Why is Parasite Prevention Important?

The Importance of Your Pet’s Yearly Fecal Exam

We recommend that every pet have a fecal checked for intestinal parasites yearly. One major reason for this is that intestinal parasites can harm your pets by decreasing their ability to absorb nutrients, causing vomiting or diarrhea, or even damaging their intestines. The other important reason to check your pets for parasites is that many of these infections are zoonotic, which means that they can spread to people. Young children are often especially at risk of developing parasitic infections, as their hygiene can be less than ideal.

What are the most common parasites found in fecal samples of dogs and cats?

Roundworms:

Roundworms are one of the most common worms seen in fecal exams of young puppies and kittens.t.canis This is because the worms are spread from the mother to the babies across the placenta. We assume that every puppy and kitten is positive for roundworms, which is why we put every patient on a safe dewormer to give consistently until they are six months of age.

If untreated, roundworms can cause young animals to have a “pot belly” appearance and to grow more slowly than they should. Animals will sometimes vomit up worms or have worms in their stool. The immature form of the worm also travels through the lungs, so some animals will cough or show respiratory distress.

2014-03-08-MotherCHildIcon

Zoonotic risk

Roundworms are a very important zoonotic disease, often seen in children. Disease occurs when children eat an egg, released in the stool of an affected animal,  from the environment. These eggs survive in soil for many years, and can often be found at parks or playgrounds. After the child eats the egg, the larvae are born and migrate throughout the child’s body. This can cause disease in any number of organs: liver, lung, brain, or eye. Because the eggs are so difficult to kill once they are in the environment, it is very important that we prevent our pets from spreading them.

Hookworms:

Dogs and cats have many different ways to become infected by hookworms. The eggs can be eaten HookwormMouthfrom the environment or from consuming another animal. Hookworm larvae can also burrow into an animal’s skin and enter the body that way. Similar to roundworms, hookworms are also spread from mother to baby. However, instead of crossing the placenta, hookworm larvae are passed to the baby through the milk. Again, this makes hookworms very common in young animals. This is another reason why we always deworm puppies and kittens.

Hookworms are nasty parasites that slash at the intestines and drink the blood of the animal. They inject anti-coagulants into their wounds to create small bleeding ulcers that they feed from. This can cause animals to become anemic from lack of red blood cells. Affected animals are often pale, thin and sick in appearance. Young puppies and kittens can even die from hookworm infections. Respiratory disease is also possible, again secondary to the larvae traveling through the animal’s lungs.

2014-03-08-MotherCHildIcon

Zoonotic risk

Similar to how they infect dogs and cats, hookworm larvae can enter the skin of humans. However, they become lost inside the human skin and cannot find their way to the GI tract. Instead, they migrate around the skin, causing a red itchy lesion. This is one of the most common skin infections seen in tourists to tropical locations. Another common place for infection is in children’s sandboxes, which should always be covered when not in use.

Whipworms:

Whipworms are much more commonly seen in dogs than cats. Dogs become infected when they eat whipworm eggs from the environment. Whipworms also can damage the intestines and cause diarrhea. The most difficult part of treating whipworm infections is that their eggs are incredibly hardy and can live for years in the environment. For this reason, dogs should be on a monthly heartworm prevention that is labelled to protect against whipworms (i.e Sentinel, Trifexis, or Interceptor).

Zoonotic risk: None proven

Coccidia:

Coccidia

Microscopic View of Coccidia

Coccidia are single-celled protozoan parasites that commonly infect dogs and cats, especially puppies and kittens. They cause diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, lack of growth, and possibly death. Coccidia can be picked up by eating eggs from the environment or from hunting and eating other infected animals. Coccidia is also very hardy in the environment and is resistant to most disinfectants, so it can be difficult to get rid of the eggs once they are released from the animal in the stool. Treatment for coccidia is a medication called Albon, which is different from the treatment for most other intestinal parasites.

Zoonotic risk: None

giardia-trph1

Microscopic View of Giardia

Giardia:

Giardia is another protozoa that can cause diarrhea in dogs and cats. Cysts are picked up from the environment, often from a contaminated water source, or from the animal grooming itself. Treatment for giardia often involves a combination of medications, as well as bathing to remove cysts from the animal’s coat. We will often treat asymptomatic animals from the same household, since the parasite is so contagious and can be difficult to control.

2014-03-08-MotherCHildIcon

Zoonotic Risk

Very low. Humans can develop giardia infections as well, but it has not been demonstrated to travel between dogs/cats and humans. It is suspected that humans can only spread giardia to other humans, and dogs and cats have their own species as well.

