Posts Tagged ‘Sentinel’

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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.

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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April was Heartworm Awareness Month, and I posted several items 





to let you know how serious we are about preventing deadly heartworm infection in your pets.

But one thing was missing – until now: videos showing active heartworms in a dog’s blood sample.

And here they are — just click the links!

Live heartworm microfilariae 009

Live heartworm microfilariae

Live heartworm microfilariae 010

Live heartworm microfilariae Part 2

Live heartworm microfilariae 011

Live heartworm microfilariae Part 3

That’s right. Using my trusty Panasonic Lumix on Motion Picture Mode, I caught these larval heartworms (also called microfilariae) doing their wriggly-squiggly happy dance under the microscope. They didn’t dance for long.

Quick Review: Lifecycle of the Heartworm

L1 stage microfilariae (the newborns produced by adult heartworms) are ingested by a mosquito feeding on the blood of an infected dog. Inside the mosquito, the L1 larvae mature to a new stage called L3 and are then passed on to the next dog or cat on which the mosquito dines. Inside the new host, the L3 larva mature to become adult heartworms measuring up to 12 inches long.

These videos show L1 stage larva: the point at which a heartworm-positive dog is a danger to its neighbors. Don’t let heartworms infect your pet; and be a good neighbor — don’t let your pet become a reservoir for heartworm disease. 

Ask us about heartworm testing and prevention today!


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Q:  What’s brown, green, yellow, and white, and lasts for six months?

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A:  Sentinel Flavor Tabs — the once-a-month heartworm/flea/intestinal worm pill — and it’s back in stock!


Switching back to Sentinel is easy: simply give Sentinel on the date the next heartworm preventative dose is due.

As always, your dog should be tested before beginning any heartworm preventative, if it has been a year or more since the last test or if you have skipped or delayed any doses.


Sentinel - Ask for it by name!

Sentinel – Ask for it by name!

Ready for more good news? You can save $10 on each Sentinel 6-pack with a rebate form available only at our office.*



Be sure to ask for Sentinel heartworm preventative on your next visit to our clinic!

*Purchases from online or catalogue pharmacies do  not qualify for this offer.

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Today I get to share with you something we (fortunately) don’t see very often on fecal exams – Whipworm eggs. Those are the pink football-shaped objects in the photo below.

A rare sight in Norfolk: evidence of Whipworm infestation. Photo by Little Creek Veterinary Clinic. [Click to enlarge]


What’s so awful about Whipworms?
An infection can lead to diarrhea (sometimes with blood), weight loss, abdominal pain, dehydration and anemia. 

Whipworms (so named for their whip-like appearance as adults: thin at the front end and fatter at the rear) are not the most common intestinal parasite that we find in dogs, but it is a nasty little bug if contracted. Whipworms are rarely seen in cats.

Whipworm eggs are deposited in the soil when an infected animal defecates. When the same or another animal ingests the contaminated soil (this can happen by mouthing a toy left on the ground or licking the paws after playing outside), the infection begins again.


Once swallowed, the eggs hatch out and the larvae spend about 10 days in the small intestines before moving on to the large intestines. Then the larvae spend the next two to three months maturing to adulthood.

Adult whipworms use their narrow heads to pierce your pet’s intestinal walls and hang on, then rob your pet of its blood and nutrients. By the 70th day after the initial Whipworm eggs were swallowed, the adult Whips are ready to produce new eggs.

The adult female Whipworm can lay up to 2000 eggs per day. That is actually a small number, compared to a Roundworm that can lay 80,000 eggs per day. Because Whipworms lay a relatively few number of eggs and do not constantly reproduce, they can be difficult to detect. Multiple stool sample exams may be necessary. 


Whipworm eggs are hardy and difficult to eradicate in the yard, so recurrent infections are likely.
nce diagnosed, a Whipworm infection can be treated with a course of medication, such as Panacur.
Then, because of the high likelihood of recurrence, affected dogs and their canine housemates should receive a monthly heartworm/intestinal worm preventative rated to control Whips. Our go-to choice has been Sentinel, but it is not currently available. Until Sentinel is returned to the marketplace, we recommend Trifexis.


The most common type of Whipworms found in dogs is Trichuris vulpis. Though they tend to be host-specific, there are a few reported cases of people contracting Trichuris vulpis, as well. To be on the safe side, wear disposable gloves when handling soil or pet waste and wash your hands well afterward.

