How To Prevent Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Even the word “heartworms” may make you feel squeamish and uncomfortable. You may have heard of them before, but do you know enough to help prevent heartworm disease in your furry friend? If you want to ensure the health of your pet, read on to learn more about heartworm disease and how it can be diagnosed, treated, and prevented.

What Are Heartworms?

Heartworm disease is a serious disease caused by foot-long worms, called heartworms, that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of dogs. While it can affect other animals, dogs are a natural host, meaning that heartworms can mature and reproduce in dogs. Because they have been reported in all 50 states across America, heartworm disease is a serious issue.

What Would Heartworms Do To My Dog?

Mature heartworms clog the heart and major blood vessels leading to the heart. By clogging the vessels, blood circulation to other parts of the body is reduced. Reduced blood flow to the lungs, kidneys, and liver causes these organs to malfunction. Immature heartworms, known as microfilariae, are much smaller than their mature counterparts and can clog small blood vessels. Again, organs are deprived of nutrients and oxygen supplied by blood.

What Are The Symptoms of Heartworm Disease?

Unfortunately, by the time clinical signs are noticed, the disease is usually well-advanced. In the early stages of the disease, most dogs show no clinical symptoms. Signs of heartworms include a persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue, weakness, and loss of stamina. Dogs with serious cases may have heart failure or swelling in the abdomen, caused by fluid accumulation.

How Is It Transmitted?

Heartworm disease is not transmitted from dog to dog, but by mosquitos. When a mosquito bites an infected dog, fox, or another infected animal, it picks up baby worms. These worms mature into larvae, which are able to enter a new host when the mosquito bites another animal. It takes 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. After maturation, they can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs.

Because mosquitos are found nearly everywhere, all household pets are at risk for heartworm disease. Stray dogs or other wildlife may be carriers of heartworms and increase the chances of infected mosquitoes in your areas. Mosquitoes can also be blown great distance by wind and can easily enter homes. In many parts of the United States, mosquito season lasts all year round. Furthermore, each mosquito season can lead to more worms in an infected animal.

What Should I Do?

The American Heartworm Society recommends that you “think 12.” This means that you should get your dog tested every 12 months for heartworms, as well as have them on heartworm preventive 12 months a year.

Preventative options include pills, topicals, and injectable products. The cost of these options is fairly low, especially in comparison with the financial and emotional costs of heartworm disease treatment. If you want to protect and nurture the good health of your furry friend, bring him or her to a trustworthy clinic, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital. Speak to veterinary professionals, who can recommend the best heartworm prevention plan for your pet.

Cat Sneezing: 3 Reasons Why Your Cat’s Nose Is Acting Up

We’ve all heard it before. A cute, little sneeze out of nowhere. You turn to see who the culprit is, only to find no one. No one but your cat, that is. As cat owners, you may find these sneezes cute and endearing. However, chances are that you also worry about why your furry friend is sneezing. Some causes of cat sneezing are more benign than others, so be sure to keep reading to get a basic understanding of some possibilities.

Cat Sneezing: Just A Little Something In The Nose

When humans sneeze, it’s usually because there’s simply something irritating our nose. Sometimes, it may be as harmless as dust. A similar thing can happen to our fluffy companions. Applied Animal Behavior Science found that 200 million scent receptors are in the feline nose, which helps them to navigate the world around them. Their sense of smell allows them to distinguish owners, fellow cats, friends, and foes. With cats relying so heavily on their sense of smell, it’s no surprise that they may find particular scents or allergens irritating. Most of the time, a lone sneeze here or there is no big problem.

You may want to take note, though, if your cat only sneezes at certain locations or scenarios. You may be lucky enough to pinpoint an irritant! For example, your cat may be extra sensitive to certain cleaning sprays or perfumes. If you are able to isolate the culprit, be sure to switch to an alternative product.

Unfortunately, the sneezing situation can also become a bit dicey. If you notice a series of consecutive sneezes or heavy sneezing on consecutive days, be aware of the following possibilities.

Dental Problems

By now, you must have noticed your cat’s sharp row of little teeth. Perhaps you’ve even been bitten by them before. But did you know dental problems can actually be the cause of your cat’s sneezes? An infected tooth root can drain to the sinuses and cause sneezing.

Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections in felines are not very different from our version of colds. A wide range of viral or bacterial infections can cause sneezing in cats or otherwise compromise their immune systems and render them vulnerable to multiple simultaneous infections. Respiratory infections are most common in younger cats whose immune systems aren’t as developed as their older counterparts. Cats who have recently arrived in your home from an animal shelter may have faced more exposure to infections. High stress-levels in shelters also increase the risks of susceptibility. 

So how important is it to take your cat to see a medical professional? Very important. The underlying causes of excessive cat sneezing may be serious and can cause complex health problems down the road. Be sure to take your fluffy friend to an established and reputable medical facility, like Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, to get him back to his usual relaxed and playful self.

Why It’s Vital To Check Your Pet’s Vitals: Reasons To Check Pet Health

Did you know that just like people, it is important to take your pet for regular health visits? Even if your pet seems perfectly healthy, a veterinarian will thoroughly check every area of your animal’s health and functioning to make sure everything is working properly. An animal may not even show symptoms of being ill, so you would have no way of knowing something’s not right without a professional’s help.

Blood Tests

One crucial element to your pet’s physical examination is blood testing. Blood tests give us insights into your pet’s health, as well as a baseline for future testing. As your pet ages, health issues may start affecting your pet, issues that may only be detected through noticing changes within your pet’s blood work.

Vaccinations

Just like people, animals benefit from getting vaccinated against diseases. Rabies, hepatitis, and parvovirus are among the several diseases for which pets get vaccinated. The vaccines don’t only protect your pets–they protect you! A disease like rabies could be dangerous for you if your pet contracts it. Protect your animal and your whole family by getting your pet vaccinated.

Dental Check

During a checkup, we also check your pet’s dental health. Just like people, pets can get cavities and gum disease, which can affect their comfort, their oral health, and the health of their overall body. We also examine for signs of oral cancer.

Nutrition Counseling

It may not always be obvious which foods are appropriate for your pet. That’s why we check in with you about your pet’s diet and make suggestions based on your pet’s health, activity level, and size. Sometimes, a pet may need a prescription diet. We help you find the right diet for your pet so your animal can thrive and get all the nutrients it needs.

Comprehensive Visits

At each wellness visit at Cherrelyn Animal Hospital, we perform comprehensive examinations so your animal can remain as healthy as possible. When diseases are caught early, they are much more treatable, giving you more healthy, happy years with your pet. Don’t wait to schedule your next veterinary visit. Call us today so your pet can get the medical care it needs.