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Monthly Archives: July 2016

What You Need to Know About Fleas & Ticks

Nothing feels quite as good as scratching an itch, but when the itch keeps itching, it can drive you batty! Just imagine what it’s like for your pet – they rely on you for their needs, so be aware of their scratching – it may be the first sign of a nasty problem – mainly, fleas and/or ticks.

Fleas and ticks are the two most common external parasites found in dogs and cats, and both will cause your pet to scratch themselves more frequently. These nasty little guys survive by feeding on the blood of dogs, cats and sometimes people. Flea and tick bites can lead to health problems including constant itching, hair loss (alopecia), hypersensitivity (allergic reaction), as well as infections and transmission of disease.

itchy

Common Myths About Ticks and Fleas

1/ A flea collar is all you will need to prevent problems. Sorry, no. Most flea and tick collars do not work well, and allergic reactions are common.

2/ Garlic is an effective dietary aid for preventing fleas and ticks. Feeding your pet garlic will not prevent flea and tick infestations anymore than you eating garlic will protect you from vampires. Fleas and ticks will bite anyway because they find you and your pets delicious.

3/ Fleas and ticks are normal parts of life and won’t hurt my pet. This is not true. Ticks can transmit many diseases, including canine ehrlichiosis (tick fever). Severe hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions may develop after even a mild flea infestation. Fleas can also transmit tapeworms to dogs and cats.

What to Do In Case of Flea and Tick Infestation

Step 1: Treat the pet’s environment.
You must kill fleas and ticks where they live when they’re not on your pet. Hire a professional exterminator. Be sure to explain that you have a flea or tick problem and that you have pets.

Step 2: Kill fleas and ticks that are on your pet.
When used as directed, flea and tick control products are safe and effective at preventing re-infestation of your pet. There are several excellent products available for cats and dogs. Ask your vet for a product recommendation that will be suitable for your pet.

Step 3: Prevent re-infection.
Treatment with a product like Frontline Top Spot will kill and repel ticks for one month, and fleas for up to three months. Frontline Top Spot is a topical treatment that can be used on dogs as young as ten weeks of age and cats as young as twelve weeks of age. Pet beds, carpets, blankets and other items must also be sanitized to kill any eggs that may be hiding.

Step 4: Break the reproductive cycle of fleas.
In the past, controlling fleas and ticks has been difficult, however, new products are available which make external parasite control manageable. Your vet can recommend a safe and effective product for your pet.

Remember – fleas and ticks are NOT just summer time problems. While it does get cool enough during the winter to decrease flea and tick activity, it does not get cold enough to kill them. Fleas and ticks can live very happily indoors during the winter months, so be aware and check your pets frequently year round.

Ten Signs of Aging in Dogs

Getting older is a part of life – and as we age, it’s important to keep a close eye on physical and emotional changes that could indicate the onset of disease. This is even more true for pets who cannot speak for themselves. We need to watch them carefully for signs of aging and illness. Early intervention makes for better outcomes!

older dogHere are the top ten signs of aging to watch for in your dog:

1/ Gaining weight – Maintaining a healthy weight is just as important for pets as it is for people. As pets age, they will tend to gain weight in their bellies, just like people. Weight gain can indicate thyroid issues that may be slowing their metabolism, or that their diet needs to be adjusted for their age and activity level. Consult your veterinarian.

2/ Slowing down – If your dog needs encouragement to do things they used to enjoy, like going for a walk or a run, it may indicate an underlying health problem like thyroid issues or arthritis. Get a check up to be certain.

3/ Difficulty getting up – If you notice that your pet has trouble getting up after lying down or sitting for a long time, especially on hard surfaces like the floor or pavement, it could indicate they are having joint pain from arthritis or another condition. There are many treatments that can help, so talk to your vet.

4/ Hearing problems – If your pet is not responding to your call to come or to other commands, it could indicate some form of hearing loss. Of course, it could be just stubbornness. Your vet can help determine if your pet is having hearing problems or some other issue with their ears.

5/ Cloudy eyes – While most dogs will develop some cloudiness as they age, it can also be the first sign of cataracts forming in the eyes. Time for a vet visit!

6/ Needing more frequent potty breaks – Most adults can sympathize with the urge to go more often. As your pup ages, he or she will need more bathroom breaks. Make sure your pet gets more frequent potty breaks, or remember to leave pee pads out when leaving the house to reduce accidents.

7/ Onset of or increasing number of “bathroom accidents” – Continued urinary incontinence can be an indicator of an underlying health issue or urinary tract infection. Best to get checked by the vet.

8/ Lumps – While lumps can be a perfectly normal side effect of aging, they can also be a sign of an underlying cancer, ticks or other parasites. Depending on coat length, lumps may or not be visible to the naked eye, so it’s best to regularly examine your pet with your hands. Be sure to let your vet know about anything unusual you may find. If the sore is crusted or weeping, get your pet checked.

9/ Changes in coat or skin – A dry, dull coat; hair loss; itchy, flaky skin; or hot spots can be a sign of many types of disease. If you notice your dog’s coat is changing, get a check up.

