittering agents are extremely dangerous to pets.

Keep in mind, every pet has a different level of tolerance to cold weather, but in general if it is uncomfortably cold for us, it is likely uncomfortable for pets as well. Call us immediately if your dog or cat is experiencing a cold weather-related emergency.