Category Archives: Medical Advice

By Erika Lombardo

You know how important it is for you and your family to get their annual influenza vaccines. Did you know that your dog could potentially be at risk of contracting certain strains of Influenza? In the United States, there are currently two strains of the virus. The H3N8 strain was first reported in Greyhounds in 2003 and has been reported in 41 states. This virus is of equine origin and can be very difficult to diagnose. The other strain is the H3N2 strain. This virus was recently found in the States and has avian origins. The H3N2 virus has already spread to 30 states.

You can determine if your dog is at risk for contracting Canine Influenza by asking the following:

  • Does your dog go to daycare?
  • Does your dog board at a kennel or pet hotel?
  • Does your dog attend training classes with other dogs?
  • Does your dog play at dog parks?
  • Does your dog participate in dog-friendly events?
  • Does your dog go to the groomer?
  • Does your dog greet other dogs on their walks?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, your dog is at a higher risk for canine influenza and other respiratory diseases. These viruses spread through direct contact, coughing and sneezing, and contaminated hands, clothing, or other surfaces.

Clinical signs of influenza include the following: coughing and retching, sneezing, nasal and/or ocular discharge, decreased appetite, and lethargy. If you notice these signs in your dog, call your Veterinarian for an appointment. At this time, the virus does not pose a risk in humans, however, the CDC is closely monitoring the situation.

If you feel your dog is currently at risk for Canine Influenza call your Veterinarian to schedule the vaccine. At Ardmore Animal Hospital, we have the combo flu vaccine that protects your dog from both strains.

 

By Karen Sabatini

If you knew that giving your dog a tasty, chewy, inexpensive treat every 30 days could prevent a devastating and deadly disease—wouldn’t you give it to him? If that same tasty, chewy treat could kill intestinal parasites—wouldn’t you give it to him? Well you can! One simple test every year followed by monthly heartworm preventive could save your dog’s life.

hwHeartworm Disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The worms enter the dog’s body through a bite from an infected mosquito. Inside the dog the worms mature into adults. Their entire life cycle is lived inside the dog. They mate inside and produce offspring. The worms life primarily in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of a heartworm infected dog.

Most heartworm disease in the United States is seen in the southern states along the Gulf coast. The insurgence of dogs being rescued from kill shelters in the south is helping spread the disease in cooler climates of the northern states. When a mosquito bites a heartworm infected dog the mosquito becomes infected with the heartworm offspring called microfilaria. Inside the mosquito the microfilaria become infective larvae. When that mosquito bites another dog, that dog then becomes infected with heartworm and the cycle begins again.

Heartworm disease is not contagious from one dog to the next. Dirofilaria-immitis-dog-heartIt can only be contracted from an infected mosquito. Adult heartworms look like strands of spaghetti which live inside the dog, which, if left untreated will cause death.

In the early stages of heartworm disease most dogs will not show symptoms. The longer the dog is infected with heartworm, the more severe the symptoms will be. A sedentary dog may not show any symptoms for quite some time while a more active dog will show exhibit signs such as coughing, fatigue and exercise intolerance.

17757465_1388099761265646_904690972640563834_nThe treatment for heartworm disease is not only painful and toxic, but it is also expensive. A lifetime supply of heart worm preventatives (pictured to the right) would still cost you less money than it would to treat your dog for heartworm. Immiticide, one of the drugs used to treat heartworm, is an arsenic containing drug which is given via a deep muscle injection into the back muscles. Treatment requires multiple visits and hospitalizations, blood work, x-rays and a series of injections.

The best treatment for heartworm is prevention. There are chewable and non chewable medications and also topical medication applied to the skin. Many of the medications contain products that also prevent and treat roundworms, whipworms, hookworms and tapeworms.

A blood test is used to test a dog for heartworms. The earliest that heartworm can be detected in a dog’s bloodstream is about 5 months after it has been bitten by an infected mosquito. It is strongly recommended that a dog which tests negative for heartworm be immediately started on a monthly heartworm preventive given year round for the rest of the dog’s life.

