Friday, August 23, 2013

Heartworm Awareness

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs, cats and other species of mammals, including wolves, foxes, ferrets, sea lions and (in rare instances) humans. Heartworms are classified as nematodes (roundworms) and are filarids, one of many species of roundworms. Dogs and cats of any age or breed are susceptible to infection. Where is Heartworm Disease? Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states. The map below shows particularly endemic areas based on the number of cases reported by clinics. History The first published description of heartworm in dogs in the United States appeared more than 100 years ago in an issue of "The Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery."1 Heartworm in cats was first described in the early 1920's., Since then, naturally acquired heartworm infection in cats and dogs is identified as a worldwide clinical problem. Despite improved diagnostic methods, effective preventives and increasing awareness among veterinary professionals and pet owners, cases of heartworm infection continue to appear in pets around the world. Osborne, TC. Worms found in the Heart and Bloodvessels of a Dog; Symptoms of Hydrophobia. The Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery, 1847. Riley, WA. Dirofilaria immitis in the heart of a cat. J Parasitol 1922;9:48 Travassos, LP. Notas Helminthologicas. Brazil-Med. An. 1921;35 2(6):67 How Heartworm Happens: The Life Cycle First, adult female heartworms release their young, called microfilariae, into an animal's bloodstream. Then, mosquitoes become infected with microfilariae while taking blood meal from the infected animal. During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilariae 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. Microfilariae 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 (HARD). 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 microfilariae, 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. 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. Treatment Heartworms in the heart of a dog 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. Heartworms in the Pulmonary Artery of a dog 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.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Microchipping dogs is a safe, permanent method of identifying canine pets. Statistics show that 1 in 3 dogs will become lost during their lives, but only 17 percent of those animals return to their owners. A microchip can help improve the odds of your dog being returned safely if he wanders off or is taken from your home. How Does a Microchip Work? A microchip helps identify your dog. Animal shelter or veterinary clinic staff members use a scanner to read the small computer chip, which contains a unique code number that will help reunite you and your dog. Microchip manufacturers estimate that 275 billion unique identification numbers are currently available, which means that no two dogs can ever have the same number. The information in the chip connects the staff member to the registry that manages your dog’s microchip. The registry has your contact information on file, and the staff member can now alert you to your dog’s location. While a microchip is very helpful at locating a lost pet after the fact, it cannot be used to track an animal on the move because the radio frequency emitted by the chip is only detectable by a scanner that’s held over the chip. Your veterinarian can implant a microchip in your dog fairly easily. He or she will inject the chip between your dog’s shoulder blades, and your dog will feel very little (if any) pain. Any dog aged 6 months or older is a candidate for the microchip implant. The chip is designed to last about 25 years. Better Scanners Now Available European pet owners have made better use of microchip pet identification than American owners have. A major drawback to more widespread microchip use in the United States has been that the microchip manufacturers have been reluctant to join together and share resources, but that has begun to change. The companies have designed universal scanners, which read more than one type of chip, and have made the scanners easily available to shelters and veterinary clinics. The chip manufacturers are also collaborating with the American Animal Hospital Association to create an Internet search engine to help shelter and veterinary clinic workers locate microchip code information that will help pets and owners get back together. What’s Good About a Microchip? Microchips are a permanent method of identification and an ideal backup to your dog’s identification tags and collar. While some dogs seem to always lose their ID tags, the microchip will always be with them. If your dog runs away from your home or gets lost while you’re out on a walk, a microchip implant helps improve his odds of being reunited with you. The chip can help humane organizations reunite you and your pet more quickly, and it can also help you prove ownership of a companion animal if there is a dispute.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Cutting Edge Laser Therapy

