Due to a recent increase in heartworm-positive dogs, we would like to remind all pet owners about annual heartworm testing and prevention.

Many pet owners have heard of heartworm prevention, but how much do you really know about the disease?

heartworm dog diagramHeartworm is a parasitic disease which is easy to prevent, but if left untreated, can be fatal. Heartworms are mosquito-transmitted and the likelihood of an infection occurring varies based on location. Find out how prevalent parasites are in your area here.

Once a pet is bitten by an infected mosquito, the heartworm larvae are deposited and penetrated into the pet’s bloodstream. Over the next 6-7 months, these larvae will travel through the bloodstream as they mature into adult worms. Adult worms can grow up to a foot in length and will eventually lodge themselves in the heart and lungs which can cause lung disease and heart failure.

With a once-a-month flavored tablet, or topical treatment, your pet can be protected against heartworm. The prevention works by killing the larvae in the bloodstream before developing into mature worms, which is why it is important to treat every month, all year round!

Pet Food BowlWith so many pet food options available, finding the right diet for your pet can be difficult. When choosing a pet food, it is best to go with one that has a Veterinarian on staff and that has completed clinical trials. This means that the diet has been properly formulated and fed to animals before hitting the market. Pet food should be balanced with the proper vitamins and nutrients to support healthy growth and development for different ages, making it important to buy age-specific food for your pet. Puppies and kittens have different dietary requirements than senior pets so buying food labeled for all life stages is not ideal.

One important thing to remember when thinking about pet food is that they are not labeled the same as human food. When looking at an ingredient list on the back of a bag, ingredients are listed by weight rather than nutritional value. Pet food labels also list nutrients as a minimum and maximum, not by calories. Real caloric breakdown of the food must be obtained from the pet food company, which may not be available if clinical nutritional trials were not performed. Our preferred clinically proven brands include Science Diet (best for dogs), Purina (best for cats), Iams, and Royal Canin.

Cold weather can pose a serious threat to your pet’s health. An animal’s tolerance to cold weather varies based on their size, coat, fat stores, and health.

bulldog-snowAs the weather gets colder, time spent outside in the cold should be minimized. Older, arthritic pets may need help maneuvering on the snow and ice. Certain diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease can make it harder for an animal to regulate their body temperature. Very young and older pets can also have trouble regulating their body temperature.

Before letting your pets outside, make sure they have a well-fitted collar with up to date tags, or a microchip, as tracking them in a snow storm can be difficult. Dogs and cats are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia and should be kept inside when the weather temperatures drop below freezing. Signs of hypothermia include shivering, weakness, decreased movement, or looking for places to burrow for warmth. If you see these signs, you should bring your pet indoors quickly and consult your veterinarian.

As animals are living longer lives, the presence of certain age-related diseases is becoming more common. Although diabetes is not directly age related, it is more common in older pets as well as pets that are obese. If detected early, diabetes is a very manageable disease and your pet can live a long and happy life.

cat on a scaleWhat is Diabetes in Pets?

Diabetes mellitus occurs when an animal’s body can no longer utilize glucose properly. The body makes glucose naturally through the breakdown of food. The glucose enters the bloodstream and travels to the body’s tissues and cells. Insulin is made in the pancreas and is required to transport glucose from the bloodstream into those cells. Without insulin, glucose accumulates in the blood and causes hyperglycemia. As the blood sugar builds up, it will eventually spill into the urine, causing glycosuria. As the sugar goes into the urine it brings water with it, causing the animal to urinate and drink more. Since the cells cannot obtain energy through the use of glucose, the body breaks down fat and muscle for energy, resulting in weight loss.