How to Look for Fleas on Your Pet
Examine your pet’s coat carefully. Using a fine-toothed comb (flea comb), look for adult fleas, or for specks that look like pepper (flea dirt). The most common areas to find fleas/flea dirt are the groin, armpits, tailhead, and the neck area. Transfer the black specks onto a white paper towel, and moisten it with water. If the specks leave a red stain, these are definatley flea droppings.
Flea Allergy Dermatitis
Many dogs and cats are allergic to flea saliva, and even a few bites cause these pets to be intensely ithcy. For these pets, flea prevention is critical. The skin irritation associated with flea bites can be treated with anti-inflammatories, and skin infections can be controlled with antibiotics.
Successful Flea Control
An effective flea control program requires treatment of all:
- Pets in the household
- Stages of fleas
- Areas of the environment
It is very important to use a flea control product that controls the larva and egg stages, as these stages comprise 95% of the flea population. Look for house treatments that contain insect growth regulators (IGRs) for effective control of all stages. Adult fleas spend a majority of their lives on a dog or cat, and are easily killed with an effective adulticide product.
Fleas complete their life cycles best in carpet/upholstry fibers, cracks or crevices on the floor, and in shady areas of yards. Concentrate control efforts in these areas. Prevention is easier and less costly than treating a flea infestation.
A. Treat the pet.
Adult fleas that are living on the pet must be killed. Effective products will not only treat an active infestation, they will prevent future infestations. It is recommended to use monthly.
These products include:
- Simparica – once monthly oral tablet for dogs only
- Comfortis – once monthly oral tablet for dogs and cats
- Parastar Plus – topical for dogs only
- Easy Spot – topical for cats only
- Revolution – topical
For pets with a significant amounts of flea dirt, we recommend administering product, waiting two (2) days, then bathe with an aloe/oatmeal shampoo. It is not recommended to use medicated shampoos or flea shampoos in conjunction with other products. These shampoos will strip, or remove, the topical products.
B. Treat the house/outdoor environment.
Remember that only 5% of the flea populations are adult fleas on the pet. The remaining 95% of the population are eggs, larvae, and pupae living in carpet and upholstery.
The recommended home treatment is a product called Knockout Spray (with IGR). One (1) can treats approximately 1200 – 1500 square feet.
- Vacuum all carpets, upholstered furniture, baseboards, and under furniture. Discard vacuum cleaner bag immediately.
- Mop floors with warm, soapy water.
- Change all linens, blankets, and replace (or wash in hot water) pet bedding.
- Follow the directions on the can. All pets and humans must be out of the treated areas as directed on the can.
- Spray all carpeted areas and upholstery with the house treatment spray. Be sure to treat under furniture, and to treat all rooms in the house.
- If you pet spends a lot of time outside or in a kennel, these areas must be treated for fleas as well. Concentrate on shady, protected areas, and dog houses. Treat the areas according to label directions.
Repeating home treatment is very important. Fleas in the pupal stage are protected by the cocoon, therefore retreat in two (2) weeks to kill fleas that emerge.
If your pet is exposed to other animals or are outside, they may become infested with fleas repeatedly. Consistent use of monthly preventatives is advised yearround to keep your pet protected from re-infestation.
- Simparica (dogs only): Give once monthly for control of fleas and ticks in dogs. Simparica has the advantage of being unaffected by swimming and bathing. Also, no residue on skin like other topical products.
- Parastar Plus (dogs only): Apply topically once a month for control of fleas and ticks in dogs. Water resistant
- Easy Spot (cats only): Apply topically once a month for flea and tick control in cats.
- Revolution: This product prevents heartworm disease, ear mites, sarcoptic mange, roundworms and hookworms, as well as fleas and ticks.
What is a Coggins Test?
A coggins is a test for equine infectious anemia (EIA) which is a viral disease.
Facts about EIA
EIA is spread by blood-feeding insects such as horseflies, stable flies , and deer flies. It can also be transferred in utero, or via equipment or blood products (ex. blood transfusion).
Once infected, horses may show fever, swelling of lower legs, weakness, or petecchia (small bruises on gums). Horses that survive this phase usually become carriers and can spread the disease without even showing any signs.