See our previous entries in our ‘Scope series:





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Lil’ Pals Pet Photography will return on September 14th. Look for their tricked-out RV in the parking lot next door, at Robin’s Grooming Nest.

Portrait sessions will take place inside the RV, so your pet can shine even when the sun doesn’t. More good news: the sitting fee is only $10 for this event! Space is limited, so call 540-903-3895 for your appointment today.


Schedule Update:  Dr. Miele will be out of the office on Wednesday, September 12th. Our office will be open limited hours in the morning and afternoon for retail sales and patient information. Remember, we are unable to prescribe, authorize, or dispense medications in the doctor’s absence.

Advantage II Special Reminder: The “Buy 1 pack – get 1 tube free” offer ends on September 29th. Stock up on flea control while there’s still time! 

Sentinel Update:  Novartis, the makers of Sentinel, have begun manufacturing some medications at their newly-renovated plant. However, they still must test the new products for quality control and are not yet ready to release any medications for sale. At this time, there is no known release date for medications including Sentinel, Interceptor, Clomicalm, or Deramaxx. You can learn more about Novartis’s decision to temporarily shut down its plant here.

Good news: You can save money on future purchases of Sentinel with a special voucher provided by your veterinarian. Ask your vet for the voucher, then register it online before November 1, 2012, to be eligible for a rebate when product is available again. Instructions are included on the voucher, so get yours today!

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…is fine for dating, but not for pet medicine.

     Novartis Animal Health has temporarily stopped manufacturing at one of its plants, in order to complete maintenance and updating.  The company has a commitment to delivering superior pet products, which necessitates improving their facilities from time to time – and we like that! 

     The downside, though, is that this means several products, including Sentinel, may be difficult to acquire in the coming weeks.

     We can’t speed up the process, but we will keep our Sentinel patients protected against heartworm disease during the shipping delays.  Questions?  Call 583-2619 and ask for Jen.


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Which heartworm preventative is right for your pet?

     If you’ve ever skipped giving your pet its heartworm medicine because you figure last month’s dose will carry over, you could be making a deadly mistake.

     Pet owners might assume that the heartworm preventative medication stays in the pet’s body all month long, providing constant protection against parasites.  But that’s not how the medications work.

How does it work?
     When you give your pet its dose of heartworm preventative each month, it immediately goes to work killing off heartworms that have infected the body in the prior 30 days.  The medication then leaves the body, often 24-48 hours after dosing.  Your pet is then left “unprotected” for 30 days until you give the next dose.

     It is important to remember to give the medication on time, because worms that are allowed to grow past a certain stage will not be killed by the medication; instead they will continue on to maturity.  Have a look at this example:

April 4………..your pet receives its monthly heartworm preventative dose, which is designed to kill heartworm larvae acquired since the previous dose in March.

April 7………your pet is bitten by a mosquito and is infected with heartworms.

May 4………your pet is due for its monthly dose, but you have forgotten to give it; the larval infection is now 27 days old and is still in the range to be removed by the medication.

May 17……the larval infection is now 40 days old, but you haven’t remembered the dose yet.

June 4…..the larval infection is 58 days old; many have become juvenile worms and will outlive the heartworm dose that you remember to give today.  In another few weeks, the juvenile worms will enter the heart and lungs where they will mature and reproduce.

What if I keep giving the medicine?
     Eventually, the mature heartworms will produce babies (we call them “microfilariae.”)  Here’s where it gets tricky:  the monthly heartworm medicine also kills the microfilariae.  That might sound like a good thing, and in a way, it is:  without circulating microfilariae in the blood, your dog will not pose an infection risk to other pets (cats generally don’t exhibit this stage, so they do not pose a risk to other animals.) 

     Unfortunately, the absence of this stage of disease also produces false negative test results.  Because there are different ways to test for “baby” heartworms versus adult heartworms, it is crucial that you tell your vet if your pet has missed any heartworm doses, especially in the last six months or more.  With this information, the vet can choose the proper test to determine whether your pet has the disease.

Which heartworm preventative do you recommend?
     Our clinic carries several types of preventatives, depending on the needs of your pet.

