Fleas – The Essential Facts

 

Think fleas are just a summer problem? Not so but somehow this myth persists despite our best efforts. Arm yourself by reading our primer and learning all the things flea that your mother never taught you.

 

  • Fleas and their predecessors have been around since the Cretaceous era (65 million years ago).

  • Fleas used to be bigger (Up to 2 cm long). Today’s fleas are smaller (1.5 to 3.2 mm) but more athletic.

  • Fleas don’t have wings, but they can jump 50 to 100 times their body length.

  • Some people have theorized that humans evolved their hairlessness not just to attract a mate and cope with life on the hot savannahs but also as an adaptation to rid themselves of fleas and other external parasites.

  • The flea life cycle has four stages (egg, larvae, pupae and adult). More than half of the fleas in your house are eggs. That means for every adult you see, there are 100 more preadults waiting to emerge.

  • Fleas need a blood meal to reproduce.

  • Once a flea is on your pet, it will rarely leave since it needs to feed every 12 hours.

  • Once a flea has fed for 24 hours it will die of starvation within 2 – 4 days without a blood meal.

  • Fleas might bite you, but they are species specific and can’t survive on human blood alone

  • Adult fleas may need blood, but their larvae can survive on anything from dead bugs to poop to vegetable matter.                  

  • Fleas are hardy. They have a dormant stage in which preemergent adults can survive in a cocoon for up to 5 months

  • Fleas can’t survive out in the snow and cold, but they do just fine in your home or on a warm and furry host, even outdoors.

  • In your home, the flea life cycle can complete in 12 – 26 days.  

  • Fleas carry diseases such as Plague, Typhus, Cat Scratch Fever and Mycoplasma haemofelis (which effects the red blood cells in cats causing anemia and fever).

  • Fleas also transmit one of the more common tapeworms that plague pets.

  • Many pets are allergic to flea saliva and develop a severe dermatitis from as little as one bite.

  • The best way to deal with flea problems is prevention. Keep your pet on a quality anti-parasitic product all year.

  • If you already have a flea infestation at home, consult your veterinarian. The products and science of flea prevention and treatment change very quickly. Your veterinarian can make sure you get the best, less environmentally impactful product available.

The Scary Consequences of Not Doing that Dental

 

Don’t wait for the telltale signs of bad breath before scheduling dental care for your pet. By the time an unpleasant odor is evident they will be well on the way to serious dental disease.

Think Dog Breath = Early Disease. Bad Breath = Bad Disease.

 

    • Gingivitis:   Is defined as inflammation of gum tissue caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar. This is the start of dental disease and provides the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.  Inflammation, swelling and bleeding gums are the body screaming for dental care before things get worse.

      • Inflammation: The presence of inflammation and bacteria will cue up your pet’s immune system. With chronic inflammation, the immune response never shuts off which can damage heart, lungs and kidneys.

    • Gingival Recession: Untreated gingivitis and inflammation damages tissues causing  gums to pull away from teeth.  This exposes  sensitive tooth roots which do not have the same protective enamel as the crown and are more susceptible to damage.

    • Bone Loss:   Once the more vulnerable roots have been exposed, destructive bacteria release toxins which then eat away surrounding bone.

    • Root Abscess: The combination of inflammation, bacteria, gum recession and bone loss can lead to tooth root abscesses resulting in the loss of affected teeth.

    • Tooth Loss: As the cascade of damage continues, teeth will begin to wobble.  A decrease in appetite, weight loss and general malaise brought on by pain follows.

    • Oronasal Fistula: Severe dental disease can damage enough bone to create an opening between your pet’s mouth and nasal tract. At this stage, chronic respiratory issues are added to dental pain and disease.

    • Jaw Fracture: Continued bone loss can lead to fracture of the lower jaw.

    • Organ damage and Systemic Disease: This is the end game for untreated dental disease. Bacteria and chronic inflammation wreak havoc on the kidneys, liver, heart and overall health robbing your pet of not only quality but quantity of life.

5 Whys of Pet Wellness Visits

  • Animals mask illness.

    • Domesticated, well maybe but first and foremost your dog, cat, rabbit, bird etc… is still an animal and the number one rule in the animal kingdom is that the critter that shows weakness gets eaten first. Even if fluffy lives on the couch that fact is hardwired into his/her brain.

    • Wellness visits are our chance to circumvent to the “no talk rule.” They give us the information we need to catch brewing illnesses before they become major problems.

  • Preventative care costs much less than sick care.

    • Don’t like the cost of vaccines? Paying for the cost of treating Parvo, pneumonia or heartworm disease, far outweigh the cost of prevention.

    • Simple economics. Prevention is always less costly than treatment plus your pet doesn’t suffer damage to the organs that many diseases cause.

  • Your pet will live longer.

    • Good preventative care that catches problems early extends lifespan.

    • Good dental care adds even more.

  • Some of the things we prevent can make you sick too.