There is no treatment for this disease; positive horses can be quarantined for the rest of their lives but are typically euthanized. In just one week, 3 horses in Georgia were confirmed positive for Equine Infectious Anemia and were euthanized.
Preventative measures focus on eliminating vectors, such as: using insect repellents, reducing standing water, managing manure waste, and cleaning pastures.
When is a Coggins Test Needed?
Most equine events/shows require a negative coggins test performed within the past twelve months
Out-of-state health certificate
Some boarding facilities require a negative coggins test
There are many poisonous plants in Wisconsin that could be a potential hazard to horses. These plants may cause symptoms such as:
- Muscle weakness
Undesired plants can be eliminated in pastures by several methods, however, hand pulling is often most effective. When eliminating these plants, be sure to:
- Wear gloves
- Pull plants up by the root (this is easier when the ground is wet)
- Dispose of the plants far from the horse’s reach
- Read instructions on any chemical herbicides thoroughly
- Keep animals off the area as directed after using herbicides
Below is a non-exhaustive list of commonly found plants that can be toxic to horses:
This tree can be found in almost every environment and soil. The bark, leaves, and seeds are all toxic.
- Symptoms: irregular heart rate, shallow breath, abdominal pain, and death
- Treatment: supportive care and detoxification
While the tree itself is not toxic, shavings made from it and should not be used as horse bedding. Wilted or dry leaves can also be toxic for 4 weeks after falling from the tree.
- Symptoms: laminitis
- Treatment: treatment for laminitis
This plant is also known as Eastern Bracken. It is a perennial fern, and symptoms are slow to develop.
- Symptoms: depression, tremors, appetite loss, weakness, paralysis, staggering, loss of flesh
- Treatment: if caught in time, injections of thiamine can help reverse damage
Chokecherry can be extremely lethal in small doses; as little as 2 pounds of leaves can kill an 800 pound animal in 30 minutes.
- Symptoms: convulsions, rapid breathing, frothing of the mouth, and dilated pupils
- Treatment: if caught in time, immediate supportive care and IV fluids, with an antidote of sodium nitrate and sodium thiosulfate
Cockleburs are toxic when ingested. As little as 6 lbs. can be lethal to an 800 lbs. horse
- Symptoms: convulsions, depression, blindness, reluctance to move, hunched back, death
- Treatment: supportive care
Dried Maple Tree Leaves
While fresh leaves and twigs will not harm horses, wilted or dried leaves can be toxic.
- Symptoms: weakness, anemia, and increased respiratory rate
- Treatment: supportive care, IV fluids, blood transfusions and activated charcoal
Eastern Black Nightshade
This plant is also known as Deadly Nightshade, Horse Nettle, or Belladonna. It grows in hedges, pastures and in fence rows. It is a vine with purple flowers and green and red berries.
- Symptoms: depression, decreased heart and respiratory rate, muscle weakness, watery diarrhea, paralysis of hind legs
- Treatment: supportive care
This plant is also known as Devil’s Trumpet and Thorn Apple. As little as 1 lb. can cause symptoms and more can be fatal.
- Symptoms: dilated pupils, decreased respiratory rate, and muscle weakness
- Treatment: if caught in time, activated charcoal, supportive care, and IV fluids
Lawn clippings become toxic as the grass ferments and releases a gas.
- Symptoms: gas colic
- Treatment: same as colic treatment
The acorns, buds, leaves, and blossoms are toxic to horses and livestock.
- Symptoms: anorexia, colic, bloody diarrhea and edema
- Treatment: supportive care and IV fluids to flush out kidneys
This plant is also known as Japanese Yew and is commonly used as a landscaping shrub. They are extremely toxic and as little as 6-8 ounces can kill a horse.
- Symptoms: weakness, labored breathing, collapse, trembling
- Treatment: if caught in time, treatment can include activated charcoal and assisted respiratory support
This plant is also known as Mountain Laurel. It is extremely toxic to horses and as little as 0.2% of the body weight may be lethal.
- Symptoms: depression, weakness, impaired vision, difficulty breathing, collapse
- Treatment: if caught in time, treatment can include activated charcoal
Spotted Poison Hemlock
Also called Water Hemlock Cowbane, this plant is often found near creeks and streams in damp areas. As little as 2 pounds can cause death.