Please test your dogs annually and invest in a lifetime of health and happiness for your precious companion by purchasing and remembering to give her monthly heartworm medication. As always, we are always happy to help you decide which product to choose and discuss heartworm disease with you at any time.

*Click on the images for a larger view

By Dr. James Bianco

shutterstock_207906148Felines are considered senior citizens as they approach the age of nine or ten. It is at this time that we begin to see the changes in them that are directly related to the aging process. It is important to note that a cat ages approximately 5 years for every 1 year of human life. For example: a 19 year old feline is considered to be between 92-95 years of age.

The changes that you might begin to see as your cat ages are weight loss, increased drinking, a loss of muscle definition along with a decrease in appetite. These may be related to the normal aging process, but are much more likely a result of an underlying change in organ function or serious disease.

Bi-annual examinations are essential in identifying unfavorable trends in health such as blood sugar (glucose) levels, which can be an indication of the onset diabetes. We also find older cats with weight loss suffering from decreased kidney function or an over-active thyroid condition called hyperthyroidism. Unfortunately, these problems are all too common but can be successfully treated if caught early.

The veterinarian’s examination can be important in identifying abnormal growths on the skin along with abnormalities in normal abdominal organ structure. Many times an early diagnosis and surgical intervention can mean the difference between life or death.

Blood tests are also essential as our cats age. We use them to identify the early onset of kidney dysfunction which many times can be treated with a diet change and fluid administration. With proper treatment, most cats diagnosed with renal disease go on to live normal lives. We have patients that have lived beyond 20 years of age with kidney disease but were identified and treated accordingly.

shutterstock_125555864Hyperthyroidism which is usually seen in cats that are losing weight slowly over time can be treated with medication, surgery, or iodine isotope therapy which is curative. Diabetes in cats is sometimes a transient disease that can be corrected with diet alone. We can also treat this disease successfully with insulin.

Cats are tough customers that do not show early signs of disease like dogs or humans. They are survivors that, through evolution, have adapted themselves not to show weakness in a hostile environment. Exposing weakness or disease in the wild can be dangerous as other predators take advantage. We have treated numerous cats in advanced states of disease that appeared to be normal to owners. Identification of problems was diagnosed because of physical examinations and diagnostic procedures such as blood testing and x-rays.

In conclusion, cats can live a long life. Life span is directly related to their genetic make-up, nutrition, and proper medical care. Yearly examinations are the most important thing that you can do to ensure that your beloved feline may live a long a healthy life.

Book your cat’s next visit with our online scheduler by clicking here!

Did you know that obesity is not just an epidemic in humans but also in pets? According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), over 57% of dogs and 52% of cats are obese and these numbers are on the rise. Much like humans, obesity in pets can lead to diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, joint problems, and ultimately a shortened life expectancy.

Based on a survey created by APOP, a surprising 93% of dog owners and 88% of cat owners thought their pet was in the normal weight range. This disparity is known as the “fat gap” and is thought to be one of the primary factors in the growing rate of pet obesity. To tell if your pet is a healthy weight, use this scoring system. Your pet should rank at about a 3 if he or she is a healthy weight.

To keep your pet at a healthy weight, take care in providing him or her with a healthy diet and ensuring the proper amount of exercise. Pet foods have become more calorically dense and people are feeding their pets more. If your pet is already overweight or obese, talk to your veterinarian about the best course of action. Your vet will probably recommend a controlled diet and specific type of food.

It can be hard to know what the proper caloric intake and weight should be for your pet so APOP has provided a few useful tables to help. This information does not replace the advice of your veterinarian and should only be used as a starting point.

Pet Caloric Needs – https://www.petobesityprevention.org/pet-caloric-needs/

Ideal Weight Ranges – https://www.petobesityprevention.org/ideal-weight-ranges/