Heartworms: Not so Heart-Warming this Spring

Spring is here! Dog parents all over the country are thrilled to not have to bundle up in layers just to walk their dogs. Cats are happy to watch the birds flutter by the windows, and we all love the beautiful flowers that light up our yards this time of year. As the birds return and the weather warms up, so do the pests, including the mosquitos that could potentially be carrying heartworms.

Before you let your dog frolic in the backyard for hours on end, make sure you keep her protected from hazards that come along with pests: one of the most threatening being heartworms. In order to protect your pup, it’s essential that you understand what causes heartworm disease, how it affects dogs, and how to prevent it.

And trust us, you do not want your dog to get infected.

What Causes Heartworms?

If you’ve ever smacked a mosquito that took a bite out of your arm, you should know how easy it can be to contract heartworm disease. While humans cannot get infected with heartworms, it only takes one mosquito bite for a cat or dog to get infected.

There are 30 different species of mosquitos that can transmit heartworms. Mosquitos become infected by biting an infected mammal. The heartworm larvae then develop in the mosquito’s stomach for about 10 to 30 days. Then, if an infected mosquito bites a dog, they will enter the dog’s bloodstream and migrate to a dog’s heart where they will mature, mate, a reproduce for about six months. Disgusting, right? And to make it worse, each heartworm can live five to seven years!

How Does Heartworm Disease Affect Dogs?

Yes, heartworms are gross. In fact, thinking about them makes our skin crawl, too. They look like long threads. As they mature, they get longer and longer and eventually clog a dog’s heart and surrounding vessels. As you can imagine, these threads get in the way the valves that pump blood through the heart to the body.

Developed heartworms reduce blood flow and block blood vessels. Eventually, heartworms will block blood flow to the lungs and other organs so dogs wind up struggling to breathe. As the heartworms reproduce, they create more larvae that move around with the dog’s blood and block smaller blood vessels. Both of these create significant a risk to a dog’s health. 

Heartworms are life-threatening. The most common health issue for dogs infected with heartworms is heart failure.

While we check your dog’s lungs and heart at regular checkups, you should also know the common symptoms many pet parents recognize. 

Symptoms of Heartworms Include:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Lethargy
  • Shortness of Breath
  •  Reluctance to Play and Run

If you suspect your dog is having trouble breathing, make sure you bring your pup by for a checkup. We can run blood tests if we hear any abnormalities that we may suspect as heartworm disease.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe and Prevent Heartworm Disease

While a mosquito seems harmless enough, heartworms are not. Not only is heartworm disease deadly, but heartworm treatment is costly, painful for dogs, and can be dangerous. Don’t risk your dog’s precious heart, life, or safety this spring.

The reality is you can’t prevent heartworm disease on your own. Luckily, we’re here to help! We offer a wide range of preventative medicines that will keep your pup safe all spring, summer, fall, and winter-long while you enjoy the sunshine and a few good games of fetch! Make an appointment to learn more about what heartworm medicine will work best for your best friend!

Photo Credit: LARISA SHPINEVA

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Don't Let Fleas and Ticks Bug Your Pet This Spring

Don’t Let Fleas and Ticks Bug Your Pet This Spring

It’s time to talk fleas and ticks. Springtime isn’t just the time of year when flowers blooms, it’s flea and tick season. While our beautiful area warms up, fleas and ticks become more and more of a pest for our beloved pets. Flea eggs hatch and pets spend more time outdoors, so we see increased rates of dogs and cats suffering from these creepy crawlies.

Fleas and ticks thrive in temperatures above 40-degrees which means they’re about to spring into action. Now is the time to evaluate how you are protecting your pup or cat from fleas and ticks. 

Why Protect Your Pet with Flea and Tick Prevention This Spring?

Fleas and ticks aren’t just gross, they’re dangerous. Fleas and ticks can cause a wide range of serious health issues for our pets. Both of these parasites that can cause direct harm to your pet and expose them to greater risk for secondary, and more serious problems, like Lyme Disease and tapeworms.

Let’s Get Frank About Fleas

Did you know one flea can lay 40-50 eggs per day? Many wild animals like rats, mice, and rabbits can carry fleas and spread them to your yard or where you walk your dog.

