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Time to check for heartworm disease!
Schedule your pet’s yearly checkup today!

Prevent Heartworm

It’s March—Springtime is around the corner! Worms in your garden…and worms in your pet? Eeew! Hold on, let’s explain…

The worms you find in your garden mulch are not the same worms that cause heartworm disease in pets. Mosquitoes carry heartworms. And all it takes is one mosquito to bite your pet to become infected.

Here’s the good news about heartworm disease: It’s an illness that can be easy and affordable to prevent. The bad news is, if you don’t prevent it the right way, your pet is at high risk of getting sick. Heartworm disease is dangerous to your pet and some signs of the illness are tough to spot. Your pet may be acting fine, but they may have so many heartworms inside their body that it can become life threatening.

You may be thinking, “my pet stays indoors, so there’s no need for heartworm prevention.” But, Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, warns that heartworms are carried by mosquitoes, which get into everyone’s homes! One mosquito bite is all that’s needed to spread the disease to your furry friend.

Schedule your pet’s yearly checkup with us. We’ll do a thorough exam, including a simple heartworm test, to make sure your pet is at his/her optimum health. And we’ll talk about the best way to prevent heartworm disease, so your pet stays healthy, happy and safe!

Make an appointment for your pet’s annual exam today! Contact Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

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Heartworm Disease has been found in pets in all 50 states, including Virginia.

Dogs and cats are vulnerable to Heartworm Disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. As anyone who is familiar with southern Virginia knows, we have a mosquito problem. As a result, we also have a heartworm problem.

Heartworms not only live in the pet’s heart, they also migrate to the lungs. And although a dog can harbor over a hundred worms in its body, it takes only a single adult worm to cause a fatal inflammatory reaction in a cat.

Fast Facts:

Adult Heartworms can grow up to 12 inches long

Adult Heartworms can live 5-7 years

A dog can have as many as 250 worms in its body

You can protect your pet with a simple-to-use monthly preventative, such as HeartGard Plus or Revolution.

Contact Us so we can help you get your pet protected from Heartworm Disease.
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April is Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month

What is Lyme Disease? Lyme Disease is an illness caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria, which are carried in the midgut of deer ticks and transmitted to dogs through a tick bite. Symptoms of Lyme Disease include lameness that shifts from leg to leg, swollen joints, lack of appetite, depression, fever, difficulty breathing. As the disease progresses, it can cause serious injury to the dog’s kidneys.

How do dogs get Lyme Disease? When a deer tick carrying B. burgdorferi feeds on a dog for at least 48 hours, the bacteria are “awakened” and travel out of the tick’s midgut, into the dog’s bloodstream, through the site of the tick bite. 

Baked bean? Nope – it’s an engorged, dead tick, thoughtfully preserved for the enlightenment of future generations of pet owners. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic.

This is not a deer tick, but it is a well-fed tick.

Here’s where it gets a little technical: While the bacteria, B. burgdorferi, resides in the tick’s gut, they are protected by a special coating called Outer Surface Protein A (OspA).  A dog that is vaccinated for Lyme Disease has — circulating in its blood — antibodies to OspA. When the tick ingests the blood, the OspA antibodies travel to the tick’s midgut and attack the B. burgdorferi there — before they’ve had a chance to awaken and mobilize.

So, rather than the vaccine-induced antibodies attacking an organism that has already entered the dog’s body, they instead attack the organisms outside the dog’s body, while still in the host. That is why we — cheekily — refer to it as “vaccinating the tick.”

Think of Lyme Disease vaccine as the vaccine that stops an organism before it reaches your pet: like an invisible force field! Pretty cool, huh?

But remember: deer ticks and other ticks can transmit nasty diseases in addition to Lyme Disease. There is no vaccine (yet) for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Anaplasmosis (and the list goes on.) For that reason, we recommend year-round tick control, like the Seresto collar. Stop those little pests cold!

Ready to vaccinate your dog against Lyme Disease? Contact Us to schedule an appointment.

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Need a few scientific reasons to keep your pet on
year-round heartworm preventative?

Then check out this infographic by the American Heartworm Society:

HW 2 (764x735)

Click to enlarge

Still not convinced? Take a look at this:

Heartworm_Close_Up

Those are worms inside a dog’s heart. Heartworm is preventable,
with a simple once-a-month dose of heartworm preventative.
Contact Us to get your pet started today.

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For Tips 6-10, click here.

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5. Provide your pet with fresh water at all times, cleaning the bowl daily.

4. Feed a pet food that is appropriate for your pet’s age, nutritional requirements, activity level, and special health needs.

3. Choose a pet wisely based on your schedule, budget, and living environment. Consider the pet’s physical and behavioral needs.

2. Establish a preventative health care program with your veterinarian, including regular checkups, dental care, vaccinations, parasite control, and reproductive options.

1. Discuss the responsibility of pet ownership with your veterinarian before you obtain a pet or as soon as possible after bringing a pet home.

Bonus Tip 1: Ask your veterinarian to microchip your pet as a way of providing proof of ownership and permanent pet ID.

Bonus Tip 2: Enroll your pet with a pet insurance company, like Pet’s Best, as soon as possible, to keep premiums low and to avoid pre-existing conditions denials.

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Tips borrowed from Purina’s The Pet Owner’s Checklist.

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New poster 2

If you’ve lived in Hampton Roads for very long, you know that mosquitoes are here to stay.  Unfortunately, these pests can carry deadly heartworm disease, which affects dogs and cats.

As the name suggests, heartworms live in the heart, but they can also migrate to the lungs and brain.  While a dog can carry a burden of numerous heartworms before dying, a cat can have a deadly reaction to the presence of a single worm. 

And treatment for heartworm disease is not as short and sweet as it is for intestinal worms.  Ongoing treatment for heartworm disease can last up to 6 months, requires total cage rest for the entire treatment period, and – perhaps scariest of all – involves the use of an arsenic-based drug.  If your pet’s doctor has been harping on the issue of heartworm prevention, now you know why.

The Heartworm Life Cycle

  1. A mosquito bites a heartworm-infected dog and ingests tiny heartworm larvae along with the animal’s blood.  (Wolves, foxes, and coyotes can also carry the disease.)
  2. Inside the mosquito, these larvae develop into their infective stage.
  3. When the same mosquito bites another dog (or a cat), the larvae infect the healthy animal.
  4. Without a monthly dose of preventative, the larvae continue to develop inside the dog or cat, eventually reaching the heart and lungs.

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Information for this article was borrowed from the Merial publication “Protector,” Summer 2010 issue.

This article originally appeared on April 4, 2011.

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