It is every pet owner’s worst fear – finding out that your beloved pet is lost and nowhere to be found. You spend countless hours looking through the woods, searching the neighborhood, and putting up “Lost” posters in hopes that someone may have seen your pet. Conscientious pet owners protect their pets with collars and ID tags; however, these are not foolproof. The collars can break or fall off, leaving your beloved pet as one of the countless, unidentified lost strays at the animal shelters/rescues. Fortunately, there is a small device that can aid in identification and increase the chances that your beloved pet will be returned home – it is called microchipping.
What are microchips?
Microchips are small, size of a grain of rice, implantable computer chips that encodes a unique identification number for your pet. The device is placed just under your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades with a needle and syringe, similar to when your pet receives his/her yearly vaccinations. These chips are designed to last the life of your pet unlike collar tags that may wear down, fall off, or scratch into illegibility. Most veterinary offices and shelters/rescues have compatible scanners that receive a radio signal to transmit the unique identification number back to the scanner. This number is used to find vital contact information (phone number and addresses) that the pet’s owner provided in the pet recovery database.
According to the American Humane Association it is estimated that over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. One in three pets will become lost at some point during their life. A recent study published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medical Association confirmed the importance of microchipping dogs and cats and having them registered. The study revealed approximately 22% of dogs that entered the shelter were returned to their owners. However, the return rate for microchipped dogs was over 52% – that is a 238% increase! Cats had an even better return percentage with microchipping. Less than 2% of cats were reunited with their owners, while the return-to-owner rate for microchipped cats was over 38%. That is more than 2000% better! These studies help to demonstrate the importance of microchipping your pets.
Schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian to have this life-saving, low cost chip implanted into your pet. No anesthesia is required as it is a fairly non-painful procedure. Once the veterinarian has implanted the chip, make sure to register the chip in the database and keep it updated with your correct contact information. If you do not register the chip with your information in the database then your information will not be available for your pet to be reunited with you.
Come in today to discuss microchipping your beloved pet with one of our veterinarians or veterinary technicians.
June Highlights Separation Anxiety in Dogs!
Separation anxiety is a very common behavioral problem seen in dogs. It is estimated that this affects somewhere between 14-29% of the general dog population. It may also become more common as dogs age and become seniors. This may be due to cognitive changes related to aging, or may be because of medical conditions that can develop as dogs become older. It is very important that all dogs with anxiety have an exam done to rule out medical problems that may contribute to these behaviors (such as arthritis or urinary tract infections).
The most common signs of separation anxiety are vocalization, destructiveness, and possibly house soiling. This behavior happens only when the owner is gone, and generally starts within 30 minutes of owner’s departure. Destructive activity often is focused on doors/entryways or owner’s possessions.
Dogs who have separation anxiety often display extreme attachment behaviors when owners are home. They will follow their owners everywhere, greet excessively, show anxiety when owners prepare to leave the house. These dogs rarely spend time on their own.
Separation anxiety can develop in young puppies during their sensitization period (between 3-12 weeks of age). Introducing young puppies to temporary separation from humans may help them learn to cope with being alone. Other times, separation anxiety can develop after moving to a new home, losing a housemate pet, or by a change in owner’s schedule. There may also be a genetic component to this behavior pattern, although there has been no determined breed or sex correlation.
Studies have shown a lower rate of separation anxiety and other behavioral problems in dogs who have been through obedience training. Shelter dogs may be more likely to have separation anxiety than the general population. This may be because owners are more likely to relinquish a dog with anxiety behaviors. Importantly, presence of another pet in the home does not consistently prevent separation anxiety.
Treatment of separation anxiety is possible, and most dogs do show at least partial response to therapy. Therapy must consist of both a training plan and drug/pheromone therapy to have the best chance of being effective.
Multiple studies have showed a decrease in severity of separation anxiety in dogs treated with fluoxetine (or prozac) in comparison to placebo medication. Often, studies will combine fluoxetine with DAP, which is a synthetic version of the pheromone created by mother dogs. This pheromone is another way to help dogs with anxiety problems, and works well in addition to medication.
Besides medications, a behavior plan is needed to treat a dog with separation anxiety. This behavior plan must teach the dog some independence. It is important to make it a positive experience for the dog to be alone. This can be done by providing a food-filled toy when owner is away from home, and taking it up as soon as owners return. Leaving the TV or radio on can also help dogs to cope with being alone. There is even a CD of music, called Through a Dog’s Ear, that was developed specifically to calm anxious dogs.
Upon return, owners should ignore the dog for 5-10 minutes to avoid creating excitement. Avoid excessive greetings! These only teach the dog to wait anxiously for his owner’s return. Do not pay attention to the dog until he is settled quietly.
Another important step is to remove the negative association the dog has with departure cues (such as putting on a jacket, picking up keys, etc). The owner should do these activities randomly throughout the day when not planning on leaving, so the dog learns that these events are not always a negative.
