Why Heartworm Prevention Is Important

Heartworm

Keeping your dog free of heartworms is an important job. You should have your dog tested annually for the disease and keep her on prescription heartworm medication for dogs.

Have you ever wondered why your dog needs to be tested if they’ve been taking heartworm preventatives? Is it really that bad if you give it a few days late? Just how do these preventive medications thwart heartworm disease in your dog? Here are some facts.

Heartworm Preventatives Don’t Actually Stop the Initial Infection

You may be surprised to learn that heartworm preventatives do not stop the actual infection from occurring. That’s right—the prevention part actually refers to clearing up larval infections that have already happened so that the heartworms cannot grow into adults.

If an infected mosquito happens to bite your dog, your pup may still be infected with the larvae. But heartworm medications work to kill off the larval heartworms that made it into your dog’s body during the past month to prevent further infection.

The heartworms in the dog will die at certain stages of development, before they can become adult heartworms and cause disease. However, heartworm preventatives will not kill adult heartworms that are already present.

Breaking the Heartworm Life Cycle

The heartworm life cycle is complex. The dog is infected by early stage larvae that are transmitted by a mosquito carrying infected blood. This larvae goes through multiple stages of development within body tissue before migrating to the heart and lungs as an adult heartworm.

These adults produce microfilariae, the earliest life stage that circulates within the dog’s blood. Prevention kills only early stage larvae and microfilariae. This is why it is important to give your dog heartworm prevention every month. It kills the larvae before they develop into a stage that is immune to the medication in heartworm prevention.

Most heartworm medications require monthly administration, while others work longer (up to six months with an injectible product called moxidectin or Proheart®). There are many choices of heartworm prevention available, from topical products to chewable oral medications; many come in both dog and cat versions.

Monthly heartworm preventative medications do not stay in your dog’s bloodstream for 30 days. The active ingredients work to kill any larvae that have been in the system for the past 30 days, clearing the body each month. The medication is only needed once a month because it takes longer than a month for the larvae to develop to a stage where they reach the body tissues.

Why You Need a Prescription for Heartworm Medication

So, why do you need a prescription from your veterinarian to be able to purchase heartworm preventatives online? And why won’t your veterinarian give you the heartworm medications without first testing your dog for heartworm infection?

The reason for this is that your veterinarian wants to make sure your dog doesn’t have an active infection of heartworms before giving a heartworm medication. Dogs with heartworms can have a severe, possibly life-threatening reaction to the dying, circulating microfilariae (adult heartworm offspring) if given these heartworm medications. These microfilariae are only present in pets with adult heartworm infections.

Additionally, there are several other reasons your veterinarian requires a yearly test for heartworms before giving you a prescription for the heartworm medication. You may have missed a dose, or your dog may have spit the heartworm medication out or vomited it up, leaving your dog unprotected for a period that you were unaware of. If for any reason the dog became infected with heartworms, treatment to rid the body of the infection must be started as early as possible to prevent permanent heart and lung damage.

If you don’t test for the disease and your dog is infected, the heartworm disease will gradually progress and cause serious, life-threatening illness. This can happen even if you continue to give heartworm medication because those medications kill only early stage larvae. More mature larvae will continue to develop into adults, and adults will continue to produce microfilariae. It’s better to know as soon as possible so treatment can be started before the damage is too severe. Heartworm tests can be run in the veterinarian’s office and require only a small blood sample from your dog.

Heartworm Preventatives Should Be Given Year-Round

Veterinarians strongly recommend that dogs be given heartworm prevention all year round. In some parts of the country, where mosquitoes are less active in the winter months, you may be in the habit of only treating your dogs for heartworms half the year.

Due to unpredictable seasonal temperature changes, the American Heartworm Society recommends year-round prevention for animals in every state. Also, with dogs traveling with their owners more, the prevalence of heartworm across the United States is increasing. This is a good practice to help you stay in the habit of always protecting your dog from heartworms, no matter what the season.

Some heartworm preventatives contain medications that also remove other parasites, such as fleas, mites, ticks, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. Depending on which heartworm medication you choose for your dog and cat, they may also be protected year-round from these parasites. Ask your veterinarian for help in choosing the best possible heartworm preventative medication for your pet.

In regions where heartworm infections are common, repelling mosquitos adds a second layer of protection that can be very valuable. Permethrin-based products such as Seresto 8 month flea and tick prevention collars and Vectra® repel mosquitos as well as fleas and ticks.

