April is Heartworm Awareness Month
Pets and their people love being outside in the summertime - and so do mosquitoes. Because mosquitoes are the most common carriers of heartworm disease, keeping pets up to date on preventive heartworm treatments during mosquito season is especially important.
Heartworms are exactly that—large worms that live in the hearts of cats and dogs. Known as Dirofilaria Immitis, heartworms are long, spaghetti-like worms that range in size from 6 to 10 inches. Heartworms are almost always transmitted by mosquitoes. A mosquito bites an infected dog or cat; that mosquito picks up microfilariae, a microscopic version of the heartworm. When that mosquito bites your dog or cat, the heartworm microfilariae are transmitted to him / her. Within 70 to 90 days, the microfilariae make it to your pet's heart and, once mature, begin reproducing. The cycle then begins again.
Signs of heartworm disease in pets vary based on the age and species of the pet and the number of worms present. Because the worms are usually located on the right side of the heart and lung, coughing and shortness of breath are common signs in both dogs and cats. Dogs that have just acquired the disease may have no signs, while dogs with a moderate occurrence of the disease may cough and show an inability to exercise. In extreme cases, dogs may experience fainting, weight loss, fever, abdominal swelling and death. In cats, the symptoms of heartworm disease are similar to those of feline asthma, including coughing and shortness of breath. Some cats may exhibit no signs of the disease, while others may suddenly die.
When it comes to preventing heartworm disease, pet owners have a number of options. Before beginning preventive medication, pet owners should have their pets tested for the presence of heartworms. If heartworms are present, a treatment plan should be discussed with your veterinarian. Most heartworm prevention is done by administering your pet a once-a-month heartworm preventive medication. Many of these monthly products are administered as a chew-able treat. Some are combined with other preventive medications. Your veterinarian will recommend the product that is best suited for your pet.
If you would like to have your pet tested for heartworm or you would like additional information about the disease, please contact your veterinary hospital.
Say Thank You: World Veterinary Day is April 24
Saturday, April 24 is World Veterinary Day for 2022. Started by the World Veterinary Association, World Veterinary Day was started to honor veterinarians and spread awareness of the One Health Concept, which “recognizes that the health and well-being of animals, humans and the ecosystem are interconnected, and depend on effective and sustained collaboration between human and animal-focused disciplines.”
But what does your veterinarian actually do?
If you think veterinary medicine is about animals, you’re only partially right. Animals don’t call veterinarians. People call veterinarians. The vast range of people and places needing veterinary services include research laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, zoos, dairies, swine farms, public health departments, feed industry, livestock industry and pet owners. Veterinary medicine is a great field because it encompasses so many different areas.
Most people don’t realize how closely human medicine is linked to veterinary medicine. Lifesaving medical advances, in areas from vaccine development to heart surgery, could not have been made without the use of research animals. People may also be unaware of the public services that involve veterinarians. Government agencies from the FDA to state health departments rely on veterinarians to track rabies, foodborne illnesses and diseases transmitted from animals to people.
Of course, there are many benefits to working closely with animals. One of the pleasures of being a veterinarian is that people who own animals love their animals, whether the animals are horses, pigs, iguanas or puppies. You are generally dealing with people with empathy who like what they are doing. They recognize that what is best for the animal is also usually best for them.
For more information about World Veterinary Day, check out the World Veterinary Association’s website.
Advantages Of Spays and Neuters
Spaying or neutering pets is a common procedure, and most pet owners have probably had some experience with having the procedure done on animals they have owned.
Aside from the inconvenience of heat cycles and/or roaming tom cats, there are medical benefits associated to having your pet spayed or neutered. The direct health benefits of spaying or neutering are significant for the pet. If female pets are spayed before their first heat cycle, the risk of developing mammary tumors (breast cancer) is significantly reduced. Spaying female pets eliminates the risk of pyometra, an infection of the uterus. This disease can be very serious, even fatal, in female pets. Male pets can also benefit. Neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate disease.
Spaying or neutering can indirectly help prolong a pet's life as well. When pets are spayed or neutered, their tendencies to roam or fight are greatly reduced. This prevents the pets from getting lost, stolen, hit by cars, or contracting a contagious disease.
Cats that fight are at risk of contracting a serious disease called feline leukemia. This disease, which affects the immune system of the cat, can be passed from feline to feline through saliva or blood. Cats also run the risk of contracting feline immune deficiency virus when they fight. This disease is very similar to human HIV. It can lie dormant in the cat for quite a while, and when activated, can cause the cat's immune system to function improperly.
Spaying or neutering dogs can help keep them under control. Dogs that have not been spayed or neutered are more likely to wander away from home. While running loose, they have a chance of being hit by a car, getting lost, stolen or taken to the animal shelter.
Even though spays and neuters are considered routine surgery, there is nothing routine about any abdominal surgery performed under general anesthesia. Most veterinarians consider spays and neuters to be major surgery, especially when spaying older animals that have had several heat cycles or have had litters.
Veterinarians and humane societies advise pet owners to have their pets spayed or neutered. The medical advantages have been proven. Complications resulting from these procedures are rare and pets recover from surgery very quickly. Often the day after surgery, animals are bright and alert, sometimes seeming as if nothing had ever happened.
The cost of the procedure varies depending upon the species, sex, size and age of the pet.