When the owner is home with the dog, the dog should still learn to be independent. Encourage the dog to lay further from the owner, even by creating obstacles (baby gates, etc). The dog should be positively rewarded for laying quietly by himself. If there are multiple people in the home, caretaking should be split between the people to avoid excessive attachment to one person.
Studies have shown that following this behavior plan, in addition to medications and supplements as needed, has been very successful in rehabilitating patients with separation anxiety. Please ask your veterinarian for help if you are having difficulties with your dog when you are away from the home, as there is a lot that can be done for these pets!
NexGard and Heartgard Summer Special
We love summer!! The weather is nice which gives you the opportunity to explore the outdoors with your furry friends. Unfortunately, the warm weather also brings out pests like fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes. They hitch a ride on your furry companion and cause conditions like lyme disease, irritated skin, and heartworm disease to name a few.
Thankfully, there is an easy solution to preventing these harmful diseases! Giving a regular, monthly dose of prevention will keep these pests at bay. In addition, both NexGard and HeartGard come in a chewable form that makes it more enjoyable for your pet.
NexGard kills fleas and ticks all month long in dogs; however, it is not safe for cats. Here are some fast facts from the maker of NexGard, Merial:
- Effective against 4 tick species- Lone star ticks, blacklegged (deer) ticks, brown dog ticks, and American dog ticks
- Kills fleas fast! In a study, NexGard killed >99% of existing fleas within 8 hours after treatment.
- Safe and effective for puppies as young as 8 weeks of age weighing 4 pounds or more
- Dogs love the beef-flavored NexGard soft chew making it easy to give
Helpful Link: https://nexgardclinic.com/ticks
There are three intestinal parasites that HeartGard prevents: Heartworms, Roundworms and Hookworms. Here is a description of the three parasites from Heartgard’s creator:
“Heartworms can lead to severe problems with the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. Heartworm larvae are transmitted through infected mosquitoes. They can be deposited in a dog with asingle mosquito bite. Heartworm disease can lead to death. It is costly and painful to treat. Heartworm disease is preventable.
Roundworms are the most common internal parasite among dogs. Adult roundworms live in the intestine. A large population of adult roundworms can block the intestinal tract. Dogs become infected with roundworms through the placenta, from nursing, or through contact with feces from an infected animal. Roundworms can be treated and controlled.
Hookworms feed on the intestinal lining of infected dogs, resulting in blood loss and inflammation. This can lead to anemia, debilitation and death, particularly in puppies. Hookworms can be spread through the ingestion of contaminated soil or feces, directly through the skin, or from nursing. Hookworms can be treated and controlled.”
Helpful Link: https://www.heartgardclinic.com/sites/default/files/edu_media/HG-15000_ExamRoomMerch_CoachingCard_v6.pdf
Now until August, Nexgard and Heartgard are $40 off a six month supply and $80 off plus a $50 rebate for a twelve month supply. Call our office today to start your pet on life-saving prevention!!
April is Parasite Prevention Month!
Parasites are everywhere in the ground, in other animals, and all over our environment. Protecting your animals again internal and external parasites is not only important for their health, but important for the health of your family as well. Many of the parasites that your pets get, humans can get also by petting them and being in their environment. At our hospitals, we are committed to helping your pet and your family, and that is why we have parasite prevention month! Great deals on parasite preventions that protect both you and your pet. This month we are offering 10% off fecal and heartworm testing. We are also offering special deals on heartworm/gutworm prevention as well as flea/tick prevention. Call to get your pet tested and protected today!
Sales for April 2018 at Compassion Animal Hospital, Catlett Animal Hospital, and Elkwood Animal Hospital:
10% off all Flea and Tick preventions and Heartworm/Gutworm preventions
Heartgard and Nexgard Sale!!
Buy 6 months of both Nexgard and Heartgard and get $40 off instantly
Buy 12 months of both Nexgard and Heartgard and get $80 off instantly and a $50 rebate=savings of $130!!
Buy 12 months of Brown or Green Sentinel and get $10 off instantly and get entered into a raffle for a basket of free goodies and a $20 rebate!
Buy 12 months of Yellow or White and get $20 off Instantly, a raffle entry, and a $20 rebate!
Buy 6 doses and get $30 off instantly and in rewards* get $15
Buy 12 doses and get $60 off instantly and in rewards* they will get $35
Buy 6, get 6 doses of Flea and Tick Medications (Parastar) free
Buy 12 doses, get 12 doses of Flea and Tick medications (Parastar) free
Lymes Disease in Pets
What is Lymes Disease?
We live in a beautiful Virginia with beautiful forests, grasslands, marshes, river, and mountain terrain. Unfortunately we and our pets are also living amongst deer ticks that are able to transmit Lymes disease to us. Lymes disease is caused by a tiny spiral-shaped bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria lives in mice, deer, and other small mammals. Deer ticks serve as the vector that transmit Borrelia burgdorferi from wildlife to you or your pet. Both humans and pets can be bitten by the deer tick and contract Lymes disease.