Fleas eggs take two weeks to hatch which makes them difficult to get rid of once your pet and home becomes infested. We frequently see pet owners that believe they have their infestation under control, just to be surprised two weeks later when new fleas hatch and cycle starts all over, again.

Fleas cause your dog or cat to itch and scratch, sometimes until they scratch off patches of fur and cause cuts and skin irritation. But fleas aren’t just a nuisance because they cause our furry friends to itch, they can also cause other illnesses.

Health Issues Caused by Fleas

  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Many dogs and cats are actually allergic to flea saliva. This can cause your pet to develop severe bumps and bald patches.
  • Hot Spots:  Painful and irritating to pets, hot spots are the result of your dog or cat chewing and licking the same area over and over again, making it vulnerable to bacteria.
  • Tapeworms: As your dog or cat chews the area where a flea bites them, there’s a likely chance they will swallow the culprit. Fleas infected with tapeworm can spread parasites to your pet’s intestines.
  • Anemia: Because fleas and ticks live off your pet’s blood, they can cause them low red blood cell counts which can be life-threatening if left untreated.
  • Bartonella:  Also known as “Cat Scratch Fever,” this infection can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

Ticks

Our area is particularly prone to ticks that can make our pups and cats ill. Ticks are especially active this time of year. As you return to hiking trails or even the park, your dog has a greater chance of being exposed to these icky little critters as he’s running through the wildflowers and fields.

You’re probably familiar with how ticks attach to our pets and fill with blood before falling off. But are you aware of the serious risks they pose our dogs and cats?

Common Health Issues Caused by Ticks

  • Lyme Disease: Lyme Disease causes joint issues, arthritis, and possible lameness in infected pets.
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever: This causes fever, lameness, and damage to your dog’s blood vessels.
  • Other Diseases and Illnesses: AnemiaRickettsiosis, Anaplasmosis, Bourbon Virus, Ehrlichiosis, Tularemia

Ticks don’t just threaten your pet’s health, but they can threaten yours, too. If your pet brings a tick into your home and it drops off after feeding, it can attach to you and cause many of the same diseases like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Often the health issues related to fleas and ticks aren’t recognized until they’ve progressed to becoming harmful, even life-threatening to pets. And as with most pet-related illnesses, they’re easier to prevent than treat and eliminate.

So, How Can Your Prevent Fleas and Ticks from Bugging Your Pets?

We offer a wide range of flea and tick preventative medicines. We tailor all prescriptions to your pet’s needs, so you know your furry best friend is getting the best care. We can also answer any questions that you may have related to your pet’s health!

If you think your dog or cat is experiencing a flea or tick problem or you want to prevent a problem before it happens, we can help!

It’s time to scratch that itch and bring your pet by for a checkup!

Photo Credit: krblokhin

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Pet Dental Health

Pet Dental Health

Although Pet Dental Health Month is officially a couple of months away, it’s always a good time to talk about the importance of keeping your pet’s pearly whites in a good state of health. As a pet owner, attention to your pet’s teethis one of the most important routines you can do to care for them. Think of it this way…would you go for a day, two days, or even a week without brushing your own teeth? No? We thought so.

The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has put together this quiz to test your knowledge on this subject. Try taking it! Some of the answers may surprise you.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when considering your pet’s dental health:

Start early, and young.

By desensitizing your pet early to tooth brushing, you’ll actually be helping his dental health, but even more-so, enhancing the bond between you! On your first try, take out the toothbrush and hold it where your pet can see it, sniff it, and touch it. Then when the item isn’t quite such a curious novelty any longer, place the toothbrush near his face for small increments of time. Reward this with small, but tasty treats. After a few trials, get your pet accustomed to the toothpaste. Then it’s time to try gentle brushing for small amounts of time. Here’s a video that will help!

Many options exist for toothpastes your pet will love!

Just as you may have preferences for peppermint, cinnamon or other minty flavors in your toothpaste, your pet may find his own preferences, too!  Delicious (to them!) flavors that make you think of cringing will be right up their alley! We even offer some of these items, such as beef, poultry, or even seafood flavors in our online store! You’ll also find toothbrushes and any other supplies to help keep your pet’s teeth in tip-top shape.

