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Distemper Identified in Santa Cruz

In mid-March, the Animal Control Division of the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter identified an increase in distemper in raccoons on the west side of Santa Cruz. This virus is found in wildlife such as foxes, wolves, raccoons, coyotes, and skunks and is transmissible to dogs and an outbreak in raccoon populations can signal increased risk for pet dogs.

The American Veterinary Medical Association advises that distemper is a contagious and serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory, gastrointestinal and nervous systems of puppies and dogs. It is spread usually through airborne exposure – sneezing and coughing. Treatment of infected dogs is generally supportive care along with efforts to prevent secondary infections. Distemper is often fatal, and dogs that survive have permanent lasting effects.

Vaccination is crucial in preventing canine distemper. Generally, puppies receive a series of vaccinations to build immunity; and sticking with a regular immunization schedule will protect your pets from catching this virus. If you have questions or concerns about your pet’s safety, please call our office to verify that your pet is current with all vaccinations. If needed, schedule an appointment to vaccinate your pet.

Heartworm Disease in Pets – What Is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious potentially fatal disease but is totally preventable that primarily infects dogs. More about cats later. This infection is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. The mosquito takes a blood meal from an infected animal and transmits it through another bite to an uninfected animal where the young heartworms migrate to the heart and associated blood vessels and mature into adult worms within 6 months.
Some people are late or skip giving their pet’s heartworm medication entirely believing that less time was spent outdoors and the weather was cold – therefore, no mosquitos. Not true. Heartworm disease is found in all states. Mosquitos can be blown great distances by the wind and coyotes, wolves, and foxes migrating because of wildfires or environmental factors can increase incidence of the disease. In other words, heartworm disease is everywhere and a problem year-round.

Test and Treat Dogs For Heartworms

Be sure your dog is tested every twelve months for heartworm disease. If the test is negative, the doctor will recommend the best heartworm preventative for your pet’s lifestyle. Generally, this is a monthly medication, either pill or spot-on topical medication. Be sure to be prompt and deliberate about the schedule of the monthly dose. Even skipping a few days or a week can put your pet at risk for becoming infected. If you forgot to give the medication for 1 month, restart the medication immediately. Retest in six months to make sure your pet is heartworm negative. If over 6 months, then do a heartworm test prior to restarting the heartworm preventative. Prevention is always better than treatment.

What About My Cat?

Cats too are susceptible to heartworm disease and it is very different than in dogs. Usually, cats will only have 1-3 worms. It is more difficult to detect in cats and diagnosis may require antigen tests, heartworm antibody test, x-rays, blood counts, and possibly an ultrasound.

According to the American Heartworm Society, “signs of heartworm disease in cats can be very subtle or very dramatic. Symptoms may include coughing, asthma-like attacks, periodic vomiting, lack of appetite, or weight loss. Occasionally an affected cat may have difficulty walking, experience fainting or seizures, or suffer from fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Unfortunately, the first sign in some cases is sudden collapse of the cat, or sudden death”. To discuss your concerns about your cat’s risk for heartworm disease, please schedule an appointment with your doctor.

For fun, thanks to the Heartworm Society, attached are two puzzle games. Enjoy!

Get Rid of Mosquitos

Along with testing and treating your pet for heartworm disease, check your home’s exterior for mosquito breeding places. These can include ornamental ponds, rain barrels, clogged rain gutters, sagging tarps, and many others. It only takes seven days to complete the mosquito life cycle (egg to adult). For more information on mosquito abatement, go to:

Backyard Chickens and Salmonella

Keeping backyard chickens is on the rise for a number of reasons. Chickens eat bugs, provide a source for eggs, can be very friendly, and are a great way for children to understand the responsibility of pet care. But, improper handling and attention to good sanitation can lead to an outbreak of salmonella. Most people who get ill from salmonella experience diarrhea, stomach aches, fever and all around yuckiness.

Researcher Sonia Hernandez of the University of Georgia states that the potential for a salmonella outbreak grows significantly when small children and chickens come together. To reduce the spread of this disease, be sure to change footwear before going into the house after visiting with the chickens; thoroughly wash hands with soap and warm water. Keep the area clean and remove any contaminated water source, insects and rodents. And, of course, wash those eggs before using! Keep loving your chickens safely.


by assistant editor, Roo, aka, Super Searcher With a Nose for News.

I hate heartworm disease! I am so thankful that my mom tests us and treats us regularly. Our hearts are so big, we only have room for you in there.

As you know, I am always trying to sniff out great stories for you and here are a few of my favorites.

Oldest Pet Cemetery Found in Egypt

Science Magazine reports that a thorough excavation at an early Roman port of Berenice unearthed burials of nearly 600 cats and dogs. It was determined that the last pet was buried nearly 2,000 years ago. This was not random burials. What is unique is that many of the pets wore collars or other adornments and there was evidence that they were cared for after injuries and into old age.

Badly Burned Dog Receives Groundbreaking Skin Treatment

Sadie, badly burned over 70% of her body when a heat lamp set fire to the hay in her kennel was at first treated in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber and is on pain medication. Then doctors from the burn center at the University Medical Center, New Orleans, stepped in to help with new technology. In the operating room, a small piece of the skin is treated in a kit to create a spray on solution of your own skin cells to help in healing. With this technology, Dr. Nicole Kopari, who treats burn patients says that patients can grown their own new skin and look like they were never burned. As for Sadie, it is reported that she is up and walking after her two-hour procedure. She still has a long way to go, but it seems she is in the right hands! Keep up the great work.

Good Stuff from CNN

Three shelters had turned away the big, 100-pound German Shepherd because she was anxious and uneasy around men. But the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge in Oakland, New Jersey took a chance on her and she paid their trust back handsomely. Despite her unease around men, she seemed to connect with one man and after three months of training and connecting with each other, she saved his life.

Recovered from COVID-19, but still having affects from the virus the owner found himself in need of help. One morning his legs failed him when he tried to get out of bed. Stuck in a small spot and unable to get up or reach his phone, his dog came to him and he grabbed her collar. She pulled him across the room so he could reach his phone and call 911.

He re-connected with his dog after three weeks in a rehab facility and there was much hugging and sloppy kisses to be had. I think two lives were saved.