Heartworm prevention is an important part of your pet’s health care. Don’t risk their health by skipping doses.

Some heartworm preventatives contain medications that also remove other parasites, such as fleas, mites, ticks, roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. Depending on which heartworm medication you choose for your dog and cat, they may also be protected year-round from these parasites. Ask your veterinarian for help in choosing the best possible heartworm preventative medication for your pet.

In regions where heartworm infections are common, repelling mosquitos adds a second layer of protection that can be very valuable. Permethrin-based products such as Seresto 8 month flea and tick prevention collars and Vectra® repel mosquitos as well as fleas and ticks.

Heartworm prevention is an important part of your pet’s health care. Don’t risk their health by skipping doses.

photo source: Pexels

source: Pet MD

Blind Senior Dog Finds Help In A Puppy Friend To Show Him The Way

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At 11 years old, Charlie is very much a senior pup — but nowadays, his heart is fuller than ever.

A few years back, Charlie’s world went dark after he had both eyes removed as a result of glaucoma. He seemed to cope with the sudden change quite well day to day, though he nevertheless began to slow down and be less excitable.

Recently, however, Charlie’s spirit has blossomed anew in the light of a new love.

Charlie’s adoring owners, Chelsea Stipe and her husband, could tell he was still a happy dog, but suspected he’d benefit from having a canine companion in his twilight years. And they were right.

After bringing home a puppy named Maverick, everything about Charlie began to change for the better.

The two dogs quickly became inseparable friends — the younger’s energy and enthusiasm seeming to inspire the same in the older.

“Charlie has definitely been more playful and puppy-like since Maverick came around,” Stipe told The Dodo. “We’d buy him toys and he wouldn’t think about playing with them. Now, they’re just constantly playing with each other.”

Maverick may only be a few months old, but he seems to understand that Charlie is experiencing the world without the sense of sight, and has adapted to help him with that limitation.

“He knows Charlie is different,” Stipe said. “He’ll put toys in front of him. He’s very aware, when Charlie starts to move, to be on the lookout for him. When they walk together, Maverick helps keep Charlie in line.”

Maverick will often rest alongside Charlie, too, as if just to reassure him that he’s not alone.

Charlie and Maverick may be different, but it clearly hasn’t hindered their friendship.

If anything, it’s made it stronger.

“It’s amazing. They’re just such a great combo,” Stipe said. “They’re always together.”

Nothing could ever completely turn back the clock on Charlie’s life, of course (nor, given all those happy years, would anyone want to). Maverick, instead, has shown that joy and happiness still lie ahead on the road they’re now on together.

“Charlie’s an older dog. We used to think we could lose him any time,” Stipe said. “But now, with Maverick, it’s like he got this jolt in him, this zest for life again. If he had eyes, I know there’d be a twinkle in them.”

photo source: Chelsea Stipe/ The Dodo

source: The Dodo

The Dangers of Easter Lilies on Pets

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You’ve probably heard by now that lilies are something you should be wary of around your furry friends—particularly your feline friends. But what you may not know is just how dangerous these pretty, popular springtime flowers can be. With Easter rapidly approaching and the spring season on the horizon, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to make sure that you’ve got all the facts and know how much of a hazard these flowers (Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) in particular) pose to your pets.

Which Lilies Are the Most Dangerous?

The following are the most commonly seen types of lilies in the U.S. and can be extremely toxic if ingested by a cat.

Asiatic Lilies (Lilium sp.)

These lilies can be grown outside throughout most of the United States. Asiatic Lilies often have large, trumpet-shaped blooms in a wide range of colors including yellow, white, orange, pink and red. Lilies commonly seen around Easter are in this group due to their festive, spring colors.

Daylilies (Hemerocallis sp.)

Daylily flowers are also very colorful and have a similar appearance to Asiatic lilies. The main difference is the foliage and surrounding leaves, which have a grassy appearance.

Why Are these Lilies So Dangerous?

Lilies, especially the ones that fall in the above categories, have been proven to be extremely toxic to cats. Eating even a small piece of any of the plant material, including the leaves, stems and roots, licking pollen off of their faces or even drinking water from a vase that has had lilies in it can be deadly to a curious cat.

The main concern surrounding lily ingestion is kidney failure, which can be life-threatening. It only takes a small exposure to cause acute kidney injury.

What Should I Do If My Pet Ingests These Plants?