Tapeworms:tapewormhead

Tapeworms can be difficult to diagnose from a fecal sample, as their eggs are often too heavy to show up in a fecal float test. However, they are often recognizable as “small grains of rice” in the animal’s feces. Dogs and cats catch tapeworms from either predation of other animals or eating fleas (often when grooming them off of their coats). Fortunately, severe disease from tapeworms is uncommon and treatment is simple. Regular flea prevention and not allowing pets to hunt will keep them from developing tapeworm infestations.

2014-03-08-MotherCHildIcon

Zoonotic Risk

Although rare, tapeworms, especially Echinococcus species, can cause a significant risk for humans who ingest their eggs. In this scenario, people may become the intermediate host of the parasite, and develop large tapeworm cysts somewhere in their body. This can require drainage, surgical removal, or long-term treatment with anti-parasitic medication.

How can we prevent intestinal parasites?

The best way to prevent intestinal parasites is to keep your pet on a monthly heartworm preventative that also kills GI worms. Each of these preventatives vary in their spectrum, so ask your veterinarian which one may be appropriate for your pet. Flea prevention is also very important, both to prevent flea infestations and tapeworm infections.Yearly fecal exams allow us to pick up on parasites that may not be addressed by monthly preventatives, such as coccidia, giardia or tapeworms.

Feel free to ask your veterinarian if you have more questions about these intestinal parasites. Also, enjoy 10% off fecal testing and heartworm testing for the month of April, as well as discounts and bargains on flea/tick and heartworm/gutworm preventatives! Click here to learn more about our BOGO deals on heartworm and gutworm prevention.

Do you have questions about lyme disease? We have answers…

Answers to Your Questions About Lyme Disease:

What causes lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdoferi, which is transmitted by a tick bite. A young tick picks up the bacteria by drinking the blood of a small host, usually a mouse, that is carrying the infection. As the tick matures, it begins to search for a larger host, such as a deer, human or dog. When it bites, the tick regurgitates into the animal’s blood to keep it from clotting. This regurgitation process is what transmits the bacteria to the animal. The tick must be attached for 24 to 48 hours before this transmission process is completed. If the tick is removed before it has been attached for 24 hours, the lyme disease bacteria cannot be transmitted.

How is lyme disease in dogs different from lyme disease in humans?

Lyme disease affects our canine companions in a much different manner than it affects humans. Humans who are infected by the lyme disease bacteria due to a tick bite tend to quickly develop flu-like symptoms, a rash around the tick bite site, and potentially neurological or cardiac abnormalities. Dogs, on the other hand, do not tend to show signs of this disease right away. If they do develop signs of infection, it is weeks to months after exposure and tends to manifest as arthritis or joint pain.

Some dogs never show any clinical signs of the disease at all. However, lack of clinical signs does not mean that lyme disease is not harming your pet. Sub-clinical lyme disease can cause damage to the dog’s cartilage due to chronic low-level inflammation and the kidneys due to chronic stimulation of the immune system.

Do we have lyme disease in this area?

Yes! Lyme disease is unfortunately very common in this area, and this is a disease that our doctors are faced with on a daily basis. Even dogs in our area,  that stay inside the majority of the time contract this disease.

How do we treat lyme disease once it is present?

Veterinarians will often prescribe a 28-day course of doxycycline, which is the same antibiotic used in humans. This treatment simply lowers the levels of lyme bacteria so there is no longer an active infection, but some bacteria remain hidden in the body long-term.

We have never been able to completely cure Lyme disease. This is because it has one appearance (OspA) when it enters the body. Then, after entering the body, it changes the proteins on the outside of the bacteria to hide from the immune system (OspC). In the past, lyme vaccines only provided immunity to Osp A. A new vaccine from Zoetis teaches the body to be immune to both appearances of the lyme disease bacteria. It is the veterinary community’s hope that this vaccine will help your dog’s immune system rid itself of the OspA and OspC lyme infection completely. Thereby, curing the dog of lyme disease. Time will tell us if this is truly possible.

Chronic lyme infections require an antibody level test (called a “Quantitative C6 Test”). A dog with a higher C6 antibody level likely has an active infection and should be treated with doxycycline. This is the only way to determine the severity of your dog’s current lyme infection.

How do we protect our dogs from lyme disease?

Regular monthly flea and tick prevention is the absolute best way to prevent lyme disease in dogs. As stated above, the tick needs to be attached to the dogs for 24 to 48 hours to transmit lyme disease. Both oral (Nexgard) and topical (Frontline plus and Frontline Gold) flea/tick preventatives will cause the biting tick to die before this point of transference.

