Ask Dr. Anna

Intestinal Parasites In Companion Animals

Last week at our weekly staff meeting, I was discussing some data that I had just received showing that only 50% of our canine patients are on heartworm prevention.  This started a conversation about why this number is so low.  I believe it’s because many people don’t understand the difference between heartworms and intestinal parasites.  I decided to get the word out!

Intestinal parasites are exactly what the name implies; they are worms that live in the intestinal tract (heartworms are worms that live in the heart).  Roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms are the most common intestinal parasites in our geographical area. 

Roundworms and hookworms are very common in puppies and kittens as they are transmitted from their mother while they are in the uterus or through the mother’s milk.  The adult worms live in the intestinal tract most of their lives and produce microscopic eggs that pass in the feces.  Did you know that one female roundworm can produce more than 100,000 eggs per day?  Only under severe infestation or after deworming will you see adult worms passed in the stool.  These two parasites can also be transmitted to people, especially children, as they are often less careful about hygiene, more likely to put their hands in their mouths and commonly play in potentially contaminated soil.  A recent study revealed that 14% of the human population is infected with these parasites.

Tapeworms got their name because they are thin and flat, like strips of tape.  A tapeworms body is made of jointed segments which detach and are seen around the pet’s rectum or in their stool and they look like rice segments.  These segments cannot infect other cats or dogs.  The only way that dogs and cats become infected is by eating an infected flea or rodent. Therefore, a flea eradication program is important to prevent further infestation.

There are many oral and some topical medications used to treat intestinal parasites.  A few of these products are available over the counter and unfortunately, don’t work very well.  Now to the main point of this entire article:  I believe that many people go to the store and get dewormer for their pets and believe that they are also treating their pet for heartworms.  Heartworm prevention is a prescription only medication, which means you must get it from your veterinarian.  Heartworm prevention and medication to treat intestinal parasites are relatively inexpensive and prevent transmission to other animals and, most importantly, humans.  Ask your veterinarian about the products that they recommend.

Does it really cost too much to get your pet spayed and neutered

spayed and neutered

“It’s too expensive.”  “They should be allowed to have at least one litter.” “I can make money selling the puppies.”  These are just a few of the reasons we hear for why people haven’t spayed or neutered their pet, with the cost being the most frequently heard reason. People still believe that it just costs too much to get their pet spayed or neutered. What they fail to realize is the enormous cost of not getting their pet fixed. Unfortunately, we see it nearly every day, especially in the spring.

It usually starts out with a very pregnant momma cat or dog. The owner calls and says she has been in labor for three days and still no pups/kittens. After an exam and testing the momma dog is rushed into surgery with an infected uterus (Pyometra,) a condition that can be fatal if untreated. Surgery and antibiotics can cost hundreds of dollars to treat a condition that could be avoided with a simple spay.

We also see female cats that have been attacked by intact toms hoping to either abort the unborn kittens or destroy a new litter of kittens to bring the female back into a heat cycle. Not only do we then have to contend with the physical wounds and injuries of these fights, but there becomes a real concern about the spread of diseases such as distemper, feline leukemia, feline aids, or even rabies.

We get panicked phone calls from owners of small dogs who have bred with much larger dogs, and the owners have waited until the mom dog is in mid-delivery to worry about if the pups might be too big for her to deliver naturally. Trying to find a vet who can perform a C-section on short notice can be costly and near impossible in some communities. All because someone thought their female should be allowed to experience motherhood at least once.

Pure breed puppies can be wildly expensive, especially if you don’t educate yourself on both the breed and the breeder. Dogs seen as money makers will be overbred, causing harm to both the moms and the pups. Without informed and careful attention to health conditions, breeders can create weakened bloodlines that result in litter after litter of pups with chronic conditions such as skin allergies, kidney disease, behavior issues, and heart conditions. People who buy these pups are entering a lifetime of chronic illness and facing the financial responsibility of treating these issues for the lifetime of their dog.