Catching exposures to lilies quickly is critical. If caught early, kidney failure can be prevented by aggressive treatment at a veterinary hospital. However, it is often fatal if treatment is delayed longer than 18 hours after ingestion of or exposure to a toxin.

If you believe that your cat might have been exposed to or ingested a lily, please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately. You will likely need to seek veterinary care swiftly.

If you are a pet parent with a cat or kitten in your home, avoid bringing this flower inside, and keep any Easter bouquets far out of paws’ reach.

The best way to ensure that your pet doesn’t come into close contact with this deadly plant is to inspect any incoming bouquets this Easter—and every day of the year—and don’t leave plants in places that are easily accessible to your cats. If you are thinking of planting lilies in your garden, be sure to keep your pets out of the area.

Also, use APCC’s full list of poisonous plants to help you protect your pets year-round. Or, download the APCC Mobile App for everything you need to know about potential pet dangers, right in the palm of your hand!

photo source: ASPCA

source: ASPCA

Is Your Home Poisonous to Pets?

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Most people are generally aware of potentially toxic products in their homes. After all, we can read labels, we can receive alerts, and we can share information with each other.

But our pets are blind when it comes to knowing what’s good and bad for them, and some items that are harmless to us are actually poisonous to them (you’ll rarely find pet-safety information on the labels of products intended for human use). So it’s critical to be both alert and aware.

Every year, during National Poison Prevention Week (March 16-22), the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals releases a list of top toxins reported by pet owners to our Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). Nearly 180,000 cases were handled in 2013, and many of these items could be accessible to pets in your home right now.

Mind Your Medications

As the subject of nearly 20 percent of all calls received, prescription human medications were the number one toxin reported by pet owners. These include products such as cardiac medications, anti-depressants and pain medications. A majority of cases involved heart medications often used to control heart rate and blood pressure.

Over-the-counter medications came in at number three, making up nearly 15 percent of calls to the APCC. Many easily-accessible products such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and dietary supplements like weight loss products are NOT safe for pets. And because some of these products taste or smell good, your pets might chew right through the bottle to get to them.

Veterinary medications came in number six, reinforcing the need to keep prescriptions out of reach.

Some not-so-obvious ways to keep your pets away from your meds: Don’t take them when your pets are watching you. “Keep all medications out of reach and take your pills behind a closed door away from your pets,” says Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “If you drop your medication, your dog can scoop it up quicker than you can say ‘poison’.”

What’s Inside Insecticides

It’s obvious that mice- and rat-killing rodenticides – number eight – aren’t safe for your pets and should be kept in secure places, but also be careful about insecticides intended for use on one pet which can be toxic to another. (By the way, the ASPCA recommends only using humane traps and methods for rodent control).

Some products made specifically for dogs, like certain flea-control medications, can be very dangerous, even fatal, for your cat. In fact, more than half of the cat-related calls the APCC received in 2013 involved insecticide exposure, which is the number two top toxin. So make sure you’re always reading labels and using these products properly.

Perilous Products

Household products cover a lot of ground, and the APCC received almost 17,000 calls about these items, including cleaning supplies, glue, and paint. Jumping up to number four this year, household products often contain bleach or ingredients like phenols that should be used exactly as instructed on the label.

Some household products can be corrosive, while others might cause obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract, which could require surgery. Even some seemingly safe and very pet-accessible products – like fire logs – are included in this grouping of potentially harmful items.

Watch What You Eat…

Not all food for you is good food for your pets. The number five toxin includes a range of food from vegetables and herbs — like onions and garlic — to harmless-seeming snacks, like grapes and raisins. None of these items are safe for pets, and some can cause nausea, gastrointestinal irritation, and kidney failure.

Products that have xylitol listed as an ingredient should also be avoided. Used as a sweetener in things like baked goods, candy and even toothpaste, xylitol can cause vomiting, lethargy, seizures and sometimes liver failure.

See more dangerous foods here , including alcohol, macadamia nuts, yeast dough, milk, salt, and raw meat and eggs.

… Especially Chocolate

While all prescription human medication made up the number one toxin reported to the APCC in 2013, chocolate was actually the number one single product, generating an average of 26 calls per day. Chocolate – number seven on the toxins list — contains substances called methylxanthines, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. The type of chocolate and size of the animal will affect the risk: The smaller the animal and darker the chocolate, the more harm it can cause.

Poisonous Plants

Dogs might be more likely to gobble up harmful human food, but cats take the lead in poisonous-plant consumption. As the number nine toxin called into APCC, certain plants can be extremely dangerous, even fatal, for your pets. Even popular plants, like lilies, can cause kidney failure. With so many garden and household plant varieties available, it’s important to do research before exposing your pets to them.

