Parasite prevention and your pet is something very important. With summer fast approaching, pet owners are more active with their pets outside. That is where you will find parasites that can infest your pets, several of which can infect people as well. So because of this, parasite prevention is not only important for the health of your pet but also for the health of your family.
As a veterinarian, we generally talk about controlling and preventing four major parasite groups—Fleas and Ticks, Intestinal Parasites, and Heartworms.
Fleas and Ticks
Fleas and ticks are troublesome parasites of the skin. Not only are they troublesome because they cause problems with the skin, they also transmit several diseases to your pet. There are many effective products out there that can be purchased from your veterinarian to control and prevent flea and tick infestations. Regular use of these products can prevent fleas and ticks from becoming a problem to your pet. As tempting as it might be to purchase an over the counter product from your pet store or big box store, I would caution you as a pet owner to be very careful. Many of these products can have serious side effects if used improperly and may have limited effectiveness.
Intestinal parasites can cause pets to vomit, have diarrhea, lose weight, and lead to a poor overall condition of your pet. The most common intestinal parasites in cats and dogs are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, tapeworms and coccidia. All of these parasites can have the ability to affect your pet. Additionally, some roundworms, hookworms, and some tapeworms can also affect humans. Because of this, pet owners should contact their veterinarian to check on a routine testing schedule and monthly preventatives.
Most parasites cannot be seen with the naked eye in the feces. Your veterinarian can diagnose the infestation by taking a sample of the feces and looking at it under a microscope. The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends that a fecal analysis be performed 2 to 4 times during a pets first year of life and at least 1 to 2 times per year for adults.
Because your pet can get exposed to intestinal parasites at birth and an early age of life, the CAPC recommends that puppies and kittens should be dewormed every 2 to 3 weeks until they are 12 weeks old and animals that are older should be dewormed at least twice. Once the initial deworming is complete, dogs and cats should be put on a monthly, year-round product that prevents intestinal parasites as well as heartworm infections.
The area where your pet eliminates can become contaminated with intestinal parasite eggs. This can cause reinfection to your pet or exposure and infection of future pets or humans. Immediate removal of the feces from the yard greatly reduces the chance that the property will become contaminated with the intestinal parasite.
Heartworms are a parasite that resides in the heart and is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. This mosquito is harboring the larva of the heartworm and it is injected with the saliva into the bloodstream of the dog. The larva migrate to the heart where they mature and become adults. Over time, heartworms can cause exercise intolerance, heart failure and respiratory problems in dog. Fortunately, heartworms are preventable. There are several fantastic monthly preventative options available through your veterinarian. When given year-round, these products will provide protection against heartworms and several other intestinal parasites and fleas that can infect dogs, cats and people. Your vet would be a good source to help you decide which product is best for you and your pet.
Here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic we carry products to protect your pets. Stop in or give us a call and we would help you decide what is best. You are always welcome to contact us here with questions.
At last month’s Westminster Dog Show in New York City, a German Shepherd named Rumor won the best of show. German Shepherds are quite popular, however I would like to put the spotlight on a breed that is not so popular. This month’s breed is the Lagotto Romagnollo. The dog’s name means “lake dog from Romagna.”
The Lagotto Romagnollo breed dates back to the 1600’s in Italy. They were originally bred as a hunting breed to assist in the retrieval of coots in the wetlands of Italy. The medium sized, curly coated dog would work tirelessly retrieving the birds often breaking through ice to do so. After the wetlands had dried up in the 19th century, the dogs were taught to find and retrieve the valuable fungi truffles in the countrysides of Italy. This was made possible because the breed had a sharp aptitude for searching, a steep learning curve and an unbeatable sense of smell.
The Lagotto Romagnollo is often compared the the Portuguese Water Dog because of the hunting ability and curly coat. An interesting fact is the Lagotto is the only dog specifically bred to hunt truffles.
The mid-sized dog adult weight will be 24 to 35 pounds. It is approximately 16 to 19 inches tall and has a life expectancy of 15 years. Coat colors can include more than one color of brown, roan, off white, white or orange.
