Heartworm disease/ testing/ prevention

The scientific name for a heartworm is Dirofilaria immitis. Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes and is a very big problem in Florida due to the fact that it never gets cold enough here for the mosquitoes to completely go away. Even indoor dogs are at risk for this deadly disease, since there is no way to guarantee that even a single mosquito does not get into your home. For details on the life-cycle of heartworms and detailed information on the stages of the disease and its treatment, please visit www.heartwormsociety.org. Heartworm testing is not performed on puppies younger than 6 months old, since the test detects adult female heartworms and they cannot be detected until 6 months after the dog is infected. It is vital to the health of your new puppy that they be started on heartworm prevention as soon as possible; most heartworm preventatives are safe for puppies as young as 6 weeks old. Heartworm prevention is available through a veterinarian by prescription only, and can be taken orally or applied topically once a month, year-round, for their entire life! It is our policy that all new patients have an exam and a negative heartworm test before prevention can be dispensed. This is because if the dog is already infected with adult heartworms, they may have an allergic and potentially life threatening reaction to the prevention. Yearly heartworm testing is recommended even if you have not missed any prevention based on manufacturers’ recommendations, since there is no medication that is 100% effective. Yearly heartworm screening tests are designed to catch the infection while it is still in the early stages and we have the best chance at successful treatment. If a dog tests positive for heartworm infection, our veterinarians will discuss the treatment to eliminate the adult heartworms and prevent further infection. This treatment can become very expensive and has a high risk of side effects in some dogs. The best way to ensure that your dog never has to suffer from heartworm disease or the side effects of treatment is make sure they never miss a month of heartworm prevention!

Hookworms

Hookworms are parasites that get their name from the hook-like mouthparts they use to attach to the intestinal wall. There are 3 common types that affect dogs and cats are Ancylostoma caninum, Uncinaria stenocephaia, and Ancylostoma tubaeforma. They are so small that it is very difficult to see them with the naked eye, and most times the adult worms are not found by pet owners in the feces. Despite their small size, they ingest large amounts of blood from the tiny vessels in the intestinal wall. A large number of hookworms can cause anemia. This problem is most common in puppies and kittens, but can occur in adult dogs and cats as well. The eggs are periodically shed in the feces where other dogs can become infected by sniffing or licking the ground. Infected mothers can also pass the worms on to the unborn offspring through their placenta and then after birth through their milk. Thirdly, the hookworm larvae may penetrate the skin and migrate through the body causing an inflammatory reaction (cutaneous larval migrans). Hookworm eggs and larvae can also infect humans, either by ingestion or penetration of the skin. Pale gums, diarrhea, or weakness are common signs of anemia (low red blood cell count) caused by hookworm infection. Some animals also experience significant weight loss, bloody diarrhea, or failure to grow properly with hookworm infection. Routine fecal checks should be performed to detect the parasite and monthly heartworm preventatives should be used which also prevent against roundworm infection.

Husbandry

Animal husbandry refers to the methods that are used in meeting the needs of domestic animals as related to food, water, entertainment and company, companionship, exercise, and protection. This also includes proper housing, hygiene, veterinary health care, and training.