Sometimes we forget to give our dogs their flea/tick prevention on time. In that case, vaccination against lyme provides a second level of defense against the disease. Vaccination will cause the dog’s immune system to be prepared to kill the lyme bacteria.

Traditionally, the lyme vaccine had only worked for dogs that had not already been exposed to the disease. This is because the protein (OspA) that the vaccine created immunity against was the protein the bacteria wore inside the tick. The dog’s antibodies would kill the lyme bacteria before it even entered their bodies. This was great for lyme negative dogs but did not help dogs who were already infected. There is a new Zoetis lyme vaccine that creates immunity against a second protein (OspC) as well, this one that is expressed by the bacteria in the dog’s body. Immunity to this second protein will your dog’s immunity against an infection that is already present in his or her boy. This is why we will recommend vaccination with the Zoetis lyme vaccine after doxycycline treatment to help boost the dog’s ability to fight off the chronic infection.

Do you have more questions about lyme disease in dogs? Feel free to ask one of our doctors!

How to train you pet to love tooth brushing

How to Teach Your Pet to Love Tooth Brushing Time

Dental disease is one of the most common conditions that veterinarians diagnose in our canine and feline patients. Besides contributing to bad breath, dental disease can also result in pain and infection, which can cause a pet to become inappetant or ill. The most successful way to prevent dental disease in our pets is the same way we prevent dental disease in ourselves: daily tooth brushing. Although this can sound intimidating, most pets will learn to love tooth brushing with the appropriate training schedule. Even cats can be taught to participate in their own dental care when the training is slow, consistent, and full of positive reinforcement.

Image result for dental pictures catsStep #1: Start brushing your pet’s teeth as early as possible! Although puppies and kittens may be taught to accept tooth brushing more easily, it is never too late for an animal to learn.

Step #2: Collect the supplies needed. There are many different kits used for pet dental care- some include finger brushes, others include more traditional toothbrushes with soft bristles. Either type of brush can work, depending on the pet. Pet toothpaste often comes in flavors such as poultry (the most popular flavor for both dogs and cats), beef, tuna and vanilla mint. Try out these flavors to see which your pet prefers. These toothpastes are enzymatic, meaning that they will continue to break down plaque on the teeth even after brushing is completed.

Note- do not use human toothpastes in dogs and cats. Animals end up swallowing a significant amount of toothpaste during brushing, and human toothpastes can cause an upset gastrointestinal tract. Also, it is much easier to train pets to love tooth brushing when the toothpaste is flavored like a treat!

Step #3: Determine the best time and location for daily toothbrushing. Animals do much better when there is a routine associated with the task they are learning (this also helps us  remember to brush the teeth daily!).

Step #4: At the chosen time and in the chosen location, call your pet to you. Reward them with a small amount of toothpaste on your finger. This will teach them to see the toothpaste as a treat. Repeat this step once daily until your pet readily arrives for the toothpaste. This may require just a couple days for some dogs, but other dogs and most cats may need a couple weeks of training before they are consistent.

Step #5: When the pet arrives for toothpaste, provide it for them on the toothbrush instead of your finger. Allow them to lick it off the toothbrush. Repeat this daily until the pet shows no concerns about the toothbrush. Again, this can take days to weeks, depending on the animal.

Step #6: The next step is to get the pet to accept you touching his/her face while licking the toothpaste. Once this does not surprise the pet anymore, you can lift the upper lip on one side of the mouth to visualize the teeth.

Step #7: When lifting the upper lip on one side of the mouth, you can do a small stroke with the toothbrush and toothpaste. On the next day, do the other side. Continue to increase the time spent brushing, while paying attention to the comfort level of your pet. Make this process positive by praising your animal for good behavior.

Note- it is most important to contact the outer (cheek) side of the upper teeth when brushing an animal’s teeth, as this is where they build up most tartar. This is also the area that is most comfortable for animals to have brushed. You should also be able to brush the outer side of the lower teeth. Do not worry about the insides of the teeth near the tongue and palate. These areas do not build up as much plaque and can be addressed when the animal is under anesthesia for dental cleanings in the future.

Regular toothbrushing is easier to do when your pet enjoys and participates in the process! If your pet will not tolerate tooth brushing, please talk to us about other options to preserve dental health, such as dental diets, chews, and sprays. As always, even with regular toothbrushing, our pets will likely require regular dental cleanings under anesthesia over the course of their lives. The goal with toothbrushing is to decrease the need for these, resulting in less anesthesia time and better overall oral health for your pet.