    • Most of us let our pets sleep with us so it’s a good idea to make sure they are healthy and parasite free.

  • It’s just the right thing to do.

    • Come on! Pets give us so much unconditional love, protection and service. Let’s do what we can to give them a long and healthy life in return.

Summer Safety Tips for Pet Parents

 

Wow! It’s getting hot out there! Temperatures are already hitting the 80’s on some days and the humidity has increased as well. At our house, we cope by switching to shorts and light t-shirts, drinking lots of water and taking breaks indoors or in the shade. We produce quite a bit of sweat and take extra showers. That works for us but what about our pets?  Read our summer safety tips to help keep your best friend healthy.

What can you do to make summer more comfortable and safer for your pet?

  • Provide lots of fresh water. Make sure it is in a container that can’t be overturned by mistake and that there is enough to last all day. In addition, if you use a zip line or some other type of tether you need to make double sure your pet can’t become entangled and unable to reach either shade or his or her water source.
  • Indoors or out. Is there a place where your pet can stay cool and out of the sun? That may mean keeping your pet indoors in the air conditioning in the summer. However, there is nothing wrong with a dog run or backyard shelter providing there is access to shade, water and hopefully a cooling breeze.
  • Jogging – maybe not. I know that your dog is in good shape. He jogs with you all winter long. However, that doesn’t mean that it is safe to continue jogging with Rover in the summer heat. Remember, dogs can’t cool themselves like we do. Add that to the fact that your loyal companion will keep going no matter how hot he/she gets and you have a recipe for disaster. Unless you run early in the day, long, before the heat sets in, please leave your dog at home.
  • Never leave your pet in the car! Want to know why? Check out this data compiled by the Animal Protection Institute. If your car is closed with no open windows and it is 82 degrees outdoors, in no time at all, the temperature in your car is 109.   At 91 degrees, it’s 115 in the car.   Think cracking the windows help? If it is 84 degrees outside the temperature in the car is still 98 degrees.   At 90 degrees, it is 108 in the car. Got the picture? Even leaving your pet in the car while you run in for a short errand can be deadly.
  • What are the signs of heat stroke? You may see excessive panting, stumbling, weakness, stupor and bright red gums. Body temperatures of 104 degrees or more can occur. As heat stroke progresses, seizures, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, coma and death may follow. “Parked car” or brachycephalic breeds such as Bull Dogs, Pugs, Boxers and others are much more susceptible to heat related problems. Even your bunny, chinchilla or reptiles can suffer from heat related problems. If the weather is warm, think shade and water.
  • If you suspect heat stroke – it’s an emergency! Hose your pet down and bring him/her to the clinic immediately! Don’t try to treat heatstroke on your own. Heatstroke can literally cook internal organs. Pets who have suffered heat stoke may also experience swelling and edema of the trachea making it difficult for them to breathe. Too much cooling can make your pet even sicker. It’s a balance of IV fluids, supportive care and monitoring. Leave it to the professionals.
  • Pet pools – are great for helping your buddy cool down in the summer heat but remember to change the water frequently. If you are lucky enough to have a people sized pool, treat your pets just like your children. Protect them from accidental drowning by never leaving them in the pool area unsupervised.
  • Cool Ideas – Think about getting a pet fountain that provides a continuous stream of fresh, cool water to drink. Fans can help where air conditioning isn’t available. Recently, bandanas and body wraps made specifically for cooling have been developed. After soaking in cool water, these products can provide relief for a limited time. Frozen pop bottles are fun for pets to play with in the pool or on the ground. Even bunnies can benefit from a frozen pop bottle in their cage. Just make sure to wrap it in a cloth before placing it in with your rabbit but don’t let bunny start chewing on the cloth or bottle.
  • Shaving?? – That’s up for debate but if you do, remember your pet will be much more likely to sunburn in the summer sun. Double coated breeds do best when their undercoat is brushed out leaving their guard hair. This allows trapped air to cool your pet.
  • Exotic tips – Cold blooded pets need warm weather care too. Air conditioning can be TOO COLD for many exotics BUT a terrarium placed up against a hot window may become an oven. This applies to birds as well. Too much draft and cold will result in upper respiratory problems. Too much heat can cause heat stroke and death.

Pancreatitis – Unhappy holidays.

A pug shows her teeth for the camera in this comical pose.

 

The holiday season is here. We love all the yummy foods that are part of the celebration . Our pets love them too. Unfortunately,  all those goodies can also cause pancreatitis.

Pancreatitis is commonly seen in both dogs and cats. It  can occur in either an acute (rapid onset) or chronic (slow and subtle) form.   Although small in size, the pancreas can cause serious illness. It is very sensitive and if irritated,  becomes swollen,  inflamed and painful.

Continue…

Kennel Cough

coughing dog
It’s fall. Besides the changing colors and cooler weather, Kennel Cough is another thing we expect to rear its ugly head every fall.

What is Kennel Cough?