Lagatto Romagnollos very rarely shed because of their waterproof double coat and are considered hypoallergenic. Trimming the dog’s coat will be necessary but you won’t need to brush it very often.
This breed are very intelligent and energetic dogs that love to play and swim outdoors, so it will be important for them to be part of a family. While the breed strongly bonds to its human family, it is best to socialize them at an early age because of their shyness. Once they bond and are socialized, the breed thrives best with lots of interaction. They are definitely an indoor breed that needs time outside to be well adjusted and content.
As pointed out earlier they are active but not hyper, so the owner must be willing to invest and commit time every day to train them. The Logattos are a delight to train and are good problem solvers. Besides truffle hunting, their intelligence has allowed them to be trained to do search and rescue, participate in therapy work and game hunt. Their intelligence, jumping ability and drive make them ideal candidates for various competitions such as agility, tracking, obedience and nose work. Most are naturally drawn to water and love to swim.
If you have a Lagatto Romagnollo or not, the Olsen Veterinary Clinic would like to be your hometown veterinarian. If we can be of service please feel free to call us at (618)-656-5868 or send us an email.
Recently you may have read in the news about a distemper outbreak at a St. Louis adoption agency that killed several dogs and puppies. That is terrible news, but most times, distemper can be preventible.
Distemper is a viral disease that is related to the virus that causes measles in humans. It is spread through all body secretions, especially airborne particles from breathing. This makes it easy for an untreated or unvaccinated dogs to be infected. It appears most often in puppies that are between 6 and 12 weeks who haven’t been vaccinated because the protective antibodies that they had received from their mothers had fallen to a level too low to prevent infection. Not only dogs transfer the infection, but other animals are threats to spread this disease. The most common species that can spread distemper are raccoons, skunks and foxes. Coming into contact with the droppings of these animals can easily spread the disease.
Initially, the disease may present itself with mild symptoms may be mild. These symptoms may include:
- Fever of 103 to 109
- Watery discharge from the eyes and nose
- Depression and listlessness
- Loss of appetite
- Thick, yellow discharge from the eyes and nose
- Dry cough
- Pus blisters on the abdomen
As the disease progresses, it attacks the brain and the symptoms become neurological. Disease progression clinical signs could include:
- Head shaking
- Chewing jaw motions
- Seizure-like symptoms, such as falling over and kicking feet uncontrollably
- Rhythmic muscle jerking of the head and neck
- Thick, horny skin on the nose and callus-like pads on the feet
If your pet gets distemper, it can’t be cured. Dogs that have progressed to the neurological stage are at a much higher risk of death than if it is caught earlier and treated. Treatment can help the dog mount an immune response better or it may lessen the symptoms of distemper. Since distemper is a virus, the dog’s life relies on the dog’s ability to fight off the disease. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. He may also give the dog IV fluids to address the dehydration and he may prescribe medications to control diarrhea, vomiting and seizures.
Success of the treatments are largely dependent on the age of the dog, how quickly you seek help, the distemper strain, and whether your dog has been vaccinated. Vaccination against distemper is highly protective.
Some dogs may recover on their own, but owners should never take the wait and see approach with distemper. If your dog recovers from distemper, and that is a big “if”, your dog would be naturally immune to a second attack, just like measles in humans.
I would recommend using caution when socializing puppies or unvaccinated dogs at parks, obedience classes, doggy day care and other places where dogs can congregate since this disease is quite contagious. Make sure that you do not share food or water bowls with other dogs as this can be a common source of infection.
I can’t stress enough how important that your dog should be vaccinated for distemper. This vaccination is usually started when the puppy is 5 to 6 weeks old and continued every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 4 months old. This should provide long lasting immunity. But it is not permanent. If your dog is adopted, ask the facility if and when they had given the distemper vaccine. No dog should ever die of distemper as the vaccinations are quite effective.
With the quality vaccines distemper is very preventible. Keeping your pet current on its’ vaccines is extremely important. If you have any further questions or need your pet vaccinated, please feel free to contact us here or call us at 618-656-5868.
Parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that is of particular concern to puppy owners due to the severity of the symptoms, the weak immune system and possible death of the puppy. The virus manifests itself in two forms. The most common form is the intestinal form, which is characterized by vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, lethargy and lack of appetite. The less common form is the cardiac form, which attacks the heart muscles of very young puppies, often leading to death.
The intestinal form of the virus is passed through oral contact both directly and indirecty with the virus. Clinical signs will show most commonly about 5 to 10 days after exposure. It can also be spread through fomites, feces, or through infected soil and once an uninfected dog comes in to oral contact with the infection, the virus can spread quickly through the lymphoid tissue in the dog’s throat. After replication the virus will then spread to the bloodstream where it attacks cells in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, and intestines. Parvovirus then destroys those fast growing cells, depleting the body of the white blood cells and the lymphocytes, along with destroying the cells in the intestines. Puppies can then become toxic and septicemic due to the poisoning of the blood system from the virus. The puppy has the inability to absorb nutrients and will become dehydrated and weak quickly from lack of protein and fluid absorption. The puppy’s abdomen may become painful on palpation and the heart may beat rapidly.
The cardiac form seen in puppies is usually fatal. It is less common and is usually spread to the puppy in utero or when the mother is pregnant with them. The virus damages the heart muscle which aren’t strong enough to withstand the virus. The death of the puppies with this form usually come on suddenly and the puppy shows little sign of distress.
Parvo is usually a disease of young puppies from four weeks to six months of age or in the older immunosuppressed dog. Time is one of the most significant factors in whether or not a treatment of parvo will be successful: thr earlier the virus is detected and the treatment begins, the better the outlook for treatment. If the virus is caught quickly enough, treatment can begin and death can be prevented. So if your pet has any of those symptoms, it is best to seek veterinary care immediately. The mortality rate is around 91% if left untreated, but with treatment mortality rates drop to 5% to 20% when treated aggressively. When presented with a possible parvo puppy, most veterinarian’s protocols will include a thorough physical examination, necessary blood work such as a complete blood count and chemistry and either an EIA or hemagglutination test on a feces sample to look for signs of parvovirus.
A puppy should always be hospitalized in order to receive treatment. Treatment usually consists of administration of IV fluids and colloids, administration of anti-nausea medications and injections of antibiotics depending upon the dog and the veterinarian administering the treatment. The administration of the fluids serve as both to rehydrate and rebalance the levels of the electrolytes to maintain healthy functions. Sometimes blood plasma transfusions may be needed to provide passive immunity to the sick individual with developed antibodies. After the initial treatment, the puppy will be weaned off additional fluids once they are able to keep fluids down. Bland foods that are easy on the gastrointestinal system is usually recommended along with oral antibiotics to help fight potential for infection due to the low white blood cell counts. Any infections following the treatment of parvovirus can lead to death because of the weakened immune system.
Because parvo can be a devastating virus, one of the most significant things any dog owner can do is prevent infection of their dog. The first step in preventing it is to properly have their puppy vaccinated based on the recommendation of their veterinarian. Most puppies derive immunity through their mother’s colostral antibodies that they receive with the first milk that they get after birth. Because of this, here at the Olsen Veterinary Clinic, we recommend starting a vaccination schedule at 6 to 8 weeks of age and then vaccinate every 3 to 4 weeks until the puppy is 16 weeks old. Our recommendation is not the number of vaccinations that it gets, but when they get them at their chronological age.
To prevent the spread of the parvovirus, it is important to decontaminate where your puppy has been. It is also important to realize that even though your puppy survived the treatment, it can still contaminate other healthy dogs with the virus through their feces. The parvovirus can survive living in the soil for as long as a year so it is crucial to decontaminate completely areas where and infected or successfully treated dog eliminates its waste. The only chemical known to kill parvo is bleach at a 15:1 ratio. The general advice is to wait about 6 months before bringing a new puppy home. It is also advised to have the puppy completely vaccinated before bringing them in to a home that has been recently exposed to the parvovirus.