Dogs and cats that are not spayed or neutered can ultimately have hundreds of offspring, all of which are likely to contract some illness while living on the streets. Puppies can go from fun-loving and healthy to full-blown Parvo in no time, which can be fatal if left untreated. Having a pup contract Parvo while living with you can also be a death sentence to future pups, as the virus can live for up to a year in the soil in your yard. Treating Parvo requires a dedicated and attentive vet staff providing hospitalization and hourly attention, often for several days, all of which is an expensive endeavor.

Every spring, we see waves of kittens come through the clinic, foundlings that have lost their moms. Upper respiratory infections are almost a given, which can progress to lung infections, neurological issues, and ultimately, death. Kittens that survive to be weaned and become members of feral colonies can contract and spread numerous diseases, including bobcat fever, a nearly 100% fatal infection contracted through a tick bite.

Every year we see puppies, and kittens suffer needlessly. Spayed and neutered pet’s mean not only preventing an increase in the feral population but preventing the spread of illness and disease. It means keeping your existing pets healthier. It means less worry about pets developing conditions and cancers later in life.

There are numerous programs out there to offset, if not completely absorb the cost of spaying and neutering your pet. Don’t get caught up in the notion that every animal deserves to be a mom at least once, or that there aren’t real concerns for the future health issues an intact pet may face. Being a responsible pet owner starts at the very beginning. Test your newly adopted cat for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and Feline Leukemia and your newly adopted dog for heartworms and tick-transmitted diseases. Schedule your vaccines as recommended get your pet spayed and neutered when they are old enough. Investing in that first year of pet ownership can help ensure a long and healthy life with your new family member, and that can be priceless in the long run.

Interesting Facts About External Parasites

external parasites

External parasites are a major problem for pets in Oklahoma during the summer months.  I bet there are a few things in this article that you didn’t know.  The main take away is to protect your pet so they don’t get sick.

Did you know that a single flea can bite your pet 400 times a day, drink more than its body weight in blood and produce hundreds of eggs each day?  Besides causing skin and allergy issues, fleas can transmit tapeworms to your pet. When you see fleas on your pet, you only see 5% of their population. The other 95%, (consisting of eggs, larvae, and pupae) are living in the environment, such as your carpet, couch, and grass. Weather permitting, new adult fleas emerge every 2 weeks.

Ticks are not only disgusting but also dangerous. They can transmit several different blood parasites that can be life-threatening to you and your pet. Recently, a new tick-transmitted disease called Bobcat Fever has been discovered in our area. This illness is 100% fatal to cats. Did you know that when a tick bites your pet, the anesthetic in their saliva keeps the bite from hurting and contains an anticoagulant that keeps the blood flowing? Some life stages of the tick can be so small that they can be difficult to see.

Heartworms are transmitted from animal to animal via mosquitoes.  Did you know that mosquitoes are the number one disease carrier to humans in the world and ticks are number two in the United States?  Mosquitoes have a multitude of sensors designed to detect their prey – including heat, chemical, and visual sensors.

For you and your pet’s safety, strict control of external parasites is paramount. There are many products available, prescription and over the counter, that control flea, ticks, and mosquitoes.  For successful treatment, all pets in the area need to be treated as well as the environment.  Prescription products are typically more expensive but much more effective and last longer than over the counter products.  If you have a cat, make sure the product is labeled for cats, as certain types can be life-threatening.  If you are having problems controlling fleas and ticks, contact your veterinarian for advice.

Enrichment For Dogs: Healthy Minds and Happy Lives

Do your neighbors complain about your dog making noise when you aren’t home? Do you have a dog who tries to dig under or climb over your fence? Do you come home to a dog who has chewed up furniture, scattered the contents of your garbage can, or shredded his bed? A variety of different reasons can cause these issues, but the most common one is simply boredom. So today, I’ll give you some ideas to help enrichment for dogs to help them become healthier, happier members of your household.

As we humans go about our daily lives, it can sometimes be difficult to remember that our dogs’ worlds are much smaller than ours which is why it is important to provide enrichment for dogs. While we travel to jobs, meetings, and outings, our dogs are routinely left home. Even with a yard to roam in or toys to play with, our dogs will eventually become bored. After all, dogs are intelligent, energetic creatures. If we don’t find a way to occupy their minds and exercise their bodies, they’ll come up with their own ways of entertaining themselves, and no matter how hard I’ve hoped, my dogs have never blown off some steam by doing the dishes or vacuuming the house.