10/ Bad breath – Dental disease can begin in pets as young as three years of age. Bad breath is usually the first indicator of dental problems. Regular brushing and dental cleanings can help offset gum and periodontal disease that can put your pet’s health at risk.

Top Ten Things Pet Owners Need to Know About Valley Fever

 

Valley FeverThe summer months are the peak season for exposure to Valley Fever! Due to their love of dirt and digging, dogs can be quite susceptible to contracting Valley Fever. The fungal respiratory infection is also known as coccidioidomycosis, and it’s caused by breathing in microscopic fungal spores from the air or lurking in dust.

Here’s what you need to know:

1/ Valley fever is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil and dust in the southwestern United States. Once the spores are inhaled, the body is at risk.

2/ Valley Fever is NOT contagious. The infection does not spread between humans or animals or any combination.

3/ Symptoms of Valley Fever in humans and animals are usually similar to the flu. Typically, symptoms manifest between one and three weeks after exposure to the fungal spores. Primary symptoms include:

  • coughing
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • lack/loss of appetite
  • lack of energy

4/ Cats have different symptoms. Non-healing skin lesions are the most common symptom in cats – and it’s usually found in the lesion’s biopsy results. Since cats are so good at hiding illnesses, they’re often much sicker than dogs upon diagnosis.

5/ Dogs with a weakened or compromised immune system are at a higher risk for developing the chronic form of Valley Fever. Disseminated symptoms include:

  • lameness or swelling of limbs
  • back or neck pain, with or without weakness/paralysis
  • seizures and other manifestations of brain swelling
  • soft abscess-like swelling under the skin
  • swollen lymph nodes under the chin, in front of the shoulder blades, or behind the stifles
  • non-healing skin ulcerations or draining tracts that ooze fluid
  • eye inflammation with pain or cloudiness
  • unexpected heart failure in a young dog
  • swollen testicles

6/ Arizona dog owners spend more than $60 million per year treating Valley Fever.

7/ Valley Fever cannot be prevented. Currently, there is no vaccine or cure for Valley Fever.

8/ Cases of Valley Fever are on the rise. Each year, the fungus infects thousands of humans and an undetermined number of animals. Many researchers believe that milder cases may go undiagnosed and unreported.

9/ Try to avoid activities that generate dust. Digging in the dirt, sniffing rodent holes, and rolling around in the dirt or dust can increase the likelihood of exposure.

10/ Valley Fever can be deadly. If you suspect your pet has Valley Fever, you must seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

Independence Day Safety for Pets

Fireworks displays, family picnics, and festive parades are a few traditional 4th of July occurrences. Unfortunately, losing a pet is another one. More pets run away around Independence Day than any other time of year, largely due to their anxiety over the booming, flickering firework shows so prevalent in early July.

yankee doodle doggyWith a little planning and preparation, the 4th of July can be an enjoyable time for both you and your pets. Happy Independence Day!

Leave your Pets at Home. While furry Fido may love joining you at the Farmer’s Market each weekend, he’s not going to have the same enthusiasm about the Independence Day celebrations going on throughout the area. There are a number of elements that can compromise your pet’s health and safety, from large crowds, hot pavement, and discarded trash, bones, and food to loud noises, alcohol, and fireworks. Remember, never leave your pet in a vehicle for any length of time. Home is the safest place for your pet on the 4th of July.

Create a Safe Haven. Your crate-trained pet will feel much more secure within the confines of their kennel. If that’s not an option, secure your pet into an area where they will be most comfortable, away from the bright flashing lights and noises or any nearby fireworks displays. Many pets will panic at the continuous sound of fireworks and may go to extreme lengths to escape the noise. Some have gone so far as to jump through glass windows, chew through screens, dig under fences, or leap over constructs, following their instincts to flee from the threatening situation.

Get Some Exercise. Spend a portion of the day walking, hiking, and playing so that your pet is tired out by the time all the evening revelries begin.

Lock Up Explosives. If you have personal fireworks, make sure to keep them in a safe location that your pet cannot access. Curious cats and dogs may be tempted by the fancy streamers, decorations, and scents of fireworks. Most fireworks are toxic to pets, containing harmful substances like potassium nitrate, charcoal, sulfur, and coloring agents. If your pet has ingested a firework, contact your vet or emergency animal hotline to get help immediately.

Check ID. Make sure that your pet is wearing their identification tag and that all your contact information is up-to-date. Even inside pets should wear a collar and ID—the loud noises can trigger a flight response that prompts them to escape however they can.

Try the Mozart Effect. Play some soothing classical music to create some comforting background noises for your pet. The music doesn’t need to drown out the fireworks; aim for a distracting and continuous melody at a regular listening volume. If classical music isn’t your forte, try a white noise machine, fan, or television program, all of which can provide a welcome diversion.

Under Pressure. A Thundershirt for your dog or cat may provide some additional relief. Designed to exert constant pressure on your pet’s torso, these wraps are designed to relieve anxiety much in the same way that swaddling a newborn baby creates a sense of security and comfort.

Enlist Help. If your pet shows extreme anxiety, talk to your vet to find out whether anti-anxiety medications may help them get through the noisy holiday season with minimal stress.