Why bring your cat to the vet?

January is Catlett Animal Hospital’s Feline Health Month! This means 10% off wellness exams, vaccines, and bloodwork. We are excited to see your cats and give them the veterinary care they need to stay safe and healthy.

Why bring your cat to the vet?

  1. Dental Health/Feline Resorptive Lesions: By three years of age, most cats have evidence of disease around their teeth. Signs of this disease are very subtle, but the effect of dental disease on cats is serious. Tooth pain can reduce food and water intake, or worse, be the source of bacteria for the heart, brain, kidneys, gall bladder, and other organs causing your cat to have serious health issues that owners have trouble noticing until it is much too late to treat.
  2. Painful Arthritis: The majority if not all adult and geriatric cats have arthritis. They almost never show lameness or difficulty standing like dogs do. They hide, may not enjoy being touched, or may become annoyed. Some owners write this off to the cat getting older, but this is the cat’s way of showing that he or she is in pain. We can help make your cat happier and less painful, which makes them a much better pet.  Oftentimes, a joint supplement can really help a cat feel less pain and move better. Sometimes a pain reliever or laser therapy can be used for more severe pain or advanced arthritis.
  3. Vaccines: These are sometimes ignored for cats especially indoor cats, but the core vaccines: rabies and FVRCP are very important for cats. These are vaccines for severe diseases. If your cat gets them, they are fatal or at the very least severe and will require hospitalization.
  4. FeLV/FIV testing: This is especially important in multi-cat households. These are contagious diseases that pass from cat to cat through exchange of bodily fluids (saliva, blood, etc). FeLV: weak immune system, anemia, bone marrow shut down. FIV: equivalent of HIV in cats
  5. General Wellness: Cats are independent. They do not show illness like dogs, but they get sick much more often than owners realize. The key to effective treatment is early diagnosis. Screening for disease with wellness bloodwork can detect kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, anemia, liver disease, etc much earlier than when your kitty starts showing symptoms. That’s perfect! Then, we can start feeding a special diet or other medication before your cat is ill. This will increase your cat’s comfort and help manage if not cure your cat’s underlying disease.

Microchip Your Pet!

 

We believe in microchip identification for all pets!

Getting lost pets home is our health focus for November, and we are offering 10% off our microchip placement!

 

WHY MICROCHIP?

As many as one third of all pets may find themselves lost or separated from their owners at one point in their lifetimes. Dogs get excited and run off to explore; fences are damaged in storms; delivery people or family friends accidentally leave a door open and a pet who normally stays indoors is suddenly out, scared, and lost – all of these can happen and create a very scary situation!

Pets should wear collars and tags with contact information as well, but collars and tags can come off or can be removed, while a microchip stays with your pet for a lifetime. Tattoos sometimes fade, and sometimes could be altered. A microchip is programmed with one unique number, and is in place for life.

Microchip implantation is a reliable way to ensure your pet’s identity is known wherever they may turn up – when a lost pet visits a shelter, animal control, or a good Samaritan brings a found animal to a vet, the animal can be scanned for the microchip and its unique identification number that can set him/her on the path to getting back home.

 

HOW IS IT DONE?

The microchip is inserted with a quick and simple injection in the loose skin between the shoulder blades of cats and dogs. (Other species may have different locations) After that simple process, your pet’s ID is in place for life. A physical exam is not required for microchip placement!

Once the chip is placed, a scan is done right away to be sure everything is functional! Microchip scanners are made to be universal now, and able to pick up chips from any manufacturer. Having your pet’s chip scanned every year is also a great idea, to make sure no shifting has occurred and help ensure your peace of mind.

 

HOW DOES MY PET GET BACK TO ME?

Once a lost pet’s chip is scanned, the person or organization will use the number from the chip to help get the pet back home. Through phone numbers and websites, the microchip number allows the pet’s rescuer to find the contact information for the pet’s owner. The American Animal Hospital Association manages the http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/ which is a universal search site anyone can use, and one of the easiest ways to look up information on a scanned microchip number.

Each microchip contains a unique ID number – but no other information. Your personal information is NOT stored in your pet’s chip! ID numbers will need to be registered and kept up to date so that the number leads back to the pet’s human family members.

You will receive a lifetime registration form to complete and submit when your pet gets the microchip. Your pet’s number will initially be linked to our hospital, and then to you when you register. Make sure to keep your registration information up to date with us and with the microchip company!

Please call us with any questions or to schedule to have your pet microchipped today!  540-788-6094

1 2 3 4 6