Tapeworms

There are 3 common types of tapeworms that infect dogs and cats; Dipylidium caninum, Taenia, and Echinococcus. The parasite lives in the small intestines and typically does not cause symptoms to infected pets. Often, owners will find small rice- like segments of the tapeworm passed in the feces. Pets most commonly become infected with tapeworms by eating a flea—even if you have never seen a flea on your pet this is still possible! The flea carries the larval form of the tapeworm, and it matures once it is eaten by the pet. The other way tapeworm infection can be transmitted is by ingestion of wildlife that is carrying the larval form of the tapeworm (e.g. rabbits and rodents). The treatment involves killing the adult tapeworm with medication from a veterinarian, and then preventing the pet from coming in contact with the “intermediate host” (the fleas or wildlife). Again, most commonly pets are infected because they have missed a month of flea prevention or are not using the proper type flea prevention. If you think your pet has tapeworms, please discuss the treatment and prevention with one of our veterinarians. It is possible, for humans to become infected with tapeworms if they ingest a flea, but more often humans are infected by eating raw fish or undercooked meat.

Thyroid dysfunction/ Thyroid testing

The thyroid gland secretes hormones (T4 and T3) which cause changes in many places including the hair and skin, muscles (including the heart), metabolism, red blood cells, sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, and activity level. Cats most commonly develop hyperthyroidism, where the thyroid produces too much hormone and the cat may become hyperactive, become excessively hungry while still losing weight, have vomiting or diarrhea, and have increased risk of heart disease. Dogs most commonly develop hypothyroidism, where the thyroid produces too little hormone and the dog may become lethargic, easily gain weight, have a dry/ dull hair coat or other skin problems, and may seem mentally depressed. Testing for thyroid dysfunction can be done as an individual blood test, but is often run as part of a “geriatric blood work panel” since the thyroid disease can mimic other common diseases and can affect other organs. Treatment involves either decreasing or increasing the amount of thyroid hormone circulating in the body, and addressing any other secondary disease which is present (eg: heart disease, skin disease, obesity). After starting on medication, the thyroid level is typically rechecked monthly until the appropriate level has been reached, then every 6-12 months or sooner if the pet is having any other problems.

Ticks

Blood sucking parasites that attach to animals and spread several diseases. The most common ticks found on dogs and cats are the American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis), the Brown Dog Tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus), the Lone Star Tick (Amplyomma americanum), and the Deer Tick (Ixodes). Ticks spread diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), Erlichia, and Babesia. Ticks are a problem in Florida, if you have found ticks on your pet our veterinarians recommend that you use tick prevention monthly, all year round to prevent the spread of these potentially devastating diseases. Avoid exposure to ticks or use a veterinary approved tick preventative (ask our staff for the latest recommendation products) to kill ticks within hours of attachment before they can transmit disease. It is not recommended to use flea/ tick dips and shampoos as there is a high potential for toxic effects on your pet.

Trauma

A wound or injury, especially damage produced by an external force such as being hit by a car, being attacked by another animal, or being struck by a person or object. Trauma can also be self-inflicted as a result of a behavior disorder or as a response to pain or pruritis (feeling itchy).