What is Heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease is spreading to new regions of the country each year. Stray and neglected dogs and certain wildlife such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes can be carriers of heartworms. Mosquitoes are blown great distances by the wind and the relocation of infected pets to previously uninfected areas also contribute to the spread of heartworm disease (this happened following Hurricane Katrina when 250,000 pets, many of them infected with heartworms, were “adopted” and shipped throughout the country). Because infected mosquitoes can come inside, both outdoor and indoor pets are at risk.

Does my pet need heartworm preventative every month?

The American Heartworm Society recommends that you get your pet tested every 12 months for heartworm, and give your pet heartworm preventive 12 months a year. Redding Veterinary Hospital follows this recommendation and will test your dog each year at their wellness visit. Annual testing is necessary, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working. Heartworm medications are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected. If you miss just one dose of a monthly medication—or give it late—it can leave your dog unprotected. Even if you give the medication as recommended, your dog may spit out or vomit a heartworm pill—or rub off a topical medication. Heartworm preventives are highly effective, but not 100 percent effective. If you don’t get your dog test, you won’t know your dog needs treatment.

Redding Vet recommends Interceptor Plus monthly preventative. Not only does it prevent heartworm disease,  but also is a monthly dewormer that controls adult roundworm, adult hookworm, adult whipworm, and adult tapeworm in dogs and puppies. Interceptor Plus can be purchased, by prescription only, at our hospital, on our on-line pharmacy.

 

Why is my pet scooting his/her rear on the ground?

If you notice your dog or cat scooting and/or frequently licking his/her rear end or straining when he/she goes to defecate, your pet’s anal glands may need to be expressed. The anal glands are small pouch-like glands found inside the left and right sides of the circular-shaped anal sphincter muscles. The end of the colon, or rectum, forms the anus, which is the outside opening of the intestinal tract, located under the base of the tail. The anal sphincter muscles control the opening and closing of the anus. The anal glands drain through very tiny openings that are directed towards the inside of the rectum, where fecal material passes through.

The anal glands normally release a foul-smelling, liquid secretion through their openings (varying from thin to thicky and gritty depending on the individual animal) when gentle pressure is applied or as your pet defecates. Sometimes, for various reasons, the glands do not release properly, and if left untreated can become painful, impacted, and possibly infected. Overweight animals have a higher risk of anal gland problems and disease. If you see any signs of hind end irritation in your pet, schedule an appointment for anal gland expression and examination.

Other causes of hind end irritation and scooting can include certain anal gland infections, cancers, certain skin diseases, allergies, diet sensitivities, and/or intestinal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. We recommend bringing in a fresh stool sample at the time of your visit for a fecal examination. Wash your hands thoroughly after collecting a sample, as roundworms and hookworms can infect people, too.

 

Dental Hygiene is Vital to Your Pet’s Health!

Has the veterinarian told you time and time again that your pet has dental disease? Took home the PetzLife gel but haven’t gotten around to using it? Too difficult to brush your pet’s teeth? Are your pet’s teeth “out of sight out, out of mind”? Have you been using all the recommended products and your pet still has dental disease?

Your pet’s teeth and gums undergo a significant amount of wear through the years, depending on diet, environment, and genetics. Even in younger animals, plaque accumulates on teeth and under the gum line daily. Hard food, toys, and gels are often not enough to remove the plaque build-up.

Most dogs and cats do not receive regular preventative dental care so plaque buildup hardens into a cement-like substance called tartar. Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and periodontitis (inflammation of the teeth) result from excess tartar. If left untreated, diseased teeth and gums cause significant pain. In addition, bacteria from the mouth can more easily enter the bloodstream and cause infections in major organs such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. Regular dental cleanings can help prevent tooth decay, tooth loss, and serious gum infections. A healthy mouth greatly improves quality of life and… your friend will have fresher breath!

At Redding Veterinary Hospital, our veterinarians will perform a careful dental examination. If necessary, a thorough professional cleaning under anesthesia will be recommended. Depending on the severity of dental disease, surgical tooth extraction procedure may be discussed. Pre-anesthetic blood work and urinalysis are strongly recommended to ensure your pet is healthy for anesthesia. We use only the safest anesthetic protocols, and your pet is fully monitored while under anesthesia.

During the dental cleaning, all teeth will be ultrasonically scaled and polished above and below the gum line and the veterinarian will carefully examine the health of the teeth and gums. Your pet will be treated with care and compassion! Your pet’s dental health needs can be performed while boarding or during a grooming visit, with prior arrangement. We also have drop off options for busy schedules. Please call the office at (203)-438-3761 to schedule an appointment or for more information!