- Symptoms: incoordination, salivation, and colic
- Treatment: supportive care
This plant is often found along fence rows and woodlines.
- Symptoms: difficulty swallowing, muscle tremors, and wide stance
- Treatment: if caught in time, activated charcoal can be used
There are many changes that can occur in our pets as they age. These changes may require us to care for them differently than we may have when they were younger. This guide is intended to help you recognize the signs or symptoms common in our senior pets and ways to help them stay comfortable, safe and happy.
Mobility will decrease with time due to a combination of factors. Arthritis resulting in pain or decreased range of motion of the joints may cause difficulty in rising or laying down, or difficulty getting around. Muscle and nerve weakness can also lead to difficulty lifting the legs properly to walk — this may result in dragging or scuffing of the nails on the ground, or difficulty walking on slippery floors. Decreased mobility may result in your pet laying down most of the day — this can result in bed sores and infection or possibly swollen legs from decreased circulation from lack of movement.
Addressing lack of mobility will vary case to case depending on the severity and each pet’s particular needs. The following list are things that may help our pets with decreased mobility:
- Placing non-slip rugs, bath mats or yoga mats on slippery floors to provide traction.
- Trim excess hair that may be between toes that could reduce your pets natural traction.
- Move food and water bowls to a location where they can be easily accessed. For cats this means having the food on ground level so they do not have to jump up onto a counter, or walk down stairs to get to it.
- Use a litter box with lower edges to prevent need to climb or jump into the box
- Harnesses or slings can be used to help dogs stand from a laying position, or help them walk with our assistance. The Help Em Up Harness (www.helpemup.com) is a comfortable harness worn daily that has handles over the shoulders and hips that caretakers can use to help lift dogs into a standing position, or help them walk out to potty. Even a beach towel used like a sling could be helpful if your pet isn’t amenable to wearing a harness.
- Toe Grips – (www.toegrips.com) are non-slip nail grips that fit on a dog’s toenails to provide traction on slippery floors. They can be worn continuously, but will need to be replaced every 1-3 months.
- Use ramps to minimize number of steps a pet has to maneuver to go outside or into the car
- Medications — there are many safe and effective medications to treat arthritis pain.
- Acupuncture can be helpful in supporting nerve function and strength.
- Use of baby gates to protect pets from accidentally falling down stairs
- Comfortable bedding in a variety of areas to choose from
- Keep active — take small walks if tolerated to maintain muscle mass
Pain can come from many sources: arthritis, certain disease processes, decreased mobility. Speak with your veterinarian about signs of pain to watch for such as: heavy panting, pacing, whining, laying or sitting in an abnormal posture or location, or lack of appetite. There are safe and effective medications to treat the different types of pain our geriatric pets may experience. Laser therapy and acupuncture can be combined with traditional medications to help treat and control pain.
By 8-10 years of age most of our pets will have some degree of hearing loss. This can pose safety concerns if they should become lost or if we need to call them away from a dangerous situation.
- Monitor your senior pet closely when outside, do not allow them outside alone if they are not contained in a fenced yard.
- Early on training your pets with both verbal and hand signals.
- It has been suggested that acupuncture can be helpful for age related hearing loss.
Decreased vision or blindness
Decreased vision or ability to see fine details is a common aging change. You may notice them missing treats on the floor or not being able to catch toys like they used to. Being able to see clearly at night is also a common complaint. Not all of our pets will completely lose their vision. If your pet suddenly becomes blind, a veterinary visit to evaluate vision and the eyes will be important in formulating a treatment plan. Ways to help our pets with decreased vision:
- Blocking off stairways using baby gates to prevent accidental falls
- Using night lights can help with decreased vision in poor lighting
- Not allowing pets with decreased vision outside alone to prevent accidents
- Use verbal commands or gentle touch to help guide them
- For pets who are blind the book “Living with Blind Dogs” by Caroline D. Levin can be very helpful
As muscles and nerves weaken with age, just as we see weakness in the hind legs, we can also see weakness in the muscles that control the bladder or rectum. This can result in urinary and/or fecal incontinence. Older pets may also have the urge to urinate or defecate more frequently. Hygiene can become an issue if they are urinating/defecating where they lay — this can lead to sores and infection. Depending on the severity of their incontinence, a variety of treatments are available:
- Medications can be used to help with urinary incontinence.