     For cats, we carry only one brand:  Revolution
     For dogs, we carry HeartGard Plus, Iverhart, and Sentinel

Can I buy heartworm preventative over the counter?
     No.  In Virginia, heartworm preventatives are considered prescription drugs.  Your pet must have an exam and blood test by a veterinarian before starting this medication.  If you find heartworm medications sold at stores or online without a prescription – steer clear!  These can be imported fake medications.  The manufacturers of the legitimate brands will not honor their guarantees if the medications are not purchased from a veterinarian.

Questions?  Use the contact form on this blog or leave a note in the comment section.

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It’s time for a rebate round-up for the good people of the world.

HeartGard Plus:  Buy two 6-packs (must match) and receive a $5 rebate.  We will fill out the form and send it in, so you don’t have to!
Bonus:  Go here to download a heartworm dose reminder app for your phone.

Iverhart Plus and Iverhart Max:  Go to and click on Submit Your Request to apply for a $3 rebate on every 6-pack you purchase.
Bonus:  Go here to set up a dosing reminder system via e-mail.

Sentinel:  Go to and click on Sentinel Rebate Offer to apply for a rebate online.
Bonus:  Go to and schedule a heartworm dose reminder.
Bonus bonus:   You can order a free Save Pets emergency sticker when you sign up for the dose reminder.

AdvantageBuy 6 tubes (can be mix and match, if you prefer) and receive a FREE grooming glove.

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A single Tapeworm egg packet. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

Of  all the worm eggs we search for under a microscope, the elusive Tapeworm egg is the most difficult to detect.  Not because of its size, mind you – these things are huge compared to other worm eggs.  The problem is, there tend to be so darn few Tapeworm eggs, we rarely see them.  By contrast, a mild Roundworm or Hookworm infestation can result in a slide saturated with eggs.  You are more likely to see Tapeworm segments on your pet’s fur than we are to find eggs in a fecal sample.

In fact, the segments you see on your pet’s fur are called proglottids, and they function as egg sacs. As these pieces detach from the larger worm still inside your pet (yuck), they may start releasing their eggs, which then appear (microscopically speaking) in your pet’s stool. Because of this, you will often see the proglottids before the vet has a chance to check a stool sample and find the eggs.

     Recently, though, we got lucky.  A pet presented with an infestation of Tapeworms, which provided me the opportunity to photograph the egg packet shown above.  Below, you will see something even more rare.

Five Tapeworm eggs as viewed through a microscope. Photo by Jennifer Miele

Okay, I admit it’s pretty silly to get excited over something so gross.  In fact, I hope you’re not eating lunch or dinner as you read this.  After the worming we gave, these little guys won’t be eating lunch or dinner, either.  Meanwhile, we seldom see so many egg packets together in one frame, which is why I consider this slide “rare.”

     The fun didn’t end there, however.  Once the sample had time to float all eggs to the surface, we found a couple of these guys trying to sneak by:


Mystery slide. Photo by Jennifer Miele

What’s that?  A little hard to see, compared to the Tapeworm eggs?  This little dude is shown at the same magnification as his giant neighbors.  To make it easy on you, I’ll crop it and show you what we’re looking at.

Hookworm egg. Photo by Jennifer Miele

       It’s a Hookworm egg.  How adorable.  I found only a couple of these eggs on the slide.  All I can figure is that the Tapeworms had a head start and were beating up on the hapless Hookworms that showed up late to dinner.

     Imagine the Worm Wars taking place inside your pet.  Not a pretty picture, is it?  If your pet is not already on a monthly heartworm/intestinal worm preventative medication, now is the time to act.  Have your dog’s blood tested first; it should be free of heartworm disease before starting any of the preventatives.  Cats and dogs should have their stool tested for intestinal worms, as well.  Any adult worm infestations should be treated by the vet.

     Check out our favorite heartworm and intestinal worm preventative medications:

Revolution for Cats……….treats and prevents heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, fleas, ear mites

Iverhart Plus for Dogs……treats and prevents heartworms, roundworms, hookworms

Iverhart Max for Dogs……treats and prevents heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms

HeartGard Plus for Dogs……treats and prevents heartworms, roundworms, hookworms

Sentinel for Dogs…….treats and prevents heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, fleas

     Questions?  Call Jennifer at 583-2619.  Happy worming!


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