What are the signs of Lyme disease?
Lyme disease can go unnoticed for several months (~2-5 months) post tick bite exposure. After this period of time, symptoms can include a fever (>102.5 F), loss of appetite, lameness, joint discomfort and/or swelling, and reduced interest in walking and exercising. In addition, your pet may have swollen lymph nodes, become dehydrated, and severe chronic cases can cause kidney damage. If there is concern that your pet may be suffering from kidney damage, then your veterinarian may choose to check your pets kidney function through bloodwork and urine testing.
How is Lymes Disease diagnosed?
Being in an endemic region (where Lymes disease is common) like Virginia, clinical signs such as arthritis raise our concern that we may be dealing with a Lymes infection. There are multiple tick-borne diseases that can sometimes look alike, including Anaplasma, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Therefore, a snap 4DX is a great test to rule in and out Lymes disease. This test just requires three drops of blood and is able to identify Heartworm disease in addition to the three major tick borne diseases we look for (Anaplasma, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Sometimes your pet may come back with a positive response that shows he/she was exposed to Lymes disease at some point, but it may not be an active infection that requires treatment. Fortunately, the Lymes Disease vaccine will not cause a snap 4DX to be positive. We like to follow up a positive snap 4DX with what’s called a Lyme Quantitative C6 Antibody Test that looks for a special protein. This test helps to distinguish between just an exposure to Lymes versus an active infection.
Lymes disease is not transmissible between animals, between animal to human, or human to human. It is important to keep in mind, however, that if one member of your family (pet or human) is diagnosed with Lymes Disease, it is a likely indicator that all individuals were exposed to deer ticks. The best next step is to have each family member visit the veterinarian or human doctor to be tested and set up a plan to monitor everyone should signs arise later on.
How is Lymes Disease treated?
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics that are able to kill Borrelia burgdorferi inside cells, in which it likes to hide. Your pet is often placed on a course of Doxycycline antibiotics for a month.
Following the antibiotic treatment course, we recommend vaccinating against Lyme disease.
How Can Lymes Disease be prevented?
Regular use of flea/tick prevention supplied by your veterinarian. We have a mild climate here in Virginia, so using flea/tick preventative every month of the year is best. Stay vigilant checking your pet and yourself for ticks. A deer tick has to be attached to and feed off the blood of your pet for 24 hours in order to transmit Lymes Disease. Therefore, your speedy removal of ticks from your pet will help to reduce the risk of your pet becoming infected. To safely remove a tick, grasp it with tweezers close to where it is attached to the skin. Talk to your veterinarian about also considering the Lyme vaccine for your pet. This vaccine is a two shot series initially (first vaccine then a booster vaccine about three weeks later) followed by annual boosters. If you’re able to, try to avoid tall grasses, marshes, and wooded areas.
What does Lyme Disease look like in humans?
The classic first sign seen in people that have been infected with Lymes disease is the “bullseye rash” (erythema migrans) that looks like a target symbol. Pets don’t typically show the target lesion like humans. Similar to pets, people also will show fever, headache, fatigue, muscle, and joint pain. Chronic Lymes Disease in people can also cause chronic joint pain, heart, and neurological problems. If you find a tick on yourself, or someone in your family, it is best that you see your doctor to be safe.
Lymes Disease in Horses
Similar to dogs and cats, horses infected with Lyme disease can have fever and lameness. In addition, equine cases of Lymes disease can cause neurologic problems, dermatitis, and uveitis (moon blindness). Spirochetes are attracted to cells of the collagen in the joints, the aqueous humor of the eye, the meninges of the brain, and the meninges of the heart. Frequently, fatigue, irritability, and reluctance to work and be ridden are seen.
With the presence of clinical signs including swollen joints and lameness, a snap 4DX can be performed stallside to find out whether your horse may have been exposed to Lyme disease. While sending a blood sample to the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Lab to perform a Lyme Multiplex Assay is best to determine infection status, some owners may choose to do a course of Doxycline. Cornell’s Lyme Multiplex Assay test for Equine Lymes disease is able to distinguish between early and chronic infection. The test is able to measure for antibodies formed by the horse’s body in response to Borrelia burgdorferi outer surface proteins (osp proteins). For example, antibodies to ospF correlate to more chronic infections.
The best prevention of future Lyme disease cases is tick control and a Lymes vaccine. Currently, we have to use canine Lyme disease vaccines off label in horses. A study done by Cornell found that horses vaccinated with Novibac Lyme Vaccine had the best antibody response. Recombitek Lyme Vaccine had higher ospA antibody levels than Duramune Lyme vaccine. The researchers illustrate that it is critical for the efficacy of the vaccine to give a 2 mL, instead of a 1 mL dose. This boosts the amount of osp antibodies produced, as well as the duration.
Arthritis episodes tend to come and go.