- Acupuncture may help improve continence
- Trimming hair near the urinary opening and anus and gently cleaning these areas with warm water on a rag to prevent sores/infection
- Use of Aquaphor ointment after cleaning near the urinary opening can reduce urine scald
- Sanitary napkins, belly bands and diapers can be used – these may increase risk of urinary tract infection.
- Covering their bedding with disposable absorbent pads (like puppy training pads or hospital chux)
- Working with your veterinarian to frequently monitor for urinary tract infections which become very common in our geriatric patients with incontinence.
- Having litter boxes with lower walls and in a variety of locations on every floor of the home for easy access
- Creating an indoor potty area for dogs to use “in an emergency” when you are away (using puppy pads, dog size litter pans, artificial turf, etc)
- Letting dogs outside to potty more frequently to reduce accidents inside
Medical conditions that our geriatric pets may have can contribute to a decreased appetite. Nutrition is important for energy and maintaining weight.
- Appetite stimulants are available in a variety of forms
- Anti-nausea medications can be used in patients with diseases that may cause nausea (kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, intestinal disease, etc.)
- Vitamin B12 injections are a natural appetite stimulant that may be of benefit
- Encourage appetite by feeding foods that are both enticing, but unlikely to cause gastrointestinal upset such as: cooked white rice, cooked noodles, boiled skinless potato, lean cooked protein, protein based baby food purees. Your veterinarian may have other recommendations based on your pets specific medical needs.
Just as with food, some of our pets will become disinterested in drinking water. Hydration is very important for our pets, especially as they get older. Maintaining normal hydration can improve how our pets feel.
- Have multiple bowls of water around the house in easily accessible locations
- Use a pet water fountain — fresh running water can be more enticing
- Use low sodium chicken broth
- Try making low sodium chicken broth with gelatin added to create a “treat”
- Your veterinary team can teach you how to give fluid under the skin
Behavioral changes can be some of the more concerning changes that occur in our older pets. Signs can include: aimlessly wandering or pacing the house, altered sleep/wake cycles, acting confused, getting lost in the house, not recognising familiar people or pets, regression in potty training or personality changes. It can be natural to want to scold them for making mistakes, or waking us at night, but we need to remember that these actions are usually not on purpose. Unfortunately there is no cure for cognitive dysfunction, several modalities have been tried with variable success rates. The following have been found to be helpful in some cases.
- Feeding a diet fortified with antioxidants
- Hill’s Prescription diet B/D (canine only)
- Purina ProPlan Veterinary Diets Neurocare (canine only)
- Anipryl (selegiline HCL) is a daily oral medication that can help reduce symptoms of cognitive dysfunction (can take up to 4 weeks to see a response) (canine only)
- S-Adenylmethionine is a daily chewable tablet that contains a powerful antioxidant which can be helpful in reduction in symptoms (canine and feline)
- Environmental enrichment such as regular exercise and introduction of new toys or rotation of toys can help stimulate the brain and slow progression of cognitive dysfunction
- Studies have shown that dogs that were given both dietary and environmental enrichment had the greatest improvement in cognitive dysfunction when compared to dogs who did not have enrichment.
Of course this is the most important, but often overlooked, key to helping our geriatric pets. We love them unconditionally and because of this we, as pet owners, are the most important judge of their happiness. Keep in mind the things that make them special to you, what they love best, what gives them joy. Remember that even as the burden of caring for them increases with age we also need to keep in mind and provide them the things that bring them joy — whether it be car rides, walks (or trips outside in a wagon or stroller), a nap in the perfect sun spot, a visit with a special friend, beloved toys, favorite snacks, snuggles and cuddles with you.Caring for our pets as they age and develop medical conditions can be difficult. But we, at Lodi Veterinary Care understand the loving bond that connects us with our fur-children. If you have questions or concerns of the best ways or options to treat and help your pet, do not hesitate calling at any time.
Maintaining a healthy weight may be the most important element in assuring the best possible quality of life for a dog with osteoarthritis. Body weight not only increases the load on all joints, but inflammatory proteins produced by fat cells can cause the symptoms of arthritis to worsen. The goal for your pet is to have a slight “waist” when viewed from above, a “tummy tuck” when viewed from the side. You should be able to easily feel your dog’s ribs, without seeing them. To monitor your dog’s weight, please have him/her weighed periodically. A simple way to start a weight control program is to replace high calorie treats with raw vegetables (carrots/green beans) and decrease the volume of food in each meal to ¾ of the amount currently fed.
