It is fairly common for your pet to become infested with an internal or external parasite at some point in its lifetime. Parasites can affect your pet in a variety of ways, ranging from simple irritation to causing life-threatening conditions if left untreated. Some parasites can even infect and transmit diseases to people! By following your veterinarian's recommendations and having your pet tested for parasites annually, you can protect your pet and your family from potentially harmful parasites all year long!
Why do I need to vaccinate?
Pets should be vaccinated to protect them from many highly contagious and deadly diseases. If an unvaccinated pet develops one of these diseases, treatment can become very expensive and many of these diseases can be fatal despite treatment. Even though some formerly common diseases have now become uncommon, vaccination is still highly recommended because these are serious agents.
Which vaccines should I give my cat/dog?
Every dog should receive the distemper combo and rabies vaccine. Puppies need a series of 3 distemper combo vaccines to ensure adequate immunity. Depending on its lifestyle, you can also vaccinate your dog for bordetella (kennel cough), Lyme disease, or leptospirosis.
Every cat should receive the distemper combo and rabies vaccine. Kittens need a series of 2 distemper combo vaccines. If your cat goes outside unattended, we also vaccinate for feline leukemia.
Are there risks to vaccination?
Any treatment carries some risk, but these risks should be weighed against the benefits of protecting your pet from potentially fatal diseases. Most pets respond well to vaccines. The most common adverse responses are mild and include fever, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Pets may also experience temporary swelling or pain at the site of vaccination. Most adverse reactions will resolve within 12-24 hours.
Rarely, more serious adverse reactions can occur. Allergic reactions appear within minutes or hours of a vaccination and may include repeated vomiting, swelling of the face or legs, difficulty breathing, or collapse. Contact your veterinarian immediately if any of these symptoms are seen. There are other uncommon but serious adverse reactions including injection site tumors (sarcomas) in cats and immune mediated diseases in dogs or cats which can develop weeks or months after a vaccination.
Warm weather can be especially hard on our furry companions. Unlike us, they can’t sweat to cool off. They mostly rely on panting to prevent overheating. This is not the most effective process, so our pets can overheat quickly! Here are some things to keep in mind and some tips to help keep our furry buddies safe while we’re enjoying the summer.
- Limit exercise to early in the morning or later in the evening on hot humid days.
- Make sure your pet always has fresh water and shade from the sun.
- Never leave your pet in the car unattended when it’s above 70 degrees.
Signs and complications of heatstroke include excessive panting, dark red/bright red tongue and gums, staggering, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, seizures, coma, and death.
Please see our bulletin board in the clinic for more info or ask one of our staff if you have any questions about summer safety. If you suspect your pet might be suffering from heat stoke, contact the clinic right away. Have a fun and safe summer!
What is heartworm disease?
Heartworm is a parasitic roundworm transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. Heartworms live in the heart and vessels surrounding the heart and lungs. This infection can lead to heart failure, lung disease, and other organ damage. Both cats and dogs can be infected.
How is it transmitted?
When a mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up baby heartworms called microfilaria. The next stage develops inside the mosquito to become infective larvae. When this infected mosquito bites another animal, the infective larvae are deposited on the skin and enter the animal through the bite wound. It then takes over 6 months for the larvae to mature into adults. Only mosquitoes can transmit heartworm disease.
How is it prevented?
Heartworm preventatives should be given year-round to protect against heartworm disease. All heartworm preventatives work "backwards" by killing one month old larvae. For example, a dose given in June is clearing an infection your pet developed in May. If larvae are older than one month, the heartworm preventative will not kill them and they will continue to grow into adults and infect the animal. And since mosquitoes can adapt to cold climates, even in Minnesota it is important to treat year-round.
How do you test for it?
In dogs, a blood test should be performed every 12 months. A positive test indicates there are adult heartworms in the body. If larvae have not yet developed into adults, which takes over 6 months, a false negative result may occur. In cats, diagnosing heartworm disease can be more difficult as cats tend to have fewer worms or be infected with only immature larvae. A series of tests may be required in cats.What are the symptoms?
- Dogs - symptoms are related to heart failure or lung disease and can include a persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after exercise, labored breathing, anemia, or fainting spells. With early infections, there are no symptoms at all.
- Cats - symptoms appear like asthma and can include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, or gagging.
How is it treated?
In dogs, an arsenic compound called Immiticide is injected to target and kill the adult worms. The dead worms then decompose and are reabsorbed by the body as there is no other route for their elimination. This period is very dangerous as these worm fragments can cause clots and inflammation in the lungs. Strict rest for 4 weeks following treatment is crucial. There is no safe or effective treatment in cats, so prevention is key.
Has your pet been checked for heartworm disease? Call us with any questions or to set up an appointment.
Osteoarthritis is when the normal cartilage that cushions the joints degenerates and is worn away resulting in inflammation, discomfort, ongoing damage, and secondary changes in and around the joints. Ninety percent of cats over 12 years old have osteoarthritis to some degree. The joints most affected are the shoulders, hips, elbows, knees, and ankles.
Signs your cat may be experiencing or suffering from osteoarthritis are:
- Reduced mobility - such as reluctance to jump, difficulty going up or down stairs, stiffness especially after resting, or difficulty using the litter box.