The old adage of “happy neighbors are good neighbors” applies here. An important step is to notify your neighbors and friends if they have been in contact with your premises or pet. Since parvo can be spread from dog to dog in addition to being spread through feces and soil, it is important that your neighbors know. They may simply expose their pet to parvo by simply walking their puppy on your grass or even by walking across your yard and then taking it home. It is important to share the information that you have learned with your neighbors because if they see similar clinical signs and symptoms, they can act on it promptly.
Parvovirus is a very destructive and very rapidly moving disease that can kill an otherwise healthy puppy in a matter of days, but with proper precautions it can possibly be wiped out. All it takes is regular vaccinations of all dogs in addition to treatment and appropriate decontamination of infected areas. Even if a dog is successfully treated and recovers from parvo without proper decontamination of the home area, it is possible to spread the disease to other dogs in the community. It takes a combinations of responsible pet ownership, good veterinary care, and vigilant decontamination of infected areas in order to prevent and hopefully eliminate this virus.
“I figured, what’s the worse that could happen? If he got sick, I’d take him to the vet. Well, he got sick. Real sick. It kills me to think about how scared, how weak he looked, and how despondent my kids were. He was the star of the house. And he was gone, just like that.”
Some days in our clinic, we see this. Clients bringing in their lifeless pets for us to treat and nurse their beloved pet back to health. Sometimes this could have been preventable if only they had vaccinated their pet.
If you have paid attention to the media, there is a lot of discussion on whether you should vaccinate your children or not. Unfortunately, this discussion also crops up in veterinary medicine—whether to vaccinate your pet or not.
There are only two reasons to vaccinate. They are to protect your pet and protect the pets and people around us. Cat and dog diseases still exist and can infect any pet that is not protected. You never know when or where your pet can be exposed. Vaccinations are the best way to stimulate the immune system to stop diseases when exposed and for the vast majority of pets, the benefits of vaccinating far outweigh the risks.
We can’t depend on other pet owners to provide the proper vaccinations to their pets so that our pet has less opportunity to get a disease. So by vaccinating we are cooperating will all individuals to reduce the possibility of spreading disease.
There are several reasons that you should vaccinate your pets. The first and foremost is that with some diseases, it is the law. It is mandatory that you have your pet vaccinated against rabies in every U.S. State. Even pets kept indoors can potentially be exposed if the get out unexpectedly or an uninvited animal gets in the house. The important thing about rabies is that humans can get it and it is fatal.
Several diseases can be transmitted from pets to humans such as rabies and Leptospirosis. Vaccinating your pet helps reduce the risk of human infection and is especially necessary if there are young, elderly, or immune-compromised members in your household.
Many people have their pet groomed, boarded, or attend doggy daycare. If you do, most places require that you pet have a vaccine against kennel cough. This disease is a hacking cough that is highly contagious. Although the disease is relatively mild, it can sometime lead to severe pneumonia.
Young unvaccinated puppies are at risk to contracting parvovirus. This is a severe life-threatening infection that causes bloody diarrhea and vomiting to the point of shock and even death. Parvovirus is extremely contagious and puppies are most at risk. This disease is almost 100% preventable with vaccination.
Puppies can get a severe neurological, dermatologic, and respiratory disease called distemper. Most dogs that contract distemper and euthanized due to the progressive nature of the disease. This disease can also be prevented by timely vaccinations.
There are other diseases such as hepatitis, Lyme disease, and Leptospirosis that can be prevented by vaccinating your puppies.
Believe it or not vaccinating can save money. Most veterinary vaccinations are relatively inexpensive. Vaccinations are definitely less expensive that the cost of treatment for the diseases that they protect against.
An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. Many dangerous diseases seen in dogs and cats are completely preventable with the right vaccinations. Vaccinating gives pet owners peace of mind and helps pets lead safe and healthy lives.
If you have questions, or are still unsure about vaccinations for your pet, contact our office today.