Low Impact Activity
A low impact exercise regimen is also an important factor in preventing some of the clinical signs associated with osteoarthritis. The goal of regular low impact physical activity is to maintain good muscle mass and prevent muscle atrophy while protecting the articular cartilage of the joints. The two best low impact activities include daily leash walks at a slow pace and swimming.
Remember the three “R’s” when planning your dog’s exercise regimen:
- Be Reasonable — Start with small leash walks, no long hikes or jogging.
- Be Rate-conscious — Start your dog off slowly and increase exercise time gradually.
- Be Regular — Make exercise a routine.
Joint Specific Diets
Specific “joint protective” canine diet formulations are available. These diets have a favorable ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids which may decrease inflammation in joints. Hills Science Diet J/D is one of the prescription foods that can be beneficial in promoting joint health. If you decide to use one of these, gradually introduce your dog to this new food over 1-2 weeks by slowly adding the joint specific diet while decreasing the amount of normal food. Typically results are seen within 21-30 days of being on a therapeutic diet; benefits increase the longer your pet is on this type of diet.
Joint Supplements / Nutraceuticals
If your pet cannot go on a prescription diet for joint health due to allergies, sensitive stomach or other reasons, one might choose to supplement their current diet with nutraceuticals. Some chondroprotective (joint cartilage protective) agents are classified as “nutraceuticals” and include glucosamine, chondroitin, glycosaminoglycans, omega fatty acids, plus many others. The concern with nutraceuticals is that they are somewhere between a nutritional supplement and a pharmaceutical agent. The products are not regulated or tested by any agency; in addition, their safety and efficacy does not need to be documented prior to marketing. Despite this, many people and animals alike do seem to experience relief when taking nutraceuticals, and side effects are extremely rare. It is important to realize that you truly get what you pay for when purchasing nutraceuticals, please ask your veterinarian which brands can be trusted.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS)
Some dogs may require prescription NSAIDS to improve their level of comfort. Examples of these medications include Rimadyl (carprofen), Metacam (meloxicam), Previcox (firocoxib), or Deramaxx (deracoxib). Not all dogs with osteoarthritis need to be on NSAIDS all the time. We will recommend the appropriate dosing schedule for your pet to keep him/her comfortable.
*Many pets will see improvements in their comfort and ease of movement with these methods. For those pets with severe osteoarthritis, other therapies may be suggested. Ask your veterinarian for more details.
Parasites, or worms, are organisms that live at the expense of other animals. Dogs and cats commonly host parasitic infections which may be a health concern for both you and your pet. Intestinal parasites live primarily in the stomach and intestines where they feed off the host tissues and intestinal content. The amount of damage done depends on the type and number of parasites. Intestinal parasites are diagnosed by checking a fresh stool sample for eggs which are shed by the adult worm in the intestinal tract.
There are four species of worms commonly seen in dogs and cats:
These are longer (2-4 inches), round, white worms which may be seen in vomit or passed in the stool. Puppies and kittens may be infected by the mother while in the uterus or while nursing (through the milk). Older pets are infected by contact with contaminated stool/soil or eating other animals (rabbits, mice, rats & earthworms) that have been exposed to roundworm eggs. In large numbers, these worms may cause malnutrition, diarrhea, pot-bellied appearance and intestinal obstruction.
These worms are microscopic (not seen with the naked eye) and can be the most harmful of the internal parasites. The mouth parts of this worm have a number of hooks which tear at the intestinal wall causing excessive blood loss. Infection occurs through contact with contaminated stool/soil. Hookworm larvae can actually penetrate the skin, or puppies may be infected through the mother’s milk. Bloody diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia are possible signs of a severe hookworm infection.
Whipworms are also microscopic worms which live in the lower intestinal tract. They can be difficult to diagnose because the eggs are shed intermittently. Infection occurs by eating the eggs which can remain in the environment for a long time.