 

What is “kennel cough”?

Kennel cough, also known as infectious tracheobronchitis, is a usually mild, self-limiting disease that causes inflammation of the upper airways. Kennel cough can result from an infection by several different types of bacteria or viruses and is typically characterized by a harsh, dry cough. In rare cases, some dogs may progress to a more severe or even fatal form of the disease. Highly contagious to other dogs, kennel cough is more common in areas where dogs are in close contact with one another such as shelters, clinics, kennels, dog parks, and grooming facilities.

Without laboratory testing, it is hard to tell which organism has infected the dog. The most common causes are the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica, canine parainfluenza virus, and the canine influenza virus. Dogs with kennel cough are typically placed on broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment and kept isolated for 7-14 days until signs resolve. It is important to note that if a virus is causing these signs, there are no good treatments for most viral diseases. The dog’s body must fight them off with good nutrition, hygiene, and rest.

Most kennel cough vaccines offer some protection against Bordetella and/or the parainfluenza virus. There is also a vaccine for the influenza virus. The vaccines do not give 100% protection against the disease, but instead, help reduce the chance of infection and signs of disease. Some dogs may show mild signs of infection after the vaccination.

The kennel cough vaccine comes in two separate forms that can be administered either through the nose or through the skin. Currently, Bordetella vaccines given through the nose are thought to give more protection than those given under the skin. However dogs may show clinical signs after the intranasal vaccine, and it can be unpleasant for some dogs to have a vaccine squirted into the nose.

If a puppy or adult dog has never been vaccinated for kennel cough before, only 1 intranasal vaccine is needed. (A series of 2 injections, 3-4 weeks apart, are needed for the skin vaccine). Dogs should then get a booster vaccine every 6-12 months to ensure protective antibody levels remain high.

It takes 7-10 days after a vaccine is given for the body to develop an antibody response. Therefore, the animal is not protected the moment it gets the vaccine unless it has been previously vaccinated and still has enough antibodies in its system from that past vaccination. Remember, a vaccine doesn’t expire on the day it is due – it stops working when the animal no longer has protective antibodies to fight off the disease. For each animal, that time may be a little different.

If you will be regularly boarding, grooming, or showing your dog, we recommend getting the kennel cough vaccine as an added measure of protection. It is required yearly for boarding at our facility. Try to schedule your dog’s vaccinations at least 1-2 weeks ahead of your scheduled board. This will allow time for your dog to develop enough antibodies to offer good protection.

 

Why is my cat urinating outside the litter box?

If you notice any changes in your cat’s urination, defecation, appetite, or drinking, don’t take any chances. Call us, or an emergency hospital immediately. Inappropriate urination in cats can be caused by many things, it can be behavioral, a urinary tract infection, even a potentially life threatening block.

 

What is a microchip?

A microchip is a small electronic device (About the size of a piece of rice) that transmits an identification number when it is scanned over, it is not a tracking device. This identification number is stored in an online database with the pet owner’s information. Shelters and veterinary hospitals across the country commonly scan pets that are found. Once the owner’s information is acquired, then the pet can be more easily be returned to its owner.

How does my pet get microchipped?

A microchip can be implanted in a pet via injection under the skin between the shoulder blades with a hypodermic needle. This is usually no more painful that a regular vaccine injection, although the needle is slightly bigger. It is common to insert microchip under anesthesia when animals are being spayed or neutered.

Will it actually help me find my pet?

In 2009, a study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association of over 7,700 stray animals in shelters, showed that dogs without microchips were returned to owners 21.9% of the time while microchipped dogs were returned 52.2% of the time, cats without microchips were returned 1.8% of the time while microchipped cats were returned 38.5% of the time!

 

Should I get Pet Insurance?

To manage the rising cost of healthcare for our pets, we recommend that clients consider a pet savings account and/or pet health insurance policy. VPI Pet Insurance, ASPCA Pet Insurance, PetPlan, and several others are available with multiple plan options. Many of these policies will also cover wellness care for pets, which may include preventative care such as vaccines, dental, and yearly examinations. It is best to start a policy when your animal is young and healthy, since these plans often do not cover pre-existing conditions or past health issues, and may have age restrictions.

Most of these plans require the client to pay for veterinary services in full at the time of service, and then the client must submit a claim to the insurance company for reimbursement. The company will usually require an invoice for services, and if they have any additional questions or concerns, they will contact the veterinary hospital directly. While we do our best to fill out the necessary forms for our clients, we cannot be responsible for claims that are not reimbursed. Be sure to read your insurance plan carefully before beginning a policy. Please contact us if you have any questions about pet health insurance plans.