- Reduced activity - such as spending more time sleeping, decreased interest in going outside, or decreased interaction with people.
- Temperament changes - such as being more irritable when handled, more irritable around other animals, or spending more time alone by avoiding contact with people or other animals.
Your cat will be at more risk for osteoarthritis if they have had a fracture or dislocation. Genetics can play a role and some breeds such as Siamese, Persians, and Maine Coons are more at risk. Obesity will make an existing problem worse and causes osteoarthritis to progress more quickly. It is important to keep your cat at a good weight to relieve pressure on the joints.
Diagnosing osteoarthritis is based on clinical signs, x-rays, and ruling out other diseases with blood and urine tests.
Treatments for osteoarthritis include weight management, nutritional supplements, therapeutic diets, prescription pain medications (such as NSAIDs or opioids), or acupuncture. Your cat will also greatly benefit from modifying their environment. Use heated beds, litter boxes with lower sides, elevate food bowls, add ramps to their favorite sleeping places, and place all their essentials (food, litter box, sleeping areas) on one level.
Concerned your cat is showing signs of osteoarthritis? Give us a call with any questions you may have.
Imagine how your mouth would feel, taste, look, and smell if you NEVER brushed your teeth!
The most common disease affecting pets is dental disease. It is a fact that most dogs and cats are already suffering from dental disease by the age of three.
Dental disease can cause many signs including:
- Bad breath
- Excessive salivation/drooling
- Refusal or difficulty eating
- Weight loss
- Pawing at the face
- Loose teeth
- Inflamed gums (gingivitis)
However, many animals never show signs beyond bad breath. Besides these symptoms, periodontal disease can lead to systemic problems - bacterial infections can spread from the mouth to the heart, liver, and kidneys.
A full dental cleaning is the best way to keep your pet's mouth healthy and comfortable. Since they won't voluntarily "open wide," general anesthesia is required.
Call to set up an appointment or stop in for a free dental check today!
Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition of having higher than normal blood sugar levels. The pancreas is an organ nestled along the stomach and small intestine. It secretes digestive enzymes and insulin. Insulin is required to bring sugar from food into cells for energy. When insulin is not working properly, sugars build up in the blood instead of reaching the cells.
There are 2 types of diabetes:
In Type I diabetes, the pancreas doesn't make enough insulin. This is mostly seen in dogs.
In Type II diabetes, the body develops resistance to insulin and can't use its own insulin as well as it should. This is mostly seen in cats.
Main symptoms of diabetes:
- excessive drinking
- increased urination
- excessive eating
- weight loss
Treatment and Prevention:
All dogs and cats benefit from insulin injections to stabilize blood sugar levels. This usually consists of 2 doses of insulin 12 hours apart. Animals use human insulin and syringes and tend to tolerate the injections just fine.
In general, it is important for both cats and dogs to maintain a lean body weight to reduce insulin resistance. A low carbohydrate and high protein diet is recommended in cats to help maintain normal blood sugars. Canned food is preferred because it has lower carbohydrate concentrations than dry food. Dogs should eat a high protein and fiber diet with low carbohydrates and fat. This helps prevent pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and maintain a healthy weight.
Miscellaneous:Diabetic cats and dogs are prone to underlying infections such as urinary infections. Cats may also develop neuropathy in which the hind legs become weakened and they take a flat-footed stance. If their diabetes is under good control, animals can expect a normal lifespan with good quality of life.
Neutering and spaying is beneficial to your pet for numerous reasons.Neutering:
- prevents behavioral issues such as urine marking or fighting with other males
- reduces roaming which can lead to injuries from other animals, trauma from cars, or being picked up by Animal Control!
- prevents testicular cancer
- reduces prostate enlargement and prostatitis in dogs
- prevents uterine infections which can be life-threatening, even with surgery
- when done before the first heat cycle, significantly reduces the risk of mammary cancer which is 50% fatal in dogs and 90% fatal in cats
- eliminates messy heat cycles which attract the neighborhood males. And did you know that female cats continue cycling until bred during which time she may become aggressive, yowl through the night, or spray urine?
- prevents pregnancy and litters which can be expensive to raise and hard to place in homes
As our pets get older, it is important to pay extra attention to their health care needs and any behavioral changes. So just when is a pet considered old? Cats and smaller breed dogs are considered senior around 10 years of age. For large or giant breeds, they are considered senior around 5 years of age.
Senior pets experience many of the same health conditions that we see in people, such as cancer, heart disease, kidney disease, and diabetes. Annual wellness exams are recommended so that illnesses can be caught early At these wellness exams, we also recommend a senior bloodwork screen. This may include:
- chemistry profile to check organ function
- complete blood cell count to check for infection or anemia
- urinalysis to assess for infection, protein, or sugar in the urine
This bloodwork can detect illness before your pet becomes symptomatic and also provides a baseline for future changes.
Owners may also notice a decline in mental function as their pets age. Some noticeable changes may include inappropriate soiling, confusion, or changes in social interaction. Many changes can be managed through consistent routines and/or environmental accommodations. Keeping your pets active and mentally stimulated as they grow older can help mitigate some of this decline.