Tapeworm segments are shed intermittently and can be seen as small, rice-like segments either in the stool or attached to the hair around the anus. Fecal exams may not pick up this parasite. Animals become infected by eating rabbits, birds and rodents or through fleas. They do not directly get tapeworms from other animal’s stool.
PUBLIC HEALTH SIGNIFICANCE:
- Human infection with roundworm and hookworm larvae is possible but does not occur frequently.
- Eating contaminated stool or soil (roundworms) or direct contact with infected soil (hookworms) is necessary for human infection.
- Children are at greatest risk because of their play and indiscriminate eating habits.
INTESTINAL PARASITE PREVENTION:
Have a routine fecal exam checked every 6-12 months.
- Fresh samples less than 12hrs old. Refrigerate if > 2hrs. Avoid samples that have been in contact with soil for prolonged times.
- Clearly identify the stool donor (avoid sample mix-ups)
- Kitty litter mixed with sample is acceptable as long as the sample is fresh.
- Avoid frozen samples or dried out, hard samples.
- Collect in a clean, sealed container. (Provided upon request)
Once diagnosed use a specific dewormer for the type of parasite found.
- Follow the recommended deworming schedule and recheck fecals as directed.
- Over the counter, broad-spectrum dewormers are often not effective.
Do not allow animals to urinate/defecate in children’s play area or sand box.
Prevent your pet from eating rabbits, rodents, birds and control fleas (tapeworms).
Check fecal and deworm dogs before breeding and again prior to whelping to prevent/reduce infecting puppies.
Deworm puppies at 3 weeks and 6 weeks of age. Follow up with a fecal exam at 12 weeks of age.
- Eggs can remain infective in soil for years, especially in dog pens or areas where pets are tied.
- Replace dirt runs with concrete.
- Turn soil over to depth of 8-12 inches after pet has been dewormed.
- Move your pet to a new uncontaminated area.
- Remove feces from your lawn or kennel daily
Practice and teach children good hygiene when playing with animals, especially puppies and kittens.
Walk and exercise your dog in areas not frequented by other dogs. Avoid public parks, playgrounds, hunting grounds etc..
Use a monthly heartworm preventative that also helps control intestinal parasites. We recommend using Interceptor Plus as your monthly heartworm preventative and broad-sprectrum intestinal parasite preventative.
Laparoscopic ovariectomy is a minimally invasive surgical technique used to remove the ovaries in female dogs. An ovariectomy differs from an ovariohysterectomy (spay) in that only the ovaries are removed, leaving the uterus in place. Both surgeries accomplish the same goal of making a dog unable to conceive and eliminating heat cycles. It is safe to only remove the ovaries, as risk of pyometra (severe uterine infection) is 100% eliminated with complete removal of ovaries.
Advantages of Laparoscopic Ovariectomy
- Smaller (~1cm) incisions, less painful
- Shorter recovery time
- Controlled cautery of blood vessels minimizes pain and bruising
- Magnification allows for optimal visualization of abdominal organs
A traditional spay is an open abdominal surgery through one large incision. A ligament, called the ovarian suspensory ligament, is torn to release the ovary so that it can be removed from the abdomen and the blood vessels are “tied off” (ligated). This ligament tearing causes the majority of post-operative pain and leads to bruising within the abdomen.
A laparoscopic ovariectomy is performed using a small, thin camera and surgical instruments inserted into the abdomen through two small port incisions. The ovarian suspensory ligament is carefully cauterized and cut under direct visualization, rather than torn by feel. We utilize a Miseal®, an advanced surgical device, to thermally fuse the ligament and blood vessels.
Please contact us with any questions regarding these procedures – we can provide additional information and help determine if a laparoscopic ovariectomy is best for your dog.
Lyme disease is contracted from the bite of a deer tick infected with a spirochete organism named Borrelia burgdorferi. The majority of dogs infected with the Lyme organism do not feel sick or have any clinical signs. Clinical signs include lameness, stiffness, swelling of limbs or joints, fever, lethargy, reluctance to move, loss of appetite, vomiting or depression. On occasion, Lyme disease presents with kidney damage which occurs when the immune system is exposed to the Lyme spirochete over a period of time.
A simple blood test can determine if your dog has been exposed to the Lyme organism. A positive test (or titer) simply means your dog has been exposed. If the test is positive, further blood and urine tests are recommended to determine how the dog is responding to the organism.
