Helpful Info

Q: What is Heartworm Disease in Dogs?

A: Heartworm disease is one of the most common parasitic infections in Texas dogs. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes. After ingesting blood from an infected dog, the Microfilaria (“baby” heartworms) are transmitted to another dog or cat when bitten by the mosquito. Once the heartworms mature, they begin reproducing more microfilaria. The microfilaria must be ingested by a mosquito before they can become infectious. The mosquito must then inject the heartworm larvae into a susceptible pet. Adult heartworms develop 3-6 months after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Heartworms impair blood circulation resulting in damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Serious damage may occur even before outward clinical signs are observed. Advanced signs include difficult breathing, coughing, tiring easily, listlessness, weight loss and fainting. Heartworms occur in all breeds of dogs: both large and small, indoor and outdoor, long haired and short haired. Diagnosis of Heartworms is by a blood test. Annual blood tests are recommended by our Doctors and the American Heartworm Society for all dogs, including those on preventative medications. Treatment is very successful when the disease is detected early. The adult worms are killed with an injectable drug given in a series of 2 injections. A few days later, the worms begin to die, and are carried by way of the bloodstream to the lungs where they lodge in small blood vessels. They slowly decompose and are absorbed by the body over a period of several months. Other medications are required to kill the microfilaria at a later time. Heartworms can be prevented. All dogs should be on heartworm preventative all year long. We recommend Heartgard monthly chewable tablets as the product to prevent heartworms and control most internal parasites. For clients who desire to combine heartworm and flea control, we recommend Revolution.

Q: Does Heartworm Disease occur in Cats?

A: YES. Over the last few years, the number of cats diagnosed with heartworm disease has increased. Cats are not considered the normal host for the parasite, and infected cats usually have fewer worms than infected dogs. However, because cats have a small heart size, only 1 to 2 worms have proven to be fatal in a cat. Cats are infected by being bitten by a mosquito carrying the infective larvae, as are dogs. Chronic signs reported in cats are vomiting, coughing, labored breathing, weight loss and anorexia. Diagnosis of heartworms is by a blood test, although radiography and ultrasound can be helpful in the diagnosis. Treatment of cats with the heartworm disease is not an easy decision as it is in dogs. Treating cats is a high risk procedure, and is only recommended for stable cats. The best option is to use a heartworm preventative (Revolution) on your cats to prevent this potentially deadly disease.

Q: How Do I Housetrain My Puppy?

A: First of all, remember that a young puppy is like a “baby in diapers”. It takes time for the puppy to be able to control their eliminations. Therefore, we recommend using a dog crate to train your puppy. Your puppy should stay in the crate when not under direct supervision, for 6-8 weeks. Dogs are clean animals – they do not want to “mess up” where they sleep. Dogs also like small confined areas, where all sides are protected except for the side they enter and can watch while lying down. Crates should be large enough for the puppy to stand up and turn around. Do not get it too large, but allow a little “grooming room”. A small room in the house, is not recommend because it is still too large. If the puppy “messes up”, it must stay close to the elimination for a while to reinforce the need to hold it until it gets to go outside. Once the puppy is in the crate, do not show it any attention. Any attention such as talking to it, sticking your fingers through the door, will allow the puppy to train you instead of you training the puppy. If attention is shown while in the crate, the puppy will quickly learn that all it has to do is bark, howl or whine to get more attention.
Starting the first night, put the crate in a separate room and turn on the radio. The radio and soft music will often soothe the puppy and encourage sleep. After a week or so you will be amazed to see the puppy accepting it’s new “bed” willingly. Immediately take the puppy outside after you remove it from the crate. If the puppy does not eliminate, place it back in the crate and try again in 5 minutes. Many puppies become very excited when release from the crate and forget what they are supposed to do. It does not take them long to learn the reward of “doing their business” is being able to stay out of the crate. Be sure to praise the puppy when it does eliminate. Take it to the same spot every time. Most puppies are fully capable of holding their urine for several hours and want it to be clean where they stay. After eliminating, bring the puppy back into the house, feed it all it will eat in 15 minutes. Feed dry food, moistened with warm water. It is much better to add a commercial canned food that is nutritionally balanced than to add table scaps. Puppies should be fed 2-4 times daily until 4-6 months of age, and then they can be cut down to twice daily feeding. If you are at work and unable to feed the puppy around noon, feed the puppy early in the morning, again at the time you get home and one hour before bedtime. It’s next to impossible to housetrain a puppy that has food available at all times. The feeding must be restricted to definite feeding intervals to develop good bowel habits. After the puppy has finished eating, take it outside 5-10 minutes later to have its bowel movements.

Every puppy will have a bowel movement within 1 hour of eating. Some puppies take 5 minutes, some take 30 minutes and some take an hour. Once you have learned the appropriate time for your pet, you can wait and take it outside close to that time. Make sure to feed your puppy early enough so that it has sufficient time to eliminate before being put back into the crate. Water should be available to the puppy at all times, when the puppy is outside of the crate. Water and/or food should not be put inside the crate. Always give the puppy an opportunity to go outside before putting it in the crate and always take the puppy outside immediately after taking it out of the crate. When the puppy is left out of the crate, it is important that you keep an eye on the puppy and watch for signs of needing to eliminate, such as: circling, restlessness, sniffing, etc. Remember, most housetraining accidents are the fault of the owner, not the puppy!

Q: What Are Ear Mites?

A: There are numerous products available for ear mite eradication. Most older and over-the-counter products contain insecticides that do not kill incubating mite eggs. Because of this limitation, such products must be used for at least the duration of the 21-day life cycle of the mite. Some specialists recommend a 30-day treatment course with such products.

Q: What kinds of household hazards should I know about?

A: Every home contains a variety of everyday items that can be dangerous, sometimes fatal, if ingested by your cat or dog. You can protect your pet’s health by becoming more aware of these hazards. FOODS?Many are perfectly safe for humans but can be harmful or potentially deadly to cats and dogs, such as: Coffee grounds, chocolate, yeast dough, macadamia nuts, chewing gum, breath fresheners and candy, fatty foods, avocado, grapes/raisins, tea, alcohol, salt, garlic. Always keep garbage out of your pet’s reach, because of potential molds and bacteria. CLEANING PRODUCTS?Many products can be used safely around cats and dogs, however, make sure to read all product directions for proper use and storage. For example, if the label states “keep pets and children away from area until dry”, follow these instructions to prevent possible health risks.

INSECTICIDES/RODENTICIDES?As with household cleaners, read and follow label instructions before using any type of pesticide in your pet’s environment. If a pet ingests rat or mouse poison, potentially serious or even life threatening illness can result. When using these products it’s important to place them in areas completely inaccessible to pets. PLANTS?Many common household and yard plants can sicken your pet: Lily of the Valley, Oleander, Azalea, Yew, Foxglove, Rhododendron and Kalanchoe may cause heart problems if ingested. Rhubarb leaves and shamrock contain substances that can produce kidney failure. Sago Palms (Cycad species) can cause liver damage, especially if the nut portion of the plant is consumed. Also, fungi such as certain varieties of mushrooms.

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