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

Tag Archives: dogs

Heartworm Prevention: A Primer for Every Pet Parent

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As a responsible pet parent, you know that you are supposed to keep your fur babies on heartworm preventive, but have you ever wondered why it is so important? What would happen if you didn’t? What if your pet has heartworms – what now?

We believe that information is power and there is A LOT of information on this dreaded disease. Over the next 3 posts, we will cover:

  • An overview of the heartworm lifecycle and how prevention fits into disrupting it
  • How the worms cause signs of illness and what the most accurate tests are for diagnosis
  • What are the safest strategies for treatment

Overview of heartworm biology

So what are heartworms anyway? Heartworms are really just that, worms that live in heart of a dog or cat. But how do they get there?

By now you know that mosquitos are the way these little buggers get into our pets. Mosquitos can carry heartworm larvae (microscopic baby worms called microfilaria) which can enter into the bloodstream of a dog or cat when they are bitten by a mosquito. These larvae whoosh around in the bloodstream for about 6 months, getting bigger and bigger until they can’t fit in the small blood vessels anymore. This is when they essentially get stuck in the heart or, in the case of cats, in the large blood vessels in the lungs.

Once they are in the heart or lungs as adults, male and female worms start making babies (more microfilariae!) which also go out and whoosh around the entire blood stream. Adult heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats! This means that every mosquito season can potentially lead to higher and higher numbers of worms living in your pet.  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.

Pets with microfilariae circulating around in their bloodstream also pose a risk for other pets in the area as well by serving as a reservoir. Mosquitos can bite an infected dog, then carry the microfilariae to another dog and the cycle continues.

How does heartworm prevention work?

This is the part where you come in. The monthly medications that you give your dog or cat to prevent heartworm disease works by killing the baby larvae and microfilariae that may have gotten in via the dreaded mosquito bite. Every month you give the medication, you are potentially killing off a new round of invaders before they have the chance to grow into adult worms and cause disease.

This is why monthly heartworm preventive is critical in areas where there is any mosquito activity. According the recommendations from the American Heartworm Society, the safest option for prevention is for pets to be on heartworm prevention year round.

Our next post cover the basics of how the infection actually makes your dog or cat sick and what are the most accurate way of confirming a diagnosis. Stay tuned…

Tags: Ask the Vet, Cats, Dogs, Health, Pet advice, Pet health, Pet info, Safety, Vet

Pet Dental Health Month – Basic Extraction Principles

Brush Your Pet's TeethThe oral cavity has an abundant blood supply and an epithelial surface constantly bathed by saliva, a fluid rich in antimicrobial properties, resulting in oral tissue healing more rapid than skin. Sterile surgical preparation of the oral cavity for extractions is not necessary, however, using clean instruments and adequate preparation of the surgical working area is recommended. Good accessibility and exposure to the surgical site is important while creating gingival flaps to expose the tooth and alveolar bone adequately. Gentle tissue handling is used to minimize tissue trauma and promote faster healing. Appropriate instruments that are clean, sharp, well taken care of and stored properly will maintain the effectiveness and longevity of the instruments.

Preference for suture material will vary, however, absorbable sutures are recommended such as chromic gut, Vicryl or Monocryl. Suturing techniques may vary according to procedure, but generally a simple interrupted pattern is used.  Gingival flaps are created to adequately expose the alveolar bone over the roots.  One problem many veterinarians have is that they do not make a large enough flap and when they go to suture closed, the gingival flap may not be large enough to lay over the extraction site and as a result creates too much tension resulting in dehiscence of the flap. When closing gingival flaps there should be absolutely no tension, avoid unnecessary gaps and the sharp edges of alveolar bony crests with spicules should be smoothed with a diamond bur, all will promote optimal healing.

Tags: Ask a Vet, Cats, Dogs, Health, Pet advice, Pet Dental Health, Pet health, Vet

Pet Dental Health Month – Fractured Teeth

Brush Your Pet's TeethPotential causes include previous blunt trauma, e.g., being hit by a car, running into a wall or excessive chewing on hard objects such as rocks, hard Nylabones®, cow hooves, antlers and other objects that do not soften when chewed.

Dogs and cats with fractured teeth typically have pain while chewing and may selectively eliminate hard food from their diet in the acute phase or when the tooth is abscessed. In between the initial insult of injury and when the tooth becomes abscessed there may be no pain present.  The dog or cat may pick up food, attempt to eat it, and drop it out of the mouth (indicating oral pain). Reluctance to play with toys or failure to retrieve or engage in bite work (in working dogs) also signals oral pain. These patients may also resist oral examination or possibly “snap” at you when examining the mouth. Clinical overt signs include pawing at the mouth, rubbing the head or chin along the ground, reluctance to be patted on the head, obvious tooth fractures, ulcers on the tongue or lips from rough sharp enamel edges, excessive salivation and discoloration of the tooth itself.

Discolored teeth indicate the tooth or teeth are non-vital or dead. When a tooth is discolored red or pink, the blood supply to the tooth has leaked into the dentin. The blood supply coming into the tooth at the apex will be compromised causing complete separation of the blood supply. If left untreated, vascular necrosis develops over time and the tooth dies. The crown will initially will be red or pink, then will change to purple, light gray and eventually dark gray. Damage to the pulp can also result from thermal injury caused by incorrect use of ultrasonic scaling or polishing when the scaler or polishing cup is placed on the tooth surface for an extended time. The treatment of choice for fractured teeth where pulp is exposed or when discolored teeth are present is either root canal therapy or surgical extraction.

Ignoring fractured or discolored tooth or teeth will prolong the pain and discomfort and allow the infection to propagate, which will eventually cause major problems.

Tags: Ask the Vet, Cats, Dogs, Health, Pet advice, Pet Dental Health, Pet health, Vet
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