Instead, bored dogs are more likely to be destructive, noisy, or take off looking for something fun to do outside of their normal stomping grounds. This can lead not just to messes or annoyance but can also be dangerous for our dogs.

Five ideas for enrichment for dogs:

  • Spend Time With Them

Your dog craves attention. While we can’t always be home with them, make sure to interact with your dog when you’re around. Talk to them, give belly rubs and ear scratches, snuggle on the couch or the floor. Just let them know you’re paying attention.

  • Play A Game

Some dogs enjoy a game of fetch. Others love tug-o-war. I have one dog who loves to play soccer—I kick the ball, and she runs the length of the yard to chase it down and nose it back to me. Another of my pups loves to play with his flirt pole (it’s like a cat wand toy, but bigger and sturdier). Find the game your dog loves best and try to spend at least a few minutes a day playing with them. It’ll help get rid of some of their energy, and it feels good when we humans play, too.

  • Teach Them Something New, Practice Something Old

Learning a new trick or an obedience cue is a great way to engage your dog’s mind and body. By using positive reinforcement methods, you’ll also strengthen the bond between you and your dog. If your best bud already knows a bunch of stuff, spend some time asking her to show off for you and rewarding her for getting it right.

  • Invest In Durable Toys and Food Puzzles

When you must be gone, make sure your dog has something to do with herself while you’re away. Durable chew toys like Nylabones and Kong toys are a great way to give your pet a way to kill some time without killing your furniture. Food puzzles are another great way to provide mental stimulation—just make sure they don’t have small, breakable pieces that your dog might ingest if left unattended.

  • Give Them Some Screen Time

Sometimes, just leaving a tv on for your dog can be a help. I’ve found that PBS Kids is a big hit with my dog Opus. He likes the silly voices and cartoons seem to be engaging to him. He’ll sit in front of the TV, watching Daniel Tiger until he falls asleep. The sound of the TV can also cover outside noises that may cause some dogs to react with barking or destructive behavior.

If you need help coming up with solutions to provide enrichment for dogs, call us and set up an appointment for a consultation with Stef!

Adopt A Shelter Cat Month: Are You Ready to Adopt A Pet?

adopt a pet

The recent flood of kittens needing homes has our local animal shelter scrambling. Kittens in shop windows, videos on social media, catchy signs, and slogans- we will try whatever it takes to adopt a pet, including tugging on every heartstring we can. I’m not above scooping up a kitten from the window and walking out on the sidewalk if I see a promising group out front! But the hard truth is not everyone needs a kitten. As much as we joke with people about a “free kitten with every groom” we know that the best adoption is the permanent adoption, and that can’t happen if people aren’t ready to accept what all that involves.

You see it every spring; the car backed up to the street in a shopping center parking lot with a “Free Puppies/Kittens” sign being waved at the passing cars and usually someone holding a little furry and making it wave its paw at you as you drive by. Every fiber of your being screams STOP THE CAR (not to mention the kids are screaming it, too), and the next thing you know you are trying to explain to your wife or your husband just exactly how you went to the store for cereal and a plunger and came home with another mouth to feed. The kids are explaining how they will walk it and feed it and brush it and love it and clean up after it, and there is NO WAY they would forget it even existed after six days. Come on, how much work could it be, really?

The impulse to adopt a pet, the ones acquired with little to no forethought are the ones that often end up being re-homed, passed from household to household, or sometimes even just dumped on a country road or surrendered to a shelter. So how do you know if you are ready to adopt? What can you do to prepare? Your greatest guide will be information, both on the type of pet you think you want and how your household operates.

