If it seems like you shouldn't have to think about heartworm protection this time of year, we pets feel the same way. I will let you in on a little secret, though. We may act like we don't appreciate what you do to keep us safe from this nasty parasite, but we really do. We even understand that heartworm protection doesn't take a season off.
Infected mosquitos transmit heartworm disease to dogs and cats through a single bite. Unfortunately, the heartworm parasite can live up to five years inside the host animal’s body and grow to a length of one foot. They can also reproduce at an extremely fast rate. When the larvae mature, they live inside the right heart ventricle or the pulmonary arteries of your pet. They enter your dog or cat’s right atrium when so many are present that there isn’t enough room for all of them. Severe heartworm infestation can cause your pet to collapse and die.
Symptoms and Prevention of Heartworm Disease
Please contact us at Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital right away if your pet displays any of the following symptoms:
• Loss of appetite
• Loss of weight
• Cough that doesn’t go away
• Lack of energy
• Fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest or seem to be caused by exertion
It's important to note that some dogs and cats don’t give any indication that they’re infected with heartworm. By the time you suspect something, it may be too late for treatment to be effective. As dire as this sounds, heartworm disease is entirely preventable. Many products are on the market just for the prevention of heartworm, which can make it challenging to choose the most effective one for your pet. Our veterinarians are happy to make a recommendation upon request.
How Heartworm Disease Manifests Differently in Cats
Heartworm disease occurs less often in cats, but it tends to be more serious due to their smaller size. Sometimes it only takes one worm for a cat to have serious health consequences. They may display shortness of breath and coughing fits or no symptoms at all. A diagnosis of heartworm disease is more challenging to arrive at in cats because we must conduct several blood tests to ensure the symptoms aren’t due to another health condition. Our veterinarians will tailor your cat’s treatment approach to her age, general health, and the number of worms present.
Treatment for Dogs
Once we have confirmed a positive heartworm diagnosis for your dog, you must restrict his exercise as much as possible. This can be difficult, especially for very active dogs. However, exercise increases the amount of damage heartworms can do to your dog’s heart and lungs. Once he has stabilized, we will begin a treatment plan based on his individual factors. This typically includes medication for heartworm prevention.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have additional concerns about heartworm disease. We strongly encourage you to give your pet a prevention product all year long.
Photo Credit: Henrik_L / Getty Images
I can't believe I'm doing this, but I have to come clean. My animal friends and I might beg for your chocolatey treats and give you the cold shoulder when you don't share, but deep down we know you're doing what's best for us. After all, our stomachs just can't handle this stuff like yours can. So, go ahead and enjoy your chocolate but please keep it to yourself.
Cocoa beans and baking chocolate contain a higher concentration of toxic ingredients while milk and white chocolate are on the lower end of the toxicity scale. However, it’s not just chocolate treats that pose a danger for your pet. Cocoa mulch, which gardeners use to keep their plants healthy, has a strong chocolate aroma that attracts pets. Be sure to keep your pet away from the garden and store cocoa mulch on a high shelf in the garage if you use it.
Symptoms and Treatment of Chocolate Toxicity
Sometimes all it takes is leaving a candy bar in sight for a few seconds while you turn your attention elsewhere for a persistent pet to nab a treat. If you know or suspect that your pet has eaten chocolate, watch for the following symptoms:
- Excessive panting
- Abnormal heart rhythm, with or without an increased rate
- Increased thirst and urination
- Tremors and muscle twitching
Seizures and death can occur in severe cases of chocolate poisoning. Animals with underlying health conditions, as well as the very young or old, have a higher risk of increased complications from eating chocolate.
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact Buffalo Companion Animal Hospital immediately during regular business hours. We are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Friday, and 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. The Pet Poison Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-764-7661. Treatment may consist of trying to induce vomiting, medications to control diarrhea and stomach pain, IV fluids, heart medication, or anti-convulsants.
With Valentine’s Day arriving shortly, it’s even more important to keep your sweet treats out of your pet’s reach.