Benefits of brushing your pet’s teeth daily.

Just like you, dogs can develop plaque and tartar on their teeth. Daily brushing helps to reduce occurrence of cavities. This will help keep the surfaces of the teeth clean and freshen their breath. Not only will your pet reap these rewards, but you’ll have a chance to notice any signs of obvious tooth trauma or discomfort so that you can make an appointment to visit us right away. Pets are experts and hiding their pain, and this is one way you can get an up-close view of any teeth issues.

Schedule your pet’s annual dental cleaning with us.

Daily brushing is helpful, and imperative to your pet’s health. But even with the best of dental care, much like you, a professional cleaning once a year helps to go beyond just what is visible to the eye. Professional cleanings help reach below the gum line where periodontal disease may be lurking. And if you’ve noticed your pet has foul smelling breath it’s likely there may be early stages of this disease. This process completed under anesthesia and is safe for your pet (our doctors will be able to assess if there are underlying issues which may cause complications through their pre-dental bloodwork).  

We hope these tips help you in the care of your pet’s teeth. If you have questions, reach out to us at Grantsburg (715) 463-2536 or Wild River (320) 629-7474. You can also  make your pet’s appointment here.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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Spaying or Neutering Your Pet

Spaying or Neutering

When a new pet joins your family, as a pet owner, you have many decisions to make in their care…..”What type of food should I buy?”, “Where should I get obedience training?”, “How can I house-train my pet quickly and efficiently?”. However, one of the most important decisions you can make involves spaying or neutering your pet. There are many myths out there, and it’s important to separate fact from fiction. Here are our top 5 reasons why this is a good decision.

Long Term Health Benefits

Both spaying (females) and neutering (males) offer multiple long term health benefits. One of the most important is reducing the likelihood of your pet developing cancer over the course of his or her lifetime. Neutering or spaying helps prevent testicular or prostate cancer in your male pet. Breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer in your female pet can also be averted and gives you more time to share your life with your pet. Additionally, for female pets, the risk of uterine infections is reduced.

Financial Savings

The cost of spaying or neutering your pet is miniscule in comparison to treating cancer or caring for a litter of puppies or kittens. Our veterinary staff will be able to fully detail the costs that you could expect both for the actual surgery and pain relief after the surgery. In combination with the other benefits of spaying or neutering, it becomes obvious that alteration is a good decision.

Stop the “Roaming Instinct”

Instinct is a very powerful “impulse” for our pets, especially for males, who are prone to leaving your property in search for a mate. Neutering reduces aggression (and opportunities for biting), the probability of being involved in a traumatic accident, i.e. running around neighborhood and being hit by a car, and excessive marking. Keep in mind that aggression is very different than the protective instinct, and neutering will not make your pet less of a watchdog for your home.

Help Improve Behavior

Male pets, prior to neutering, may be prone to excessive aggression or fighting with any other animal perceived as a pet. Keep in mind, that if you have an unspayed female pet, every unneutered male may be attempting to make an appearing in your yard or at your doorstep. Overall, your pet may seem just simply “calmer” and less driven by  compulsive instincts to reproduce - making them a better family pet.

Spaying and Neutering Helps Reduce Euthanasias and Pet Overpopulation

Tragically, millions of pets are euthanized each year due to pet overpopulation. Furthermore, roaming pets may meet a horrible demise in traffic accidents, or being lost, when compelled by their natural instinct to roam. Feral pets, unplanned pets, and pets who are turned into shelters may run into overcrowding and meet an end to their life simply because there is not enough space. By preventing overpopulation from occuring in the first place, this tragedy can be avoided.

If it’s time to spay or neuter your pet (usually between 6-12 months of age) or if you’ve adopted an older pet who’s not been altered, make an appointment with us today to schedule this life-saving surgery for your pet.

Sources:
Decameron Web | Society, Brown University, www.brown.edu/Research/Colwill_Lab/CBP/spaynueter.htm.
“Spay/Neuter Your Pet.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/spayneuter-your-pet.
“Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet.” WebMD, WebMD, pets.webmd.com/reasons-spay-neuter-pet.
“Why Spay or Neuter?” Petfinder, www.petfinder.com/dogs/dog-health/why-spay-or-neuter/.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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