At A Caring Heart Veterinary Hospital we know your pets are part of your family, and you want them to have the best quality of life. Laser therapy can help achieve that goal. We have the most advanced equipment on the market to deliver those results. Conditions that can be improved include the following: *Arthritis *Acute and Chronic Pain *Back Injuries *Sprains and Strains *Inflammation and Edema *Wound Healing What advantages does laser therapy have over other forms of therapy? *Does not require the use of drugs or surgery *Few side effects/risks *Quick and convenient *Studies show it is equal to or more effective than other forms of physical therapy *Benefits include the following: *No patient sedation or restraint required *Nonsurgical treatment *Extremely safe with no side effects *Can be combined with other medications or other arthritis treatments *Immediate results: Most pets feel better in 12 to 24 hours after treatment *Speeds healing process

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Kennel cough, the common name that is given to infectious canine tracheobronchitis, is a very highly contagious respiratory disease among dogs. As the name of the disease suggests, it is typified by inflammation of the trachea and bronchi. This disease is found throughout the world and is known to infect a very high percentage of dogs at least once during their lifetime. It is also medically referred to as tracheobronchitis and Bordetella. Young puppies can suffer the most severe complications that can result from this disease, since they have an underdeveloped immune system that is still strengthening. Also at increased risk are older dogs, which have decreased immune capabilities, and pregnant bitches, which also have lowered immunity to infections. Symptoms Dry hacking cough is the most common symptom Cough may sound like honking Retching Watery nasal discharge In mild cases, dogs would likely be active and eating normally In severe cases, symptoms progress and can include pneumonia, inappetence, fever, lethargy and even death Unvaccinated puppies and young dogs, or immunocompromised dogs might experience the most severe symptoms of the disease Causes Most of the time there has been a recent boarding that has placed the dog in contact with a number of other dogs. Some of the most common causes that contribute to the infectious canine tracheobronchitis disease are Bordetella bronchiseptica, parainfluenza virus, and mycoplasma. Apart from the canine herpes virus, reovirus and the canine adenovirus can also cause this disease. As any one of these organisms can cause the symptoms of this disease, in most of the cases, the result of the disease is thought to be more than one organism combined. However, the most common and important organism that causes tracheobronchitis is the parainfluenza virus. This particular virus causes gentle symptoms that last less than a week, unless there is an involvement with other bacteria. The Bordetella bronchiseptica is also a common type of bacteria that is often isolated from this disorder. According to the clinical signs the visible onset of infection usually occurs three to four days after initial exposure, but when it is combiend with other organisms – such as a combination parinfluenza-bordatella infection – the symptoms may last for up to three weeks. Diagnosis The diagnosis for this disease is largely based upon the type of symptoms that are being presented and your dog's history with regards to exposure to other dogs. You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health and onset of symptoms. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. These blood tests, along with viral isolation and bacterial cultures, will be performed in order to verify individual agents that are causing the kennel cough. Treatment Depending on the severity of the infection and the severity of the symptoms, there are two main types of treatments that can be given for canine tracheobronchitis disease. In the most common and uncomplicated type of disease, there is generally no need for antibiotics. If your dog is alert, but has only minor symptoms along with the recurrent cough, then it is often left alone to go through the course of the disease, just like the common cold in humans. Most of the time an anti-inflammatory agent will be given to your dog in order to reduce the severity and frequency of coughing episodes and to make the dog more comfortable. Antibiotics will be used if your dog is not eating, is running a fever, and is showing signs of severe respiratory troubles, as this may indicate pneumonia. While your dog is recovering from the infection, allow it to breath without anything that might irritate or constrict its throat – such as collars or scarves/bandannas. For walks and outings, you can substitute the collar with a body harness. Living and Management In order to prevent this disease, it is recommended that you not expose your dog to kennel like or boarding conditions, where large populations of dogs are contained and mixed together. However, if you cannot avoid this, then a proper vaccination would be the best option. Talk to your veterinarian about what is available for your dog, since there are certain vaccines that can have worrisome side effects. Therefore, vaccines to prevent tracheobronchitis are generally only given to dogs that are at high risk. Even with precautions, a large number of dogs acquire this respiratory infection. It is best to be observant and prepared. Although this infection usually does not cross over to humans, there are instances where young children and adults with compromised immune systems are at risk for infection. In these cases, care must be taken to protect those at risk from coming into contact with the sick dog until it has fully recovered. If contact cannot be avoided, extra care will need to be taken with hygiene.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Seizures In Dogs

