Friday, April 22, 2016

Dogs, Cats and Heartworm... Oh My!

For many of us April means spring showers, the beginning of warmer weather and not knowing if the sweater you walked out of the house with will be too much or not enough. However, to a veterinarian, April means Heartworm Awareness Month. Here we'll cover the ins and outs of this nasty parasite, and justify our reasoning for always asking "do you need to purchase more heartworm preventative?" when you're here. We have your beloved pet's well-being in mind, we assure you.
Let's get the scary truths out of the way; heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal parasitic infestation that can affect dogs, cats, ferrets and other mammals. For our feline friends, though heartworm disease isn’t as common as it is in dogs, it’s presence may remain unknown until a pet becomes very sick or even passes from it as it is tough to diagnose and there is no treatment available. For the kitties, prevention is the ONLY option to stay safe against heartworm. For our canine companions, heartworm disease often exhibits no symptoms until its advanced stages, so routine testing is the primary way to diagnose. Treatment is costly and not without risks as it requires multiple injections and the pet's activity level must be severely restricted.  The term “heartworm positive” can be a tough thing to hear, but there is a silver lining to the situation: heartworm disease is easily preventable.
So we covered why you don’t want heartworm disease to be a part of your furry friend’s life, now let’s talk about what you can do to prevent it. We’ve made that simple for you and the answer is…well, PREVENTATIVES! We offer an array of heartworm preventatives that can be found in our hospital, and additional varieties can be found at our online pharmacy, right on our website. The key to getting the most peace of mind out of your preventatives is consistency. Give the preventative on the same date, each month. We recommend keeping your pet on preventatives year round. Why? Let’s just take a brief moment to reminisce on our 50 degree December. Holiday cheer wasn’t the only thing abound at that time.. the mosquitoes were too.
                So your pet is on preventatives (year round) and we are abundantly proud of you but guess what…that’s half the battle!  What else can YOU be doing to prevent heartworm disease? Talk about it! Knowledge is power and although the details about heartworm don’t often come up in conversation when faced with juicy gossip and recaps of what happened on the Walking Dead (don’t get me started), make it a point to share some of these pieces of knowledge I’ve shared with you today. Getting one more pet on consistent heartworm prevention can mean one less heartworm positive dog or cat, and one less pet owner who has to face some tough and expensive choices.
Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions, we love to answer them! Tune in next week where I offer you a handy informational insider’s guide to our heartworm preventatives.

Kate Dickson
BAH Receptionist

Thursday, April 21, 2016

What Is Canine Influenza Virus?

There are many causes of kennel cough, both bacterial and viral. Canine influenza virus (CIV) is one of the viral causes of kennel cough. This highly contagious respiratory disease has affected thousands of dogs in the United States. Because CIV is a relatively new virus, most dogs have not been exposed to it before. Dogs of any age, breed, and vaccine status are susceptible to this infection.

How Could My Dog Catch Canine Influenza Virus?
CIV is easily transmitted between dogs through a combination of aerosols, droplets, and direct contact with respiratory secretions. The virus does not survive for a long time in the environment, so dogs usually get CIV when they are in close proximity to other infectious dogs.

Which Dogs Are Prone to Canine Influenza Virus? 
Any dog who interacts with large numbers of dogs is at increased risk for exposure. Pet owners should consult their veterinarian for information about the canine influenza vaccine.

What Are the General Signs of Canine Influenza Virus? 
While most dogs will show typical signs of kennel cough, but a small percentage of dogs will develop a more severe illness. Signs of canine influenza virus include:
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Variable fever
  • Clear nasal discharge that progresses to thick, yellowish-green mucus
  • Rapid/difficult breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
Can Dogs Die From Canine Influenza Virus?
If CIV is quickly diagnosed and treated, the fatality rate is quite low. Deaths are usually caused by secondary complications, such as pneumonia. It is important that dogs with CIV receive proper veterinary care.

How Is Canine Influenza Virus Diagnosed?
Veterinarians will typically conduct a thorough physical examination and run a series of tests to diagnose the illness.

How Is Canine Influenza Treated?
Because CIV is a virus similar to the flu in humans, there is no specific antiviral medication available. However, supportive care and appropriate treatment of secondary infections are important. Your veterinarian may advise the following to soothe your dog while the condition runs its course:
  • Good nutrition and supplements to raise immunity
  • A warm, quiet, and comfortable spot to rest
  • Medications to treat secondary bacterial infections
  • Intravenous fluids to maintain hydration
  • Workup and treatment for pneumonia
Be advised, while most dogs will fight the infection within 10 to 30 days, secondary infections require antibiotics and, in the case of pneumonia, sometimes even hospitalization.

What Should I Do if I Think My Dog Has Canine Influenza Virus? 
If you think your dog has canine influenza virus, immediately isolate him or her from all other dogs and call your veterinarian.

Can I Catch Canine Influenza From My Dog?
So far there has been no evidence to indicate that dogs can transmit CIV to humans.

How Can I Help Prevent My Dog From Spreading the Disease? 
Any dog infected with CIV should be kept isolated from other dogs for 10 to 14 days from the onset of signs. Dogs are most infectious before signs are apparent, and can continue shedding the virus for approximately 10 days. This means that by the time signs of the illness are seen, other dogs may have already been exposed.