After Lyme disease is diagnosed (based on further blood and urine test or clinical signs) the treatment is a four week course of antibiotics. The clinical signs typically improve rapidly within 48 hours. Treatment does not always eliminate the organism from the body which is why titers often remain positive even after treatment.
The best way to prevent Lyme disease is through strict adherence to tick control and vaccination protocol. Statistically, the majority of the dogs in our area are at risk for encountering the ticks that carry Lyme disease and the vaccination is strongly recommended for most dogs in our area. It is best to vaccinate early in life before exposure. A Lyme test may be advised prior to vaccinating to know if there has already been exposure. After the initial series, the Lyme vaccination is boostered yearly.
At Lodi Veterinary Care, we recommend these tick/flea products: Simparica (oral monthly tablet), or Parastar Plus (monthly topical). We also an additional oral option for puppies called Credelio. Ticks lay dormant over the winter but become active any day the temperature is above freezing. Year round application may be the safest option with the unpredictable winter temperatures.
Summary: Lyme disease is a very complicated disease.
- Many dogs are infected with the Lyme organism yet few develop the disease.
- Positive Lyme test does not equal disease
- The tests used in detecting Lyme disease have improved which has increased the value of testing
- Treatment is generally well tolerated and effective.
- Vaccinating young dogs before infection is strongly advised.
- Tick control is crucial to preventing all tick borne diseases. We advise Parastar Plus or Bravecto.
ANAPLASMOSIS (Anaplasma phagocytophilum)
Anaplasmosis is a disease caused by an organism similar to the Lyme spirochete and is transmitted by the deer tick. It can occur on its own, or as a co-infection with Lyme disease. Once in the body, the organism may or may not cause external signs of disease. It is impossible to predict which pets will be clinically normal (unapparent carriers) and which will actually get sick. The clinical signs include swollen joints, fever, lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea. As the disease progresses, there may be significant changes in the blood including low platelets and changes in the white blood cell counts. Occasionally, in early stages of the disease the organism can be found in the white blood cells.
There currently is not a vaccination available for Anaplasmosis. There is, however, a test to see if your dog has been exposed to the organism (Snap 4DX test). A positive test does not mean the pet is going to get sick from the disease, but does indicate exposure to the organism. Like Lyme disease, many dogs may test positive and be asymptomatic (show no clinical signs).
The protocol for Anaplasmosis starts with a blood screen to determine if and how the disease is affecting the body. If treatment is needed based on clinical signs or blood screen findings, a four week course of an antibiotic will be prescribed. Many pets will remain asymptomatic carriers and continue to test positive despite treatment. These dogs should continue to be carefully screened with the recommended blood work to monitor for any signs of the disease.
EHRLICHIOSIS (Ehrlichia canis)
Ehrlichiosis is another tick borne disease. It is caused by organisms similar to those that cause Lyme disease and Anaplasmosis. The clinical signs include lethargy, fever and swollen joints. Blood work may show low platelets, high protein levels, anemia, and elevated liver values. This disease can be a very chronic, slowly progressive disease. It is diagnosed with a positive Snap 4DX test followed by a medical workup. Treatment is a four week course of antibiotics if needed based on blood counts or clinical signs. There is not a vaccination available at this time. Like all tick borne diseases, your pet may test positive and not show any clinical signs (asymptomatic carrier). Infected dogs should continue to be carefully screened with the recommended blood work to monitor for any signs of the disease.
Increased speed of eating can predispose our pets to:
- Excessive food intake resulting in obesity
- Poor digestion and vomiting
- Increased risk of swallowing air leading to bloating and abdominal discomfort
- Increased risk of GDV in dogs (gastric dilatation and volvulus: bloating and twisting of the stomach – a surgical emergency)
Reducing the speed in which our pets eat can help improve their digestion and help reduce the risk of some of the negative side effects associated with fast eating. Various methods are available, not all methods are appropriate for every pet. Based on your pets personality and eating style one or more of these options may be helpful in slowing down their eating speed. Your veterinarian will be able to help you choose the right solution for your pet.
- Spread food over a cookie tray or the ground
- Put a coffee cup in the middle of your pet’s bowl
- Purchase a slow feeder or maze bowl
- Use a puzzle toy to slow feeding