What is a seizure? Seizure, convulsion, fit, epilepsy. These terms all describe the same thing: What happens when a sudden and uncontrolled burst of neurologic activity occurs in the brain. Sometimes the neurological disturbance remains localized to a small area, such as the face or one limb. Usually, however, the uncontrolled firing of neurons spreads from the brain throughout the body, causing generalized convulsions. A seizure is not always easy to recognize, and no two look exactly alike. The typical seizure, however, might proceed as follows: 1) The dog becomes nervous or agitated, sensing that something abnormal is about to happen. Some dogs seek out their owners, looking for help and reassurance. This is called the pre-ictal period. 2) The dog begins to tremble. His eyes glaze over and he loses touch with his environment, appears blind, and will not respond to his owner's voice or touch. 3) The trembling becomes more severe and the dog stiffens. He falls, usually on his side, and begins to paddle his legs and convulse, sometimes violently. The teeth might be clenched or the dog may champ his jaws as the seizure progresses. Often, he salivates and appears not to breathe. This entire stage, the ictal stage, usually lasts less than two minutes. 4) The next stage is called the post-ictal period. The dog begins to recover, but a varying degree of neurological signs will persist. Commonly, dogs remain blind for some time after a seizure. They often pant and seem disoriented. Some dogs sleep for a long period following a seizure. The post-ictal stage usually lasts for less than an hour, but can be considerably longer - up to two days. What isn't a seizure? Sometimes owners rush to the veterinarian, thinking their dog has had a seizure - but he hasn't. Numerous conditions, some normal and some pathologic, are often misinterpreted as seizures. For example, dogs with a disease of the middle ear, the vestibular nerve or vestibular nucleus of the brain can show abnormal head position and loss of balance.. The onset of symptoms can be quite sudden and can be confused with seizures. Dogs with cardiac and respiratory diseases can experience fainting episodes which leave them profoundly weak; many may fall abruptly. These dogs might pant rapidly as they try to compensate for poor oxygenation. This also is often confused with seizures. Another false alarm is a condition known as reverse sneezing, a common complaint in small animal practice. This usually affects smaller dogs and is characterized by a rapid series of violent and noisy inspirations. Often the chest and abdominal muscles will contract spasmodically during these episodes, which are always self-limiting and are of little medical significance. The cause of reverse sneezing is unknown and there is no known treatment. Then there are those dogs who twitch or paddle their legs while sleeping. Some will even vocalize. This is especially common in young puppies although many older dogs show similar behavior. This is normal and is usually associated with very deep sleep. Folklore has it that dogs paddling their legs during sleep are dreaming of running through an open field. Who knows? At any rate, it's not a seizure. The biggest difference between seizures and non-seizures is the dog's state of consciousness. If a dog is doing something that resembles a seizure while conscious, is aware of its surroundings, or is easily aroused (as in sleep), it is not having a true seizure. What causes seizures? The normal brain exists in a constantly changing state of balance between excitatory and inhibitory bioelectrical impulses. At a certain threshold point, excitatory activity can overwhelm inhibitory influences and a seizure can result. How far away any given animal is from this point - called a "seizure threshold" - is influenced by a number of factors including disease, trauma, genetics, toxins, and factors yet to be discovered. In other words, whether or not an individual dog has a seizure in response to a given stimulus depends on its own particular seizure threshold. Many causes of seizures have been documented in dogs. In some individuals, the cause is metabolic. For example, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is a common cause of seizures in toy breed puppies. Hypoglycemia brought on by giving excessive doses of insulin to diabetic dogs, or by insulin-secreting tumors of the pancreas in older dogs, may also precipitate seizures. Hypocalcemia (low calcium levels) is another metabolic cause of seizures especially common in post-partum lactating bitches. Hypocalcemia and hypoglycemia are both thought to be involved in seizures seen in young puppies with intestinal parasites. High blood ammonia levels also can lead to seizures. This metabolic disturbance is seen in dogs