Everyone has their mental image of the perfect pet: a fluffy Persian cat to sit in your lap, a majestic golden retriever standing by your side, an adorable little Yorkie tucked in your purse. But how often do people consider what they have to offer a breed or pet? You leave for work at 6 am and don’t get home until 8 pm. That little Yorkie will never make it at home by itself all day. It would have multiple potty accidents and probably develop some serious behavior issues if you brought that dog into your home. You work from home, so your lab or retriever gets to enjoy your company all day, but you live in a tiny apartment with no parks or green spaces anywhere near you. How on earth are you going to give that dog the exercise it needs to burn off that energy inherent to its breed? You bring an adorable little kitten home that now you say has turned into an attack cat, but did you quit interacting with it when it started to grow out of that cute phase?

Bringing a pet home is a commitment. If you choose to bring in a new furry family member, you need to be prepared for all that involves, from the expense of regular vet care to physical grooming and maintenance, even appropriate furnishings in your home. You need to be able and willing to invest the time it takes to work with your pet and show them how to fit in with your family, be it through training or establishing boundaries. You also need to have everyone in the family ready to learn how to care for and interact with the new pet, teaching young children how to approach it and what to avoid. Finally, you need to understand the financial obligation you have taken on, accepting the responsibility of spaying and neutering, of properly vaccinating, and of providing safe and secure enclosures as needed. 

The odds are very little of this goes through your mind as you slam on the brakes and swerve into the parking lot to check out those puppies being waved in your face, which is how so many people get home with the puppy equivalent of magic beans. But if you take a proactive approach, really think about what you want and what you have to offer, you are far less likely to end up in the parking lot situation. 

It sounds like a lot of work because it is a lot of work. There is a lot to consider, a lot of factors to weigh because there is a lot at stake if it is to be done properly. But consider this; if you do your homework, if you spend the time getting your home, family, and self-prepared, bringing a new family member home will be a life-changing experience. A dog or cat, kitten or puppy can be a tool by which your entire family learns patience and kindness and compassion and structure. Watching a kitten or puppy play with its own shadow takes us out of our cloud of stress and worry. Having to help an older animal deal with stiff limbs and fading eyesight helps us all to learn compassion for others, be they pet or person. Having to say goodbye to a true and faithful friend can be the most painful, heartbreaking moment you’ll have to face, but it can also be an incredible gift in recognizing and appreciating unconditional love.

Adopting a pet at any age requires thought and preparation. Taking even these few steps can help make it a smoother and more successful transition within your home and family.

Adopt a pet considerations:

1. Cat or Dog? Outside of personal preference, each species has specific needs. Evaluate your household and lifestyle to see which fits.

2. Long hair or short hair? Cat or dog, long haired pets require more personal grooming, which can mean additional time, money, and physical effort. Sure, you can bathe a St. Bernard at home, it can you get it in the tub?

3. Young or adult? Are you ready for the structure a puppy requires? Let’s face it- they are four-legged toddlers!

4. Breed. This is more about dogs than cats, but specific breeds have specific needs and behaviors. Research your choice before bringing them home.

5. Finances. Money and love always clash it seems, but would you want to bring a child into your home if you were unable to feed it or get it the medical care it needed? I hear all the time how people say veterinary care had gotten expensive, but the truth is we just know more than we used to about how to adequately care for our furry friends. Look into insurance for pets or clinics with wellness plans to help manage the costs.

During the month of June, Guthrie Pet Hospital is offering a free exam with ever cat adopted from an animal shelter. Book an appointment with us today!

Summer Safety Tips And Dangers For Your Pet

summer safety tips

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the kickoff for summer activities.  The kids are out of school, and summer vacations begin.  Many people like to include their pets on their summer outings.  It’s important to be mindful of these dangers in Oklahoma and follow these summer safety tips during your summer travels.

Continue…

Three Types Of Animal Identification

Last week several lost animals were brought into the clinic, so I thought I would re-run this article on animal identification.  It can be difficult to reunite lost pets with their owners especially with lack of identification.  Less than 50% of lost dogs and 20% of lost cats had any identification when they went missing. Only 4% of lost cats and 14% of lost dogs are reunited with their owners. Whereas, approximately 38% of lost cats and 52% of lost dogs with microchips are reunited with their owners.

Continue…
border decoration
border decoration