Heart disease is real!
April is heartworm awareness and prevention month, and according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, heartworm is preventable but is a serious and potentially fatal parasite that primarily infects dogs, yet cats and ferrets, as well as other wild canids, wild felids, raccoons, opossums, and pinnipeds, are also vulnerable.
Heartworm can only be transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes. The mosquito takes a blood meal containing microfilariae, young heartworms, from an infected animal and, after about two weeks of development, the microfilariae are then transmitted via a mosquito bite into an unprotected animal.
Once inside your dog, and after about six months, the larvae mature into adult heartworms during its migration to the heart. They damage the blood vessels and reduce the heart’s pumping ability, resulting in severe lung and heart disease. Even worse, within 5 – 7 months post infection, adult worms of both sexes will mate and produce new microfilariae and can survive for 5 to 7 years in dogs and several months to years in cats. Left untreated, heartworm disease can cause permanent respiratory and cardiac distress and even death in severe cases.
Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states so heartworm prevention is recommended. Importantly, infected pets displaced by natural disasters increase the potential for more cases.
According to the American Heartworm Society, although cats are susceptible hosts, they are more resistant to infection than dogs. The lifespan of the parasite in cats is 2 – 3 years or even longer. There is no treatment for heartworm disease in cats so prevention is key, especially for outdoor cats. Although cats get a smaller worm load of 1-3, cats can develop a more severe inflammatory reaction. Signs can be vague in cats such as coughing, vomiting, to more severe respiratory distress, even sudden death.
When water is left standing, mosquitoes can breed and increase your risk of heartworm disease. Be aware that other mosquito-borne diseases include: Encephalitis, Malaria, and West Nile Virus among other illnesses so eliminating their breeding opportunities is important. Here are a few facts about mosquitoes. More information regarding mosquito control is available on the Santa Clara County Vector Control website: https://www.sccgov.org/sites/vector/programs-and-services/mosquitoes/Pages/home.aspx.
Facts About Mosquitoes
- All mosquitoes must have water in which to complete their life cycle.
- Only seven days are required to complete their life cycle (egg to adult) during warm weather.
- Mosquitoes do not develop in grass or shrubbery, although flying adults frequently rest in these areas during daylight hours.
- Only the female mosquito bites to obtain a blood meal. The male mosquito feeds only on plant juices.
- The female mosquito may live as long as three weeks during the summer or many months over the winter in order to lay her eggs in the following spring.
Spring Has Sprung! Other Hazards Too.
Now that spring is in the air, getting a breath of fresh air with your best friend is what we all need. Before heading out the door, be sure you and your pet are healthy enough for those hikes. Now that we have the PetDesk app, you can quickly check your pet’s vaccine status. Be sure your pet is protected. Make sure your dog is conditioned as well as his pads for walking on rough terrain. Sore feet are no fun for anyone. Foxtails are already popping up everywhere so avoid the areas with foxtails as they get in the ear, nose, feet and through the skin.
Rattlesnakes will be enjoying the spring weather also, so be on the lookout for them. If your dog is bitten by a rattlesnake, go immediately to the emergency veterinary clinic nearest you. Before an emergency, vaccinating your dog against rattlesnake venom and training for rattlesnake avoidance may be indicated if there is a high risk for rattlesnakes.
Many of us will gather for Easter and Passover celebrations and we love to include our pets. As the beautiful plants peek through the soil, they can be harmful to your dogs and cats if ingested. Symptoms can range from nausea to death. Easter lilies or lilies, in general, are very toxic so keep these plants away from your cats. You already know not to feed your pets chocolate, but we want to remind you about the dangers of xylitol, the sweetener found in some gums, candy and baked goods. This chemical can cause a dangerous drop in blood sugar that can result in seizures and death. Also, avoid fatty food such as lamb or ham and any food that contains garlic, onions or other members of the onion family. Take special precaution with the “newer” rat or gopher baits. These can be quickly fatal in dogs and cats and have no known antidote. For a detailed list of poisonous plants or food, go to: https://www.aspca.org.
Farewell and Hello!
Sadly, for us, we said farewell to Veterinary Technician Amber VanOsten, RVT, who moved out of the area with her family. We will miss her and wish her all the best in her new home. To help fill Amber’s shoes, we hired a new Veterinary Technician, Mary Porter. Mary comes to us with a great background in the veterinary field and we are excited to have her join our team.
International Guide Dog Day
April 24 or the last Wednesday in April is designated as International Guide Dog Day to celebrate the freedom, support, and independence specially trained dogs bring to visually impaired humans. The dogs help those with vision impairments avoid obstacles, know when to cross streets and guide them on shopping trips.
It can take up to two years and $25,000 to fully train a single service canine to be a guide dog.
According to Prevent Blindness America, Labrador Retrievers are most likely to be chosen because of its short coat, gentle temperament, willingness to help, and overall health. Guide dogs boost their person’s confidence and provide companionship in addition to keeping them safe. Go to: https://www.guidedogs.com for more information on these amazing dogs.
Shelter Pets Need Us!
April 30 is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day and the Best Friends Animal Society has great reasons why everyone should adopt a shelter pet. To learn what they are, go to https://people.com/pets/national-adopt-a-shelter-pet-day-best-friends-animal-society/. Even if you do not adopt more pets, you can offer your support through volunteering or donations to our local organizations – Humane Society of Silicon Valley, City of San Jose Animal Care Center, Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority, and so many more.
Interesting Facts About the Month of April
- In the United States, four Presidents were born and four died during the month of April.
- April is the 423rd most common name in the U.S. and 250th most common name in the United Kingdom.
- If you are in the Southern Hemisphere, the equivalent of April
- People who are born in April have the Diamond as a birthstone, the flower is a Daisy or Sweet Pea.
- England has cuckoo festivals in April because that is the time of year when cuckoo birds are seen everywhere.
- In the U.S., April is a significant month for sports enthusiasts because it is the opening month of professional baseball.
So, go out and enjoy the month of April with your pet and take in the beautiful sunshine and the lush green grass on the hills!