with liver disease (for example, portosystemic shunts in puppies). Kidney failure and high levels of circulating uremic toxins have been known to cause seizures, although this is less common. The most common toxic cause of seizures is probably lead poisoning. Another important differential for seizures in dogs is ingestion of something toxic - insecticides and rat poisons, for instance. The most common toxic cause of seizures, however, is probably lead poisoning. Dogs are exposed to toxic levels of lead from a variety of sources. These include old, peeling oil-based paint, batteries, linoleum, tarpaper, roofing materials, drapery weights, fishing sinkers, champagne bottle foil and golf ball coverings, just to name a few. The amount of lead needed to instigate a seizure in a given dog depends on the dog's own seizure threshold. Seizures can also be caused by inflammation of the central nervous system (CNS), also called encephalitis. There are many important infectious causes of encephalitis in dogs. Canine distemper, for example, is one of the most common causes of seizures in puppies. Other infectious causes of neurologic disease include toxoplasma, neospora caninum, cryptococcus and rabies. Some important non-infectious causes of encephalitis are granulomatous meningoencephalitis (GME) and chronic encephalitis of Pugs. Heat stroke is an all too familiar cause of seizures and death in dogs. Everyone knows heat stroke happens when animals are left unattended in automobiles on a warm day, with or without the windows open. But anyone who goes to outdoor dog shows in hot weather has heard horror stories of dogs overcome by excessive heat, particularly heavily coated and/or brachycephalic breeds. Being a Pekingese owner, I never go to dog shows without plenty of ice and water on hand to prevent just such an emergency. Congenital malformations of the CNS also cause seizures. Examples include hydrocephalus, a disease in which fluid inside the brain does not drain properly and contributes to high intracranial pressure, and lissencephaly, a brain malformation observed in Lhasa Apsos. Trauma to the head can lead to seizures due to hemorrhage or swelling of the brain or surrounding tissues, often with subsequent formation of scar tissue or blood clots. It is not uncommon to see seizures result from a traumatic episode that occurred years earlier. Bleeding and swelling can also be caused by tumors of the CNS or surrounding structures. Tumors are most common in older dogs. Although there are many known causes of seizures in dogs, the most common cause remains unknown; these dogs are diagnosed as having "idiopathic epilepsy." Although the term idiopathic means self-originated, it's really just a technical way of saying the cause of the disease is unknown. Even though a large percentage of seizures end up being diagnosed as idiopathic, testing for other possible causes should always be performed, especially if the seizures are severe, frequent or occur in clusters. If an underlying cause is found, therapy can be directed specifically at correcting the abnormality. Idiopathic epilepsy is believed to be an inherited disorder, at least in some breeds. Breeding studies have shown a genetic basis for the disorder in German Shepherds, Belgian Tervuren, Keeshonden, Beagles and Dachshunds. Although inheritance patterns have not been documented, the disease also appears to be quite common in Poodles (all varieties), Saint Bernards, Irish Setters, Siberian Huskies, Cocker Spaniels, Wire-haired Fox Terriers, and Labrador and Golden Retrievers. How is the cause diagnosed? The initial workup of a patient with seizures includes a thorough physical examination, a meticulous medical history, screening blood work and a urinalysis. A complete blood count can reveal signs of infection or inflammation. A chemistry profile helps to investigate metabolic causes of seizures by testing for biochemical markers of liver, kidney, glucose, and electrolyte disturbances. Changes in the urine can also reflect kidney, liver or other metabolic abnormalities. In addition, if there is any possibility of exposure, a blood sample may reveal toxic levels of lead. If an obvious cause isn't discovered with the initial testing, further tests can prove useful. An important element in the clinical evaluation of just about any patient with a central nervous system disorder is the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Changes in CSF protein concentration, blood cell population and pressure indicate specific diseases of the CNS. CSF is collected while dogs are under general anesthesia. They are positioned on their side and an area at the base of the skull and upper neck is clipped and surgically scrubbed. Once the head is positioned just so, a needle is carefully placed into the space between the base of the skull and the first cervical vertebra. The fluid is then collected through the needle and submitted to a laboratory for analysis. To measure CSF pressure, a manometer can be attached to the needle; pressure is often elevated in the case of brain tumors, for example. While the patient is anesthetized, an electroencephalogram (EEG) also can be performed. Although EEG equipment is usually found only at teaching hospitals or large referral centers, the test can yield useful