  Kennel Cough is the common name for Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (CIRDC). It is seen in dogs in group situations such as kenneling, grooming, dog shows, dog parks etc. The symptoms include hacking, coughing, sneezing and retching.

 So, what causes Kennel Cough then?

 CIRDC can be caused by the following bugs:
 Virus: Bocavirus, Canine Adenovirus Type 2, Canine Corona Virus, Canine Distemper Virus, Canine Herpes Virus, Canine Influenza Parainfluenza, Pneumovirus and Reovirus.
 Bacteria: Bordetella Brochiseptica, Streptococcus Equi, Mycoplasma spp. and secondary bacterial infections.

Continue…

Make Surgery More Safe and Less Scary

Maine Coon kitten

Oh wow! Anesthesia can be so scary! How do you know your pet is going to be ok? Will they wake up? How does a pet owner make certain their pet is receiving the safest surgical care possible?

What you should look for:

  • Take a tour of the facility. Check out the surgical suites. Do they have up to date anesthetic machines, monitoring and warming equipment?
  • Do they stress the importance of pre-surgical bloodwork? Pre-anesthetic testing is what determines if your pet has health problems that would make anesthesia unsafe or if they require special anesthetic drug protocols.
  • What type of anesthesia is used? There is a huge difference between cheap injectable first generation anesthetics and the newer generation of drugs and inhalants that can be specifically tailored to an individual animal’s needs.
  • What kind of staff do they employ? Are the surgical staff highly trained Veterinary Technicians or poorly paid lay persons who learn their trade on the job and with your pet? The best equipment in the world is no good if there is no one who understands what the readings mean.
  • Do they have complete monitoring systems in place? This should include heart rate, blood pressure, carbon dioxide levels, oxygen levels, respiration, body temperature.
  • Do they employ intravenous catheters, IV fluids and endotracheal tubes needed to control blood pressure, oxygen and anesthetic delivery? Or do they use an injectable anesthetic and hope for the best?
  • Do they keep their staff up to date through continuing education? Technology is improving and changing all the time. Make sure the clinic you use keeps their staff current and well trained.
  • Is it clean? Does the clinic smell clean? Believe it or not there are clinics that will use the same surgical pack on more than one animal. Are all the instruments, including those used in dentistry sterilized after each procedure?
  • Is there a good pain management protocol in place? Or will your pet lay in a kennel with no relief once surgery is complete.

What you can do to make anesthesia safer for your pet:

  • Make certain that your veterinarian is aware of all medications, supplements and over the counter drugs your pet is receiving. Then follow their instructions about how and what to administer before anesthesia.
  • Don’t feed your pet if your veterinarian tells you not to. Ignoring this can cause vomiting and aspiration pneumonia. Conversely, if you have an exotic pet, feed them if you are instructed to do so. They have different requirements than dogs and cats.
  • Tell your veterinarian if your pet has ever had any reaction to any type of medication. If your pet has a seizure disorder or is diabetic, please make sure to share this information. This is especially important if you are new to the practice.
  • Don’t let your pet become overweight. It makes anesthesia much less safe.
  • Make sure your pet stays healthy by staying up to date on all routine health care.
  • Don’t wait too long to spay or neuter. Large, overweight females that have been through several heat cycles are every veterinarians least favorite surgical patient. Everything is bigger, with more surrounding fat, more friable, harder to ligate and more prone to bleeding.
  • If you’re not sure, ask questions. We don’t mind.

Fit as a Fiddle: Why Pet Wellness Matters

Woman veterinarian listens dachshundThere are various obstacles that prevent owners from bringing their pets in for regular wellness visits. Some have financial concerns; others only schedule an appointment when their pets are sick or injured. And let’s not forget how resistant some felines can be to any travel at all.

However, there are just as many compelling reasons (if not more) to commit to routine pet wellness. Tending to your pet’s health goes far beyond saving money on costly emergency visits; you could actually end up extending the life of  your furry pal. Continue…

Why do we have animals?

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There once was a man. He did not have a dog. He did not have a cat. He did not have a bird or a fish or even a rat. He lived an uncomplicated life.

The man lived in a house that was always clean. There were no muddy footprints on the carpet nor clumps of hair collecting in the corners. There were no bowls to trip over nor containers of pet food clogging up the cupboards. Not even once was there a single shoe chewed up. Not anywhere. Not ever.

The man was completely free to do whatever he wanted when he wanted. He could travel. There were no kennels to worry about nor pet sitters to arrange. There were no lists to make of puppy needs nor times to remember for veterinary care. And, best of all, absolutely never, not once, had there ever been two little eyes peering out from under a sofa to unnerve a date he brought home. Continue…

The Ugly Truth About Heartworm Disease

heartworm 2
We talk a lot about Heartworm infection. We urge to you keep your pet on preventives and to test for evidence of heartworm infection year after year after year. The problem is, what we really need to talk about is Heartworm Disease. It is the shadow in the room that both frightens and motivates us. Continue…