Products used to care for and treat plants also made the list, coming in at number 10. These potentially toxic items, like fertilizer, are sometimes made with poultry manure and other products attractive to pets. Making sure to read the label of any lawn and garden product is a simple way to find out whether it’s toxic to animals.

For more information on plant toxicity, visit the ASPCA’s extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants, and here’s this year’s full APCC list of top toxins, in order of call frequency.

1. Human medications
2. Insecticides
3. Over the counter medications
4. Household items
5. Human foods
6. Veterinary medications
7. Chocolate
8. Rodenticides
9. Plants
10. Lawn and garden products

photo source: Pexels
source: Pet MD

Keep Your Pets Safe From Dangers Lurking In Your Home

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You probably know by now that a lot of every-day food items, household items and personal items can be dangerous to your four-legged friends. But do you know where these items may be hiding? The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants you to have a thorough breakdown of each room in your home, so you can help keep your pets safe, happy and healthy. Below you’ll find our easy, quick-view guide and an in-depth look into everything you need to know!

Attic

While the attic is not necessarily a common place for our pets to go, it’s a place that’s often overlooked when it comes to pet dangers. Mothballs, rodenticides and insecticides may be used in attics to ward off pests, but can be problematic for your furry friends. Make sure your pet steers clear of the attic and doesn’t follow you up.

Bathroom

A surprising number of bathroom items could prove to be toxic or harmful to your pets. Many people store common household cleaners in their bathrooms, which could be extremely dangerous if ingested, inhaled or come into contact with your pet’s skin. Other dangers include soaps and oral hygiene products such as toothpaste or mouthwash, which can contain the dangerous sugar substitute, xylitol.
Items such as dental floss, cotton balls and other inedible products can also cause obstructions if consumed by your pets. You should always keep personal products and items in a medicine cabinet or up high enough so that your pet cannot reach them.

Bedrooms

Bedrooms are a great place to spend quality time snuggling with our best fur-friends. While less problematic than other rooms in the house, medications are a big concern in this room.
Due to either the low nature or easy accessibility of many tables or nightstands in bedrooms, these are not safe places to store medications. And if you have kids (the human kind), help them to remember to pick up bags in their rooms that may contain gum, food or candy that your pets can easily sniff out.

Kitchen

The kitchen is one of the main rooms in the house where pets get themselves into trouble. Like us, our furry friends associate the kitchen with pleasant scents and tastes, so they often are on the lookout for yummy things to eat. Besides food, medications, cleaning products and trash bins are other sources of danger in the kitchen.
Keeping food in the fridge and cabinets and keeping lids on trash bins, putting medications out of reach and keeping your pets out of the room when using cleaning products can help keep them safe.

Living Room

While less tempting than the kitchen, dangers in the living room are a great example of the fact that something doesn’t have to taste good for our pets ingest it. Batteries, plants and fragrance products are the primary dangers found in this room.
If your furry friend thinks everything is a chew toy, make sure to watch out for these common dangers and keep them up and out of paws’ reach.

Laundry Room

Laundry rooms are where our pets tend to exhibit their sillier sides. Knocking down detergent bottles or grabbing old dryer sheets and running away are two common scenarios seen. But it’s not all fun and games: laundry detergent pods are a quick gulp away from some nasty vomiting and possible aspiration.
Keeping laundry products in a cabinet and picking up any dropped dryer sheets or pods is always a good idea.

Garage

Unfortunately garages can be a very dangerous room for our furry friends. Many people store a variety of chemicals in their garage which can be serious concerns for pets.
Common use of rodenticides in the garage poses an added danger. Make sure to keep your pet out of your garage while using any chemicals, and when done, securely close any chemicals and put them up and out of reach.

Yard

As warmer weather approaches, APCC sees an increase in calls about dangers in the yard. Keeping an eye out for dangerous plants and mushrooms is always advised . While it’s nice to have company while working in the yard, be aware of what your pet is doing.
They may be following you around, eating that fertilizer you are placing, or find that it’s a good time to dig up an ants’ nest. When using any chemicals on your yard, it’s best to keep your four-legged friends away until it is dry or watered in. Also, remember if you do a lot of grilling, lighter fluid and charcoal briquettes are two common outdoor dangers.

photo source: ASPCA

source: ASPCA