information. To perform an EEG, small wire electrodes are placed in the skin at various points overlying the brain, and electrical activity of the brain is observed. The pins penetrate the skin, but they are very small and non-traumatic. In fact, EEGs can usually be performed in awake dogs. This test is simple and risk-free to perform (it's similar to an EKG of the heart), but interpretation usually requires the services of a specialist in neurology. The last diagnostic option available to investigate seizures is a brain scan. Computerized tomography (CT scan) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are just becoming available in veterinary medicine. These diagnostic imaging techniques yield a wealth of information and can be very sensitive indicators of structural CNS diseases. However, as with all other tests, these scans are negative in cases of idiopathic epilepsy. Brain scans also require the use of general anesthesia. What treatments are available? If the underlying cause for a dog's seizure disorder is identified, treatment can be directed at correcting the abnormality or eliminating the causative factor. Even if an underlying cause is found, however, anticonvulsant drugs are commonly needed to control seizures. This is also true in the case of dogs with idiopathic epilepsy. Owners should realize that seizures are rarely eliminated completely. The goal of therapy is to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures to a level the dog and its family can live comfortably with. Of the numerous anticonvulsant drugs available, phenobarbital is the most important and most useful. With appropriate doses and periodic monitoring of phenobarbital blood concentration to ensure adequate levels, most dogs with seizures can be well controlled. The drug is safe, inexpensive, and usually has to be given orally twice a day. Primidone is also used to treat seizures in dogs. This drug is converted in the bloodstream to phenobarbital and is an effective anticonvulsant. It has the additional advantage of not being a controlled substance like phenobarbital. However, primidone has been associated with more side effects and is also more costly to use than phenobarbital. In some dogs, phenobarbital alone will not control seizures. Studies are currently underway to assess the benefits of other drugs such as potassium bromide and long-acting benzodiazepines (valium-related drugs) to control seizures refractory to phenobarbital alone. Of these drugs, potassium bromide used in combination with phenobarbital appears to be the most promising. Dilantin is a drug used commonly in human medicine to treat epilepsy. This drug has been tried in dogs as well, but is not effective. Another familiar human drug, valium, is effective in stopping seizure activity, but only momentarily. Its long-term use is not recommended in dogs. What should I do if my dog has a seizure? Watching a dog have a seizure is terrifying - especially if it's a dog you love. If the dog is a young puppy or a lactating bitch, it should be seen by a veterinarian immediately. A single isolated seizure in an otherwise healthy adult dog, however, does not usually require emergency veterinary care, though an appointment should be scheduled promptly for a thorough work-up. If there are multiple seizures in a day, emergency care should be sought without delay. When a dog has a seizure, as difficult as it may be, it is important for owners to remain calm. The dog should be moved to a safe place or laid on a rug to minimize the chances of injury. If possible, time the length of the seizure and observe carefully so that you can give a veterinarian a clear and accurate account of the event. Dogs do not swallow their tongues during seizures and owners should never put their hands near a seizuring dog's mouth. Many veterinarians believe that the length and severity of the post-ictal phase can be decreased by gently trying to calm and soothe the dog. Panicking won't help. It's important to remember that seizures themselves are almost never fatal. When seizures occur in clusters, however, dogs are prone to developing status epilepticus, a condition characterized by continuous, uncontrollable seizure activity. Continuous seizures can lead to exhaustion, hypoglycemia, hyperthermia, oxygen depletion, brain damage, and eventually, death. Status epilepticus is an extreme emergency and often requires general anesthesia for prolonged periods of time to control. It would be unwise to repeat a breeding that resulted in an epileptic dog.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Employee Spotlight:Ashley

Meet Ashley our Administrative Assistant she has been with A Caring Heart since August 2012. She is a certified weight coach for our patients and our Cutting Edge laser technology. She is married to her husband of 8 years and they have 3 beautiful children together. She enjoys spending time with her family outdoors.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Pets for Depression

