Best Friends Pet Care : The Dog Dish
Best Friends Pet Care : The Dog Dish

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2016

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Best Friends Pet Care : The Dog Dish

Author Archives: j.garcia

Socializing your new puppy: what you need to know

Now that you have gotten (somewhat) used to the newest addition to the family, it’s time to start thinking about socialization? The key to having a happy and nonfearful dog, is to start training during puppyhood. Here are some tips on how to get started.

At home…

Once your puppy has been home for a few days and is settled in, start introducing him to loud noises around the house. Get the vacuum cleaner out and let him sniff it. Turn it on and see how he reacts. This should go without saying but, don’t chase him with it and don’t force him to be near it. He may be afraid of it at first but after a few more times, it won’t make him so anxious. Also let him hear the garbage disposal, the hair dryer, the blender, etc. Whatever makes loud noises in your house (including the kids, although he’s likely heard them a lot by now).

When you are relaxing on the sofa, play with his feet and stick your fingers in his mouth periodically. Trim his nails so he gets used to this. There may not really be a lot to trim, but the act of having you hold his feet will help make it less stressful later. The same for getting him used to you opening his mouth in case you ever have to give him medicine. Now is a good time to get him used to you brushing his teeth as well.

 

Out in the world…

This part of socialization is definitely fun but you really have to wait until your pup is done will all of the puppy vaccines before venturing out into the world with your new BFF.  Ask your family vet and your dog-loving friends about “puppy kindergarten” classes in your area. These are also offered at some of our Best Friends facilities so be sure to ask J [JG1] In these classes, your pup will learn to interact with other dogs, new people, new environments, and lots of new smells. Puppy heaven! Having your puppy explore these things in a specific space and structured environment allows you to see how he/she does and help ensure that they don’t grow up being fearful or aggressive. Kindergarten classes will also start to lay the foundation for some behavior training as well.
Puppyhood is also the best time to start training your puppy to go for walks with a leash. Frequent walks are key since this is a skill that can take some time to master. If your pup sees things that scare him, such as a tree or a trash can, he may bark and back away. Don’t try to soothe him if he does this or he will think it is a good behavior. Instead, walk him past it gently, don’t pull or force him towards it though.

Overall, enjoy the process. Socialization is one of the most fun parts of having a puppy – its and excuse to show him off and play so, take advantage of it! And always remember we are here if you need us!!

Tags: Dog training, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Puppy, Tips

Heartworms 101: Part 3

Border Collie

So how is heartworm infection treated?

So your dog or cat has been diagnosed with heartworm disease, now what? For dogs, there are approved medications and well established guidelines about how to treat depending on the severity of their disease. For cats, things are a bit trickier since there are no approved treatments for heartworm infection in cats. This is why prevention is so critical.

Let’s cover the basics of treatment for each species individually.

Dogs

Once a diagnosis has been made, your veterinarian will want to perform some additional tests to get a better idea of how much, if any, damage has already occurred. The reason behind this approach is that the severity of the changes can help gauge the risk for complications. However, even dogs with mild changes can develop complications and will need to be monitored closely. One the most important things that you can do as a pet parent once your dog has been diagnosed with heartworm disease is restrict their activity.  Exertion can increase the risk for further damage and increase the chance of complications either before or during therapy.

Heartworm disease in dogs is typically classified as:

Mild No clinical signs or minimal clinical signs
Moderate May have a cough or exercise intolerance, abnormal lung sounds during physical exam
Severe Cough, exercise intolerance, anemia, abnormal lung sounds during physical exam, enlarged liver, or fluid in the abdomen
Caval syndrome Sudden onset of severe weakness, collapse, discolored urine

Prior to heartworm therapy, your veterinarian will prescribe an antibiotic called doxycycline or minocycline. This medication helps eliminate a bacteria carried by the heartworms that can cause complications during therapy. Your veterinarian may also recommend a medication at this time to begin to kill off any baby heartworms (microfilariae) as well.

Therapy to kill the adult heartworms will involve a medication called melarsomine which is given as a series of 3 injections over the course of 1 month. Your dog will get one injection then another 2 injections, 24 hours apart, 30 days later. In addition to STRICT EXERCISE RESTRICTION, your veterinarian may also prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication during this time to help decrease inflammation that may occur as a result of the dying worms.

About 6 months after treatment, your veterinarian will perform a blood test to confirm that all of the adult worms have been eliminated.

Cats

There are no approved drugs to treat cats with heartworm infections. Unlike in dogs, the goal of therapy in cats is not to eliminate worms, but to manage the clinical signs and try to reduce further damage. For cats with clinical signs such as coughing or wheezing, your veterinarian may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication called prednisolone to help reduce inflammation in the airways.

Radiographs (x-rays) of the chest will also be important to determine the severity of the changes in the lungs and assess progression.

Cats can sometimes overcome a heartworm infection on their own over time so blood tests should be performed every 6 to 12 months in heartworm-positive kitties to see if the infection has cleared.

Tags: Ask the Vet, Best Friends Spotlight, Cats, Dogs, Health, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Pet health, Pet info, Tips, Vet

Heartworms 101: Part 2

Sitting PugWhat are the signs and how is heartworm infection diagnosed?

 So if you read the first part of our series (insert link), you now have a better sense of how these dreaded little creatures get into our pets. Now let’s talk about what they do once they get in there and how they can make our fur babies so miserable.

How does heartworm infection become heartworm disease?

So once this parasite sets up shop in your dog or cat, the male and female adult worms make more baby worms (microfilariae). As this cycle of reproduction goes on over months to years, the adult worms are continuously causing damage to the inside of the heart. In the case of cats, the problems are even more severe since the worms are actually in the lungs and wreaking havoc there.

These worms can cause disease in a variety of ways.

  • They cause inflammation
  • They cause an obstruction in blood flow
  • They cause an allergic reaction

Any of these issues will lead to clinical signs that can vary from mild to severe. Some pets, specifically dogs, can have an infection and show no signs at all early in the disease process.  These clinical signs can also be seen as worms die, either from old age or due to treatment (more on this in the next part of our series).

The most common signs of heartworm disease in dogs are:

  • Coughing (this can vary in frequency and severity)
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Fatigues easily
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • In dogs with severe advanced disease, you may see a distended abdomen, labored breathing, pale gums, or discolored urine

The most common signs of heartworm disease in cats are:

  • Vomiting
  • Asthma-like symptoms (wheezing, labored breathing)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • In severe cases, the first clinical sign may be sudden collapse

How is heartworm infection diagnosed?

The American Heartworm Society recommends that dogs and cats be tested annually, even if they are on heartworm preventive. This is to ensure that the prevention plan is working. The test only requires a small sample of blood. In dogs, the test will look for a specific protein (antigen) in the blood that is released by the adult heartworms. The test is very sensitive and even a dog with a low number of adult worms will be positive. Dogs can also be screened by looking for the baby worms (microfilariae) in the peripheral blood but this test is not as sensitive as the antigen test.

In cats, heartworm infection can be harder to detect. Since their infections commonly only consist of low numbers of immature worms, the ideal test will screen for the antigen as well as an antibody level which detects exposure to heartworm larvae. Some cats may require other tests as well if the blood tests alone are not definitive. These may include x-rays of the chest or an ultrasound of the heart.

In our next installment, we will discuss treatment of heartworm infection in dogs and cats.

Tags: Ask the Vet, Health, Pet advice, Pet behavior, Pets, Preventative pet care
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