Could a kitten's purr or a dog's wagging tail help with your depression? It might. "Pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression," says Ian Cook, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA. You Don't Have to Live With Depression Understand the symptoms of depression, from sadness to hopelessness to headache. Depression Myths and Facts What’s Causing Your Depression? Getting Help: Where You Can Look Questions to Ask Your Doctor 18 Positive Steps to Feel Better Studies show that animals can reduce tension and improve mood. Along with treatment, pets can help some people with mild to moderate depression feel better. If you're depressed, here's a rundown of how pets could help. Uncomplicated love. Are your relationships with family and loved ones complicated and frayed? A pet can be a great antidote. "With a pet, you can just feel," says Teri Wright, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Santa Ana, Calif. "You don't have to worry about hurting your pet's feelings or getting advice you don't want." Responsibility. You might not think you can take care of a pet right now. Taking care of yourself may seem hard enough. But experts say that adding a little responsibility can help. It adds a new and positive focus to your life. "Taking care of a pet can help give you a sense of your own value and importance," says Cook. It will remind you that you are capable -- that you can do more than you might think. Activity. Are barely getting off the couch these days? You need to get more physical activity. Pets can help. "If you have a dog, that dog needs to be walked," Cook says. A little extra physical activity is good for your physical and mental health. Routine. Having a daily schedule helps people with depression. An animal's natural routine -- waking you in the morning, demanding food or walks -- can help you stay on track. Companionship. Depression can isolate you. It can make you pull back from your friends and loved ones. If you have a pet, you're never alone. That can really make a difference. Social interaction. Having a pet can gently push you to get more social contact. You might chat with others while walking your dog at the park or waiting at the vet. Pets are natural icebreakers and other pet owners love to talk about their animals. Touch. Studies show that people feel better when they have physical contact with others. Pets offer something similar. There's something naturally soothing about petting a cat on your lap. Studies have shown that petting a dog can lower your heart rate too. Better health. Research has found that owning a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, and boost levels of feel-good chemicals in the brain. One study of Chinese women found that dog owners exercised more often, slept better, reported better fitness levels and fewer sick days, and saw their doctors less often than people without dogs.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lyme Disease

Ticks cause a host of illnesses, including Lyme disease, which affects dogs and people alike. A bite from an infected tick can mean tiredness, fever, joint pain, and loss of appetite. Antibiotics generally provide relief from Lyme disease, but relapses can occur. Spot-on tick-control products can kill or repel ticks that carry Lyme disease, as can some tick collars. There is a Lyme disease vaccine for dogs, but it’s not always part of a dog’s routine vaccination protocol. Lyme disease is one of a number of frustratingly common tick-borne diseases that are regarded by both veterinarians and human physicians as stubborn, insidious, and just plain problematic in a number of ways. An infection caused by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium, Lyme disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected tick and can affect many species, including dogs and humans. Ticks of the Ixodes species (called deer ticks) are known to transmit Lyme disease when they attach to a host and feed. Because the tick must be attached for at least 50 hours to transmit Lyme disease, frequent inspection for ticks (and quick removal) can reduce the risk of disease transmission. Lyme disease is more common in certain areas of the United States, including the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and upper Midwest. Symptoms and Identification Clinical signs may not appear for several months after a dog is infected with Lyme disease. In fact, many dogs fail to display any obvious clinical signs at all. When signs of infection are noted, they may include the following: Lethargy (manifested as tiredness or exercise intolerance) Fever Painful joints Loss of appetite Signs may seem to resolve on their own only to reappear later. Lyme disease has also been linked to long-term complications involving the joints, kidneys, heart, and nervous system. Lyme disease is usually diagnosed based on a medical history that includes the possibility of tick exposure, suspicious clinical signs, and results of diagnostic testing. Several tests can identify the Borrelia burgdorferi organism in blood or tissues. In addition, a test (called a quantitative C6 antibody test or QC6 antibody test) can measure the level of antibodies to help veterinarians determine whether treatment is recommended. However, many veterinarians test for Lyme disease using an in-hospital SNAP test. SNAP tests are a group of quick, convenient, blood tests that can be performed at your veterinarian’s office. There are various SNAP tests for different purposes: SNAP Heartworm RT Test: screens for heartworm infection SNAP 3Dx Test: simultaneously screens for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, and ehrlichiosis (another tick-borne disease that can affect dogs) SNAP 4Dx Test: simultaneously screens for heartworm disease, Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis (also a tick-borne disease that can cause illness in dogs) SNAP testing is very accurate and is a good way to identify dogs that may be infected with one or more of these diseases. SNAP testing is also very convenient because it uses a very small amount of blood and takes only a few minutes to perform. However, sending blood to an outside laboratory for testing can be every bit as reliable as an in-hospital SNAP test. In some cases, veterinarians may recommend additional testing to follow up a test result or look for other evidence of illness related to heartworm disease or one of the tick-borne infections. Testing may involve sending additional blood samples to a laboratory for further analysis or performing other diagnostic tests to obtain more information about a dog’s condition.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Myths About Parvo

Canine parvovirus is one of the most feared diseases your dog can get, and with good cause: it can kill a dog within a couple of days after a dog shows symptoms. Here are some common misconceptions that could create a false sense of security and leave a beloved pooch exposed. My dog is vaccinated. He's safe from parvo, right? Not necessarily. The immunities a puppy receives from its mother can interfere with the parvo vaccination, so while it is important to keep up with boosters if you choose to use this route, and while vaccinations certainly do reduce the chances of your dog catching the virus, it is not failsafe, and prevention can go a long way in protecting your dog. My dog is an adult. He can't get parvo anymore, right? While parvo is less common in adult dogs, they can still get and die from parvo. Usually this occurs in dogs with weakened immune systems, but no dog is completely safe. It's not uncommon for adult dogs to contract parvo. It's best to prevent, and be prepared. There is nothing that can fight parvo because it's a virus. We can only hydrate and hope for the best. Another myth. While it's true that there are no traditional, man-made antibiotics to treat a virus, the environment is loaded to the gills with herbs that offer highly effective healing from viral, parasitic, and bacterial infections, including canine parvovirus. Treating a dog with parvo is expensive and requires hospitalization, doesn't it? I can't afford it, so I'll need to put my dog to sleep. Herbal supplements that effectively cause dogs to heal from parvo can be purchased for around $40.00, more for care packs with additional products to help your pet fight dangerous secondary infections, treat the new, more aggressive strain of parvo, or provide healing for parvo's copycat diseases, such as coccidia. Hydration is important too, since most dogs with parvo die of dehydration before organ failure from the virus itself occurs. Gentle use of an oral syringe is effective, or you can ask your vet to provide you with bags of fluid that you can inject under the dog's skin at home. Since we bleached the area where my dog did his business, so we should be safe from reinfection. Unfortunately, the virus is very contagious and very small amounts do serious damage. It is very important to disinfect your entire floor, your yard (it will kill the grass, but better that than your furry baby), the inside of your car, plus anywhere your feet or your dog's feet may have traveled (don't forget the countertop if your furry baby is large and tends to put his front paws up there while searching for goodies). Also, as you've been cleaning up after your dog, the virus has spread to your clothing, items you've's everywhere. So you'll need to disinfect as best you can, using half a cup of bleach to a gallon of water. This will lighten your carpet and clothes. Also, in order to respond quickly if parvo strikes, you'll need to remain watchful for symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, and sometimes bloody stool (although a new strain does not necessarily show blood in the stool but rather a gelatinous texture), listlessness, depression, loss of interest in food and then water, and a thin appearance. If you see any of these symptoms, particularly vomiting and diarrhea together, please get your dog to a vet immediately for diagnosis. Put the dog on an effective herbal health aid, and as with any disease, the sooner you address the issue, the greater your chances of succeeding. The new F strain has reportedly been known to kill the same day a dog shows symptoms. This is not an illness where you'd want to to wait and see. Another thing you can do to help your dog is to keep a first aid kit just for him. It should include an antiviral, antibacterial, and antiparasitic health aid, a pain reliever designed just for dogs (many human medications are toxic to them), and other products designed to boost your furry friend's immune system and detoxify him after wormers or vaccinations. Self-closing bandages or bandages with dog-safe closures are good to keep on hand as well, and don't forget to keep this kit with you when you travel or spend time outdoors.